When seconds count, a missed magazine release button or a failure to lock the slide back can cost you your life. At Frontsight, it can cost you a DG sticker. Today we will explore several highly recommended upgrades for your handgun that will improve your score on the skills test and may save your life on the streets. Any gun will do if you will do. Modern handguns out of the box are good and reliable. These upgrades are by no means mandatory. Gunfights can be won and DG stickers can be earned with a factory stock handgun.
*The pictures in this article will be of Glock handguns but the principles of the discussed upgrades will be universal for all semi-automatic handguns.
A smooth and consistent trigger pull is essential to shooting well. Most triggers from the factory are heavy and gritty. Factory triggers are typically made to be heavy for safety and liability reasons. Please do not get a Dremel and try to remedy that problem. Trigger work must be done by an experienced professional. Gun Repair and Sales on Range 7 can smooth out most factory triggers on most makes and models of guns as they work on several thousand guns a year there.
The alternative to having work done on a factory trigger is replacing it. This is a more expensive option that may not be best for many. Be advised: There are more bad aftermarket triggers than good ones, caution must be exercised when choosing a new trigger assembly. Many aftermarket triggers are not drop safe and are not allowed at Frontsight. Also remember that Frontsight policy requires that the trigger press be a minimum of 4 pounds, anything less than that will not be allowed. If you are interested in getting a new trigger, Gun Repair and Sales on Range 7 sell safe, tested and Frontsight approved aftermarket triggers (and have several on demonstration guns so you can try before you buy).
Safeties, magazine releases and slide stops on stock handguns were designed to fit the most people possible and may not be the best fit for you. Left-handed individuals also have an issue with stock controls on handguns made mostly for right-handed shooters.
- Enlarged or ambidextrous safeties will make it easier and faster to disengage the safety.
- An enhanced magazine release will help shooters who have to break their shooting grip or grasp the weapon in an uncomfortable way to release the magazine; shaving time off emergency and tactical reloads.
- Improved slide stops are incredibly handy for type 3 malfunctions and left-handed shooters with “right-handed” guns. With a larger lever and textured surface, an enhanced slide stop will be easier to push up with the firing side thumb when locking the slide to the rear. Similarly, for left-handed shooters that lock the slide back with their support side thumb (reaching over the top of the firearm), it is easier to grasp and less likely to slip.
Two of these Glocks are equipped with an enhanced slide catch and magazine release.
Gun Repair and Sales on Range 7 stocks enhanced controls for most make and models of pistols and can install them properly in a short time.
There are so many sights made we can not possibly hope to cover them all today and like triggers, there are more bad ones made than good ones. Stock sights are completely adequate and able to win a gunfight or earn a DG sticker. We are aware that what works for some will not work for all. The sight systems we are about to cover are not the only right answers. If you have sights that work well for you, use them. Will be focusing on two styles of upgrades: the I-Dot and the Red Dot.
The I-Dot system
We recommend upgrading to the I-Dot style iron sights. In our experience, it is the fastest and most easily picked up sight in the dark or during the day. Using it is simple: put one dot on top of the other and make sure there is equal space on both sides of the front sight. It also does not have bright dots that are closer to your eyes, that tend to complicate or muddle up the sight alignment and sight picture. These sights have a generous opening in the rear sight for a very fast flash sight picture and are able to be used to rack the slide off your belt, holster or nearest object should you have to rack the gun one-handed. Yet they are contoured to not abrade the hand when racking the slide or skin while carrying them in the holster.
The support hand was taking the picture, the sights are not perfectly aligned.
A “new” sighting system for handguns that has been becoming more popular in the last 10 years in law enforcement and the military is mounting a red dot sight on a handgun slide. Red dots are not intended to be the only sights on a handgun, we do not recommend replacing iron sights with a red dot because batteries die and electronics can fail. Red dot sights should be mounted in addition to iron sights. With practice, red dots are a much faster and easier way to get on target. quickly up close and at greater distances that make iron sights difficult to use, and especially for aging eyes, or if you are unable to see your front sight, the red dot may be the fix for you.
To use a red dot; look at the target, place the dot where you want the round to go and press the trigger. Just focus on the dot like you would a front sight, keeping it in focus. Rinse and repeat.
Realize that Red dot sights are not for everyone, be sure to try before you buy. There are many sizes of dots and makes and models of sights. You must have a consistent presentation to pick up the dot quickly, and learn to trust it. A demonstration pistol with a Dual Illumination red dot is available at Gun Repair and Sales on Range 7, come on in and we can discuss the different options.
Red dot in focus.
If you would like to take a standard pistol and have everything done to it, drop it off at Gun Repair and Sales on Range 7. Like the pistol below:
*This Glock is being propped up by a “lens pen” for the photograph.
When this Glock was dropped off it was a new in the box Gen 3 Glock 19. Everything done to it was done by the Gunsmiths at Frontsight, upgrades are as follows:
- Stippling and trigger guard profile reduction (done by Jon)
- Vickers Tactical magazine release
- Vickers Tactical slide catch
- Agency Arms trigger
- Trijicon Suppressor height sights
- Machined to accommodate a Trijicon RMR (done by Brent)
- Mounted and Zeroed Trijicon RMR Type 2, 3.25 MOA red dot
The build was completed in two days. The shooter dropped it off in the morning of Day 1 of their 4-day class (using a backup gun for the first two days). The shooter shot 0 down and all shots and malfunctions were done in time on the 4 Day Defensive Handgun Skills Test, earning a DG sticker.
We are not saying all these upgrades will make you a better shooter. Dry practice makes a better shooter. Every little bit helps. If you are having any trouble with your handgun such as fit in your hand or not manipulating a control as well as you like, stop by Gun Repair and Sales on Range 7 and we can get your gun the way that works best for you.