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9 Best Handgun Modifications for Concealed Carry and Why You Need Them Now

by Ben Jimenez 8 min read

best handgun modifications for concealed carry

Choosing to carry concealed is a very personal decision, and it's usually for protection in the most unpredictable of circumstances. Your choice of concealed carry handgun should be the gun that feels like an extension of your arm, and one that you feel completely comfortable carrying and using if necessary. There are also modifications you can make to your firearm that will make it more accurate when you shoot and prepare you for any circumstance.

From slide stop levers to tactical lights, to custom grips, there are a variety of modifications available for your concealed carry handgun that you should check out immediately. There are also some precautions you should take when you are purchasing these modifications, as some may not work well with your gun or might have the potential to jam.

Modification Precautions

With any modification you decide to add to your gun, you need to ensure it's not going to interfere with any of the controls of your firearm. For instance, a slide-on rubber grip sleeve might enhance your grip while also restricting the magazine catch. Over time, these grips may also slide around, causing you to lose your grip.

Other modifications, including recoil buffers, can break and jam the gun. In a worst-case scenario, the one time it would decide to break and jam would be when you had to draw your firearm to protect yourself. It's important to research any modification you're considering purchasing and look at the reviews. If they have the potential to slow down, block, or break any process of the firing of a concealed carry firearm, then they aren't worth the risk.

pistol on wooden table

Finally, you need to be familiar with the laws in your state regarding modifications. For example, California has very strict limits and definitions to the modifications you can make to your personal firearms. One of their most well-known bans is on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. If you shoot and injure or kill an intruder in your home with an illegally modified handgun, you could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law even though you were defending your family and your home.

Ignorance of the law is not going to keep you out of jail. You need to familiarize yourself with the regulations of your local jurisdiction to ensure that any modifications you make to your handguns are legal.

1. Trigger Upgrades

Some pistols are made with clunky or heavy trigger pulls. For instance, the state of Massachusetts requires that all trigger pulls on pistols without a manual external safety must be at least 10 pounds to prevent accidental discharge. Most gun manufacturers who sell semi-automatic handguns in the state, even if they have external safeties, put a trigger pull weight on their pistols, of anywhere between 10-13 pounds.

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A heavier trigger pull results in less accuracy because, as you pull, the gun has more resistance and can move away from the target. This can have disastrous results if you are in a situation of self-defense and you are having difficulties pulling the trigger. Less accuracy means that you are unable to defend yourself as well as you should. For this reason, many people choose to upgrade the trigger pulls on their firearms and lower the trigger pull. Aftermarket trigger altering is legal in Massachusetts. 

Other gun manufacturers just don't make great triggers, so people choose to upgrade those as well. In addition to being easier to pull, a trigger must also be smooth and uninterrupted to increase accuracy. A trigger upgrade is a common modification made to concealed carry handguns to help ensure that, when you pull the trigger, the gun aims where it's supposed to.

Many gun shops will offer trigger upgrades for a nominal fee, which is usually under $100. Those who are familiar with the ins and outs of handguns can also order a trigger upgrade kit and complete the job themselves. When upgrading the trigger pull, it's important to purchase a kit that is high-quality. While you want a reduction in your trigger pull, you also don't want it to break down quickly or be so loose that it runs the risk of discharging as you're unholstering it. 

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2. Tactical Lights

A tactical light modification can give you a huge advantage in a variety of situations. For instance, if you are walking home in the dark or you hear someone breaking into your home in the middle of the night, the light at the end of your gun gives you a huge advantage for locating and identifying your target. With enough lumens, it can also temporarily blind them, giving you the upper hand. 

Tactical lights come in a variety of lengths and sizes, depending on the size of your firearm. You can get a lot of lumens in a small package, so sometimes smaller is better, especially when it comes to carrying concealed. You'll also want to ensure that your gun fits into your kydex holster with the tactical light modification. If not, there are plenty of kydex holsters you can purchase to accommodate the upgrade.

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3. Night Sights

Another advantage for low-light conditions is a night sights modification. Most handguns come from the manufacturer with white-dot fixed iron sights which are great for daytime shooting but useless in the dark. Fiber optic and tritium night sights are popular modifications for handguns to allow for accuracy in the low-lit areas.

Fiber optic sights grab the light from surrounding areas, such as a streetlight, moonlight, or porch light. It reflects this light through the cable core without bending it, making the sights sort of glow in the darkness. The upside is that they are cheaper than tritium sights, and they will last a lifetime. 

The downside of fiber optic sights is that if there is no ambient light, you might be out of luck. They may capture a little bit of light and glow dimly, but in a completely darkened room this may not be the case. 

Tritium night sights are made of tritium, which is a radioactive hydrogen isotope. While it uses radiation to let off a light glow, it is perfectly safe and contained to carry.   Tritium night sights have a half-life of 12 years, which means that your sights will begin to dim around that time. While sights can last up to 25 years, many people choose to replace them sooner than that. They are more expensive than fiber optic sights but may be worth their weight in gold.

Because tritium sights don't need an ambient light source, they will function in any darkened environment. Whether you're hiding in a dark room or walking to your car in a darkened parking lot,  tritium night sights will allow you to line up your targeted threat accurately. They also work well during the daytime while you practice your shooting at the range. While they may be more expensive than fiber optic sights, they are more versatile for concealed carry purposes.

4. Pistol Grips

While some handguns fire great and have many desirable features, their grips may not be textured enough for all users. A textured pistol grip is a common modification many gun owners make to their concealed carry handguns for a tighter grip performance. There are several options for this modification. 

Some gun models offer interchangeable backstraps for their grips, which can aid significantly in the comfort of the gun in differently sized hands. For instance, the SIG Sauer P320 allows for a variety of modifications, including grip sizes, frames, calibers, and slide lengths.

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If you're considering a grip sleeve made of rubber or silicone, ensure that it won't interfere with the mechanisms of your gun, including the magazine catch. You don't want your magazine to stick or not release properly because the grip is in the way. They can also slide around if they aren't specifically designed for the make and model of your gun.

Wrap-around grips are another solution, although they also may not be a permanent one. While they add a second, textured layer to your gun and are usually manufactured specifically for the makes and models of many firearms, they tend to weaken and loosen over time and will need to be replaced.

Skateboarding tape is another solution many users turn to because the non-slip sandpaper grip ensures that your hands will not move much at all. However, it can be incredibly uncomfortable and difficult to holster and unholster. It can also be loud as it slides in and out of the holster or against your belt and clothing. It will eventually need to be replaced.

Grip panels are an excellent choice for guns that use them, especially since it's replacing a piece of the gun rather than wrapping around it. Unfortunately, the models of G10 grips are limited to specific handguns, so they're not as versatile or customizable as some other options.

Finally, if you don't mind potentially voiding the warranty of your handgun, you can choose to stipple your grip yourself. This involves using a soldering-type tool to melt the polymer grip with specialized patterns of your choosing. This process will only need to be done once, and it can be customized to fit your hands specifically.

man reloading pistol

5. Extended Slide Stop Release

The extended slide stop release lever is a relatively simple modification you can make to some guns to make it easier to release the slide by just using your thumb. For many people, this makes it faster to reload after emptying the magazine. Most find it faster than using the slide-racking method. 

6. Slide Modifications

Some gun owners love their guns but hate the lack of texturing on the slide, which can make it harder to rack if their hands are sweaty or if it's a humid environment. Slide texture modifications are another option for some gun makes and models that may make it easier to use the slide quickly and efficiently, especially in self-defense situations.

Some slides can be purchased as modifications to factory standards, or licensed custom firearms builders can also make slide modifications. 

7. Magazine Extensions

Many handguns come with extended magazine options, boosting the number of rounds in your handgun. The Glock 19 is one of the most well-known concealed carry handguns with a variety of magazine extensions, bringing the standard 15-round capacity up to 17, 19, 24, 31, or 33 rounds. 

These magazine extensions are not legal in all states, so it's important to know your local laws. Also, some of these extensions are not practical for carrying concealed, but they might be worth the investment for home self-defense purposes.

8. TiN Barrels

Titanium nitride is a ceramic coating that can be applied to different sections of your handgun to boost the lifetime protection of your parts. It protects against grime buildup, along with also being scratch-resistant. Most people use TiN on the barrels of their handguns, but it can also be applied to small parts and slides. Many gun owners like the TiN coating because it comes in a variety of colors, including gold/bronze, copper, silver, and black.

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9. Lasers

Lasers are a popular modification for concealed carry guns, and many manufacturers offer the laser upgrade built into many of their models. A laser provides greater accuracy from a farther distance and can be used during the day or at night.

For carrying concealed, a laser can be extremely beneficial if you are in a situation where you cannot fire on your target directly. For example, you may be hiding behind a car or around a corner from the person chasing you, and you want to ensure that if they pursue you, the trajectory of your bullet is going to hit them and not an unintended target in the surrounding area.

Lasers are excellent for making sure that you shoot at what you intend to shoot, and that you get as close to the stopping zone of your target as possible. Lasers usually come in red or green, depending on your preference. 

Ben Jimenez
Ben Jimenez


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