Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Hollywood Gun Handling Awards
- Top Five Everyday Carry Gun Belts
- And Top Five Newer Guns I Recommend You Try
- Top Five Deep Cover Carry Options
- Top Five Pieces of Everyday Carry Gear to Give Away (and Get) in 2018
As we know, the gun industry did some serious growing and stretching over the last several years and included some records in the categories of sales, interest in concealed carry and even personal training. As the demand for guns levels off, interest continues in several sub-categories, including accessories for handguns — for form as well as function. So, whether you change up your handgun simply because you can or you accessorize in order to maximize effectiveness, accessories abound to accomplish these goals. With that, here are my top five handgun accessories. Some form. Some function. And, some just for fun.
This is arguably the most subjective area I’ll address here. How a pistol feels in your hand not only can be a matter of wildly varying factors but also offers the most opportunity for creativity and personal expression. As such, just changing the grips or stocks (on guns that allow you to do so, of course) can make a gun more concealable or more shootable, and, sometimes, both.
Go with shorter grips to make a gun more concealable. Go with longer grips to make a gun more shootable. And go with laser-engraved, color grip panels if that’s your thing.
Got big hands but want to carry a small gun? There’s a set of grips out there to fill your hand even as they fit the gun. Sweaty hands or constantly carrying in adverse weather? Rubber, textured grips might be the way to go. Going to an open-carry barbeque? Solid Rosewood with finger grooves are just the ticket.
2. Fiber Optic Sights/Low-Light Sights
Most guns come from the factory with simple “white dot” sights — usually a single white dot for the front sight and two dots for the rear sight. They’re adequate as long as you’re shooting in decent light. But, strangely enough, bad things happen in low- or no-light conditions too.
And, while you should have a secondary source of light, such as a tactical flashlight, as a part of your gear, you’ll also be helped by replacing those standard sights with low-light sights — commonly referred to as “night sights.”
Tritium-filled tubes in the sights glow with light, providing the ability to see the sights better when there’s very little light available. (Don’t forget the gun rule about seeing your target too.) Also, consider the value of fiber-optic sights. These gather whatever light is available and channel it to the sights, providing brighter sights with which to aim. And some manufacturers make combo sights — fiber optic plus tritium — to maximize your ability to see the sights and aim better.
3. Light, Laser or Light/Laser Combo
And speaking of having a tactical flashlight handy, consider the value of having one you actually affix to your gun. It might attach to the tactical rail under the muzzle of your gun or it might be a part of a grip replacement for a revolver. Or, instead of a light, consider a laser. Or a combo unit.
In any case, you’re adding a unit that allows you to turn on a light/laser, often with just the press of a button, exactly at the moment you need it. Since it’s already mounted on the gun, you don’t have to think about carrying it, but you might have to have a special holster to accommodate it.
Some lights/lasers actuate upon a draw and some require an additional action or input from you. You’ll have to determine which suits you. Other options include lasers in red or green and a steady or pulsating dot. A light/laser combo offers the advantage of pinpointing your target with a red or green laser dot while also filling up the area with a brilliant light.
4. Trigger/Trigger Spring
Again, consider the value — the pros and cons — of changing the trigger pull weight. Having a heavier trigger pull provides some people with a smoother trigger stroke while some prefer having a much lighter trigger pull to achieve the same effect. Either way, remember that gun rule about keeping your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target (and all the other gun rules, for that matter.)
Other reasons to replace the trigger/spring include simply smoothing out the stroke overall, as some stock triggers are gritty or jerky no matter how you squeeze them.
5. Recoil Spring/Guide Rod
Check your owner’s manual for information on when to replace it and only use an approved part. As for the guide rod, some people like to add weight to the front of their gun by replacing the stock guide rod with a much heavier version. This little exercise in physics provides just a bit more weight in the muzzle, which helps reduce recoil, which helps you get back on target more quickly, which allows faster follow-up shots, which, with practice, means you can be a faster, more accurate shooter.
Summary of Parts
A quick summary of these parts: Grips or stocks are for form and function. Low- or no-light sights are more for function than anything. A light, laser or light/laser combo? Function, again. The trigger and/or trigger spring are for function, as is the recoil spring and guide rod.
But functional parts that help you get a better grip, help you see your sights, help you squeeze a trigger smoothly and keep a gun running well while getting you back on target quickly? These all make shooting more fun as well.
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