I am certified through the NRA for Basic Pistol and CCW and USCCA CCHD. There are some similarities but some major differences in the programs, but to begin I’ll go through the process of getting started through the NRA as it’s a little different than the USCCA.
If you go through the NRA you will have to start with Basic Pistol (BOPS) before you can progress to CCW, Personal Protection Inside/Outside the Home, or Defensive Pistol. BOPs and CCW are the two most attended NRA courses and are good for their intended purpose. BOPs is focused on safety and basic pistol shooting fundamentals and in my opinion is more targeted at the beginner. CCW is a little more advanced, it requires draw and fire and digs much deeper into actually carrying a firearm for self defense. NRA CCW is a very good class and very much worth taking.
USCCA vs. NRA Basic Pistol
No comparison if you are intending to use it as a CCW Permit class. In my state you have to teach either NRA BOPs or USCCA CCHD in order to be certified by the state to teach permit classes. I taught NRA BOPs for a few years before switching to the USCCA this year. The USCCA program is much more targeted at the concealed carrier but still covers safety and fundamentals as BOPs does, but goes into much greater detail on the day to day life of being a concealed carrier. The presentation and information is top notch and is a much more valuable presentation for someone looking to begin carrying daily.
USCCA vs NRA CCW
This one is a closer contest. The NRA CCW is fairly new and a big step forward from BOPs. CCW is very similar in content to USCCA CCHD but the presentation of the provided materials is still not up to snuff with the USCCA. With that being said, the modular approach CCW takes allows you to tailor a class to fit the students needs and if that class is a permit class and your state allows CCW to satisfy the requirements it is a fine choice. I still give the edge to the USCCA narrowly over NRA CCW. The main advantage of NRA CCW is the shooting drills and qualification. It’s a pretty decent program that students enjoy taking.
Which is Better?
I don’t think I can really answer that…Each program is different in its on way. I still teach BOPs, it’s a great beginner class and it serves a great purpose. NRA CCW is a really good class for those wanting to take it further than a basic CCW class and learn to draw and fire and provides solid information. The USCCA CCHD is the best all around in my opinion for CCW permit courses. I really like the presentation and materials. The information is spot on for those beginning their EDC journey.
Sorry for the long response and probably not a very clear answer, but I hope it helps some…