Starting on May 1st 2023, the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) will be adding a new provisional competitive division to its categorical lineup: the Limited Optics division. This means that a 9mm Luger Staccato P cut for a slide mounted red-dot sight is now kosher at a local match without having to be under Open division. For slightly more serious Level 2 events, it would depend on the specific match whether to allow them or not for the duration of 2023. For Level 3 matches, this new division will not be open until next year, in 2024.
The biggest and most obvious difference between the regular Limited division and the new Limited Optics division is the fact that slide mounted electronic red dot sights are allowed. (Having an optic on a mount fastened to the pistol’s frame would still require it to compete under Open division). In other words, this new division is basically Carry Optics meets Limited. All guns will be scored as minor guns and all guns will still be subject to the 141.5 millimeter magazine length restrictions. 9mm Luger is the minimum allowed caliber, and basically the only logical choice given its extreme popularity these days. With all guns being scored as minor and having magazine length limits be the same as Limited or Carry Optics, this new division just sounds like Carry Optics with extra steps.
It’s no doubt that the new crop of NRA B-8 shooting double stack 1911/2011 owners have been the butt of some jokes that poke fun at this new USPSA division. However, the fact of the matter is that 9mm Luger chambered double stack 1911 style pistols have surged in popularity and are becoming reliable and durable enough for everyday carry and duty use. The same goes for slide mounted red dots, these are more popular than ever before, with the industry catering to shooters at every price point and sophistication level (exactly like double-stack 1911s). I can entertain the fact that excluding these new guns “in common use” from the Carry Optics realm and forcing them to compete solely against 9mm Major Open race guns is maybe silly. On the flip side, with the sophistication available in non 1911 high performance designs, like the CZ Shadow 2 series or many of the new metal framed striker guns–could it be that the line between high performance 1911 type pistols and their non 1911-style counterparts has become very blurry? Maybe it doesn’t even matter that much. It’s the Indian, not the arrow, right? As for me, I plan to keep shooting Limited or Carry Optics until I can afford a double-stack 1911.