If you are a serious gun owner you have no doubt tinkered with your blasters. The gun world is very much a temptation filled arena with enough options and add ons to make your head spin. But in the end what should we do, if anything, to our defensive pistols? There are no shortage of opinions on everything from sights to triggers and grips. So, let me share my opinion.
I will begin with a mission statement for my defensive pistol. My defensive pistol is a handgun dedicated to my personal defense. I will carry it at all appropriate times and it should fit the task in size, effectiveness and comfort. With that being said let’s talk about things we can do to help our pistol fit these requirements. First is the realization that if I am ever required to bring my blaster into the fight, it will more than likely be evening. Statistics show that a majority of defensive shootings take place at night and in close quarters. I will need to be able to see my sights so low light sights instantly make my list. There is an infinite number of options but I will share my two favorite. The Trijicon HD night sights and Meprolight Tru-dots have both served me very well. Easy to acquire in low light and very well made.
Another point I consider is grip. If I end up with wet hands be it from water or blood, will the grips on my pistol still allow good control? In most cases the answer is no. Some 1911's have extensive stippling but unfortunately most of the defensive blasters on the market get low scores on grip. Let's fix that then. There are two simple routes to take. One is an old school technique. Simply apply skaters tape to your grips. It works pretty darn good considering its' simplicity. The route that I take is to stipple the grip. You can do this yourself (if you have the courage) or get it done professionally by someone like Bowie Tactical Concepts or Bear Creek Tactical. The stippling allows for much better purchase on the pistol in all climates and situations.
What about lights you say? Well that is a good question and one that deserves discussion. If you decide to keep a tactical light on your pistol, you need to train with it and learn how to use it. It is not as simple as you may think. Additionally and even more important is to keep a small reliable handheld flashlight with you and near any home defense guns you have. I say this because it is extremely dangerous to perform searching techniques with a weapon mounted light. If you hear a noise in your young son's room at 2 AM , you may need a light to check it out. Are you going to muzzle sweep the entire room (including your sleeping son) while using your tactical gun light? Keeping a hand held light with you gives you a safe searching tool.
And now...the big one..the seed of hours of argument...ladies and gentlemen, I present the trigger. There are few things that are as debated and controversial as trigger pull. Do I use a 5# trigger or a 3# trigger? Do I even take it down to 2#? Once again, I will share my opinion. It is my belief that defensive pistols should be left as "stock" as possible. This is primarily a legal defense tool in the event you ever are forced to use your gun. The more stock it is, the less ammunition (forgive the pun) you provide an over zealous trial attorney. It is pretty much a given that your gun will be examined in ever detail and any modifications will be challenged by said lawyer. The line of "reason" will be that you wanted to make the gun MORE deadly so you made it easier to shoot. This shows a desire to inflict physical harm on others. Essentially you were looking for trouble. Is this rational? No. Is it a reality? Yes. One other point I would make in defense of a 4# to 5# trigger pull is safety. When the stuff hits the fan, you do not want sympathetic flinch to be the reason your pistol fired. Is it fun to run a 3# (or lighter) trigger at mach 5? Sure. I see it all the time on videos and in demonstrations. Is it solid for defensive carry? No. I know, I know...you have had a 2# trigger on your granddaddy's 1911 since the dawn of time. Well, good for you. I am glad you have not had to shoot someone with it. Do not confuse race / competition guns with defensive guns. There IS a difference. In a defensive / combat shooting mindset you need to be able to pick up just about any pistol and bring it into the fight. If all you ever train on is light triggers, then you will have serious problems controlling the front sight and trigger break during a fight. Think that is BS? Take a look at the popular TV show Top Shot. Some of the country's finest shooters have come and gone on that show. They were "Grand Master Super King / Queen Galactic Pistol Champion" 7 years running. Yet when you put a stock handgun into their paws they struggled. Why? Because they trained and refined their skills on light triggers with custom guns. Can you do both? Absolutely. Some of the finest combat shooters I know also do competition. They "keep it real" by training just as hard on their stock defensive pistol as well though. Don't cut corners by using a light trigger to fix any shooting "challenges" you may have.
The last thing I want to cover is what you should not put on or do to your pistol. This is almost exclusively in regards to the legal quagmire that ensues following a shooting. I suggest that you restrain from laser engrave your gun with those catchy phrases like "smile and wait for the flash", "Death Dealer", "I don't call 911" and all of the other tacti-cool phrases. Additionally I would avoid the skull and crossbones type rear plate for your Glock. I will indulge in a bit of mission creep here and encourage you to not do this to any of your weapons.
I am sure there are a variety of opinions out there which is always good. My goal in this short note is to share what I have learned over the years about this tricky aspect of defensive handguns. Until we train together again - stay safe and stay in the fight!
Fred Mastison President - Force Options Dynamic School of Combat