Let me preface this discussion by reminding the the readers that I’m just posing my opinion. I’m not an attorney, nor am I a “gun expert”. I’m just like everyone of you. My opinion and conclusions are drawn from research and advise from people who are professionals, and my own personal research. I agree that any shooting which results in death or injury should be based on the merit, intention and action of the individuals involved, not the weapons themselves. Having said that, let’s continue the discussion with modifications of the fire control group and other internal items which affect the firing of your home defense or carry gun.
The most common modification or customization today are triggers, or trigger groups. It’s nothing new under the sun. Triggers have been upgraded since the beginning of time, going back to the Wild West trigger jobs of gun fighters. The question which most often come to mind is, “Can I get into trouble for lightening the pull weight of my trigger?” Well, there is nothing in the law that states that you can’t. There are no limits, yet, of how light your trigger pull can be made. But here’s some good advice I came upon in my research.
What about a lightened or more crisp trigger pull, modifications which seem to generate the most debate? Unless the shooting in question was or is alleged to be the result of an unintended discharge, trigger characteristics ought not to matter. But I would nevertheless advise (absent a very good reason to do otherwise) against going any lighter than a bit just north of what expert gunsmiths and trainers familiar with the particular handgun platform believe is appropriate. That implicitly means going with parts which are sold for “defensive carry” or “duty,” and straying away from gunsmith modifications and trigger group parts identified as used for “competition.”
I acknowledge (and accept for myself) that a mild level of uncertainty will always persist as to whether a modification or installation of a NFSRP might (undeservedly) contribute to an adverse result in an otherwise “good” officer-involved or self defense shooting. Stated another way, is a prosecutor or civil plaintiff handed a “better” case, even when (as will almost always be the case) the modification/NFSRP is clearly irrelevant to what precipitated the shooting or its outcome, and therefore, its legality. The answer is they might, if the evidence gatekeeper, the judge, foolishly allows such into evidence and then compounds the error by allowing an erroneous, completely subjective opening statement or closing argument about it, which gunnies easily recognize as nonsense, but which a trial jury or an appellate court in review might not. (NFSRP are Non Factory Standard Replacement Parts) Link to the full article
As a reminder, we are discussing home defense, and carry guns. These are weapons that I believe should be a dedicated part of a collection. What a person does with their recreational and collector guns do not apply to the discussion. If you don’t have dedicated guns for the aforementioned roles, it’s my suggestion that you should. If you only have one gun, it’s my opinion that it’s best not to modify that gun. Some other obvious items, at least to me, are anything that increases the factory magazine capacity of your dedicated self defense guns. The operative words being self defense.
Stay away from higher than standard capacity magazines, and items which increase the rate of fire. If your gun comes from the factory with a standard 15 round magazine, don’t attach an after market 30 round mag if you intend to use that gun in the role of home defense or as your carry gun. If you must have higher capacity, just buy a gun that comes from the factory with higher magazine capacity. But then again, I probably won’t be using a gun like the SIG Sauer Tac Ops series as a carry or home defense gun. The name denotes offensive fire power, not defensive posture. Those are fun at the range, but could give reason for a prosecutor or jury to believe you have gone from self defense to an offensive posture. The same can be said of any product which simulates full auto fire, or full auto fire itself for registered NFA weapon owners.
As I have stated, it’s your choice on what you decide to do with your weapon. Different political climates and jurisdictional laws should play an important part in your decision. This take away from my source material makes several excellent points.
Executive takeaway: Consider the possible arguments — pro and con. Proceed cautiously, but don’t feel pressured not to modify/install what has utilitarian purpose and will be meaningfully helpful to the success of your likely mission, that is, the feared events which compelled you to own/carry the handgun in the first place. Never forget success in a gunfight is almost always more dependent on mind, mindset, and skill, than on equipment. Pay particular attention to what an NFSRP is named/nicknamed, how it is advertised, the nature of its users (is it primarily LEOs, gamers, competitors, genuinely self-defense minded owners, respected trainers), the handgun manufacturer’s recommendations and expectations regarding modifications, and what gunny brethren say about it (both the true and the false) in internet forums. Then decide whether you wish to engage the risk, however certain or debatable. Next, decide whether you or a professional should do the gunsmithing or part replacement. But bear in mind regardless of who does the modification or installs an NFSRP, and whether or not the modification or part is truly sensible and defensible, there is nevertheless a chance someone (preferably one knowledgeable and presentable, but usually not you) will need to explain/justify the what, how, and why.
As I said, come to your own conclusions and do what you feel is best suited for you. However, the more information you have to draw your conclusions, the better off you are. Have a great weekend everyone, tomorrow we look at the custom exterior modifications and their potential legal ramifications.