Pistol-caliber carbines have taken the competition shooting world by storm in 2017. PCCs offer the fast pace of action pistol shooting in the inherently easier-to-shoot rifle platform. Throw in a sizable ammunition cost savings over their rifle cartridge counterparts, and it's easy to see why competition shooters are adopting PCCs in droves.

The Rio Salado Sportsman's Club in Mesa, Arizona, is home to the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun and USPSA Area 2 Championships as well as many other large-scale matches. When the creative minds behind these events decided to enter the PCC match circuit, they brought all of their knowledge of the two sports to bring together the best of both worlds.

The Arizona PCC State Championship featured three divisions: Open, Limited and Classic. The Open Division allowed any modifications with no restrictions. The Limited Division required iron sights, and Classic was restricted to firearms and accessories based on a submachine gun designed prior to Sept. 2, 1945 (the surrender date of Japan in World War II for you history buffs).

The match gave fair warning to competitors that there would be shots out to 200 yards, giving everyone adequate time to stretch their PCC training out beyond the traditional 100-yard comfort zone. The inaugural event was going to be a one-day, seven-stage affair, so registration was capped at approximately 100 competitors to ensure a 5:30 p.m. finish.

The match had secured an approximately $40,000 prize table with more than 40 FFL items including Quarter Circle 10, KE Arms and Gibbz Arms lowers, Springfield Armory pistols and a stack of other prizes from Dillion Precision, Nordic Components, Vltor, Safariland, DPMS, Luth-AR and Carbon Arms.

With a tight schedule, all prizes were awarded by random draw, and one stage was dedicated to receiving your prizes as well as eating lunch and testing out products at a dedicated demo bay. Trophies would be awarded to top competitors based on the size of the division. All of this for the modest entry fee of $95.

Stages presented many different ways to solve them depending on your shooting style.

I had been contemplating making a switch to the iron sights division for the NRA Tactical Police Competitions I participate in and figured this was a great match to experiment with iron sights in the comfort of my home shooting range.

I selected the Diamondhead USA front and rear sight sets. I have long been a fan of the intuitive diamond shape of their sights and installed a red fiber-optic front sight post to mirror the fiber-optic sights on my competition pistols.

I had recently decided to purchase a Sig Sauer MPX and had placed an order a couple weeks prior to the event. This ended up being a fortuitous choice as my agency-issued PCC I planned on competing with came to an abrupt end of its service life during a sight-in session for the match. Luckily, the MPX was ordered before my PCC had detonated, and it was scheduled to arrive at a too-close-for-comfort day before the event.

I had been preparing to write an article on customizing an MPX for competition use and, fortunately, several companies had already provided products for testing and evaluation. I originally planned to carefully test these items over an extended range session, but with my primary PCC down and no time to spare I quickly installed a Hiperfire Eclipse Trigger, a Thordsen Customs buffer tube adapter and picked up an extra mag from a local gun store.

I went straight to the Rio Salado Sportsman's Club to register for the match and then sent about 50 rounds downrange to zero the weapon and attempted to hit some steel at 200 yards in preparation.

A former law enforcement colleague of mine from El Paso, Texas, had traveled from Virginia for the match and was testing his zero while I was shooting. Ian Meyers is a USPSA PCC Grand Master and one of the top PCC competitors in the country. I had him fire a few rounds through the new MPX, and he gave his approval that it was sighted in properly and running well.

I thought I must be out of my mind to attempt to use a new weapons platform, modifications and sighting system with a day's preparation. But with Ian's blessing, I figured I was prepared as I possibly could be given the circumstances.

Does it ever feel like you get the hardest possible stage to start a match? This seems to constantly be my luck, and this match was no exception. For once I would like a nice, smooth, straightforward stage to ease into the shooting day. Instead, I was greeted with one of the most challenging shots of the match as my first shot.

Stage 4 of the event required you to start behind an open-framed barricade and attempt to hit a golf ball balanced on top of a large no-shoot popper from approximately 15 yards away. Hitting the no-shoot activated a series of multiple moving no-shoot targets that obstructed most of your shots for the rest of the stage. The match directors built in a 40-second penalty for not hitting the golf ball and a 60-second penalty for failure to engage the golf ball, in case a "gamer" decided to bypass the target altogether.

I decided to err on the side of caution and aimed comfortably high above the golf ball. I walked my shots down and managed to hit the golf ball and avoid the no-shoot domino effect. Other shooters were not so lucky, and laughter and groans erupted with every shooter who missed the golf ball and started the humiliating chain reaction.

My first shot of the match at a golf ball sitting atop a no-shoot activating popper.

The next stage presented an interesting challenge and choice. Stage 5 had you start with a Mossberg Shockwave Shotgun in your hand. You were allowed to take one shot at a clay bird that held a steel door closed leading to the rest of the stage. If you missed the clay or chose to bypass the shot all together, you could abandon the shotgun, pick up your PCC and run around the barricades into the shooting area at the expense of time and running.

I, of course, chose to fire the shotgun and managed to "breach" the door, leading into a mix of paper targets, 20 steel falling plates and three longer-ranged steel targets out to approximately 80 yards.

"Breach" a clay with the stage shotgun to open the door or face running around the barricade.

After a few more stages of close, fast shots combined with long-range shots I was starting to feel pretty comfortable with the iron sights. I was sharing my MPX with my shooting buddy David Gibson, and we quickly realized the gun was sighted in for my face shape and body type.

For me, the gun shot essentially to point of aim or lower on long shots. For him, the rifle shot consistently high. It was frustrating for him to try and basically walk in his shots until he could figure out where he was hitting. I would tell him I aimed high on a particular plate, and he would tell me he held completely below the target. These differences lead to an interesting result on the dreaded 200-yard stage.

Stage 8 had you start in a box and engage six targets covered by no-shoots from approximately 25 yards away. You then worked through a series of three barricades and were required to hit six hanging steel plates at approximately 100 yards, followed by two flashing steel targets at 200 yards on each subsequent barricade.

On my first barricade stop, I hit all six hanging steel quickly and then attempted the 200-yard shots. I felt completely lost at that range with iron sights. I was forced to hold completely off target. After multiple shots at the first target, I moved to the second where I finally found success. I navigated the rest of the barricades, making hits on all targets.

When Dave attempted the stage, he was the complete opposite and failed to hit a single hanging steel target at 100 yards but made both 200-yard shots immediately. After he had his now customary "figure it out" shots, he was then able to connect with the rest of the plates and even attempted to run back to the first barricade to re-engage the first set of hanging steel. He managed to hit a few before the par time expired.

This was by far and away the most challenging stage of the event and the one everyone was discussing at the end as their worst stage. It paid to know your zero, and again these small differences separated the pros from the amateurs (myself included).

These 200-yard targets offered the biggest challenge of the match.

With Stage 8 complete, we headed to the "down" stage to collect our prizes and test out some new products. I received the new KE Arms SLT-1 trigger as my random draw. The SLT-1 has a few features I appreciate, such as being a fully-contained, drop-in trigger and the ability to engage the safety regardless of the hammer being cocked or down. Most importantly, it has been tested in the Sig MPX extensively and found to stand up to the harsh recoil of other blowback PCCs.

My random prize draw of a KE Arms SLT-1 trigger and ambi safety selector.

I additionally test-fired several firearms from Quarter Circle 10, who are known for their "Made For Not Modified" motto of building an AR-based PCC from the ground up. Gibz Arms had a few PCCs featuring their side charging system, and I found both manufacturers to have top-rate quality products, and either would make an excellent PCC platform.

Quarter Circle 10 and Gibbz Arms provided demo guns and great prizes.

The temperatures of the day had reached into the triple digits, and the match was true to its word of getting everyone on their way by 5:30 p.m. and out of the desert heat. Co-Match Director Richard Bella presented awards in the shape of AR lowers to the top competitors in each division.

Bella himself won first place in the Classic Division with no trophy for second place. Jordan Henderson took the top Limited spot, followed by Paul Shanks and myself for third place.

Most of the competitors were in the Open Division, and this is where the steepest competition was playing. Awards were presented down to sixth place. Max Leograndis finished first and was the top overall shooter, followed by Ian Meyers, Naim Saiti, Kelly Neal, Sam Travis and Brian Williamson.

Max Leograndis receives his first place award in the Open Division, presented by Richard Bella.

Match Directors Bella and Ron Aschenbach made an announcement that they were looking to make the event a multi-day match with bigger prizes and challenges awaiting for next year. These two never waste a moment, and I'm sure plans are well underway. I hope they keep the distance limit at 200 yards, but I'll make sure to practice a few 300-yard shots in case they get ambitious.

If you're looking for a fun and diverse PCC match with a stacked prize table and a low cost of entry, you'd be hard pressed to find a better event than the Arizona PCC State Championship.