Article: Should You Modify A Defensive Gun?


Armed Citizens Defense Network put out a really good article on this topic with a heavy focus on reduced trigger weights. They are obviously going to take a very conservative stance here but it's well reasoned and they included a fair amount of input from industry experts. It's worth a read IMO...and I carry a modified gun (usually a M&P CORE with a Trijicon RMR and an Apex trigger). :)

Gun Modifications

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

Gun enthusiasts often challenge authoritative advice to avoid radically modifying their self-defense gun, reducing trigger pull weight or carrying it with hand-loaded ammunition for self defense. As gun lovers, as well as self-defense practitioners, many who argue these points find it difficult to separate the features of a gun that is fun to shoot from one that is difficult if not impossible to defend in court.
I have a hard time with the theory that modifications or reloads will cause you any problems. In the LE training I’ve had, we describe the response to a deadly threat as force used that is intended to stop a deadly threat by any means necessary. The gun itself is a means and changes to it don’t cause deadly threats to present themselves to you.

The identification of a threat with the ability, opportunity and intent to cause you or others serious injury and/or death usually happens before the gun comes into play. At that point, any means necessary. Would it not be more shocking to cut an attacker’s throat or purposefully run them over with a car (causing limbs to be dismembered and the head to pop like a watermelon)? All legal if a deadly threat exists.

Can modifications be a problem? Yes. I would suggest nothing that would indicate a propensity to violence or malice such as dust covers with funny sayings that turn out to be unfunny later. I wouldn’t want to show any signs of malice regardless if it wasn’t a determining factor in someone else’s case.

As far as reloads, I wouldn’t worry if your loads are reliable. I might go as far to stay within the load recipes in the manual because those are based on established standards. Yes, I use reloaded ammo with commercially available bullets that are used in factory ammo, loaded within SAAMI spec. Big deal.


These articles aren't usually written with the "norm" or what is common, in mind. They're usually written with the "extreme" in mind and taking the most conservative approach...which is what I would expect from a self defense insurance company.

Obviously if there were tons of cases of people going to jail for lightening their triggers we would have heard about it by now. It isn't common. But nobody wants to be on the wrong end of a prosecutor trying to make a name for himself. Or god forbid you become a George Zimmerman and get involved in a highly public, social justice type incident. There's a case that probably never should have gone to trial. :rolleyes:

The question, however, is really how much stomach do you have for risk? And are you preparing for the norm or do you want to be as insulated as you can be from the more extreme possibilities?

There are no right or wrong answers here. It's a personal decision for each of us and I think the article does a good job of explaining what is possible. The part about there being a different burden of proof between criminal cases and civil cases is also really good information.
Lighter triggers, faster operation timing (lighter springs, reduced slide weights, etc), micro red dots in place of classic iron sights... geez these sure do sound like competition guns.. that may also be very useful in defense situations... I do see where some concerns are coming from.. a place where modifying factory original equipment for better performance is tantamount to intent of breaking laws or scoffing at laws :rolleyes: (good example, hot rodding/race cars for street use)

On the other hand, if I can get to my sight picture quicker, and be able to do follow up shots in a shorter time in a defense situation, I would want the best performing gun for that; be it a "race gun custom" or a very good factory gun... although training is also of paramount importance. For me right now, with my budget, and with the restrictions placed in my apartment lease conditions, the ruger P85 with defense ammo is likely the best option against a home invader... although I've not had one happen in the nearly 10 years of living here :rolleyes: my parents though, my mother relies on a SW 422 .22 handgun, my dad on his .40sw or .45acp hi point carbine... instead of shotguns, in their suburban ranch home.
As far as reloads, I wouldn’t worry if your loads are reliable. I might go as far to stay within the load recipes in the manual because those are based on established standards. Yes, I use reloaded ammo with commercially available bullets that are used in factory ammo, loaded within SAAMI spec. Big deal.
A LOT of this got rolling with Ayoob. Long before Algore invented the net he was writing about this stuff. I did like a lot of what he wrote but he also came up with some down right stupid sh^t. Many followed him like a god and did not want to hear anything negative. The reloads and court thing was often tied to him. Of course it over time morphed into people on line saying they remember reading of it happening. A person being charged because they used reloads. Only problems was when pressed no one could find the cases they claimed. In one of his books he said if you pull a gun scream "POLICE". Then later you can say you were screaming for someone to call the police. When I used to show that to some who thought of him as a god they normally got mad and no longer wanted to talk :rolleyes::rolleyes:


Perhaps a argument for modifications could be that it makes the defensive gun safer.

Things such as :
After market extended safeties ...makes it easier to put the gun on or off of "Safe"...
Sight mods or scope / red dots / lasers etc...makes it easier to see what I am shooting at...therefore less likely to shoot someone / something that is not a threat...
Re-loads , I shoot these because they are more accurate / less recoil etc.. out of my gun , and make it less likely to miss and endanger someone with a stray bullet...

Granted any argument or wording can be turned around in court , not to forget to mention the wild card of being judged by ones "peers"....


Lead Farm Precision Rifle Match
The Lead Farm
34006 Gwinn Rd, Prosser, WA 99350, USA
Arms Collectors of SW Washington Gun Show
Battleground Community Center
912 E Main St, Battle Ground, WA 98604, USA
Rimfire Challenge Dec 12th @ DRRC
Douglas Ridge Rifle Club
27787 OR-224, Eagle Creek, OR 97022, USA
Albany Rifle & Pistol Club (ARPC) Gun Show
Linn County Expo Center
3700 Knox Butte Rd E, Albany, OR 97322, USA


  • Sportsman's Warehouse - Albany
    5.00 star(s)
    Good products at good prices with friendly and knowledgeable staff!
    We like to visit the Albany location as it's closer but have been to several others and they have all been great!:D
  • Umpqua Survival
    4.00 star(s)
    Easy NFA transfer
    I had a silencer transferred through their shop. The paperwork was quick and the staff helpful and friendly. Whilst waiting, I did see a nice...
  • MK Tactical
    5.00 star(s)
    Awesome staff
    Being new to the area and having just made an online purchase of an AR lower, I opted to use MK Tactical as my FFL, without knowing anything about...
  • J&B Firearm Sales
    5.00 star(s)
    Good local shop
    Picked up a rifle yesterday from J&B. This was the second or third gun purchase over the last few years from them. I always enjoy stopping by...
  • H&K Gun Shop
    5.00 star(s)
    The only place I have found 9mm in stock
    I’ll admit I didn’t even know this place existed, as I don’t tend to go into Forest Grove often. But it’s a giant (looks bigger from the...
Top Bottom