|This article does not cite any sources. (September 2010)|
Not to be confused with a starter's pistol
A racegun is a type of handgun, shotgun, or rifle that has been modified for accuracy, speed, and reliability. Used primarily in NRA Action Pistol (The Bianchi Cup), United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA)/International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) and similar styles of competition, raceguns are typically based on common guns and modified to function the best within a certain set of rules, such as weight, size, and capacity requirements.
Typical modifications include a match-grade barrel fitted with a recoil compensator, electronic optical sights, match-grade hammer and sear, a tuned trigger, and "skeletonizing" (cutouts to reduce mass). In addition to the modifications aforementioned, a typical open class semi-automatic racegun specifically tailored for The Bianchi Cup open division has a "barricade shroud" that completely encircles the slide with "wings" attached to opposing sides, a "moving target scope mount" with a pivoting base adjustable for predetermined lead depending on the bullet's velocity and speed and direction of the moving target, and a form of grip extension that elevates the gun for better line of sight while shooting in the prone position. Depending upon the competition requirement, some raceguns are modified with reduced-weight recoil springs to allow the use of lightly loaded ammunition that is just barely powerful enough to cycle the gun's mechanism, in order to reduce recoil and permit a faster rate of fire. The Steel Challenge speed shooting championship is such an event, where in its early days a 120 power factor hit was required to activate the stop plate to stop the clock is now no longer necessary so that competitors can go faster than ever before. To prevent this, certain sanctioning bodies such as IPSC and USPSA require ammunition to meet specific power factors.
Some organizing bodies in practical shooting, like the International Defensive Pistol Association and the production division of The Bianchi Cup, ban most or all of the modifications that distinguish raceguns from stock firearms, as they feel that such extensive modifications have turned the sport into a technology race rather than a true contest of skill, and thus are no longer "practical," i.e., applicable to real-life self-defense shooting situations. In the case of The Bianchi Cup/NRA Action Pistol, this was also done to increase participation at the grassroots level in order to reduce the equipment cost associated with competing in the open division, which can run upwards of $3,500 USD or more on a Bianchi racegun as compared to a $400 to $1,000 stock gun. Many believe this new division, in addition to the newly implemented $100,000 cash prize award to the first production class shooter to break 1900 at the national championship in May, will hopefully increase participation that has seen a decline for the last two decades or so. It is the opinion of many experienced individuals involved in the sport that perfect scores of 1920 accompanied with nearly perfect X-counts achieved by the top one or two percent (which were mostly sponsored professional competition shooters and very dedicated Bianchi Cup "specialists" shooting their tricked out open guns) have discouraged many top shooters from other disciplines from giving this discipline a try, citing the difficulties of obtaining such results even with these specialized raceguns as being too big of a hurdle.