I Got a New Gun, What Should I Modify First?

If you frequent Facebook groups about guns, you see a question that comes up at least every couple of days. It goes something like this: “I just got this SigGlock&Wesson today. What mods should I do first?” And I cringe pretty much every time I see this. So, if you are a new gun owner, newish or maybe even experienced, read on and find out why.

What is a Mod?

Mod is simply short for modification. In other words, what do I need to add or change from the factory configuration to make the gun better? It can be something as small as sights or as much as the whole grip frame or slide. Or it could be entirely cosmetic, like changing the color with cerekote.

Don’t Change Anything on Your New Gun…Yet

The reason I cringe is because I don’t think you should change anything…yet. Shoot the gun first. Shoot it a bunch. Not just 20 rounds to see how it works. Have you ever driven a car on a short test drive, bought it, and then found out that the seat or something isn’t as comfortable when driving for an hour? Same thing here. Put 250-500 rounds through the gun before you even consider changing anything. Maybe more than that. Learn how the gun feels to you and how it performs for you. In other words, taste your food before you put salt on it.

Now, Ask Yourself Questions

At this stage, you start to ask yourself things like:

  • What do I need the gun to do better?
  • What do I like/not like about the feel?
  • Will changing the gun make it better or am I the problem?

Here’s why this is so important. Maybe I bought a similar SigGlock&Wesson, but I felt the grip was too fat, so I bought a smaller grip module. Great for me, but if your hands are bigger than mine, this won’t make your gun shoot or feel better to you.

Another popular mod is a new barrel. Do you need a new barrel? Probably not. 98% of people can’t shoot better than the factory barrel. If you’re that 2%, you probably won’t be asking random strangers on Facebook if you should change it. So the truth is, you probably don’t need one. Spend the money on ammo to practice.

The corollary here is to not blame the gun for things you do. Often, I hear something like “My gun shoots low and left”. Then I try the gun and it shoots fine. The gun doesn’t shoot low and left, YOU shoot low and left. Replacing the sights won’t change that. Working on your grip, trigger squeeze and sight picture probably will change that.

Is it Something I Even Want

Often, well-meaning people will give advice that isn’t necessarily wrong but may not be right for you.

For example, some will tell you that any defensive pistol must have a weapon-mounted light (WML), and not having one is really just tempting certain death. But that’s not really true. If your clothing, lifestyle, and situation require keeping the gun as concealable as possible, a WML may not be the answer for you. Maybe you need to learn how to shoot using a handheld flashlight.

Or some will say that you absolutely must have your red dot sight co-witness perfectly with your iron sights. Doing anything less is practically inviting the Grim Reaper to visit. Again, it depends on the context of your life and the gun you are using. I don’t worry about co-witnessing. (that’s a separate topic) Heck, I own guns that don’t even keep the rear sight when the red dot is mounted. I may make different choices if I was running into Afghanistan, but I think I’ll be just fine running to Publix for cheese. Context matters.

The bottom line: Just because I feel the need to hang another piece of gear on my new gun doesn’t mean you have to. It’s about your context, not mine.

Should You Change Anything?

Yes, there may be things you want to change on your new gun that will make it shoot better. For example, a while back, I bought a Smith & Wesson Shield Plus that was configured to meet the strict criteria for Massachusetts sales. The normal weight for the trigger pull of a Shield Plus is about 5.5 pounds. This one had a 10-pound trigger. Could I shoot it with a 10-pound trigger? Sure, but I didn’t want to. And, since I live in a free state, I didn’t have to. Changing it to a 5.5 pound made sense because it allowed me to shoot more accurately and faster.

But not everything makes sense. A feature I love about the gun as a left-handed shooter may not make a bit of a difference to you. A gun I feel has great ergonomics may feel clunky to you if your hands are smaller. Our instructors will help you pick a gun that fits your needs if you want that assistance, but it will be about your needs, not ours. We’ll let you try different kinds and see what actually works for you, not push you to the gun we like most.

The Wrap-up

Changing sights, triggers, slides etc can be good modifications, but shoot the gun first. A lot. Talk to a knowledgeable trainer and see if they think it may be the gun or if it may be you. (BTW, some of the worst advice I have heard has been from a gun store employee/gun show vendor.) Do your homework. But don’t just start changing things before you’ve really learned about the gun. Your results will be better in the long run. Get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more about our shooting classes.

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