What are some of the gear differences between USPSA and IDPA?
I use some of the same gear in both IDPA and USPSA. In this post, we’ll be covering some differences in equipment used in USPSA Production and IDPA SSP Divisions. My GEN 3 Glock 34 is a common denominator. The things like belts, holsters and mag carriers can be interchanged, but with slight differences depending upon which sport you’re competing in.
For starters, USPSA doesn’t use concealment garments at all. In IDPA, most everything except for the classifier and some standards stages is shot wearing a concealment garment; most likely a vest, however, you can use a button up shirt or coat or jacket if that’s what you prefer. So, if you’re heading to a USPSA match, ditch the concealment. I used to use a cycling vest, then bought an Eotac when they were around. I still use it, but would like to get one of Armadillo Concealment’s custom vests.
As an aside, I hear folks on the range mistakenly call a vest a “cover garment”. Like, “Are we wearing cover?”, when it’s hot. Or, “There is no cover garment for this stage”. Just call it what it is. Concealment. It conceals your gun.
You can only have two magazines on your hip in IDPA; so, all you need are two carriers. In USPSA, I use four due to the higher round count of the matches. One of the barriers to entry in USPSA for me was the slightly higher cost of adding mag carriers to be competitive. Over time, I did buy more mag carriers and settled in with the Comp-tac’s. They work equally well for both sports.
Also, IDPA doesn’t let us use “race” equipment. So, pouches made by Ghost, DAA or CR Speed don’t qualify.
IDPA does not allow inner and out belts like USPSA does. At IDPA matches, I’ve seen folks use just the outer portion of their kydex lined race belt looped through their belt loops. I use a kydex lined belt from Comp-tac that replaced my super old leather belt which was starting to bend a little too much. For USPSA, I wear a Double Alpha inner/outer belt. With all the weight of the bullets, mags, & gun, the DAA is strong, tough and keeps my gear stable. I think I got it from Dawson Precision.
I’ve also run nylon belts in IDPA for a little while. I highly recommend getting anything that’s reinforced; plain nylon didn’t work as well for me.
I usually wear hiking boots in the wetter winter months. I did use trail shoes at the NC Section Championship last year and got soaked. It wasn’t that big a deal though. Of late, I’ve been wearing Inov8 255′s like the one’s that Ron used in his post. What I like is that they still have good traction at the sand, gravel ranges around the Carolinas and has better grip than cleats. Cleats? Yes, you can wear cleats at USPSA matches; but not in IDPA.
For a long while, I’ve been using a Comp-tac paddle holster for IDPA and in USPSA last year. This year, I’ve switched to the Comp-tac International for USPSA. You can read more about that switch here. If you’re on a budget and don’t have a drop-offset holster, you can still use a regular holster for both sports like I had been doing.
It’s nice having dedicated holster and belt setups for both sports, being that the actual placement of mag carriers and holster differ. In USPSA, we’re allowed to keep gear at or right behind the hip bone; in IDPA, they have to be at or behind the pant centerline looking down from the arm pit.
But, if you don’t have dedicated setups, having equipment that works for both games helps. At minimum, you should have all IDPA legal gear and you’ll be fine to shoot USPSA.
Either way, if you started shooting IDPA and want to shoot USPSA, you’ll at least need to get a couple more mag pouches. If you started in USPSA and want to cross-over to IDPA, you’ll be looking at more significant gear changes in mag pouch type, belt and holster.