So when I last left you I was recommending modifications for true a gunfighter, those that train with their weapons and carry them daily. Let me start with what I don’t feel you should do. Don’t spend several thousand dollars on a custom gun with extremely high tolerances. A $4500 1911 may be a sweet piece to brag about and may shoot the nuts off a gnat, but they also fail on a regular basis due to the extreme tolerance levels they are built to. Obviously not ideal for daily carry or a real shootout situation. What one needs is a weapon that will work every time no matter what, period. You don’t need a Barstow barrel installed by a gunsmith in your Glock to win a gun fight. You don’t need the latest and greatest in optic either. What you need are simple usable modifications that compliment your weapon and shooting abilities.
This post may explain why I carry what some consider an antiquated handgun on a daily basis. Many consider a 92 series Beretta to be less than ideal. I obviously disagree with the nay sayers. When I recommend guns to students and clients I always explain the fact that whatever you carry it needs to be time tested and proven (none more so that the Beretta 92 series). A good example is the NC Highway Patrol. They traded from the Beretta 8000 series Cougars to S&W M&P’s in .357Sig. Guess what, they had issues from the “latest and greatest” on the market. I’m by no means bashing the M&P line, I own one and adore it! There were issues with the gun because it was new and because of the high pressure cartridge that was chosen.
The issue was the extractor in the M&P, it failed due to the abuse of the sheer pressure of the .357Sig cartridge on the weapon. Conversely, the NC Dept of Corrections also carries the M&P but in 9mm and has had zero issues. This brings us to the first recommendation when it comes to daily carry gun; Buy a solid platform that has been around the block, experienced the routine recalls and had all the issues addressed. Smith and Wesson addressed the issues of the extractors as well as the trigger safety and have one hell of a fine weapon now! Apex also makes solid aftermarket parts for the M&P line that up the game to a whole new level.
Speaking of APEX, these guys make several iteration of triggers for several guns. From “duty” to “smoothed”, to “competition” trigger set ups they have you covered, as do many other manufacturers. Which brings me to my first real modification, triggers! From the factory guns are similar to automobiles in that they are built from a one size fits all, let us not get sued standpoint. Trigger weight is assigned for the sake of so-called safety so that litigation doesn’t occur, and not so that the weapon is optimally primed for daily use or even reliability. I’m by no means saying that everyone needs a 3lb. trigger set up. What I am saying is that the mechanism can be tuned and smoothed, or possibly lightened to assist in the speed and accuracy of your shooting.
The usability of your weapon is another reason for modification. Usability can mean a lot of things to people as it is subjective to an individual. In my case I felt that the magazine release on my gun was too small to be activated under high stress and therefore replaced it with a much larger one from Beretta. For you it may mean installing an aftermarket magwell extension, or contouring the back strap of your polymer pistol. It may be as simple as installing night sights. Each person is different and the uses of their weapons are just as different.
The main goal in any modification is to make your weapon an extension of your body so that it is as accurate and reliable as possible. My recommendation is that you learn about your gun, find areas of weakness, and fix them with reliable parts. I could give you a laundry list of must have modification, but that in my opinion is cheating. Fads come and go, but a weapon built for you will fit you for a lifetime. So if you want to put a set of grips on your gun to see if its more comfortable to shoot, DO IT! If you want to install that over sized front sight on your baby Glock, by all means have it done. Parts are cheap and life is priceless. Find what works well for you and makes your gun part of your person, and keep in mind to never install a modification that could compromise your firearm’s reliability.