Open Division is the almost anything goes division. When people use the term “race guns” they are often referring to Open Division equipment. There is a common misconception that buying expensive equipment is a substitute for skill. Without the requisite skill level more advanced equipment can actually be a liability. Open is a very competitive division, albeit usually smaller than Tac-Scope. You must put the time in practice to do well in Open.
There’s also a misconception that Open Division guns aren’t “practical”. The truth is if you look at the features of current generation service weapons many would fall into Open Division if used competitively. Many of the same concepts like dual optics on rifles, red dots on shotguns, and most recently now red dots on pistols are carrying over.
Again I will be referencing Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun Rules as they generally set the standard for other major multigun matches. The current version of the rules apply the principle of if its not prohibited, it is legal. Firearms must still comply with minimum caliber requirements and ammunition restrictions discussed in the Limited Division Article. In short .223 is minimum rifle caliber, 9mm minimum handgun caliber, 20 gauge minimum shotgun caliber. Generally no armor piercing or magnetic projectiles are allowed, this includes steel shot and bi-metal jacket projectiles.
184.108.40.206 Handgun holsters must safely retain the handgun during vigorous movement, and must completely cover the trigger. The belt upon which the handgun holster is attached must be worn at waist level. Shoulder holsters and cross draw holsters are prohibited.
Optics, compensators, porting, and other modifications are all allowed. Using a red dot on a pistol takes more practice and training than using iron sights. Once mastered it offers some distinct advantages in speed and accuracy.
220.127.116.11 Magazine length may not exceed 170mm.
Magazines can be 30mm longer than in Tac-Scope or Limited. Glock 33 rounders are over this length limit. Some matches have no capacity restriction so open is truly open. I typically just use my Limited length mags when competing in open with mag length restrictions because Open length mags/extensions are typically harder to find or more expensive.
More than one optic is allowed. It is common to use a magnified optic on top and an offset red dot. The down side to an offset red dot is most of the time they can only be used from the strong side shoulder.
Stacked Optics are another option for dual optics. The down side is more bore offset and two different cheek welds. The up side is it can be used off either shoulder. I’m in the minority preferring stacked optics. As a lefty I have to switch shoulders too often on stages designed for right handed shooters to use offset red dots all the time. With a 50 yard zero the bore offset issue is minimized.
18.104.22.168 Supporting devices (e.g. bipods) are permitted, and may start any stage folded or deployed at the participant’s discretion.
SMM3G Rules allow the removal or installation of the bipod at the shooter’s discretion. Confirm that this is allowed at the match you are attending as this rule can differ.
Compensators and Brakes larger than 1″x3″ are also allowed. Most people in Open still use comps/breaks that would be legal in Tac-Scope or Limited.
Shotgun is perhaps the most radical departure in equipment from the other divisions. Higher capacities and faster mechanical reloading methods set Open Division shotguns apart. There is no limit on shotgun capacity in Open.
22.214.171.124 Speed loading devices and/or detachable box magazines are permitted.
Magazine fed shotguns are often seen as a short cut to fast loading. While this can be true, they still require practice and a more educated user because they have idiosyncrasies that tube feds do not. The most common mistake I see new shooters make is buying a mag fed shotgun not understanding they are only allowed in open. If you have a mag fed shotgun and no other open equipment, I would generally recommend getting a tube fed and shooting in Limited or Tac-Scope. Or simply accept that you will be at a disadvantage and shoot for fun.
126.96.36.199 Tubular speed loading devices must feature a primer relief cut.
Old Tech-loaders without the primer relief cut caused a few catostrophic failure of chain firing all the shells in a mag tube as the one at the rear discharged setting one off after another. It has likely been almost 20 years since this design safety change has been made.
Red dots are a big advantage on Open shotguns for making slug hits at range. Personally I find they help shoot close range target arrays faster as well. With both eyes open using a red dot on a shotgun is like using an aimbot cheat code in first person shooter games.
Open Division is best for experienced competitors intimately familiar with their equipment. If you only have a few of the open features it’s best to decide to either go all the way or down grade to another division. Open is a very fun division to compete in at high round count matches like Ironman or Hard as Hell. Less reloading and mechanical shotgun loading advantages make those kind of stages significantly faster.