Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
I’ve only recently dived into the world of competition shooting. I’ve tried Steel Challenge, Action Steel, Skeet, and 3-Gun now. dabble in long-range rifles, but that was less of a competition and more of an introduction to PRS-type fun shoot. It’s all been a blast! I love competing, and I think more serious shooters should give it a try. My competition guns vary a bit, and I don’t have anything exceptionally fancy.
Competition shooting has sent me on a quest to build my individual skills, as well as improve my guns. Improving guns is always fun but can be intimidating. A good gun can take you quite far, and with the right accessories, you can shoot faster and with greater accuracy.
The intimidation factor is twofold. First, do you know what you’re doing when it comes to working on a gun? It’s easy to mess it up. Second, are your mods legal for your competition? Some have strict rules and regulations that are a literal box to fit in. Upgrading can also be expensive, and sometimes parts are hard to find, etc.
So with all that in mind, what about some out-of-the-box options? The competition market is large enough to warrant out-of-the-box options for competition shooting and sports of all types. From 3-Gun to PRS, you’re covered. Let’s dive in and look at a few of the best out-of-the-box competition guns on the market.
These guns might not be the best option compared to a custom, built-for-you rifle, but they give you a great place to start and make easing into competition easy.
The Best Out of The Box Competition Guns
Table of contents
The Shotgun – The Mossberg 940 JM Pro
I love shotguns, and I shoot them often. I thought I’d be hot crap at the shotgun portion of 3-Gun, but I was quickly humbled. Me and my wee little 930 SPX just weren’t up to snuff compared to lots of competitors. If you want a shotgun ready to rule the roost, the 940 JM Pro is the weapon for you.
The 940 series is everything the 930 series should have been. It uses a very similar gas system, but it’s drastically improved to provide a more reliable action and to require less overall maintenance. The loading port elevation and follower are all tuned for competition, and you won’t leave a DNA sample inside the gun when you reload.
Mossberg designed the 940 JM Pro series specifically for competition and with the aid of Jerry Miculek, a shooter many consider to be the best in the world. The gun comes in a ten-shot capacity to limit reloads. Shooters can easily adjust the length of pull and drop, adding a red dot is easy, and the controls are absolutely massive!
From front to rear, the gun is designed to make you a conqueror at the range. It’s easy to use, low recoiling, smooth shooting, and is reliable. The shotgun portion is often a make-or-break event for a competitor, and having a good shotgun gets you at least halfway there.
Pistol Caliber Carbine – CMMG Resolute MkGs
The PCC platform has become widely accepted by competition shooters in USPSA, IPSC, and Steel Challenge. Tons of shooters enjoy shooting these fun little rifles. There are tons and tons of options out there for PCC shooters, and the CMMG Resolute MkGs stands out as one of the best. Most PCCs are direct blowback guns, which means they have a somewhat harsh recoil impulse.
The MkGs use a rotary delayed design that eliminates that sharp recoil impulse and creates a very smooth shooting platform. Recoil is basically nil, and the CMMG brake does a great job of reducing recoil even more. Muzzle rise is minimal from a 16-inch barrel, and the gun is quick and easy to control.
We get a very accurate platform that will make destroying those little targets easy. To get the weight centered in the rear, we have a minimalist M-LOK rail that also provides a good grip over the rifle. The controls are fantastic, and they include awesome controls. We get an Ambi safety, a massive charging handle, and a huge bolt release.
If you want to get started in the world of PCCs, this is a great gun to get rolling with. Add an optic, and you’re ready to rock and roll.
Rifle – SIG M400-DH3 Rifle
Why design your own rifle for 3-Gun when you can have multi-discipline champion Daniel Horner do it? Daniel Horner now shoots for SIG but was a famed member of the Army Marksmanship Unit. He knows his stuff. SIG and Daniel Horner teamed up to create the SIG M400 DH3 rifle. It’s optimized for three-gun and two-gun competitions.
There is a lot to say about this rifle. From back to front, let’s start with features. First, we have the DH3 stock that’s extremely supportive and adjustable. We get fully ambidextrous controls that are all oversized and easy to use. Inside the lower is the Daniel Horner signature Timney 2-stage trigger. The rail is a low-profile 3-gun M-LOK design that’s light and easy to grip. The barrel is fluted to reduce weight and topped with an aggressive, recoil-destroying muzzle brake.
The M400 series is a standard AR-15 rifle outside of all the fancy features. It’s another gun that is just missing an optic. All the work is done for you, just slap an optic on, throw a magazine in, and let loose with the thing! It’s perfect for the aspiring three-gunner, and it’s admittedly designed by a very reputable and achieved shooter.
Precision rifle – The Ruger Precision Rifle
Precision rifle is an intimidating sport to approach. It requires a lot of trigger time and even more time studying and learning ballistics and the external factors that affect them. It’s tough to approach, and the last thing you need to worry about is your rifle. Well, really, it’s the first thing you need to worry about, but Ruger is going to make it simple for us.
The Ruger Precision Rifle has you covered. This bolt action rifle is an out-of-the-box precision rifle in a ton of calibers. This includes .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 338 Lapua Magnum, 300 Winchester Magnum, 300 PRC, and more. You can be picky about caliber. The Ruger Precision Rifle is designed to be a simple solution to shooting at small targets really far away.
The Ruger Precision Rifle comes with the Ruger Marksman Trigger, can use AICS, or DPMS style AR-10 magazines, a highly adjustable stock, a cold hammer forged barrel, an M-LOK handguard, and quite a few more features that make the rifle convenient and getting into PRS easy. Ruger can cover the hardware, but you’ll have to cover the software.
Handgun – CZ Shadow 2
When it comes to handguns, there are tons of choices out there for out-of-the-box competition guns. Walther, S&W, Glock, and even Cnaik all produce good out-of-the-box competition pistols. Getting into handgun competition is easy. However, what’s the best of those guns? To me, it’s the CZ Shadow 2. The TS 2 is another great option, but the Shadow 2 appeals to a wide variety of classes and competitions.
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The Shadow 2 Optics Ready makes adding a red dot easy, and a red dot on a handgun has become a very common category for numerous shooting disciplines. It fits perfectly into most Production and Carry Optics categories. The all-metal frame and small slide make recoil a nonissue for most shooters. It’s one of the flatter shooting CZ designs that’s easy to handle and shoot.
CZ’s ergonomics are second to none, and the Shadow 2 is the peak of CZ’s handguns. Not to mention the trigger is a fantastic design with a DA/SA design with a crazy nice single-action trigger. It’s a great gun all around and makes it easy to dip your toes into the world of competitive pistol shooting.
Get Out There and Compete!
Competition is a great way to actually get out and use your guns. You might be surprised at how humbling it can be, but you’ll likely be entertained by how exciting a match can be. It’s a great chance to try your hand under pressure and has objective data that compares you to other shooters with similar weapons. If that doesn’t inspire me to train more, nothing will.
Hopefully, we’ve made it at least a little easier to dive into the competition world with the following firearms. Do you have any out-of-the-box suggestions?