USCCA instruction courses VS. NRA instruction courses

Hi everyone. I am new to USCCA and am interested in becoming a certified Pistol instructor. I have reviewed the USCCA instruction program and am very impressed with what it offers. I have also looked at the NRA training page and am wondering what the differences are in instructor training between USCCA and the NRA courses. Any insight to the differences and why someone may choose one or the other would be greatly aprreciated.

Thx and stay safe,



Hi @Redleg6! I’m a bit partial to the USCCA programs, so I’ll let others answer it! @Aaron25, @SKIdaho, @FizBin, @Jeff748, @Mike_T, @JustinK, @F.F.T, @Jeff4 - can you all give Redleg6 some feedback?


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.


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…


Jeff - thanks for that information! Exactly what i was looking for.




Let me start by saying this. I have not been to an NRA instructor class. I had my NRA range safety officer certification for a looooong time and found no value in it. All of my firearms trainer classes were taken from law enforcement agencies. each of the firearms instructor courses were a week long, 40 plus hours of training in the week. after I got my master firearms instructor training I had to coach students for 40 hours under the supervision of another trainer before I could receive my full certification. Then every two years I had to go back for an 8 hour refresher and recertification. With my background established I can say this about the USCCA certified instructor credentials.

USCCA has quality training materials. The power point is well put together and a good looking presentation. The book of concealed carry and home defense is a fantastic take away for clients in the class. As instructors we are allowed to add to the power point to expand it this is important to me as a trainer. The instructor Portal is a pretty simple tool to use to help track your classes and put them out there for people to find. I have had questions about how to use the portal and every time I have called instructor support they have been very patient with my computer illiteracy and help me figure out what to do, EVERY TIME! I would like to see a couple of things changed on the portal but that is a personal preference issue. I ordered a big box of books once and when the box got here it had been damaged in transport and almost all the books lost or stolen, thank you USPS! I called USCCA and they had another box in the mail and to me in time for the class with no extra charge!!! USCCA has great instructor support.

The E-learning module for the instructor class is one of the best I have ever seen! I wish there was a way I could funnel clients to these resources or incorporate them more in a remote type of class during these times of social distancing.

The in person class for USCCA has a lot of information in it and they do require actual observed coaching practice, done with fellow class members. The class also helps you go through the presentation so you can develop your own class presentation skills. If I had never been a firearms instructor before I don’t know that I would have left the class feeling confident enough to coach clients to proficiency. I am glad I did the certification because the resources provided by USCCA have given my clients a much more polished and hopefully enjoyable experience. My clients love the book!

please let me know if there are any other questions I can answer for you



Thanks Jeff - great information and insight!

I may be incorrect, but I believe the State of Florida does not recognize USCAA as a training venue for the states conceal carry training requirement. Looks like I will certify through both USCCA and NRA - cover both bases. Perhaps one day Florida will recognize USCCA training.

Thanks again for your insight.


As instructors we can never get too much training. I would go to NRA training if it were local and affordable.


I’m a little late to the thread here, but I’ll put in my 2 cents. I’m certified in several disciplines with the NRA including both basic pistol and CCW and I am certified with USCCA in CCHD. Both Jeffs covered the differences very well so I’ll just give my personal opinion.

I like USCCA’s material a little more. It teaches in a manner I find more natural and the actual presentations (books, slides, and topics) seem more up-to-date and functional. I agree that the NRA CCW class is a bit closer to the standard that USCCA has set, but I think USCCA still has the edge.


@Jeff748 hit it on the head with instructor support! That’s not even a contest between the two organizations.

@JustinK I didn’t think to compare the two instructor trainings. I thought they were very similar as far as learning the material day one and then teachbacks and qual. The NRA does require you to take the student class before the instructor course also, but the USCCA elearning was beneficial before going in. Did you see many major differences in the instructor courses?

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Thank you Justin for your insight!


Wife and I are both multi- level NRA instructors and USCCA instructors. There is no comparison with the material you have to offer your students. We had a small class today and invited a couple that took our NRA based class from us a few years back. They said the USCCA based class material was FAR more complete and went into so much more depth than the NRA system. I have talked with instructors that took the NRA CCW instructor course and found it to be mainly some from basic pistol, Inside the home, outside the home level classes. Nothing about what happens to you .
We love the USCCA instruction we feel we are giving students the best we can give.


CCW does have a module dedicated to Mindset, Responding to an attack and the aftermath. It is not as in depth as the USCCA curriculum though.

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I will tell you what the range owner told me, How much better off would you be if you had both certifications? You would be more desired by having both certifications. Is one better than the other? NO, it is what you put into it to what you get out of it. The more information you have to give to your students and the best way to have them to retain as much of it as possible, is the better instructor you will be.


Very thought out response. But the NRA is still the leader in protecting our Second amendment rights. And if we give it time we will all see that both organizations have the same goal. Love them both. Members of both. The more organizations that protect our rights the better we will use that power to keep infidels at bay. Blessings


Still a card carrying life member of the NRA and couldn’t agree more. I like both platforms.

I agree with @Todd30. I’ve noticed the more instructor trainings I attend the more my base expands and allows me to help the students learn. Both organizations offer excellent material. Are they high speed and turn you into John wick over night? Of course not, but thats not the target audience either. On other forums I’ve read a lot of NRA and uscca bashing in terms of training. I couldn’t disagree more. The vast majority of our students have very little experience with firearms, even those that come in telling you how much they know. I’m glad to have both options available to help people learn to safely and confidently use their firearms, whether it be for personal/home protection or recreation.


Thanks JustinK !

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I’m an NRA certified instructor, and somewhere down the road I’ll look into becoming a USCCA instructor. I loved the USCCA elearning class, and like any training you take even when you are experienced you learn things, but I won’t claim knowledge of USCCA’s overall training offering. If you think about overriding factors the NRA program assumes someone is entering with absolutely no firearms knowledge, is potentially intimidated by them, and is equally (if not more likely) getting into firearms as a hobby than for self-defense. For example, it’s for your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, etc. who has never touched a gun but now wants to go plinking with you, or just wants to know how to safely handle a gun, or wants to get into competitive shooting, or (of course) wants to be able to defend themselves but doesn’t know a muzzle from a hammer. So it is designed to avoid overwhelming the student, and it doesn’t mix topics in the early part of the curriculum. The NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting (BOPS) class is just that, it is not a defensive shooting class but rather an introduction to the basics. Then you could go on to Personal Protection In the Home and then Personal Protection Outside the Home. The USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals (CCHDF) class is excellent, but not really appropriate for someone who isn’t interested in defensive shooting and very likely to scare off many truly new shooters. It glosses over the basics relative to the amount of time spent on them in BOPS. I would consider it a good option for someone interested in using a firearms for personal defense after they take BOPS and put in a little range time. Or, of course, if they are already an experienced shooter but now want to focus on personal defense then BOPS would be quite frustrating whereas Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals would be right on the money.

USCCA may actually have something more like BOPS, but when I look through the online course schedule I am not seeing it being offered whereas you pretty much can’t walk down the street without tripping over someone offering BOPS.


Thanks Harold! Good points.

Hey @Harold26, a bunch of good points here. The CCHDF would actually be perfect and is a comprehensive training course for folks of all levels. As an instructor, I start teaching to the students knowledge and experience level, and move up from there.

This would include a student coming to the range with a firearm still in the wrapper and box. We’d actually start with the 3/4 rules of gun safety and then move right to cleaning the shipping/factory oil off the firearm. Eye/ear protection, sight alignment, trigger press, etc, are all taught from the ground up.

I do private classes rather than groups, this way I can tailor each class based on the students knowledge and experience level. If it is a group, it would be like a family, friends, etc that all know each other. No one in my classes doesn’t know the other folks in it so there is no anxiety to subconsciously compete with fellow students.

Is this what you’re meaning, or looking for? :slight_smile:

Just and edit followup: I was thinking about it after I walked away. There are some folks who split the classes up within classes. So in your case maybe carving out the BOPS as it is called, into a small separate starter class.


One can always do a customized training regime, especially if you are focusing on individuals or small groups of related people. I was just referencing it from a standard curriculum standpoint. When friends come over who’ve never shot, and want to, I basically do an abbreviated BOPS. I don’t need to do lecture followed by range time, they can be intermixed out on the range. And when we are done, if they’ve shown they picked up the safety rules and basic operation pretty well, I’d happily refer them to a CCHDF class if self-defense was their ultimate objective.

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