View Full Version : IDPA vs IPSC

November 5, 2004, 07:38 PM
For those of you who shoot in either of these disciplines:

Why would someone choose one over another?

Which of the sports is the next "logical" step after range shooting (moving up--or on) from target shooting to improving on that skill and taking your shooting to the "next level" of competence?

Which sport offers a person the most realistic chance of improving their possibility of surviving an attack from bad guys (if I'd decide to pursue a CCW permit and would therefore be armed when the attack occurs).

I live in an area that has both IPSC and IDPA chapters within about an hour of me. Do you guys have opinions about which makes sense to participate in?

Equipment---Sig 220 and CZ85 Combat. No holsters, belts, magazine pouches.

Experience---I've been target shooting for 8 months and have taken basic handgun course and 2 extra hours of instruction.


November 5, 2004, 08:28 PM
Since you mentioned surviving an attack I would definitely choose IDPA.

November 5, 2004, 10:03 PM
I haven't shot an IDPA match yet, but I've been shooting IPSC matches for about 5 years.
IDPA rules and course design are closer to what you might encounter in a real world situation. IPSC courses are usually a little less realistic but the round count (shots fired) is generally higher.
You get out of it what you put into it. Try both and see what you think. You will find your fellow shooters to be very friendly and helpful.
When people think IPSC, they tend to think of open class. Open class guns have a speed and mag capacity advantage, but are not practical in the real world. Don't worry about it. IPSC has several classes and you only shoot against people in your class. You also don't need full race gear to compete. I started out with a cheap Uncle Mike's holster and borrowed mag pouches.
With your guns, you could compete in Limited, Limited 10, or Production class.
For IDPA, 3 mags is the limit plus a "barney" mag for loading the chamber. For IPSC, you will want about 50 rds worth of mags.
Your main concern will be maximizing trigger time while having to move, reload your gun, and mainly THINK while you are shooting-all in a situation that is a bit stressful.
For more info, try:

November 6, 2004, 04:24 PM
Do both.

Any time someone brings up the whole IDPA vs. IPSC, I post Rob Leatham's response he posted at Brian Enos forum

I recently ran a class of military shooters, and among other things, ran them through the IDPA classifier, Participated in a local steel match and shot The Arizona State IDPA Championships! Let me share with you some interesting observations. They get more wound up and nervous in a match than they do in combat! Why? Because they have time to think about it and get tense! I respect these guys opinion more than ANY so called tactician out there who is sure he knows the tricks to surviving an armed confrontation. These guys have been doing that a bunch lately and think IDPA and IPSC shooting both offer much to the testing phase of ones ability. On the other hand, they to a man do not agree with the philosophies that either is inherently more practical. All the little things like which way do you turn or where you do the load is all something that we can discuss all day on the range, but on the battlefield, men do things that may not be considered practical or tactical and live because they did it fast, accurately and decisively. On the other hand, there are those who did it "right" by some folks judgement and still lost. We all have our ideas of how it should be done, and the rules of the existing games are just that, some ones ideas. To say going to any kind of shooting event will teach you technique that will get you killed is idiotic and irresponsible. Guys, it is cool to have your own plan but do not try to pass it off as gospel to the rest of us. A discussion of technique and philosophy seldom ends with agreement, but that does not make the other guy wrong or stupid. These are just games designed to test your abilities in a very controlled and pre-planned arena. Who wins is your best shot, not your most likely survivor. That can not be tested under the clock. However, those that master executing under the timer are probably more likely to do well in a pressure situation, than someone who chokes, misses or gets procedural penalties. This is a point the boys all agree on, thus they train hard and test themselves in the arena of competition to see what they know and whether they can do it.

If you want to improve your chances of survival, got take classes from Frontsight, Gunsite, etc. Those guys will teach you the skills you need to stay alive.

November 6, 2004, 10:23 PM
Scooter2, Scottys1, GaryXD,

Thanks for the information and advice. I'll check out both as well as reading some other postings on the competition thread.

November 12, 2004, 06:35 PM
I vote for both.

I started out shooting IDPA, now I am expanding out and shooting IPSC and PPC...

I shoot them all because I enjoy shooting.

If you're looking for training for carry, this isn't necessarily the way to do it;None of them are going to be true indicators of what you'd do in a reall life situation. That said, they all give you more trigger time, and time to get comfortable with a firearm than most folks I know who carry (many of whom seem to make sure to take one good class and then never practice, or shoot for fun etc).

November 13, 2004, 12:24 AM
Try em out and see what is more of a challenge. I think that shooting one or the other will not be the differnce. The key is knowing your firearm of choice, how it runs, and what makes it run, shooting in the most uncomfortable / impossible ways you never thought you would shoot. I shoot both sports and enjoy them.

December 29, 2004, 10:49 AM
I will side with the crowd voting for both. Although I have not shot an IDPA match, one of my shooting buddies is big into IDPA. I am into USPSA, and have been since the late 80's.

On the USPSA side, you will learn to shoot and move fast to be competitive. I honestly can't consciously remember focusing on the front sight much after the first shot. Yes, I do use it throughout each stage, but it becomes a subconscious task. My club runs 8-stage matches with about 160-180 rounds required to engage each target. Although not "realistic" in the sense of "Clearing a house", I have gained immense confidence in rapid target acquisition and engagement. Of recent, I have tried to do "less" planning of each stage and let it flow naturally after the buzzer. Makes me a little less competitive in overall standing, but adds to the enjoyment for me.

I have also shot a few rounds of PPC. Compared to USPSA, it feels like bullseye shooting pace. Still fun and good for concentrating on pure accuracy.

Overall, try both and see what you like better. You may find that you will want to get a combination of both. One word of warning though, pick one of your pistols for competition and stick with it. I went through a season of juggling between a couple pistols and my season was terrible. I drifted back to the reliable ol' single stack 45acp and love it.

Good luck and enjoy.

January 2, 2005, 06:00 AM
These guys are right, try both. I shoot both and like it even more trigger time and I get to play with more gun stuff. I have found I do better in each sport when I shoot the other also.
You have guns you can use in either one, go check them out. Bring some ammo and what gear you have. Both ipsc and idpa guys will try to get you to shoot when you go to check it out, just do it. Everyone is new I was, everyone here was. They will walk you thru the rules a bit and safty stuff.

January 2, 2005, 01:33 PM
Comparing IPSC and IDPA is like comparing offroad racing to formula 1- They're two totally different things.

January 2, 2005, 07:14 PM
Actually they are the same thing with slightly different rules!

January 4, 2005, 06:05 PM
This is a great question and, being new to competition, I've been wondering the same thing.

I understand all the comments about how both IPSC and IDPA are good in their own ways and that using both is also good.

But, unless I read it wrong, the rules seem to favor different types of equipment. For example, in IDPA, the equipment is that which would be worn in concealed carry. So, slimmer (single stack mags) weapons like the 1911-style pistols would be the norm, I guess. In IPSC, the production class doesn't allow single action pistols and, due to the number of rounds fired, it looks like one would be at a disadvantage with only 7 or 8-shot mags. Yes, there are other classes in IPSC but then you're up against custom stuff, right?

Personally, I like both my 1911-style and my H&K USP. I know I should pick one and stick with it. I haven't decided which one to go with. So I thought maybe the type of competition might help me decide. It seems the USP would be more suited for IPSC while the Colt would be more suited for the IDPA.

Dazed and confused newbie (to competition, not to shooting)


Number 6
January 4, 2005, 07:04 PM
for your 1911 can be gotten from Chip McCormick and other manufacturers. Use the 10-rounders for USPSA and you can shoot L-10 with no capacity disadvantage. ;)

January 4, 2005, 08:21 PM
Hmm. Then I wonder why it's not more popular. Since my interest is a little off the topic of the original poster, I've started a new thread.

January 8, 2005, 09:54 AM
NOW this is easier to answer: Because all you new 'cheaters' (those with now-banned gear) can bring it to USPSA. You can still do all the stuff you had to do in IDPA, too.
Except you won't win.

January 8, 2005, 11:02 PM
do both! any trigger time is better than no trigger time! I shot IDPA and IPSC at the same time. It's fun just do it!

Jeff Loveless
January 9, 2005, 12:21 AM
If you're really new to competitive shooting I'd say go with IDPA for awhile at the local club level. It is great for beginners, you can compete with almost anything (new rule book notwithstanding!) AND it's closer to playing cops and robbers than the other shooting sport.

Once you get used to the buzzer and spectators try IPSC. I've heard it said that you will learn to shoot faster and more accurately here than any other sport. YMMV of course.

I think IDPA is fun and more compatible with my goals, but that is me. If you grow weary of playing games go to some more shooting schools and concentrate on more tactical skills. Then, based on your experience with IDPA and IPSC, choose one and use it to hone your new skills in order to better yourself, not win plaques.

January 9, 2005, 12:54 PM
Shoot both!

You have a Sig 220. Get a bunch of spare magazines and an appropriate holster and you can shoot both IDPA Stock Service Pistol and IPSC Production Class (I do with a Sig 226R-DAK). However, last week IDPA did change their holster rules!! A lot of the kydex holsters that were previously approved are no longer. So consider that when buying a holster and a mag pouch. Get something you can use in both disciplines.

Most IDPA stages are simple tests of basic skills, as are the IPSC classifier matches. I like to shoot the "run & gun" assault courses, but actually prefer the classifiers in IPSC because they cycle faster so there is usually less down time at the range waiting to shoot. And I particularly like the IDPA classifier match as a good test of basic skills, even though it's 90 rounds and takes a long time to run.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both games. Remember that you will be learning dynamic shooting and the scenario you participate in may or may not be realistic or tactically correct. Just take it for what it is, be safe, have a good time, learn what you can and have a good time.

January 12, 2005, 05:31 PM
IDPA. Or both. Both have some elements of silliness about them, such as IDPAs too-strict holster limitations (IMO), and the classification of the XD in ESP because of the trigger. But IDPA still tries to be more realistic in terms of trying to duplicate actual possible defensive encounters at realistic ranges, not 75 yards and such. Notably, I personally have an intense disdain for the IPSC race holsters, as being the quintessential NON-practical gear item, for a game with a "P" in its name. Beyond stupid. To a lesser extent, disdain for open class too. However, red dots and comps are not nearly as stupid as race holsters, because one might actually make a holster to accomodate your pistol with red dot, and carry it, whereas one NEVER uses a race holster in everyday life - sure would like to hear if someone does. However, these details can be overlooked - just use your standard carry holster and don't shoot open - it won't make a real difference in where your score ends up. All the above is if you look at the game as preparation for actual defense. If you look at it as strictly a game, then they're both a kick in the pants.

P.S. If there were to come a day where I show up at an IDPA match, and the holster which I *actually* use for everyday carry is disallowed, then I would shoot the match with my disallowed holster, and simply not be scored (or not have my score count), and never attend again, because then IDPA will have lost its way as much as IPSC. The holster restrictions are starting to border on ridiculous.

XD Niner
January 12, 2005, 11:56 PM
I suspect the decision may largely be driven by what is available or popular in your area and which group gives you the biggest welcome. By all means, shoot both if you can but have fun regardless of which you choose.

January 13, 2005, 01:31 PM
michaelefox - A good IDPA-legal rig will serve for IPSC, too. The reverse is not necessarily true. A HK USP is a great gun for both sports. If you have it in .40, with the trigger module that allows either DA/SA or cocked 'n' locked use, you can shoot in SSP (DA) and ESP (SA) in IDPA, or Production (DA), Limited or Limited 10 (SA) in IPCS/USPSA. 10-round mags are fine for all, but will put you at a disadvantage in Limited; you'll want hi-caps for that. If it's a 9, then you can still competitively run SSP, ESP, and Production.

January 14, 2005, 12:35 AM
75 yds? 3 gun match??

January 14, 2005, 10:18 AM
In case some of the people here dont know. The quote Scooter 2 posted near the top was from the winningest IPSC AND IDPA shooter ever.

January 23, 2005, 12:21 PM
I love shooting both. IDPA does not really offer any more real world scenario encounter than the other, but it does in pre-production USPSA world offer a place for the $500 glock to compete without having to add this and that. I like USPSA as it usually is more round counts per stage. At a atch that has 30 shooters, one has to wait a while before being called- set restage costs about the same amount of time between shooters so in IDPA where you shoot 12 rnd (mostly) vs USPSA where you shoot say 24 rnds, I get more trigger time in. I like the you decide how to shoot the courses in USPSA, but sometimes appreciate the tactical order and sequencing of IDPA.

What I dislike about IDPA- besides BOD banning nonsense is sometimes the stages get too trite trying to up round counts while keeping the stage practical, what I dislike about USPSA is the seemingly unlimited time people can wander through the stage airgunning and sometimes a great deal of time on the firing line while the person repeatedly thinks through the stage.

March 20, 2005, 10:58 PM
Any comparison that leads to a measurement of which is better is bull-oney. They both serve a function, which is to give you trigger time. The more you shoot, the better you are. Simulated stress in both is a great training tool. One will be better (more tactical) when the stage design has someone shooting live rounds back at you. Neither does that, yet. All these race guns that some people trash work like a 1911 single stack. I have two race guns but 5 single stacks. The controls are the same on all of them. Rob Leatham (he really is the greatest of all time) was right. Neither is better. Shoot them both.

.45 is my caliber of choice for defense, but Matt Burkett had the best defense of 9mm I've heard. Paraphrased..." everyone makes fun of the 9mm for defense, but I've never seen anyone volunteer to go downrange and catch them".

When anyone starts getting too sanctimonious about their sport/organization, remember this. As long as they're keeping score, it's still a game.


Old Shooter
April 1, 2005, 07:38 AM
I came across this site which may be helpful (a little dated considering some rule changes but pretty accurate otherwise). The basic differences are in the article:

April 1, 2005, 02:17 PM
I have recently shot both for the first. I enjoyed both. Each one has its good points and bad and many people who have already posted have highlighted many of those. But I will tell you one thing from each that drives me nuts:
IDPA- Tactical reloads- what a bunch of BS. The rule is only there to distinguish IDPA from USPSA.
USPSA- Excessive air gunning. It is one thing to go down range with the RO to be safe and understand the course, but dry running through a stage multiple times is aggravating.
Always remember, it is a game no matter which you choose. Both can teach a lot about shooting. And both have some unrealistic rules/COF. Both are fun.

April 9, 2005, 11:39 PM
Quote - Old Shooter......I came across this site which may be helpful (a little dated considering some rule changes but pretty accurate otherwise). The basic differences are in the article:
My life is based on a true story ....
Sometimes I wish I could sit back and watch the things I do.

Great link and even better tagline! Amen to that!

jwrig - Jim

Zak Smith
April 10, 2005, 03:04 PM
Of the two, I'd rather shoot IPSC/USPSA. I get to shoot more rounds per stage (and overall), and that's why I'm shooting the match in the first place. I get to solve the problem my own way, optimized for my abilities and the capacity of my pistol, whatever it is. That said, I'd rather shoot a 3Gun match vs. either IPSC or IDPA, just because they're more fun.


April 18, 2005, 05:28 PM
I have shot IPSC AND IDPA extensively in my 27-year shooting career. Both are indeed games. Which one is better for training in defensive pistolcraft? IDPA, for sure. Aside from the increasingly petty rules in IDPA, it does have one huge advantage. The shooters must use open sights and carry guns. IPSC, even in it's "Limited Class", favor game guns. The optics, gun weight/size, exotic holsters, watered-down ammunition, and riot-control course design found in IPSC is far, far removed from any likely self-defense scenario.

The politics within IDPA are difficult to live with, but at least they require open sights and carry guns. The course designs are much more realistic as well.

Still, my first love is bowling pin shooting. I use open sights, +p .45 ACP ammunition, and the course design is so simple. All that a shooter is required to do is hit a target area the size of a 12-ounce soda can with a bullet that has a power factor of 215,000. Misses and wounding shots don't count. Five pins, five potent shots. Open sights.

I am confident that if I am ever required to shoot 1-7 scumbags, I'll be watching my front sight and squeezing the trigger.

I expect that this will serve me well.

I mean no disrespect toward IPSC or IDPA. They are both fun games.

Zak Smith
April 18, 2005, 05:42 PM
IPSC, even in it's "Limited Class", favor game guns.
That's only true when you ignore the two other USPSA/IPSC divisions: Limited-10 and Production. The most common gun in L-10 is the single-stack 1911 in 45ACP, and almost any DA or DA/SA "duty" auto is right at home in Production.
The optics, gun weight/size, exotic holsters, watered-down ammunition, and riot-control course design found in IPSC is far, far removed from any likely self-defense scenario.
High round count means you get more practice at target acquisition, reloads, planning, decision making, etc.

If we only want to practice what we'll statistically be threatened with, we should practice running 10 miles a week and eating better to avoid heart disease than shoot, since the vast majority never need to draw a gun for self defense.


April 18, 2005, 05:57 PM

I compete in both and I have seen more watered-down ammunition used in a IDPA matches than in USPSA especially in the CDP and ESP divisions. Personally I dont care if a competitor uses light loads since IDPA only requires a 165 PF in the CDP divison all other divisons require 125 PF and power factor doesnt impact the score. In USPSA/IPSC if your not competing in the Production Division (All Scored Minor) PF will impact your hit/score totals.

April 19, 2005, 08:27 AM
Anyone who feels that IDPA is inherently more 'tactical' in any significant amount needs to read the comments from Rob Leatham posted earlier. While it is true that IDPA tries to be more tactical, I think the 'use of cover' and the concealment requirement are about all there is to IDPA leaning it more to the 'tactical' side of things. And 95% of the people shooting IDPA do not wear their real daily concealment and the use of cover is so vastly different on the competition course than it should be 'in real life' as to be almost not worth the effort. A high-speed pantomime of using cover and concealement does not good practice make.

Shoot both, shoot everything. The more trigger time you have 'on the clock' in the pressure-cooker of competition, the better shooter you will become. If you are looking to learn how to fight with a handgun, go to school. Don't confuse IDPA/USPSA with school. I'll paste in here a paragraph from our IDPA club's (www.scarfg.org/idpa) FAQ page that is relevant:Q: I took a Basic Pistol class and thought that IDPA would be a great way to learn some more practical defense-oriented skills. Should I sign up?
A: While the emphasis in IDPA competition is to 'simulate' possible defensive scenarios, and many of the Safety Officers and Staff at our events are certified self-defense instructors in their own right, IDPA is just a game. Participation in the practical shooting sports will most certainly help you to become a better shooter, but it is not defensive training. Some of the skills you will use may be applicable to actual life-threatening encounters, but many are not. We will make no distinction between what is and is not an appropriate life-saving skill or tactic at our matches or related classes. We strongly encourage you to seek professional, competent outside instruction if you own or carry a pistol for defense of yourself and/or others. You could think of IDPA (or any practical shooting sport, for that matter) as a training aid as opposed to actual training. That said, as Brian Enos puts it: "If I had to save myself or someone else from drowning, I'd rather be an Olympic swimmer."- Gabe

April 25, 2005, 06:48 PM
I'm thinking about getting into competitive shooting as well. Most ranges here don't allow rapid fire, multiple targets, or drawing from concealed. I've only been able to do this on a few occasions and it was a very humbling experience. I used to consider myself a decent shot until I tried engaging multiple targets from concealment.

I know muscle memory is imperative as lots of trigger time will enable you to point the gun much more accurately without using the sights. I can put two center of mass but my groupings are dismal. Also, these types of competitions really focus on follow up shots and you practice target acquisition and reacquisition. I can't wait to get started!

April 26, 2005, 10:07 PM
IDPA taught me to shoot in awkward positions. USPSA taught me to be a better and faster shooter. Any trigger time is useful.

Being a versatile, fast and accurate shooter is tactical, but not all there is to good tactics.

Shoot both and any other sport to get better. Then take a good class to learn to think "tactical".

May 27, 2005, 07:08 AM
I've shot both IPSC and IDPA and I reckon IDPA is definitely easier for newbies. The COF is pre-determined, and so is the order of engagement for targets. This makes it a lot easier to shoot a stage. For an IPSC newbie - facing a sea of targets which you have to engage in order you see fit is very daunting. Watching other shooters doesn't help much because everyone shoots the stage differently. At least with IDPA, all you have to do is watch how one shooter shoots the stage, and if he doesn't get any procedurals - that's the way to do it. :o

May 29, 2005, 03:22 PM
I too am interested in doing the IPSC and IDPA both. The first thing I did was read the rule books. I understand the concept of a concealment holster as defined by IDPA. However they seem to be a bit anal retentive when it comes to the holster rules for pouch style... We dont all have the same build when it comes to holsters, what fits you and is within the rules may not work on my body build.......dunno..

The Tactical Reload.....seems to be great on face value if you have the time in a gunfight. In the military I was taught to slam that magazine home. Which would seem to be a bit harder to do with the pistol in one hand and two magazines in the other hand? Not to mention the mechanics of it...I am almost 50 and have a bit of arthritis in my hands.. not to mention that this would seem to come under fine motor skills.. plus what is the common time that most gunfights occur in? Knock on wood never been in one...but I think that tactical reloading would be the last thing on my mind unless a break in the situation occured...

To me some of these rules seem to be in place to differentiate the sports from each other....

I really like the idea of IDPA and the courses of fire....and if you want to play you got to follow the rule book..

I intend to participate in them both......I just think the IDPA could make do with some changes in the rules

my 2 cents worth.

Old Shooter
May 30, 2005, 04:55 AM
The Tactical Reload

Don’t get caught up in it. I shoot in 3 local clubs and that reload in a match is rare. Instead of "tactical", most use "with retention", whereby you are first pocketing the mag and then inserting a new one from your holster.

Even if there is that rare "tactical" in a stage, if it’s a problem, take the penalty and continue on.

May 30, 2005, 12:02 PM
Glad to hear that.....it is a rare occurence

nuff said.......

I finally found a holster place that has a Kydex Holster I like that will fit the IDPA rules and I can use it for IPSC also.......

my only chuckle is that the IDPA pupose seems to be directed towards realism... they have a couple of rules which just seem to differentiate them from IPSC

yet when I go to this holster site there is a link to this place that sells a vest type concealment garment with mesh in the back but still conceals your weapon for IDPA..lol.. like anybody is going to wear that thing on the street.

I still plan on competing IDPA and IPSC tho

June 2, 2005, 09:59 AM
Going to try and shoot in my first IDPA match this Saturday....... :D

June 2, 2005, 10:04 AM
OOPS double post :eek:

Glenn E. Meyer
June 11, 2005, 10:49 AM
Which sport offers a person the most realistic chance of improving their possibility of surviving an attack from bad guys (if I'd decide to pursue a CCW permit and would therefore be armed when the attack occurs).

Trigger time is a good thing. Many cogent points have been made. Neither is realistic to any great extent.

I just want to say that if you are serious about training to survive an attack, find a good quality tactical course or two. Take one with a FOF component. IPSC or IDPA targets have no free will and don't shoot back. They don't move much, do they? Thus, shoot the games for fun, skills and trigger time - but get tactical training if you are serious about progressing in that level.