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August 01, 2007
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Handgun Accessories: Enhancing your Duty Pistol

While your duty pistol forms a great foundation for a lethal force option, there are some accessories that can make it a more effective tool. These include grip modifications, sights, weapon-mounted lights and lasers, and dummy weapons.

Grip Modifications
Grip modifications allow the handgun to point naturally and fit your hand more ergonomically. One of the most important aspects of good shooting is fitting the firearm to the shooter’s hand. That’s why most agencies issue or approve a family of handguns—so that the same basic pistol is available in different grip and trigger-reach dimensions, providing a better fit for a wider range of hand sizes. Besides choosing a pistol that fits your hand to begin with, you are sometimes able to alter the grip with either a manufacturer’s grip module or an after-market grip enhancer. Since many polymer-frame pistols now come with a choice of grip backstraps, choose the one that provides the best fit for you and have it installed by your armorer. Additionally, many officers are able to improve their shooting performance by adding tacky or rough texturing to their pistols’ grip. For tackiness, the Hogue HandAll is a popular slip-on rubber grip accessory. If you prefer a rough surface, the TacGrip consists of cut-to-size skateboard-like tape for popular firearms. If you want to go a step up and make additional texturing or grip reshaping a permanent part of your firearm’s grip, Vermont gunsmith Karl Sokol does a great job at both—he’s a favorite in some high-end special forces communities.

Sights
Sights that can be seen in less-than-ideal conditions are another important handgun accessory. Almost all handguns come from the factory with traditional post-and-notch sights, and most manufacturers provide the option of tritium night sight inserts with them. Because officers are exposed to many dim-light environments, tritium sights usually make good sense. Post-and-notch sights work well when shooting while using traditional sight-focused aiming. However, there are reasons for being unable to see your sights in actual encounters. One is the phenomena of threat-focus during spontaneous, close quarters deadly force encounters. This is where the mind is trying to absorb every piece of information concerning the threat and is not particularly concerned about seeing the sights. Another, much more common reason is the normal, age-related reduction in near vision. Our far-sightedness prevents us from focusing on close-up objects, including our weapon sights. Since we are unlikely to be wearing reading glasses when a deadly threat presents itself, the solution is to go with sights that we can see. The sights that many have found to work is the XS Sights Big Dot system. Basically consisting of a big round white front sight and a wide v-shaped rear sight, the large dot is hard to ignore. So, whether you’re being visually tested by nature or experiencing threat-focus visual interference, this sight could still be a good investment.

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Laser Sight Systems
Another valuable accessory is a laser sight system, because officers need to be able to aim even when the weapon can’t be brought to eye level. When officers are knocked to the ground or have an arm or leg injured, they may be forced to assume extremely awkward firing positions. A laser sight system provides instant point-of-impact feedback. Generally, laser sights also solve the problems associated with threat-focus because your sights readings will be visible while you are focusing on the threat. A leader in duty-quality handgun laser sights is Crimson Trace.

Weapon-Mounted Lights
Positive threat identification is aided by a weapon-mounted flashlight. Since even day shifts often entail searching dark buildings, we must have light to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. Therefore, our duty pistol needs to have a white light affixed to it via an accessory rail. Surefire, Blackhawk, Insight Technology and Streamlight make popular models that fit the bill. You’ll need a new holster which accepts the weapon and light combination. Fortunately, most major holster manufacturers make suitable models. Go to the range after dark or use a dark building to practice search and control techniques. You’ll see that making good shots is easy and reliable with the pistol-mounted light. This ability isn’t free though—the light affixed to the pistol means that you’ll probably be searching with the muzzle. That is, in order to see into an area, you’ll have to point the pistol there. Since this isn’t always appropriate, there are doctrine, policy, and training issues to settle before pistol lights are deployed. Keep in mind that pistol-mounted lights do not eliminate the need for a hand-held light. Practice until you master searching, controlling and shooting with a light in one hand and your pistol in the other, as well as learning to use the pistol-mounted light effectively. As you train with the pistol-mounted light, you’ll realize that the bright spot of the light isn’t always aligned with the handgun’s bore. We must use the weapon’s sights in conjunction with the light and not rely solely on the bright spot to indicate true target area. One way around this is to use a light and a laser. Most officers tend to put the laser on the target, even if it isn’t aligned with the bright spot. If you don’t already have a laser on your pistol, consider going to a light/laser combination device, such as the Insight M6.

Dummy Weapons
The accessory list isn’t complete without mention of a dummy weapon. In many cases the best way to learn a new tactic is by practicing techniques, flow and movement through the use of a replica– a dummy weapon. A one-to-one ratio of identical dimensions, weight and feel proves especially useful when practicing dynamic tactics. Rings Manufacturing makes the well-regarded Blueguns. Blackhawk recently introduced their Demo Guns, made of glass-filled polymer that have garnered high compliments from active trainers. Dummy weapons are inexpensive accessories that can be invaluable training aids.

More Information
BlackHawk Products Group
4850 Brookside Ct
Norfolk, VA 23502
(800) 694-5263
www.blackhawk.com

Chestnut Mountain Sports
Karl Sokol
155 State Forest Road
West Rutland, VT 05777
(802) 438-5732
www.chestnutsmountainsports.com

Crimson Trace Corporation
9780 SW Freeman Drive
Wilsonville, OR 97070
(800) 442-2406
www.crimsontrace.com

Hogue, Inc.
P.O. Box 1138
Paso Robles, CA 93447-1138
(800) 438-4747
www.getgrip.com

Insight Technology
9 Akira Way
Londonderry, NH 03053
(877) 744-4802
www.insightlight.com

Ring’s Manufacturing
99 East Drive
Melbourne, FL 32904
(321) 951-0407
www.blueguns.com  

Tac-Grip
PO Box 1353
Dallas, GA 30132
(770) 366-8675
www.tac-grip.com

Streamlight
30 Eagleville Road
Eagleville, Pa. 19403
(800) 523-7488
www.streamlight.com

SureFire
18300 Mount Baldy Circle
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(800) 828-8809
www.surefire.com

XS Sights Systems
2401 Ludelle
Fort Worth, Texas 76105
(888) 744-4880
www.xssights.com



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