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Firearm Accessories

Every year technology is getting better and better and gadgets are getting smaller and smaller. I remember when cell phones were a rare sight and if someone did have one they were bulky and in black and white.

Today, everyone seems to have a cell phone or smartphone I should say, they are small enough to fit into their pocket, they are in color, touch-screen and are pretty much a mini computer that would rival even the best of personal computers back in the 1990s.

The gun industry wasn’t left behind in this technological revolution and new products are hitting the market all the time. Each year guns are becoming more compact and sophisticated and companies are making new accessories to go along with them. This is all fine and dandy but with so many different choices on the market one can go overboard in accessorizing their firearm.

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Take a look at this Glock pictured above and ask yourself if it would be a good concealed carry piece?

The answer to that should be simple; of course it would not make a good weapon for everyday carry (EDC). This weapon setup wouldn’t even be practical for home defense, unless you are waiting for the zombie apocalypse. It is probably a fun weapon to show off to your buddies while watching The Walking Dead but the logistical usage would stop there. Even the 28 round “high-capacity” magazine wouldn’t be feasible in a concealed carry or even open carry role. It is just too bulky and would print no matter how many layers of clothes you wore (and don’t even think about sitting down to drive with that puppy in the magwell).

Having enough rounds is important in a self-defense situation but sacrificing conceal-ability, comfort and reliability aren’t worth it. Having that magazine might be ok for a nightstand gun or on the target range but for EDC it would be more practical to carry two flush 13-15 round magazines.

Carrying two separate magazines also offers you the advantage of having a backup magazine already loaded and ready to slam into the magwell if the one you’re using happens to have some type of mechanical failure. I know everybody isn’t going to go out and put a Ka-bar Bayonet and 30 round magazine on their everyday carry pistol but it illustrates my point that people can go a little overboard trying to make their guns more “tactical.”

Now that we all had a good laugh, let’s get serious and discuss some accessories you might be able to use in a self-defense situation.

Flashlights or Lasers for your handgun

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Shown here is a Glock 23 with a Streamlight M6 Illuminator attached. The Streamlight M6 is an older model and there are newer models available but it will serve this discussion just fine. Not only does this illuminator have a flashlight but it includes a laser sight making it a dual purpose accessory. I believe that every accessory or modification done to a weapon should serve a purpose or it’s not worth doing. Alien Gear Holsters makes concealed carry holsters that accommodate laser lights. Take a look here: holster for pistol with laser

Putting a flashlight on your pistol can be a good idea but can also get you into trouble. For a home-defense pistol a flashlight is a great idea. Let’s say you are sound asleep in your bed and happen to get woken up at 2am in the morning by some rustling happening out in the garage. Your wife is still sleeping next to you so you grab your pistol to go investigate. While going down the hallway, you check and your kids are also still asleep in bed and everyone in the house is accounted for. This should now raise your alert level because the intruder is someone or something that shouldn’t be in your dwelling.

So you proceed to go out to the garage but it turns out that you forgot to change the light bulb when it burnt out the day before. Well, luckily you have that illuminator attached to your pistol or you would be going into the situation blind.

On the inverse of that situation above, let’s say that you were concealed carrying the same pistol while traveling to the corner store one night to pick up some milk and cookies or whatever else you may have forgot while shopping at the supermarket. There aren’t any parking spaces open in front of the store so you have to park around back.

While getting out of your car you notice some suspicious activity that draws your attention in a nearby alleyway but it is too dimly lit for you to clearly make out the situation. You make the error and decide to use the flashlight attached to your weapon to illuminate the area for further investigation. It turns out that the police happen to be driving by and pull up at that same moment.

Now, you are in a bit of a conundrum because you have your weapon drawn and are using it as a normal flashlight. They don’t know what you are doing and the situation could escalate very quickly getting you in legal trouble or worse.

Common sense would dictate that a person shouldn’t be using their pistol illuminator as a casual flashlight but sometimes even the best of us slip up and make mistakes. Even in your own home it is not a good idea to use your pistol illuminator without precautions and go around flagging people every time you hear an unsettling noise. Make sure everyone in the home is accounted for and proceed from there if needed and no other light sources are available.

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This brings us to the use of laser sights. Anything that will improve your accuracy is a well founded addition to your firearm. Laser sights can help you make tough shots at night and with the new technology some will even show up prominently during the daytime hours.

As with any modification you need to get acquainted and practice with it before you are forced to use it in a real-time self-defense application. Laser sight aren’t always pin point but they can give you a general idea of where the bullet will go. In a high stress situation a laser sight could mean the difference between life and death. Once again precautions need to be taken, make sure you have fresh batteries and don’t go around using it as a laser point like New York’s Jerome Hauer.

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If you don’t like the idea of putting a bulky taclight or laser sight on your pistol, night sights might be the best route for you to go. Companies like Trijicon, Meprolight, HiViz and Ameriglo make night sights for just about every make and model of handgun on the market. They are easy enough to install and don’t cost an arm and a leg either. Trijicon Tritium Sights are guaranteed from 5-12 years and Meprolight Tritium Sights are guaranteed for 15 years making them both an excellent value while giving you peace of mind. As the old adage goes: It is better to have them and not need them, then to need them and not have them.

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Last but not least in our tactical or practical discussion is grip modifications. The grip is one of the most important parts of a pistol in my humble opinion. If a gun doesn’t feel right in your hands chances are it can very well affect your accuracy and accuracy is everything when it comes to shooting whether in self-defense or just plinking on the range.

When I first purchase my Glock G17 and took it to the range I absolutely hated the grip. It felt square and awkward in my big hands and made me want to sell the gun. Well, luckily I spent a whopping 10 whole bucks and purchased a Hogue slip-on rubber grip. The result was an immediate night and day difference. The gun became what felt like an extension of my own arm, fitting perfectly into the palm of my hand and my accuracy greatly improved.

Since then, I have put over 3,000 rounds through my G17 and not looked back. Manufactures are starting to catch on to the consumer need for a well fitting grip. Some are even offering interchangeable back-straps but for those of us with older pistols a slip on grip might be the perfect solution.

There are ups and downs to doing any type of modification from a stock setup. Accessorizing your pistol can be a good thing if done properly. It may even give you a tactical advantage in some situations or it can become a liability in others. Just try and remember, don’t go overboard and become “tacticool.”

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About The Author

Travis Box is currently a college student studying American history with a concentration on the Constitution, Revolutionary War, politics and legislation. As an active hunter for 5 years and a recreational marksman for over a decade, his writing brings with it years of real world experience from both the field and the range.