If you ask most CCW and NRA instructors the safe answer is a resounding NO.  But let’s talk about the safe answer, the practical answer, and what your choice might be.


It’s a fact that district attorneys across the country will use anything they can to convince a jury to their side of a case.  Even when they themselves don’t really believe the argument.  It’s also a fact that handgun accuracy and even safety can be “enhanced” through select modifications made by a qualified gunsmith. 


Yet, when a prosecutor tells the jury you had these modifications made to make your firearm more “deadly” and “faster to shoot” and “better equipped to hit vital organs” they never bother to tell the jury these traits also make the firearm more safe, more accurate and less likely to hit unintended targets.  That would be the job of a competent defense attorney.  Still, who the jury chooses to believe often is decided by the “showmanship” of one or the other.

HDsights   fibersights  


Perhaps the one safe modification rarely scrutinized are aftermarket sights.  Almost anyone can see the sense in being able to aim your handgun properly and the sights are  a huge part of this.  I don’t think it matters much if you get tritium night sights which are the runaway favorite for carry guns, or plain 3 dot sights, or any other variation.  Eyes are different and what works for you could very well be different from what works for someone else.


Grips that help a handgun better fit your hand are generally safe modifications as well.  Proper grip is the single most important technique a shooter can learn, and you can’t have an adequate grip if your hand is the wrong size for the existing grip.



An example:  Recently I had to qualify for a NRA course by shooting any caliber pistol 20 rounds and then measuring the groups.  I was also being evaluated for proper grip.  With ammo so expensive I dug out and made ready my 32 year old Ruger Mark II Target pistol in .22 long rifle.  This is a totally stock piece save for outlining the rear sight with a white painted outline, and a green light gathering optic front sight.  This means the very small natural grip of the Ruger was too small for my already freakishly small hands.  As I tried to maintain the ideal grip, with each shot the handgun shifted in this grip, and came down on a different point with each shot.  Talk about frustrating!  Still, even with sights that weren’t adjusted my groups met the standards even if they were bad enough to make me a bit red in the face.  The proper size grip is important, it shouldn’t be too small or too large, and there should be enough relief under the trigger guard so your hand rides as high to the bore axis as possible.



Where you can get into trouble is with the action which includes the trigger.  I don’t think you’ll be faulted for taking your handgun in for its annual maintenance (you do have your carry gun professionally maintained don’t you?) and asking for “the entire handgun to be dissembled, inspected, lubricated, and assembled.”  But if  you start replacing components such as springs or hammers or sears or connectors with ones designed to lighten the trigger pull then you’re asking to be on the receiving end of an attack by the prosecutor.  Even simply “polishing” the stock components which in the hands of a competent gunsmith can make dramatic changes in smoothness, consistency, and even the weight of pull.. even this can get you in trouble.

1911action        glockaction


The modern fad of painting your handgun with cool designs and colors never before possible really has little effect on function with one exception I’ll mention below, but if it looks more cool then people want it.  Is this the message you want to convey to the jury, that you want your carry piece to look cool?  The exception would be one of the new print finishes that helps a concealed handgun better blend with your choice of clothes.  Needless to say you’d have to have as many differently painted carry guns as you do patterns and colors so it’s hardly practical.  I prefer to stay with a dark or perhaps tan (flesh) colored finish on my carry handgun but that’s just me.

val  valkari


So what should you do? I’d recommend always error on the side of caution.  I can tell you from experience that if things go bad the last thing you’ll notice is the pull weight of your trigger or if it throws a round to the right or left ½ inch or so.   Don’t give the prosecutor ANY ammunition to use against you.  Go absolutely wild and have great fun with your competition or target pieces, but your carry gun save for a nice set of sights and a grip that fits, and proper maintenance, should be as far as it goes.   What will you decide?


Until next time..