Personalize Your Arsenal

We're going to look at modifications you can make (no armorer or gunsmith required) to your rifles, shotguns and pistols that will ultimately benefit you. The modifications suggested may not be applicable to everyone, but, in general, are suitable for...


In the past I've looked at relatively quick and easy ways that you can modify specific weapons to serve you better under given conditions. In looking back I realized that what I've done is address many small issues rather than give an acceptable overview of what may benefit you in the overall performance of your weapons. So, to address that, in this week's review we're going to look at modifications you can make (no armorer or gunsmith required) to your rifles, shotguns and pistols that will ultimately benefit you. The modifications suggested may not be applicable to everyone, but, in general, are suitable for most operational environments.

Let's start out with rifles, talk about shotguns some and then move to handguns to finish up...

The two rifles shown are perfect examples of good fighting rifles. The top is a Rock River Arms CAR-4 in .223. The modifications that have been made to it are:

  • addition of the quad-rail forend allowing placement of multiple Picatinny attached accessories
  • removal of the "carry handle" to expose the flat top of the receiver
  • mounting of a LaRue rear sight that locks on with the turn of a lever
  • addition of a SureFire M900A vertical grip light system

The collapsible stock came on the weapon but has since been replaced by a DuoStock. Also adjustable for length, the DuoStock allows for different carry positions while keeping the weapon "mounted." The DuoStock can be kept in your shoulder pocket which allows you to bring the weapon up online faster.

The second rifle is an ArmaLite AR-10 in .308. On the flat top of the receiver is an EOTech holoscope or reflex sight. The entire weapon, along with the EOTech, has been treated with a custom finish created by DuraCoat. The digital woodland camo finish was applied by R-Squared Custom Gun Finishing in St. Mary's County, Maryland. Note that just in front of the forend are two Picatinny rail sections--one on top of the barrel and one below. I highly recommend placing a fold-down front sight and a fold-down rear sight on any weapon equipped with an electro-optic system (the EOTech in this case). That way, if the batteries die in your optics, you can pop up the sights and still stay in the fight.

I'm sure you've noticed that the Rock River .223 has a light while the AR-10 doesn't. The Rock River gun was modified for fighting in closer conditions such as inside schools, office buildings, residential structures, etc. The AR-10 was modified specifically for an open field service and has since become the primary urban sniper rifle for a Colorado-based deputy. Given that intended use, having a collapsible stock on the AR-10 wouldn't be necessary, but the addition of a bipod would be.

Both these rifles are prime examples of how weapons can be modified to serve a specific purpose. None of the modifications listed require any gunsmithing. Only the application of the DuraCoat custom gun finish required any special skills, and those still aren't gunsmith-specific.

So, how about shotguns?

There are probably more after-market accessories available for shotguns than any other weapon out there, with the possible exception of the Ruger 10/22. My Remington 870 was modified with the pistol grip stock, a SureFire 918FA forend, a six shot "side saddle" holder, and an OD Green DuraCoat finish. Yes, I'm a fan of DuraCoat as you'll see again further down. This shotgun has been in service with me since the late 1980s. It's typically stoked with PolyShok IRP ammo and I usually keep a couple of different types of ammo in that side saddle holder. Depending on what circumstance/operation I'm going into, I might add slugs, 00 Buck, 4-shot, or various less-lethal rounds. I hate to mix less-lethal with lethal and don't recommend it--but circumstances sometimes place us in odd situations.

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