Should you Modify Carry Weapons?

This topic sparks many debates in the gun community, and we want to share the pros and cons regarding concealed carry modification, as well as the potential legal ramifications in doing so.

Disclaimer: We are in no way offering legal advice, but instead are hoping to provide the facts to help you make an informed decision.

First, let’s discuss the types of popular modifications that are presently available. Certain modifications are considered minor and don’t affect the functionality of the gun, such as sights, grip stippling or decorative grips, or cerakoting the slide. These are modifications that, when done properly, are safe and shouldn’t cause any issues with the gun’s weight or direct function, but can improve comfort, durability, and overall visual look of the gun. Most of these modifications can be done by the owner and don’t require a significant amount of time.

(modifications are purely cosmetic)

In contrast, the most common modification that can affect the gun’s functionality is trigger modifications, and this can not only change how the pull or reset functions, but can also make your trigger pull more sensitive. The argument for modifying a gun this way is a that it provides a “lighter” trigger,  which can allow for a smooth, consistent trigger pull. In theory this modification should improve a shooters accuracy, which some would argue is a good thing. Improved accuracy should be a good thing in a high stress situation. The argument that has been made against this kind of modification is that it changes the factory design of the gun, and in turn, changes the design and any safety components that may have been put in by the gun manufacturer.

Another modification that can affect accuracy but doesn’t change much of the functionality is aftermarket barrels. Most modern firearms have barrels that are reliable from the factory, but there is still room for some improvement in most cases, even if minor.

(this firearm is heavily modified including aftermarket trigger and barrel) 

While modifications to concealed carry guns is becoming more popular, it has always been common in competition shooting. Competition shooters often have highly modified triggers (and about everything else) because they are designed for a specific purpose depending on their discipline. Things to consider with trigger modification for a concealed carry gun is how sensitive the trigger is going to be, and whether the modification will be done by a professional. Guns are generally rugged by design, but most have very specific tolerances with their internal components. If changes are made to any of these components (even if you’ve watched it on youtube) they should be completed by professionals who have the knowledge and experience to ensure the gun is still safe and functional.

(always consult a professional before modifying your firearms in any way) 

The other consideration is how the gun is concealed. Some people utilize a simple clip with no holster, which can reduce the outline of the gun, but it can leave the trigger exposed, and if the gun has a modified “light” trigger, it can be unsafe. Other methods of concealment that need to be considered, especially if there is no external safety, is pocket carry of small pistols, or women who carry a gun in a purse or purse pocket. Some smaller concealed carry guns are even specifically designed with a heavier trigger to ensure safety. There are trigger upgrades that can be purchased from manufacturers and even modifications that don’t reduce the weight of the trigger pull. These changes can make the feel of a trigger “smoother” and change the “break” without making the trigger lighter – it just makes it feel better for the shooter.

Now, to the core of the debate of trigger modification is the possible legal ramifications if a concealed carry holder is involved in an incident where they have to deploy their firearm and use force. Criminal and civil liability are aspects, that regardless of right or wrong, are a reality of being a concealed carry holder. The argument has been made that modifications, specifically trigger modifications, make a gun more dangerous and increase the likelihood of an accidental discharge. Another point that has been made in the courts is intent of the shooter regardless of the outcome. This is an issue that even law enforcement officers are scrutinized on, and now concealed carry holders are facing that same scrutiny. A significant amount of law enforcement agencies have restrictions on what can be modified on their officer’s guns. There are other aspects that generally will affect a legal outcome more than gun modification, but it can still have some consequence.

Hopefully, this information will allow you to make a more informed decision when deciding which, if any, modifications to make to your concealed carry gun. We don’t endorse any specific modification or type of gun, but want all to be aware of the realities of being a responsible concealed carry holder.

Austin Warfield has 26 years experience as a Police Officer carrying a firearm every single day. If you have any questions about carrying concealed or firearms in general we encourage you to stop by the store or send Austin an email at Austin@COPSGunShop.net today!

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