In early 2019, the FBI came out with a new handgun qualification course. The last update to the FBI handgun qualification course was in 2013. In 2013, they went from the old school qualification that included 50-yard strings of fire to a more contemporary qualification. It was quite a significant shift. This time the differences between the 2013 FBI qualification and the 2019 version are there, but not nearly as drastic.
The moved from a 60 round course of fire on the old qualification to a more common 50 round course of fire. The distribution of those 50 rounds is also weighted more towards the 5 to 7-yard strings of fire with 60% of the total rounds fired shot from the 5 or 7-yard line. The previous qualification only had 46.6% of the total rounds fired shot from those same distances.
Even though the distribution is a bit different, many of the strings of fire in the new qualification are in fact very similar to the 2013 qualification. For example, the string of fire that includes an emergency reload is still the same number of rounds fired and the same time limit. The start position is from the ready, as opposed to starting from the holster in the older qualification though, making it a bit easier. We see more use of the ready position in general. In total there are ten strings of fire, five of them the shooter starts from the ready position. In the 2013 qualification, every string of fire started from the holster.
Did it get harder?
The shooting tasks in the new qualification are not that much more difficult than the 2013 version with only a couple of exceptions. The single 3-yard string of fire on the new qualification has to be shot two seconds faster than it was on the older qualification. Shooters have 25% less time to complete the same shooting task as before.
The other notable change in terms of time allowed to complete the string is at the 25-yard line. The old handgun qualification called for firing two rounds standing and three rounds kneeling in 15 seconds. Broken down very basically, you have three seconds per round fired. The new qualification calls for four rounds standing and four rounds kneeling in 20 seconds. Broken down the same way, you have 2.5 seconds per round fired. Nearly a 20% reduction in time allowed per round fired.
More of the same.
Most of the remaining strings of fire are very similar to the older qualification, with only minor changes. Having shot the older qualification more than a few times, I could definitely feel where the most significant changes were based on how quickly the time limit required me to shoot and how much focus it required. I felt the most pressure on the 3-yard string of fire, and the 25-yard string of fire.
While the bump in difficulty is minor, it is still noticeable. I feel this newer iteration of the FBI qualification is an overall improvement. But it is still not what I would consider difficult. The scoring is still the same as before. Each hit on the QIT above the “belt” counts as two points. Hits below the scoring line but still on the bottle count as misses. The total possible score is 100. To pass the qualification you must get at least 80%.
Most people with a good 2-day class under their belt and regular practice should be able to meet this standard. People who train and/or practice more frequently than that should be able to shoot 100%, or very near it, on this qualification without issue. As Tom Givens is fond of saying, it is barely more than a sobriety test.
2019 FBI Handgun Qualification Strings of Fire
|Distance||String of Fire||Time|
|25 Yards||Draw and fire 4 rounds standing, drop to kneeling and 4 rounds.||20 Seconds|
|15 Yards||From the ready, fire 3 rounds.||5 Seconds|
|15 Yards||Draw and fire 3 rounds.||6 Seconds|
|7 Yards||From the ready, fire 5 rounds.||4 Seconds|
|7 Yards||From the ready, fire 4 rounds, emergency reload, fire 4 more rounds.||8 Seconds|
|7 Yards||Draw and fire 5 rounds.||5 Seconds|
|5 Yards||From the ready, fire 6 rounds.||4 Seconds|
|5 Yards||From the ready, fire 3 rounds.||2 Seconds|
|5 Yards||Draw and fire 3 rounds.||3 Seconds|
|3 Yards||Draw and fire 3 rounds SHO, switch hands and fire 3 rounds WHO.||6 Seconds|