What is 3-Gun and How to Get Started

Americans love the 2nd Amendment – it guarantees the safety, security and sovereignty of We The People. Across the United States in 2020, Americans have embraced the 2nd Amendment like never before, and gun ownership has skyrocketed. Amid political uncertainty, worldwide pandemics and economic instability, never-before shooters are flocking to gun shops, and experienced shooters are expanding their collections. People are buying more ammunition and more accessories. Amidst this American rush to arms, a subculture of gun users has begun to gain widespread attention: 3-gunners.

What is 3-gun? Simply put, it is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. 3-gun is a developing sport where participants use several different firearms on a ‘course’, forcing them to wield their firearms with accuracy and confidence in a dynamic, fluid setting. Hitting various targets accrue the competitors’ points. Generally, the 3 ‘guns’ used are a rifle, shotgun and pistol. The specific type of guns, such as an AR-15, 9mm, Magnum 45 or 12-gauge shotgun are dependent on the competitor’s preference and the particular rules for each event. In the USA, the two primary organizations which host 3-gun competitions are the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). They generally follow the International Multi-Gun Association (IMGA) regulations, but each match is unique, and organizers can adjust the rules to suit their entertainment or commercial purposes.

What is the purpose behind 3-gun competitions? First, 3-gun competitions compel shooters to discharge their firearms in stressful, high-paced conditions – the same conditions you might expect on a battlefield, or when someone breaks into your home at 3 a.m. By practicing over and over in difficult situations, 3-gun competitors gain a degree of competence and confidence that would be otherwise impossible to learn while hunting in the woods or shooting on a range. These pressured competitions also bring together like-minded people, to learn from each other’s shooting experiences, to share industry knowledge and build a community of responsible gun owners. As research has shown again and again, a well-armed populace is the greatest deterrent of violent crime and governmental tyranny.

Now that we’ve established what 3-gun is, who participates, and the purpose behind such competitions, let’s analyze the gear you’ll need to get started in this fast-growing, exciting world.

Firearms

You can’t 3-gun without guns. As previously stated, the most common combination is a rifle, shotgun and pistol. This is because some targets are farther away, which makes shotgun use impractical, or the shooter needs to be army-crawling, shuffling or rolling, which tend to be rifle-based stages. Sometimes, the guns must be used in a specific order, other times, shooter’s choice. Regardless, here are a few places to begin your 3-gun collection:

F1 has a variety of AR-styled rifles to choose from: For those with a tighter budget, the FU King F15 Forged Rifle is a solid choice at $899.
If you have more money to sling, the Patriot Series FDR-1-3G Rifle is a great product to start with at $1100.


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For pistol concerns, Smith and Wesson is one of the oldest, most trustworthy names in the business. Their pistol selection include the M&P9 Shield EZ Truglo, which costs $559. For a little less cash, the M&P9 Shield costs $374.


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For your shotgun needs, Mossberg is a well-established company with a long history of excellent service. The Mossberg SA-28 All Purpose Semi-Automatic Shotgun is $527, and for a more affordable option, the SA-20 All Purpose Semi-Automatic Shotgun is $459.

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Holsters/Belts

Bianchi is the largest, leading manufacturer of handgun holsters and accessories in the nation. The type of holster you purchase is dependent on your pistol, and as always, you should test out the product before purchasing. This Cowboy Holster is only $199, and it features a multi-angle belt loop for customized and cross-draw carry.

Bianchi also produces customized belts, and this Molle Battle Belt has everything you need for 3-gun competition, and it costs $125.

Slings

For a quality sling, look no further than Firefield. They have a Tactical Single Point Paracord Sling for $29.97, and a Tactical Two-Point Paracord Sling for $24.97

Cleaning Kits

Between 3-gun stages, it’s possible you’ll have time to clean your rifle. Depending on how many rounds you fire, or on the rules of the competition, cleaning may not be optional. For a high-quality AR cleaning kit (.223 or .308), Firefield has the best value for your buck. This Cleaning Kit costs $19.97 and features a compact carrying case, 33-inch cable for easy cleaning, chamber cleaning brush, small and large brush for the exterior, and an included lubrication applicator.

Boresights

Whether you’re competing in 3-gun, hunting or just shooting at the range, boresights are eminently important. They help you save time, money on ammunition, and help you get on paper much, much faster. For the best in-chamber laser boresights in the business, look no further than Sightmark. They offer boresights for pistols, rifles, shotguns and more. The most common laser boresight, for a .223 or 5.56×45, costs a mere $35.99. If you’re unsure how to use an in-chamber laser boresight, check out this blog.

Optics

For 3-gun competition, thermal and night-vision devices are inappropriate, and most likely, not allowed. Instead, look towards getting a high-quality riflescope at a bargain. Low-power variable optics, like the $479.99 Sightmark Citadel 1-10×24, are excellent for adjusting magnification in keeping with the various targets presented in a 3-gun competition. For a guide on gifts, which includes riflescopes and reflex sights, check out this BestInBunch.com article.

Smarter Shooting

Participating in 3-gun competitions will make you the best all-around shooter you’ve ever been. You will enter a new world of loud, fast-paced excitement and challenge. While adhering to common-sense safety practices, such as eye and ear protection, you will meet like-minded shooters with knowledge of the gun industry’s latest innovations, and you will handle and load weapons with a newfound proficiency you never thought possible. Finding a 3-gun competition is as simple as a Google search. 3gunnation is one of the most popular organizers of 3-gun competitions. Make no mistake: 3-gun competitions are not merely sport, they are an extension of free American citizens exercising their right to keep and bear arms.