Is a Flattop w/ Carry Handle Legal for Service Rifle Competition?


February 21, 2003, 02:20 PM
I'm thinking about shooting some HP events, and was curious about what would be required. It seems like all of the DCM uppers I see are A-2 style, but is that a firm requirement?

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Steve Smith
February 21, 2003, 02:43 PM
It is a firm requirement for Service Rifle. You may of course fire in the match but you'll compete in the Match Rifle category. Beware, most detachable handles don't have enough elevation for shooting at 600 yards. Try to find out ahead of time.

February 21, 2003, 02:56 PM
I assume that the course of fire and targets used would be identical, so that the only difference would be the folks you are shooting against. Correct?

Also, what would you recommend as the bare minimum for an effective spotting scope?

Thanks again!

Steve Smith
February 21, 2003, 04:16 PM
Yup...the two types shoot at the same time and shoot the same course.

Bare minimum is a pair of binocs, I suppose. Better than that would be the best one you can afford with a long eye relief and a 45 degree eyepiece. Adorama used to have one called a Pro Optic that fit the bill, but I think they stopped selling the one that fit those parameters. It was $109.

February 21, 2003, 07:56 PM
Detachable handle is not allowed as a service rifle. Many local matches won't care about it. But it is not allowed by the rules -- has to be a 20" AR15 with fixed carry handle.

February 21, 2003, 10:03 PM

In reading the NRA Highpower rules, it states that if a Service Rifle has only had the sights modified, thereby forcing it into the Match Rifle category, that you can still use a 20 or 30 round mag (AR-15) without running afoul of the no-palm-rest requirement.

Would this exclusion apply to flat-top A3 (really A4) models with detachable carry handles? To ask it another way, does a detachable handle qualify as a change to the the sights only?

If this is not the case, and an A3 model is used as a true Match Rifle, would this make the 10 round Bushmaster factory mags illegal to use? They are about as long as a 20 round G.I. mags but are blocked to only accept 10 rounds, as you are probably aware.

Steve Smith
February 22, 2003, 04:29 PM
I am really busy right now, but I will research this tonight and get you an answer. I have a feeling that strict adherance to the rules will have you with a short mag...but of course a MD would have to be a real jerk to pull that one out.

Steve Smith
February 23, 2003, 12:05 AM
NRA Highpower Rule book:

3.1.2 Service Rifle-U.S. Rifle, Caliber 5.56 min M16 series as issued by
the U.S. Armed Forces, or the same type and caliber of commercially procured
rifle, without bipod or grenade launcher, having not less than a 41/2 pound
trigger pull, with standard-type stock, pistol grip, handguard, and leather or
web sling. The rifle must be so modified as to be incapable of automatic fire
without removing, replacing, or altering parts. In all courses of fire and in all
positions the standard 20-round or 30-round box magazine or a reduced
capacity magazine of the same external dimensions will be attached. The gas
system must be fully operational. External alterations to the barrel, upper and
lower receivers, stock, handguard, or pistol grip will not be allowed, except
that a device may be attached to prevent selector lever movement to the auto
position. The front and rear sights must be the standard design. The rear sight aperture and front sight width may vary in dimensions to suit the shooter. The rear sight aperture may be hooded. Versions or adaptations of the M 1 6 type rifle consisting of external modifications or alterations, will be shot as an NRA Match Rifle, except as allowed in Rule 3.1.3. The trigger weight of these
versions or adaptations will not be less than 4 1/2 pounds, except as noted in
Rule 3.3. 1. A case deflector (DVC-T-30 or commercial equivalent) is allowed.

3.1.3 Service Rifle- Any rifle or modified rifle not covered by NRA Rules
3.1, 3.1.1, or 3.1.2, but permitted by CMP rules are considered service rifles
in NRA sanctioned competition.


3.3 NRA Match Rifle-A center fire rifle with metallic sights and a
magazine capable of holding not less than 5 rounds.

(a) See Rule 3.14, Palm Rest.

(b) A service rifle may be used as a match rifle unless otherwise stated in the program.
Any service rifle used as an NRA Match Rifle shall conform to Rules 3.1, 3. 1. 1,
or 3.1.2 as applies to trigger pull.

(c) A service rifle (Rule 3.1.1 and 3.1.2) whose only modification is to its sights may be used as an NRA Match Rifle. This rifle may use the 20 round box magazine but must comply to Rule 3.1.1 or 3.1.2 trigger pull requirement.

So as I read these rules, you WOULD be allowed to use the 20 round mag as long as the rest of the rifle was SR style and the trigger fit the 4.5 lb requirement. Yes, I believe that the flat top is a sight modification. So you're set if I'm the MD...but some other A-H might say you have more than just the sights modified (carry handle is modified ???) and its his range. Sometimes rules need more clarification, and sometimes they're hazy intentionally.

Personally, I think you're in the clear no matter where you go, but the possibility is there for another interpretation.

Steve Smith
February 23, 2003, 12:16 AM
More to add but didn't want to edit.

The REASON for this rule being the way it is, is, I think, to allow those who have an otherwise un-altered rifle to keep using the 20 round mag. (go ahead and say "duh" now).

No...what I mean is this. If you're in MR class, in most cases you might as well trick out your rifle every way from Sunday. 26 pr 28" barrel, mirage strip, dual aperture sights, adjustable buttstock and cheekpiece, high-speed pistol grip, right handed bolt release, and a hand stop. But, there are obviously guys (like you) who have what is basically a Service Rifle except for the flat top part. I think this rule is to give you guys a little consolation prize for getting dumped in with the "Circus Rifles." You can use the 20 rounder where the other MR folks can't. So, when the rules are read with that in mind, the answer is clear.

February 23, 2003, 11:08 PM
Thanks, Steve. I appreciate the thorough answer. Shot a 55-round XTC match today in 20 deg. weather and snow. By the time we got to the slow-prone I couldn't feel my finger anymore and my score reflected the conditions. :( Crazy thing is, I still had fun! Go figure. Is there a cure for this disease? :D

February 24, 2003, 03:40 AM
Is there a cure for this disease?

nope, one of the shooters i am currently trying to learn the sport under refers to the person who got HIM hooked as "the official, local Crack Dealer" for High Power. it ain't a disease, it'a benign addiction. :D

Steve Smith
February 24, 2003, 09:58 AM
Detritus, would that be Mr. Rost?

FWIW, I have been using a set of Hatch cop gloves (Patrol gloves I think) and I use the right one for my trigger hand when its cold. Obviously I have a shootng glove on the other hand. It helps. The bad thing is that the leather is very thin (so you can feel things) and I have worn through to the backing at the trigger finger. Still searching for a solution, but this is working half-way for now.

February 26, 2003, 09:35 PM
Namely, M-4's, M16A3's, and the new M16A4, perhaps NRA will come around with their judgement? (Like a snowball's chance in hell, I realize, when they've already gotten gruff with me for proposing a rules change) I find it funny that they have to allow naked muzzle AR's due to the '94 Crime Bill, no problem, but if you have a detachable sight/handle, that's illegal for competition. It would be more of a handicap, based on the limited elevation adjustment, I would think. Just sour grapes, it forced me to get a second preban AR for Service Rifle because of the carry handle on my Colt Competition HBAR. (Misnomer if it's illegal for competition :rolleyes: )

Steve Smith
February 26, 2003, 10:38 PM
I hear you. The NRA feels that there is plenty of room in Match Rifle for flattop ARs and they are very hesitant to allow any changes anyway. One way of looking at it is in order to have a discipline last as long as it has and continue to grow as it is, the amount of change must be severly limited.

Realistically, you don't have a beef with the NRA as you can shoot in MR with that rifle with no mods. What you have a beef with is the CMP. The CMP does not have an MR class for EIC competitions and their definition of a rules-legal rifle is essentially the same as NRA Service Rifle.

FWIW, (this is your reach around, I hope you enjoy it) you have the right to petition the rules committee of both NRA Highpower and CMP for a change in the rules. The address for rules change submissions are in therule books.

February 26, 2003, 11:43 PM
I know how difficult it is for everybody to have a preban AR, hence the variance for the naked-muzzle guns, which don't look like an issue rifle from the front sight tower forward. But as soon as everybody and their mom got issued an M4 and M16A3, then CMP's argument against detachable carry handles went out the window. Their first reply to my query was that the M4 wasn't considered a general issue service weapon. Things have changed since before 9/11, I just might have to light that fire again. :evil:

I'm of the opinion that the preban Colt Competition HBAR, even with the detachable carry handle and heavy barrel profile underneath the handguards, wouldn't fare well against the bloop-tubed spaceguns in Match Rifle category.

Not that I should whine about it, but I bought the gun with the assurance I could use it for Service Rifle matches. I even shot it for a season in that category, before somebody reminded me of the rules. The match director didn't care, but other shooters on the line had heartburn with it, so I humbly complied and went back to my M14NM. ;)

Steve Smith
February 27, 2003, 10:04 AM
First of all, imagine us standing together having this coversation in person. What I would do right now is look at you in the eye, put my hand you your shoulder, and say, "Bud, I hear ya, but your argument is lost with me." Believe me, I know exactly where you're coming from.

Personally, unless you and I were at a CMP EIC "leg" match and you posed a threat to me, I would never say squat about the detachable carry handle. Since I can only shoot three of those matches per year (plus one at Perry) and I'm in the chase to go Distinguished, I at least want compete against guys who are following the rules to a "t" just like me. I think that's understandable. But I wouldn't worry about it at all for the much more common NRA Highpower matches. those guys you ran up against were weenies and didn't understand the game. (regardless of their classification)

Now about this not measuring up to Match Rifles BS. Well, sure, they have a lot of advantages. But you know what? We SR guys are really starting to bring it to them. Get your postion down and shoot that Competition HBAR. It probably does'nt have a float tube, so get one and prepare to kick some tail. Ultimately, when your barrel goes south, you can switch her over to a true MR if you want. Or perhaps you're shoting the M14 so you can go Distinguished? If so, yeah, you're screwed and you need an A2.

This rule, FYI, just went up for reconsideration about a year ago ad the rule obviously stayed the same. I doubt it will change anytime soon.

We all have something that we don't like about the rules. The 30 caliber rule is my personal cross to bear, and I hate it with a passion. Maybe it will go away soon.

February 27, 2003, 03:14 PM
I've heard several mention the .30 caliber rule recently, but I haven't been able to find out what it is. Not surprising, I guess, since I don't have the rulebook, but just about every other rule has been quoted on various forums, and then someone says, "Yeah, and the .30 caliber rule, too!", to which everyone agrees. It's an elusive bit of common knowledge! Care to share it, Steve?


Steve Smith
February 27, 2003, 03:41 PM
I KNEW I was going to have to explain that one after opening that can of worms. Crap. FYI, this is one of the most hotly contested rules in HP, and the MAJORITY agree with me, but its still the rule. I swear if we all get into a hissy fit here I'll close the darned thread. This has been hashed out many times. Keep in mine that I am against the "30 caliber rule" as it is now, so what I say will be biased that way.

Now, even if you have a rulebook, you're not going to see anything that says "30 caliber rule." Its just a rewording of the rules.

Here goes: A target is scored by observing where the bullet strike on the target was. If the edge of the bullet hole breaks the line of the next highest scoring ring (even just a teeny tiny bit) the shooter gets the higher score. In the past (before the 30 cal rule was changed) all pits had a 30 cal "scoring plug" and ALL calibers were scored as 30 calibers (.223, .243, .270, 6mm, 6.5mm, you name it). What that does is score the hit based upon the center of the hit (which IMHO is the way you ought to score). After the rule change, the pits are now supposed to score according to the caliber the shooter is using. This is where the fit hits the shan. How many plugs are we supposed to have in the pits so that we can cover all the calibers that might be used? When marking a target we'd have to call to the line and ask what caliber the shooter is using. Now we're giving the 30 calibers an advantage because they have a bigger bullet. All that crap. Of course, the thing that gets me is that the 30 shooters say, "I don't care about the rule because it doesn't affect me." Personally, I don't appreciate that attitude.

IMHO, the score should be taken with a measurement based upon a standard caliber and the center of the hit, which is the way it used to be.

February 28, 2003, 10:40 AM
I tend to agree with Steve's position that all scores should be based upon the center of the point of impact. From a practical perspective for the purposes of administering a shooting contest, I think that this is the way to go. It is a measure of how good your aim was. On a theoretical level, though, I think that the 30 caliber boys actual do have an advantage, and the scoring should probably reflect this. In actual use, closer is better. For the same impact point, a 22 caliber hole that just misses a vital spot on an target would be struck by a 30 caliber bullet. This advantage is offset, at least in the rapids, by the disadvantage of heavier recoil. Just my $0.02.

February 28, 2003, 08:27 PM
Thanks for the explanation. I had no idea that it related to the scoring plug. I can't really see the choice of a .30 caliber plug, though, since the rules permit anything up to caliber .35; however, it would also make sense to look for an actual break in the line, and have the "torn or not torn" variable even things out, since nobody's using wadcutters.

I guess that people with .223's will have to quit winning for the disadvantage to be taken seriously!;)

I guess this is just another example of a weird rule that has little to do with anything, but that's the way it is anyway (every sport has them).


January 30, 2005, 01:35 PM
Steve Smith clued me in. The rules have changed, the flattop w/carry handle is now legal. Happy Dance time! :D

February 5, 2005, 07:24 AM
Does it need to be a carry handle rear sight or is a flip-up rear sight legal? Being that it's "service (aka military) rifle" and an issue M4 configuration is with a flip-up rear and optical dot sight, the flip-up sight is, by definition, service.

February 7, 2005, 10:15 PM
flip up sites are not by definition "service". The CMP and NRA decide what constitutes an approved Service rifle with input from the Army and USMC. As it stand a service rifle has to be considered general issue. Flip up sites are not general issue and even if they were it would require the CMP and NRA approval for use as a service rifle.

For the record I don't mind anyone using M4's with all the gadgets and gizmos. It is a HUGE dissatvantage to use a set up like that for NMC shooting. I will go a step further and say the the flattop carry handle site is a hinderance to good scores.

If you want to shoot NMC for fun, any rifle you have within reason will fall under NRA match rifle rules and have at it! If you want to shoot EIC(LEG) matches they have to meet guidlines. If you want to win with a service rifle, shoot a standard A2 purpose built for shooting Across the Course and forget about all the other stuff as it will only hold you back.


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