Everything’s Legal. Well almost… Welcome to the New Face of CMP / High-Power

Everything’s Legal. Well almost… Welcome to the New Face of CMP / High-Power

Let’s call this the post irons era. The prime objective of the CMP rule changes of 2016 are to promote participation. For a organization that has been slow to change, the new 2016 rules mark a big step in the right direction to encourage marksmanship among the masses. Traditionally, CMP / NRA High Power was relegated to iron sights, 20 inch guns with either a fixed handle, or a detachable carry handle, and a free float tube hidden under the handguards.

Some time ago, rule changes allowed free floated quad rails into the mix so long as they had rails on all four positions, they were not less than 2 inches but not more than 2.5 inches in diameter, and the rifles sling swivel was mounted at the very last rail slot. The ability to let shooters use a quadrail was a awesome change that permitted me to participate in my first match with a Larue 12.0 quadrail I had available.


My NRA High Power / Mil Spec Mashup Rifle.

The 2016 changes make the move to the quadrail seem quant.

New rules permit the use of a non-descript AR15 pattern rifle with:

  • A fixed or collapsible stock
  • A trigger pull of at least 4.5 lbs
  • A telescopic sight of not greater than 4.5x magnification and objective lense not greater than 32mm
  • A direct impingement system OR a piston operated AR15 is permissible
  • A barrel at least 16 inches, but not longer than 20 inches

Those are some of the important points. This opens competition up to so much more of our community. No muzzle brakes are permitted and 3 gun triggers below 4.5# would also be out, but many shooters are running a 16 inch free floated pipe, a variable, and a telescoping stock. Perfect, you are capable, but are you willing?

Competing in an event like this permits you to master marksmanship principles with your very own SHTF/home defense/plinker/varmint rifle. This is important as one of the defining elements of High-Power / CMP matches were that they used what amounted to a out of date rifle with extremely heavy weights and high end match barrels. This is so far removed from the average civilian, and in many ways was far removed from the military as adding weights, adding hooded apertures, and running leather slings was out of date and hardly relevant to a modern soldiers equipment. The doors to truly learning the art of marksmanship are now open to us in a way that has never been available before. No longer do you need a rifle just for High-Power, instead you likely have one setup for the sport right now.

Suddenly, CMP feels relevant again.

The official rulebook just dropped today: See point 6.0 to see the rifle changes.

CMP 2016 RuleBook




Written by lothaen


  1. honeycomb · January 9, 2016

    Not sure I like the changes.

    A new Category .. sure. But, having shot National Service Rifle Match’s in the past (late 1980 early 1990) I kind of like the old way. Even with my old eyes .. I still shoot irons regularly.

    Such is the way of change .. 90% of my weapons have an optic or red dot on them now.

    This change might .. a big might .. get more involved now that is for sure.

    • lothaen · January 11, 2016

      I hope the “might” becomes a real re-surgance of High Power. It has to change, as the old traditional AR is becoming a dodo.

  2. E.D.M. · January 12, 2016

    I think it’s a welcome change, but I am skeptical of how many folks it will actually bring in. CMP matches are relatively rare in the places I’ve lived, and the kinds of folks who can afford to travel to them are the same folks who can afford to have a specialized competition rifle just for such events.

    Most of the shooter I come across who are interested in competition have an eye towards USPSA/IDPA, F-Class, or something like the sniper adventure series. They look at traditional high power/service rifle/olympic small bore/three position as an old man’s game.

  3. MSquared · April 13, 2016

    I’ve shot quite a bit of CMP and NRA high power in the last 20 years and been to the nationals a few times. But pushing 50 and with my arms not being long enough to read the newspaper any more I grudgingly shot my first match with a “service optic” this last weekend. What a difference it makes for “mature eyes”.
    Apart from being more inclusive to various rifle types, older shooters that long ago learned you can’t “buy a better score” with fancy doo dads or gear, may find that the basics they learned about position, trigger control, strategy, and wind years ago still apply, and they can see the sights again.
    For the first time in a long time I really enjoyed the match and didn’t have a headache from focusing on the front sight for 20 shots at a time.
    Give it a try, you may find you really enjoy it.

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