Quick Guide to 4 Common Pistol Attachments and Their Uses

  • by Casy Smith
Quick Guide to 4 Common Pistol Attachments and Their Uses

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It is important to make sure you get the most out of your concealed carry weapon if you ever have to use it in a life-or-death situation. To do this, browsing online through possible pistol attachments is a good way to see if there are some that can help improve your aim, reduce recoil or provide more ammunition.

While there are essential accessories that every new gun owner should have, you may be wondering, “What attachments can you put on a pistol?” The four most common attachments you can put on a pistol are pistol grips, holographic sights (red dot sights), laser sights, and extended magazines. Continue reading to learn quick information about these four pistol attachments and how they could help or hinder you in a self-defense situation.

4 Common Pistol Attachments and Customizations

#1. Pistol Grips

Why do people put pistol grips on guns? Pistol grips are added onto guns for adding an extra layer of friction between your handgun's hilt and your hand. They are designed to make your firearm feel more stable in the hand when drawing and firing due to the increased tactile feeling. Some firearm grips can be removed and replaced with a different grip, while others can only be customized with adhesives or external sleeves.

Pistol grip on handgun

Advantages of Pistol Grips:

  • You can customize your grip to fit your hand. According to Rounded by Concealment Express, gun owners can change their grip surface area to accommodate the form of their hands when in a firing stance.
  • They can help you stabilize your firearm. When you have more grip on your firearm, you can firmly grasp the weapon when firing. A better grip can help reduce slippage when drawing your pistol and recoil when firing.

Challenges of Pistol Grips:

  • A new grip may not be compatible with your concealed carry holster. If you opt to add a grip to your firearm that changes its shape, it may not fit your holster or your stock firearm. Outside of your pistol, your holster is the second most important part of your concealed carry setup, so you want to make sure you can properly store and draw your firearm from it. 
  • A larger or more tactile grip may cause more printing. The less your firearm sticks out, the better. You want to keep your concealed gun out of sight. If you add a tacky grip that clings to your clothing, it may print through a shirt more easily and cause alarm. 

#2. Holographic Red Dot Sights 

Holographic red dot sights (RDS) are aiming aids for firearms that utilize a small window with a light that reflects a target into your line of sight. An RDS should sit atop your firearm on the slide between your pistol's traditional iron sights and require battery power.  

red dot sight for pistol

Advantages of Holographic Red Dot Sights: 

  • RDSs help improve accuracy. A red dot sight can help you aim more quickly as you only have to look through a single level rather than two with a traditional sight.
  • These sights are visible in low-light situations. A red dot sight can be advantageous if you have to aim your firearm at night or in a dark area. 

Challenges of Holographic Red Dot Sights: 

  • Red dot sights can add bulk to your handgun's profile. While there are red dot sights with a compact form, they still add size to your handgun and may make it more difficult to concealed carry and draw from the hip in a self-defense situation. Many red dot sights make the handgun impossible to use on a regular basis for concealed carry. 
  • Red dot sights run on battery power. Many red dot sights can last a long time on a single battery, but they still require electricity, adding a potential layer of failure in a self-defense situation. You want to make sure you can aim through your sight if the battery runs out. 

#3. Laser Sights

A laser sight is a small optical laser you can fix to your firearm that places a small dot on your target. Many laser sights fit below the pistol's barrel. 

laser sight for handgun

Advantages of Laser Sights: 

  • Laser sights are compact. Many laser sights sit below the pistol's barrel and are flush with the muzzle, which reduces their impact on the overall size of the firearm.
  • You can use laser sights to aim in unconventional stances. According to Richard Nance with gunsandammo.com, if  you aim your firearm from behind cover, it can be difficult to establish the traditional firing position that your concealed carry instructor taught you. A laser sight can help you establish a target without looking through your iron sights. It's also a great idea to establish a home security defense plan to know where you can take cover in case of a home invasion.

Challenges of Laser Sights: 

  • Laser sights will still add bulk and weight to the firearm. While more streamlined than other aiming aids, a laser sight is still an attachment that could reduce its portability and compatibility with your holster. If you decide to add a laser sight to your handgun, you need to make sure your holster can support its shape.
  • A laser sight can reveal your location. Lasers are extremely narrow beams of light, but they still illuminate and could reveal your location to an attacker in a dire situation.

#4. Extended Magazine

An extended magazine gives your firearm more rounds than a factory magazine, according to Travis Pike from CrossBreed Holsters .Extended magazines can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some fit seamlessly with the grip of the gun by modifying its base. Other extended magazines prioritize capacity over form and stretch beyond the butt of the gun's grip.

extended magazine for a pistol

Advantages of Extended Magazines: 

  • Extended magazines reduce the number of reloads you need to make in dire situations. It's always better to have too much ammunition in a confrontation rather than too little. An extended magazine can help you get a few more rounds out of your clip before your next reload. 
  • Extended magazines can work well as backup magazines. If you choose to use one firearm for home defense and for concealed carry, an extended magazine can help you get the most out of a compact firearm at home. 

Challenges of Extended Magazines: 

  • Extended magazines can't be loaded as your primary magazine when concealed carrying. If you want to have an extended magazine while you carry, you will need to store it separately from your firearm, as a bigger magazine may add too much bulk. 
  • Extended magazines may be more likely to fail than stock magazines. Many third-party gun magazines will work as well as the original ones, but you want to make sure you buy an extended magazine from your gun's original manufacturer or a reputable third-party dealer. In an article by Jack Hardy from GunsToday.com, he states that more ammunition won't mean anything in a self-defense situation if it gets jammed in a cheap extended magazine.

Final Thoughts on Attachments

When it comes to concealed carry situations, many times, less is more. A stock gun that you can carry is better than a bloated one you have to leave at home. If you decide to use attachments, remember to practice drawing and firing your handgun to adjust to them.

You shouldn't rely on an attachment to make you more effective at using your firearm. If you have questions about how an attachment could affect your ability to defend yourself in a concealed carry situation, it's a great idea to talk with your concealed carry instructor or another qualified shooting instructor to get their insight.

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