IDPA Rules


June 18, 2003, 01:11 PM
I'm about to shoot my first IDPA match and I'd like a question amswered. Reading all of the articles that I can find, the tactical reload is always mentioned. If you're shooting an El Presidente drill and reload from slide lock, do you have to do a tactical reload or can you do a speed reload? Since there is so much emphasis on real life situations, it would seem to me the speed load would be permitted but probably not. Thought I'd ask.

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June 18, 2003, 01:57 PM
The way I understand it is that the reloads are:

slide-lock: you can drop the empty mag and stuff in a new one. this is the reload you'll do in an El Prez.

reload with retention: gun is not empty, you take the mag out and stow it, grab a fresh one and stuff it in there

tactical reload: gun is not empty, take a mag from your belt and then with the same hand you pull the mag out of the gun and stuff in the fresh one, then you stow the partially spent mag.

As far as I know, a speed reload is where you dump the partially spent mag (without stowing it) and then stuff a fresh on in the gun. I don't think this is kosher in IDPA.

I also believe that the IDPA rules state that if the course design specifies a 'reload with retention' you are clear to do a tac-load. But not the other way around.

I'm just figuring this stuff out myself...but I think that's right.

- Gabe

June 18, 2003, 02:01 PM
Thanks. I keep seeing where they(IDPA) are keeping away from the games aspect, but it sure looks like games to me.

June 18, 2003, 04:49 PM
Games--yeah, it's really the "International Concealed Carry Pistol with Special Rules for M1911s in .45" club.

My defensive firearm for years was a 6-inch .357. Can't use it in IDPA. My reading of real-life post-shooting reports shows that the victims of bad shootings frequently know trouble is brewing and have their arms stuffed in their waistbands, sitting on the table, or even in their hand when they get shot.

A lot to be said for situational awareness, eh?

Jim Watson
June 18, 2003, 06:16 PM
GRD has the reloads right. There seems to be less and less distinction being made between TL and RWR, when and if there is a new edition rule book, it may vanish altogether. Note that it is not allowable to drop even an empty magazine if there is a round in the chamber, you must treat that as a TL or RWR. They don't credit you with being able to count shots under stress. Jeff Cooper thought you could, but that was another day.

Call it a game (Which I think trivializes it.), a sport (As in the rule book.), or competition; if you are keeping score, you have to have rules. You don't have to agree with them (I went 'round and 'round on a cover call last night.) but you do have to abide by them.

No doubt in the world you can use a 6" revolver as a defensive firearm. I have. Did you use it as a **CONCEALED weapon**? I've seen that done, too. But IDPA doesn't think it reasonable and that is that. IPSC and ICORE don't care, so you have a place to wring it out under match stress if you want to.

I know what you mean about situational awareness. Read the Armed Citizen and other accounts of real shootouts. I call it the Waterhole Syndrome. Ever see the pictures of a lion and an antelope drinking at the same waterhole? No problem, now, but dinnertime is coming.

June 19, 2003, 01:22 AM
My defensive firearm for years was a 6-inch .357. Can't use it in IDPA.
I feel your IDPAin. Somehow my STI VIP is illegal but my friends all steel 40 oz 1911 is OK.

As pointed out at no time can you drop an empty mag in IDPA unless the slide is locked. The best bet is to shoot the gun dry if you can. There is a rule about this but it is almost impossible to enforce.

June 19, 2003, 07:09 AM
Whew, TL, RWR sounds like one in the same except done in different order. Might have to have a lawyer present. LOL. My first read of IDPA was good because it looked like a drastic departure from IPSC. Now I'm not so sure. Oh well, I'll shoot a match and see how it goes and then decide. Thanks guys, I appreciate the input. Now I just have to be careful and not step in anything that smells bad.

June 25, 2003, 03:21 PM
Some IDPA rules are silly, others arise from buddies of the folks who run IDPA. I heard (second, third, fourth hand, I don't know) that one of Bill Wilson's buddies likes to shoot a 3" .44 Special in revolver class. He didn't like all the people shooting 5" Model 25's in .45 ACP - full moon clips are an advantage - and lobbied against them. The "compromise" was to outlaw the 5" barrel length and restrict revolvers to 4".

The predictable result is that a good portion of the guys who'd already invested in 5" M25's just stopped competing in revolver class. (Same thing happened in the 80's when IHMSA started imposing gun restrictions based on politics.)

Don't get me wrong, IDPA is still great fun - shooting "the gun you brung" makes a lot of sense. But some of the rules (barrel length changes, tactical reloads, etc.) are just silly.

I remember one time I got dinged for a procedural - the stage required firing around a barricade strong hand only, doing a tac reload or RWR, and then shooting around the other side of the barricade, weak hand only. Holding the mag in my non-shooting hand rather than being "tactical" and taking the time to put it in my pocket before firing my first weak-hand shot cost me three points. :rolleyes:

June 25, 2003, 03:31 PM
Well, I shoot my first match this Saturday, so I'll see first hand. For all of the ballyhoo about stock guns etc, they have pretty well weeded out all but a few guns. Holsters are a peeve as weel. Can't use my Fobus Roto holster because it can(not done) be canted. When it looks, smells and tastes like BS it usually is.

June 27, 2003, 01:51 PM
Why would the VIP be disallowed?

Jim Watson
June 27, 2003, 02:14 PM
Yeah, I wondered about that, too.
The VIP has only a 3.9" barrel so the bull/no bushing configuration is OK, it sure makes weight, and I would think it fits The Box.

June 27, 2003, 05:03 PM
FWIW, I used to have more free time and was fairly active in the original IDPA email list way back when (my IDPA # is 1422 for what it's worth.).. I eventually gave up that list (yahoo groups) because I don't have time for the 100 plus daily emails it generated.

I probably haven't kept current with the lastest rules, but while we couldn't shoot, say 6" revolvers, in state or national matches, shooting them in local level matches (your regular club) was fine.

Without meaning to rile anyone up, I argued for 6" revolvers quite a bit before I learned the rules were already made and it'd take at least two years to change them. It has always been difficult for me to argue against success, and there are about a gazillion or so 6" .357's out there that seem to work pretty dog gone well. I have never preferred a long 6" revolver for CCW, but I will not argue aganst someone who does.

So. The powers that be, or one of them anyway, gave an explanation I don't quite agree with, but cannot argue against. The 2" J frame is probably even more successful than the 6"ers. And the reason (for banning 6"ers) given on that list to me was that no one would compete with their snub J frames if the 6"ers were allowed. The J frames just would not be competitive, and so no one would shoot them.

Well, I can understand how that would happen, but I still think 6"ers should be allowed. It's real life, and I know my J frame performance is no where near as good as my 4" midframe performance.

Of course, lots of folks don't quite always see things "my" way. ;) And my Hi Power is so much blasted fun that I still haven't shot IDPA with my snub J frame. :evil:

June 28, 2003, 12:05 AM
no one would compete with their snub J frames if the 6"ers were allowed. The J frames just would not be competitive, and so no one would shoot them. I have NEVER seen anyone compete with a J-frame outside of a BUG (Back Up Gun) side match.

Andrew Wyatt
June 28, 2003, 03:33 PM
IMHO, IDPA is defining itself by what IPSC does, and by instituting rules that eliminate some people's carry pieces, they're saying "LOOK! LOOK! WE'RE NOT IPSC! REALLY!"

I'm still planning on shooting it, though.

June 29, 2003, 03:13 AM
Why would the VIP be disallowed?
Because it is in Super .38 and the 4.2 inch rule only applies to the Bill Wilson class.


My main problem with IDPA: They define themselves by trying NOT to be IPSC. If the BOD would lighten up a bit it would be easier. Fortuantly most shooters realize it is just another game.

I have NEVER seen anyone compete with a J-frame outside of a BUG (Back Up Gun) side match.
There is a guy at one of the ranges I shoot, who not only uses a J-frame but it is a airweight and .32 mag :what:

June 29, 2003, 02:11 PM
As long as we are bragging about low IDPA #'s, mine is 756. And I have been fairly active since April of 97 when I shot my 1st match. I have been told that a T L has its applications. Maybe that is true. What I don't like about IPSC is a 42 round course of fire and everybody only performs 1 mag change. I have shot pin matches (the most fun) and Action Pistol from the middle 80's to the middle 90's (89-92 college years did not hardly pull a trigger).

July 1, 2003, 05:39 PM
Confused. From what I read in GRD's post, what the heck is the purpose of a Reload with Retention? A tactical reload is also a reload with retention, but faster. Why would anyone opt for a slower method in the field? Or is this just an artificiality in the game.

Jim Watson
July 1, 2003, 06:20 PM
A Reload With Retention is easier to learn and to perform with minimal practice; no sleight of hand with two magazines in the same hand at the same time. Just put the old mag in the pocket and reload normally. Not everybody works real hard at the fine points. Or the main points, for that matter.

July 1, 2003, 08:52 PM
While a tactical reload has the magazine out of the gun for a shorter amount of time, a reload with retention is faster in IDPA competition. Economy of movement is the difference. Assuming a 2 hand hold on the pistol:

Tactical reload = 1- weak hand down to belt. 2- hand with fresh mag up to gun. 3-weak hand back down to belt or pocket w/mag. 4- weak hand back up to gun.
Reload with retention= 1- weak hand with mag down to belt or pocket. 2- hand with fresh mag up to gun.

Jim Watson
July 1, 2003, 10:07 PM
Yes, but some folks will say that if the CoF calls for movement after the reload, you can be on the way at step 3 and gain time. You can depart cover as soon as the fresh magazine is seated, even though you are not supposed to shoot until the old mag is stowed. This shows up on Stage 3, String 2 of the Classifier.

July 1, 2003, 10:35 PM
Why either of those reloads would ever be done at speed on the clock is beyond me.

It makes no sense. Learning to top off your gun when the opportunity presents itself? Good thing. Learning it as something to do under fire ('on the clock')? I don't think so.

- Gabe

July 2, 2003, 07:41 AM
GeneS, thanks for breaking that down. I never thought of it from that perspective.

Neil Casper
July 2, 2003, 01:25 PM
Here ia the link to the IDPA Rule Book. About halfway down page 37 is the description of a Tactical Reload.

The IDPA rulebook says that a Tactical Reload should be done "during a lull in the action." (between strings maybe?). To me, this should mean not on the clock. This is a fighting reload and not a competition one.

If you were reloading in a firefight you would most probably just shoot your gun dry. If you did have a "lull in the action" and wanted to reload you could do either retention type reload. The difference in speed is considerable if you look at it as a percentage. But in actual time there is only a couple or few seconds difference. If the threat were so emminent as to impact upon your reload time, you should have shot the gun dry and done a speed/slide lock reload.

And covering a threat is not a "lull in the action" to me.

Of course I'm usually wrong. Where's my wife?:what:


July 2, 2003, 03:03 PM
That's pretty much the way I see it Neil. I think the tac load makes alot more sense if IDPA matches were run on a hot range and you have to do a tac load at the end of the stage, or if a stage was broken up into more than one string, each string timed separately. Shoot one string, record time while the shooter tac loads, give a buzzer and he's off on string 2. Then tac load again at end of stage and put gun away hot.

- Gabe

Jim Watson
July 2, 2003, 03:24 PM
I certainly do a Tac Load after a stage on a hot range or hot bay, or between strings of a multiple string stage. But that is just to stay in the habit and move the match along.

I think the reason to do Tac Loads on the clock is to introduce stress.
Whether the Nationals or a gunfight, even if there is the proverbial "lull in the action" you are not going to be calm, cool and collected. (Well, I'm not, and I have been to all the Nationals and no gunfights.) Reloading on the clock puts pressure on you to do it right the first time.

July 2, 2003, 05:54 PM
FWIW, a while back, some folks would just dump the old mag on the ground no matter what, grab the fresh mag and insert it. then they would bend down and pickup the old mag, stowing it somewhere. This was also called a reload w/ retention....... IIRC, this is frowned on now..

July 2, 2003, 11:33 PM
--"I think the reason to do Tac Loads on the clock is to introduce stress. Whether the Nationals or a gunfight, even if there is the proverbial "lull in the action" you are not going to be calm, cool and collected. (Well, I'm not, and I have been to all the Nationals and no gunfights.) Reloading on the clock puts pressure on you to do it right the first time."--

I think Jim Watson has hit the nail on the head!

I don't like the TL or RWR so I don't practice them as much as I should. :banghead:

Therefore, when I have to do them in a match the stress goes way up! :cuss:

What I try to do, if there are enough targets, you can "make up points dropped" real fast and then you "have" to reload from slidelock.

This is real easy to do with a 1911, 8rnds; not so easy with a HP, 10rnds. :rolleyes:

July 3, 2003, 09:52 AM
Luckily my club doesn't do many COF's with any required reload techniques, nor do we worry about holsters and guns (wife shoots a ported tracker). We try to keep it as fun as possible, and good practice is a desired side affect.

July 3, 2003, 10:06 AM
Ok then, here's a question for those of you who have most likely seen it. In my first match this past Saturday, one stage was clearing a two room house. Three BG's in each room. Each BG to be shot three times. With my trusty Kimber in hand I first loaded one round from a spare mag and then put in an 8 round mag. This allowed me to shoot the first room and go to slide lock. New 8 round mag, shoot two BG's the required three times and the last BG two times. Slide lock once again, reload and shoot last BG one time. So at the first reload, why can't I load a 10 round mag with 9 rounds or take one loose round, load it and then an 8 round mag? Inquiring minds want to know.

Jim Watson
July 3, 2003, 11:24 AM
On the first REload, after having shot to slidelock?
If your Kimber is a .45 you are in CDP and are limited to 8 rounds in the magazine. So you may not reload with a magazine containing nine.
Load a loose round and then load an eight round mag? I guess that would be ok under the letter of the rule, but not under the spirit and intention and not real practical. Hard on the extractor of your gun, too. Bite the bullet and reload when the gun is empty.

July 3, 2003, 07:35 PM
My understanding is that you insert a full (8) magazine, rack the slide, eject magazine and replace with a full fresh one. Thus 9 in the gun to start. I was told that this is how we're supposed to begin a stage, always loaded to the "standard" maximum round count, using standard magazine. Isn't that what you guys are doing?

Of course, I'm talking CDP here, in SSP you'd probably have, say, a Glock with a 10 round mag, so you'd start with one in the chamber and a full ten round mag. Yes? No?

July 3, 2003, 09:41 PM
The person designing the COF can specify almost anything, but I'm pretty sure the rules allow for topping up before starting a stage.. but it's not required (unless the COF designer requires it).

Bear in mind that COF's are supposed to be 6round revolver friendly, if I were shooting revolver on that I'd either:

A) put 2 into each target, reload from cover and put in 3.. then proceed to the next room and put one in each.. or
B) If the targets are visible one at a time from cover (which is probably the case), 3 and 3 then reload... and get the last one.

July 3, 2003, 09:59 PM
2speed, there is a name for dumping rounds to get to slide lock....FTDR!

That technique clearly violates the spirit of the game, and therefore may carry a 20 second penalty.

Braindead, Topping off is required for any stage where it may make a difference.

Gunfyter, explain to the RO what you are up to, and s/he may allow the 9 round mag, instead of topping off. BUT YOU BETTER ONLY HAVE 9 ROUNDS TOTAL IN THE GUN.


July 3, 2003, 10:25 PM
You'll have to forgive my ignorance, but it's not at all clear to me how dumping rounds to get to slide lock violates the spirit of the game.

July 4, 2003, 09:28 AM
See Page 41 of the 5-2-01 Rule Book.

ON STAGES REQUIRING A TACTICAL OR SLIDE LOCK LOAD, CAN I DUMP ROUNDS DOWN RANGE SO I WILL BE ABLE TO RELOAD BY A FASTER METHOD/MORE CONVENIENT LOCATION? YES, however you will receive a "Failure to do Right" penalty for the stage for not negotiating the course in the spirit of the contest"

Look at it this way, In a confrontation, would you shoot a BG an extra time (pick up points) just to have a more convenient reload? Or if you are more sophisticated, would you hit a bg poorly, so you could shoot him again, and get to a more convenient reload.


July 4, 2003, 09:31 AM
I think he means that if you are to shoot three on each target, shooting extra rounds just to go to slide lock (we're assuming you've had good hits on targets) and reload is not what you'd do in a real threat situation. In a real life gunfight, if you had two of four bad guys down, you wouldn't shoot the down guys a couple extra times to go to slide lock, right? You'd be needing those rounds to deal with the next two BGs. That's where it becomes "gaming". Same as people you see not using cover, in a real shoot out you'd be trying to get as covered as you could, but a lot of folks jump out and blaze away, which does make it easier to shoot a stage, but it's not in the spirit of the competition, which is to simulate an armed encounter, as close as possible.

Oh, Happy 4th everyone!

July 4, 2003, 11:35 AM
Sure, you're not going to empty your gun thinking "if I put two more rounds in these guys, I can do a slide-lock reload". You're going to empty your gun thinking "OH #$(^ OH %$# OH %@#$". That is, shooting to slidelock will be, and probably should be, your instinctual response.

To put it another way, is it any less artificial i.e. "gamey" to put a fixed, arbitrary number of rounds on each target? Again referencing "real gunfights", are you going to put 3 rounds on each of these bad guys because... it's a nice round number or what? Never mind that in a gunfight, these hypothetical bad guys aren't just going to stand there and get shot...

It seems to me that "wasting" 2 rounds on targets that have already been theoretically neutralized so that you can reload in a way that won't get you killed is more "realistic" than insisting on saving a mag with 2 rounds in it.

July 5, 2003, 01:07 AM
Its a game, and those are the rules. It is clearly stated in the rule book. Intentionally violating the rules to gain an advantage is an FTDR.


July 5, 2003, 02:33 AM
"Those are the rules" is a non-argument. I thought we were talking about the "spirit of the game", which is something that can never be captured in the letter of any rule. Anyone can read a rulebook, it seemed to me that this discussion was about the rhyme & reason behind the rules.

July 5, 2003, 09:02 AM
Look at it this way, In a confrontation, would you shoot a BG an extra time (pick up points) just to have a more convenient reload? Or if you are more sophisticated, would you hit a bg poorly, so you could shoot him again, and get to a more convenient reload.

No you would dump the mag on the ground and throw in a fresh one and not worry about the fallen mag. But that would be like IPSC and we don't want any of that now do we?:fire:

That being said it is almost impossible for the RO to call a FTDR on dumping rounds, but that is another problem with IDPA, it relies to heavily on subjective decisions by the refs.

it seemed to me that this discussion was about the rhyme & reason behind the rules.
Bill Wilson & Co. wanted to make sure there was nothing with even a hint of IPSC in this game. Hence many of the rules are not about what you can do but what you can't do. The game is structured to make everyone shoot exactly alike.

another okie
July 5, 2003, 05:29 PM
As relative beginner at IDPA myself I would say relax and have fun. If you break a rule it's not the end of the world, unless it's a safety rule. You're not likely to win no matter what.

As far as the particular issue in question here, you are not just allowed to top off at the start, you are required to in any Vickers count string requiring a reload. Rule 14, page 32. This means most stages.

Probably the best way to handle the scenario you describe is to reload between targets in the second room, remembering to reload behind cover. I notice the scenario calls for a minimum of 18 rounds, which puts CDP at a little disadvantage compared to SSP. That 's why in theory you don't compete against everyone, just the folks in your own division.

Personally I would like to see less emphasis on making everything revolver friendly, which is probably how they came up with the 18 rounds. Almost no one in any of the IDPA clubs I've shot at uses a revolver, and those that do use totally impractical revolvers and reload methods anyway, so why bother with keeping it so the revolvers can be "practical." I've never met anyone who carries a S & W 625 in .45 ACP and three moon clips around all day.

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