So you picked up your pistol a few months ago, have gone to the range a few times, and are ready to customize it. It’s an itch we all get after using a stock firearm for some time, so don’t worry—I get it. 

While customizing your pistol can leave you with many questions and hours of research, it’s an experience loved by many in the gun industry. You’re making it your own, which is always an incredible experience.

Glocks

Who said Glocks can’t be attractive? Source: Pinterest

So, let’s discuss all the additions, replacements, and upgrades you can consider when you’re ready to customize your pistol! 

Additions

These parts can easily be added to your firearm and require minimal tools and experience. 

Flashlights

What’s the point of owning a firearm if you can’t see when you’re using it at night? Of course, situations may vary, but I’ve always firmly believed that every gun should have a flashlight so you can grab it if needed for a home defense situation. 

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Flashlights come in all sizes, brightnesses, and price points, but you can’t go wrong with a Streamlight TLR-1 HL. It’s rugged enough to handle some punishment while being just as bright as your higher-end models. However, the Surefire X300 Turbo is the way to go if you want to take your light into the zombie apocalypse. I have one and swear by it.

Flashlights are the easiest products to add to your pistol, which is why they’re number one on the list.

X300 Turbo

My X300 Turbo has served me well so far.

Magazine Extensions

Extensions on your magazine may not be legal in every state (darn politics), but they are a great way to get more out of your firearm and allow you to spend more time shooting and doing what matters: training. 

Not only do they provide you with more ammunition, but they can also make the grip more comfortable for you by adding extra surface area to seat all of your fingers.

Magazine extensions are also rather affordable, which isn’t usually the case when you’re upgrading your pistol. They are a quick and easy way to upgrade your pistol without breaking the bank.

Optics

Who can argue with putting a red dot on a target and pulling the trigger? It’s easier than using iron sights, especially when you’re first starting out. Red dots come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny Romeo Zero to that mailbox-on-top Aimpoint ACRO. 

Whichever you choose is up to you, but I typically recommend the Leupold Deltapoint Pro at the lower end and the Trijicon RMR at the higher end. Start by setting a budget and then pick your most important features. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can narrow down a long list with just a few simple qualifications. 

Optics can be pricey but are well worth the investment.

Minimal Tinkering

Now, we’re getting into the customizations that require some tools and a bit of expertise. If you aren’t comfortable doing these yourself, consult with a gunsmith. 

Drop-In Barrel 

Most pistols come with barrels that can be improved, and luckily for you, you only have to take your pistol apart and put a new barrel in place of the old one. 

Barrels have different features, from crowning, which aids in bullet trajectory, to porting, which directs gasses upwards, which limits muzzle rise. 

However, you do have to ensure the barrel is a direct drop-in replacement for your old barrel. 

Slide 

An aftermarket slide can also have different features that improve your gun’s performance. Porting helps direct gases and reduce weight, and rear slide serrations can improve your grip while racking the slide.

M18

I’ve been thinking of doing this to my M18. Source: Herrington Arms

Before choosing a slide, determine which optic you plan on mounting to your pistol to ensure the footprints match up. Sure, there are plates to help you there, but that adds unnecessary height to your firearm and another piece that can fail.

Iron Sights

If you choose not to get a red dot and want to run iron sights, it’s wise to get a set with Tritium so you can line them up correctly when shooting in low-light settings. Sights are another part that comes in many different sizes.

You have suppressor height sights, which allow you to see over a suppressor and are also great for co-witnessing a red dot sight. Then there are low-profile sights which are great for limiting the risk of snagging on clothing when drawing the weapon. Both are just as accurate as you are. 

Iron sights can be tricky to replace yourself, especially if you don’t have the right tools for the job. The good news is that the tools are cheap, and the process isn’t too difficult. 

Advanced Modifications 

If you haven’t worked on firearms before, these upgrades will likely require you to visit a gunsmith. Some of these customizations can mess with your firearm’s safety, so always play it safe if in doubt. 

Trigger (And Trigger Springs) 

The trigger is the most important point of contact for your firearm. It can change the total feel of the pistol. Aftermarket triggers, whether flat or curved, don’t only improve the feeling you get from your firearm but can also help you improve your accuracy. 

The trigger springs are where the magic happens, and plenty of manufacturers sell different springs depending on the weight and feel you’re going for. I recently put new springs in my Sig P320 M18, and it made a world of difference. 

This is one of those upgrades that can land you in hot water if you don’t do it right, so if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, send or take your firearm to a gunsmith so they can install the parts for you.

Glock Parts

Keep all of your parts neat and organized when working on your pistol. Source: Glock

Striker and Hammer Springs

Your striker or hammer springs play a massive role in how light your trigger pull is and how fast you can squeeze off those rounds. Replacing them may require a professional, but it’s worth it. 

If you’re changing these springs and trigger springs, do so gradually and be sure to find a sweet spot. Don’t make them so light or heavy that they’re not suitable for your intended shooting style. 

Grip Modules and Stippling 

Certain firearms, like the Sig P320 and P365 series, have grip modules that can be swapped out fairly easily. Other firearms don’t make it as easy.

If you have one of those “other” firearms, like a Glock, a good stippling job can help you achieve the feel you’re searching for and improve your overall control. Aftermarket grips are also available, but they may not deliver as much of an improvement or finished look.

CZ

This CZ has no shortage of upgrades and modifications. Source: Danger Close Armament

Conclusion

Upgrading your pistol is a great experience and a fun journey that many gun enthusiasts find themselves doing often. I have done all of these customizations myself and have transformed my M18 into something unrecognizable. 

Ensure to take extra care when messing around with the trigger and striker or hammer springs since they can easily make your firearm unsuitable for self-defense. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Now, go out there and make your pistol your own. 

Be good and take care.

Brian Zerbian
Brian is a USMC Veteran and avid gun enthusiast from New Jersey who loves to spend his time shooting, writing, listening to classic rock, and learning new things.
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