What modifications are appropriate for your shotgun? That ultimately depends on your intended use. A home protection shotgun doesn't need that full-length stock and pistol grip; it probably just needs the pistol grip. It probably doesn't need the side saddle shot shell holder, but perhaps the integrated light on the forend is a good idea. A sling might also be a good idea because eventually you'll have to put it down--and you can't. A sling for police or military use is also a good idea, although I recommend either single-point or three-point slings for such. The average homeowner can get away with a two-point sling with no issues.
The shotgun's key to versatility, however, is the wide array of ammo types that are out there. To determine what type of ammo you should be loading you need to know that intended use and the ENVIRONMENT surrounding that intended use. Indeed, if it's for home defense you want a round that will be devastating to the bad guy without penetrating multiple layers of sheet rock. If you KNOW you might have to shoot through walls at bad guys or at bad guys wearing armor, then perhaps a supply of slug rounds is right for you. KNOW YOUR PURPOSE and build your weapon accordingly.
Which brings me to handguns... my favorite.
With handguns, depending on the manufacturer, there is a limited amount you can do. Certainly, if the weapon has an integrated Picatinny rail, you can add on lights and lasers. Actually, even without a Picatinny mounting system, you can add in lasers. Crimson Trace and LaserMax both make units that can be installed by the user. However, unless you can articulate a reason why you NEED a laser aiming system, I don't recommend them. You need to practice with them and understand all the dynamics of using a light. Don't forget: a laser is just another type of light, and you have to manipulate it accordingly.
Taking rail mounted accessories out of the picture, the easiest things you can change on your pistols are:
- magazine base plates
The Government Model 1911 .45ACP shown is my favorite carry gun when the weight isn't a concern. It's a Springfield-Armory 1911 and was delivered with their OD Green Armory Kote finish, ambidextrous safety, front and rear slide serrations, and low profile sights. I've since changed or added the following:
- the sights have been switched out for XS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot sights. I don't do precision work with this weapon and I like how fast I can acquire the front sight on the XS Standard Dots.
- I added the adhesive front strap finger grips available from Tac-Grip. This self-applied sandpaper-like accessory adds a great deal of perceived security to my grip under wet/sweaty conditions.
- I ordered and added a set of custom grip slabs from GunGrips.net. The emblem is my company logo and the grips are aluminum. I know, for sure and certain, I'm the only guy in the world (so far) with a set of grips like this on my 1911.
- I put rubber bumpers on the base plate of my stainless steel mags, but left my two blue mags bumperless. When I carry the weapon I realized that, if I had a bumper on the magazine, it rubbed on the seat in my Jeep and either damaged the seat cover or pulled the bumper loose from the base plate. Answer? I carry it with a flat blued magazine.
But that's a 1911. They can be modified ad infinitum. They've been around so long that aftermarket was nearly invented just for them. But how about something more basic? How about a Glock?
With a simpler weapon like the Glocks, there isn't necessarily as much you can do. Sights can be easily changed. Adhesive grips--like those from Tac-Grip--can be applied. DuraCoat finishes can be applied and will adhere to the polymer frame as well as the metal slide. Magazine base plates can be changed. Oh, wait--there's just as much you can do to make this weapon "your own."
The second generation Glock Model 19 shown to the right has had the slide DuraCoated OD Green, XS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot Night Sights installed and sports a +2 floorplate on the magazine for a total capacity of 18 rounds of 9mm in the weapon. This particular pistol has been "part of the family" since the mid-'90s and is one of my favorite carry guns. Off duty, if I can't carry a spare magazine for whatever reason, I end up strapping on this mid-size Glock. Again, it's not meant for precision work but instead for finding that front sight FAST and engaging a bad guy target.