There are a lot of high-quality pistols on the market today. And just about all of them would fit your basic needs. However, as I grew in my skills, my needs changed. The gun you own today may not be the gun you need tomorrow. Buying and selling guns can be an expensive hobby. So to keep you out of the endless cycle of gun swap, here are some things we learned along the way to owning our preferred pistols, at least for now.
When I began shooting pistol, and taking the practice of self-defense seriously, I did not understand the need for enhanced triggers, wider magwells, different grips, optics, rails, and so on. As my practice grew, the more I desired a specialized type of gun. And my first few pistols were nowhere near as upgradable compared to what I own today.
Take the Glock 19 for instance, it has a countless supply of upgrades. One could easily argue the Glock 19 is the most upgradable gun, and because of that, as the owner of a Glock 19 you are able to find any upgrade for your gun that will support your shooting style.
There is good reason why the Glock 19 is so upgradable, it’s extremely popular. It is used broadly by the military & law-enforcement, and shooters like you and me. It is one of the most popular conceal carry guns, albeit not exactly a sub-compact size. As such, the demand for upgrades is very high. A manufacturer could create an upgrade and easily sell it to millions of customers with little risk. In fact, many of the manufacturers today who are very popular, made their name by creating parts for popular guns. AR15‘s and Glock 19s being the most popular ones.
Of the many different upgrades you can buy, here are some we feel are critical to an elite shooter‘s style:
1.) Enhanced Magwell - Slim or very unforgiving magwells - the mouth of your grip where the magazine is inserted - are more likely to interfere with efficient reloads. If you are not perfectly aligned you will strike the side of the magwell, which can decrease your reload time dramatically. Buy a gun with a wide magwell, or seek-out a magwell enhancer if that is not an option.
2.) Upgraded Trigger - Most Glocks come from the factory with a very gritty trigger. As you take-up the slack, reaching the “wall” or the point where any additional pressure will fire a round, there is noticeable friction. Additionally, the wall of a Glock trigger can be very spongy. Not so much a click but more of a thud. You may be able to polish the trigger parts on your pistol or you should upgrade it if that is your only option.
3.) Grip Texture - We are not fans of grip tape. Add a little blood or mud and they become very slick. Stippling or Checking on a gun is critical to optimize your grip and controlling recoil. The better the grip, the more control you can exert. We recommend grips with 360 degrees of checking, wrapping around the grip in as many parts as possible. We also recommend grips with aggressive stippling. The deeper and more gritty the grip, the better your control.
4.) Grip Enhancers - If your grip does not properly fit your hand, you may be able to purchase a different one, or just get a different gun. Many Glocks come with multiple grip add-ons you can easily add to your gun. Sigs have small and large modular grips you can swap-out for just $35. If that is not an option, Hogue makes an excellent grip enhancer, granted you will sacrifice texture because they tend to be made from rubber, but it is better to have a grip that fits your hand.
5.) Sights - Night sights are an unnecessary upgrade for the novice shooter, but some sights are really good right out of the box. The stock, Sig high contrast sights for example are my favorite, but they are not night sights. Glock sights out of the box are somewhat disappointing and difficult to master for many shooters. We recommend you start with a basic 3 tower sight that allows you to maintain equal height and equal light. In other words your sights look like this (III) when aligned properly, all three towers are level at the top and there is equal space between them. Any sight that does not allow you to master the equal height equal light technique like rounded tower sights are going to hold you back.
Lastly, stay away from any upgrade that makes your gun more bulky, longer, or flashy. With the exception of an RMR or red dot sight, anything else is totally unnecessary like muzzle breaks, slide cuts, lasers, etc. None of this will make you a better shooter, just lighter in your wallet.