I'm not a huge concealed carry handgun upgrader. I'm not one of those people who will buy a gun and immediately start to upgrade it to be something else. In fact, there are certain upgrades I feel shouldn't be done except under certain circumstances.
For example, I'm a firm believer that changing anything mechanical on a carry gun isn't necessary (minus what I mention below). That is, unless you're into competition shooting. For me, components like the internal trigger parts are placed there the way they are by the manufacturer because that's what they thought was best to do.
You know what I do when I'm in the market for a new gun with a trigger I don't like? Pick a different gun.
There are some upgrades that are not only fine for a carry gun, but will actually help you out some in terms of defending yourself properly. Please note, that I'm not saying that you should just buy upgrades instead of range time and ammo. Quite the opposite, actually.
I think there is huge benefit in learning how to shoot your gun in stock form, in case you ever revert back to it. Anyway, here are what I consider to be the top upgrades for your concealed carry handgun:
The most popular aftermarket upgrade for concealed carry handguns are usually sights. Even more specifically, people opt to install night sights on their pistols.
Night sights are great if you ever need to defend yourself in low light. But even if you don't opt for night sights, regular aftermarket ones are a big step in the right direction.
Many times, gun makers install sights on their guns that aren't that great or are made from a material that surprises people when they find out. Glock sights, for example, are usually plastic.
Even more popular these days, are guns coming pre-cut for an optic. Heck, I've got a red dot that I keep on hand for those times when I get a T&E in with an optic cut. In fact, that pictured G45 MOS above is wearing that optic.
This is an up and coming section of the firearms aftermarket, and it's not going anywhere. People are using red dots for their carry pistols and aftermarket night sights are also still wildly popular.
This will help you in a defensive situation because better sights or a red dot will help you find your target better.
Very early on in my concealed carry journey I owned a firearm with a grip that was so intense it was hard to carry. The sheer abrasiveness of the grip itself rubbed raw spots on my love handles and it drove me nuts.
Otherwise it was a good gun.
I had a couple options. The first option was to do a custom stipple on the grip. While many people opt for this I'm not comfortable with it because to me, it lessens the resale value of the gun. This is a permanent addition and really cannot be reversed.
I could have worn an undershirt, but I sweat profusely and that wasn't technically an option.
So, I opted for Talon Grips. I had a pair sent out to me and in quick fashion, solved my problems. You can read Matthew's Talon Grip Review, next, or just take my word for it. They're a good addition to any gun.
I even keep some of their non-gun specific grips around just in case. I've got them on AR-15 mags and everything.
A grip like this will help you in a defensive situation because your gun tends to get slippery if your hands start to sweat during a critical incident. This will help you hold on to your gun better.
Extended Mag or Slide Stop
These are both technically mechanical. However, these can both damper your ability to operate your firearm if you can't find a gun with controls you can effectively get to.
One of the main problems with most guns out there, is that they're made for a specific “average” hand. That means if your hand is bigger, smaller, or if you have fingers that bend differently than what the gun was designed for, you may not be able to reach the controls.
As a gun reviewer, who got my start in the industry reviewing guns, I can say that this is one of the hardest things to measure. If I say something like I was able to hit the controls, that's a very subjective thing because I'm the only person on earth with my hands.
Your hands are shaped entirely different than mine are which means what may work for me won't work well for you. What this equates to is secondary manufacturers making components for this.
I put this one last for a reason, though. The main reason being that not all guns have these aftermarket components made for them. And if this is the case, you'll have to be like me and learn to use your index or middle finger on your strong hand (on the other side of the gun) to hit the mag release, instead of your thumb.
These will help because one of the first things to go during a defensive encounter are the motor skills needed to operate the slide lock and mag release. If you need to reload your gun and get it back into battery, stacking as many things in your favor as possible is a huge benefit.
I do want to warn you that a mag release that sticks out too far could be engaged when you don't want it to be, causing you different problems. Be careful, and only go out as far as needed and only use trusted companies when making these changes.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with upgrading your firearm if it's what you want to do and it actually helps your overall goal of protecting yourself and loved ones if that time ever comes.
I advise against making mechanical modifications to internals like the trigger, but really it's all up to you. What have you opted to change on your gun? let us know in the comments below.