What makes someone a better defensive shooter: modifying their carry gun or training and practicing more? Riley Bowman of ConcealedCarry.com feels strongly about the subject of modifications to handguns.
Students have attended his classes with compensators, ported barrels, and trigger jobs that might make the gun really cool but don’t necessarily make the person using the gun a better defensive shooter.
Time and Money
Although these modifications may help shooters make some otherwise impossible shots that have nothing to do with defensive shooting, they do not help students learn the fundamental application concepts. What does Riley recommend for how beginning shooters should spend their time and money?
Riley encourages shooters to spend their money on ammunition and their time on training and learning the skills. Once a shooter has established the baseline skills through handgun training and practice, some handgun modifications are worthwhile.
Which Modifications Make Sense?
Riley believes that modifications that make handling and using the gun easier are good investments. These include adding an extended magazine release and extended slide stop. Replacing the less-than-ideal factory sights with improved sights is a plus for many handguns. Improved sights can help you establish a sight picture with trickier shots. Also, considering the low- or no-light conditions most defensive encounters take place in, a weapon-mounted light is a great tool to have added to your handgun.
The Bottom Line
It’s the old hardware versus software question: Your gear is not going to save you if you don’t have the skills. The best plan may be to do some training and practice first to become familiar with your carry gun, work on shooting drills, then see which of the above modifications will benefit you, add them, and get back out and train and practice some more.