What Gun Accessories Do You Need?

What Gun Accessories Do You Need?
What Gun Accessories Do You Need?
What Gun Accessories Do You Need?
What Gun Accessories Do You Need?

Open up any gun magazine and you’ll see companies selling almost every imaginable accessory for guns. In fact, I know plenty of guys that spend more on accessories than on the actual gun itself. But is this necessary?

Well, first off, there are few accessories that I would consider necessary. The rest of them are for “the fun of it.” In other words, there is a big difference between accessorizing a gun for self-defensive purposes, versus competition shooting, versus accessorizing them for no good reason except for the fact that they make a new whiz-bang part for your gun.

Thankfully, I have escaped the “accessorize” disease. I’m a pretty simple guy when it comes to my guns and don’t like to add a bunch of junk to them. My Glock 19 pistol is completely stock. I haven’t changed a thing on it.

In fact, the only accessory I think you need for your self-defense handgun is a light.

And not a light that attaches to the gun, a light that sits next to your gun in case you have to deal with an intruder at 3am. And no matter what, please don’t do a trigger job on your self-defense gun. You don’t ever want to find yourself facing a prosecutor trying to explain why your gun has a 2-pound trigger.

And although my concealed carry gun is simple, I do have a lot more items on my home defense shotgun. First, it has a light on the end of it. I have a SureFire flashlight that is built into the forend. It also has a sling, a side-saddle to hold extra shells, a pistol grip and an extended magazine tube.

All of those accessories are good on a shotgun, but if I could only have one, it would absolutely be a flashlight. So before you add all of the other stuff to your home defense shotgun, make sure the flashlight comes first.

Rifles are probably where the majority of people get out of control with all of the add-ons.

I saw an Internet posting once where one fellow said “You can go broke adding one $10 accessory at a time to your .22 rifle.” He’s right. On my Ruger 10/22 I have a sling and I installed better sights, but that’s it.

As far as an AR-15, I recommend a sling, light and iron sights at the very least. Yes, you can spend a small fortune on optics, but for defensive purposes with the AR-15, the iron sights are all you need.

In fact, the most important thing with the AR-15 or any gun for that matter is that

you know how to properly operate it without all of the add-ons. If you don’t know the fundamentals, the accessories are pointless.

And if you need one more reason not to go crazy with accessories, consider this: When you read the instructions that say “easily installs” you may spend hours putting it on and you’ll never want to accessorize again.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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Well said “Keep it Simple”.    My Remington 870 has a small streamlight flashlight an extra recoil pad and a padded check piece with a pocket for extra rounds and that’s it.   My Mini-14 has a Harris Bi-pod and that’s it.   My bolt action rifle has a scope and that’s it.    My half dozen handguns are totally stock.   If you need a lot of bolt on junk, then you bought the wrong weapon.   Most people bolt on all the junk just for show.   Leave that stupid stuff for the Hollywood Rambo types.    If the red flag ever really goes up in this country you’ll be pulling that crap off quick, as it’s just more stuff to go wrong and get in the way most of the time.

Steven Carlino

What about a laser sight on a handgun.  After a light I would think this would be a pretty good accessory on a self defense handgun.


Hmm, pretty sure you have a holster, and I know you have written in the past about spare magazines and a holder for them.  Do those things count?


Jay :

I agree with you and the only reason you probably have it mounted on your shot gun is the absence of a free hand. When it comes to self-defense the less you have to monkey with the better your chances are. I am not in any agency or law enforcement but I would not want to be in my house at 3am if I was a burglar )


I have seen many an AR-15 so over accessorized that they venture into the category of “crew served” weapons. Scopes that are seriously over ambitious for the performance parameters of the rifle, lights and lasers that would make the production crew for Pink Floyd jealous and more rails than the BNSF railroad. They end up looking more akin to a Swiss Army knife than a rifle. My own AR has a Vortex Strike Fire and a vertical foregrip, My SIG SP2022 is box stock, when I need a light I have a handheld Streamlight ( I am just a bit hesitant about having a “position acquisition device” hanging from my handgun). The most accessorized weapon would have to be my shotgun, a Winchester 1300, it sports an extended mag tube, a Butler Creek folding stock/ pistol grip set up and a Blackwarrior nylon foregrip. I do have an older Surefire light clamp for it that is currently not mounted. My hunting rifle, a Savage 99 in .308, has a simple fixed 4 power scope mounted.


All I have added to my Glock 19 is Trijicon night sights.


Better sights on my 1911 since i don’t like straight’8’s, smaller (slim) grip panels, and an arched mainspring housing w/magfunnel is about it …


I have a 3.5 ghost trigger on my glocks… why would that be a problem in court? If lethal force was justified as I was in fear for my life, why does the LB of the trigger pull matter?


I say keep it simple. I would like to see a Blackhawk Serpa holster for the LCP.


I have to agree – simple is better. The only modifications that I may do to my handguns are grips or grip sleeves – to facilitate better control by fitting my hand better than the stock grips. With the exception of good scopes on some rifles, all of my rifles are in stock form. Only one shotgun, my PHDW (Personal Home Defense Weapon), has a laser sight for low light conditions.

A laser sight may be an advantage in low and mid light conditions. However, one should master shooting with the sights, and also instinctive shooting, in case of laser failure.


I like trijicon night sights, and a must for me is a laser/light on the rail. I know all the stories about a flashlight should be  never connected to the pistol. The thing is, the FBI is now teaching their students choose what you are comfortable with. What I said is what I’m comfortable with.

Jeff T

There is nothing wrong with modifying your trigger to shoot better. That’s like getting into trouble after an accident in the snow because you put snow tires or snow chains on your car.


AR-15:  You can go with your stock iron sights.  You can also lose the target under the front sight at distance.  It’s all about the optic.  It makes the gun and improves your shooting performance.  Obviously, proficiency means knowing how to use iron sights.  Modern optics make such an improvement in performance that arguing against them only makes one look stupid.


Depends on the gun.  All my pistols are stock.  Speed-loaders and extra magazines.  For my shot-guns that I use mostly for hunting…I replaced all the wood with synthetic.   I don’t worry about mud and barbed wire 😉     For my hunting rifle…scope and bipod…scope is not an option since its a bolt action without iron sights.  For my AR’s…well…they are the “fun” range rifles…so they have most of the options.  Single Point sling mounts, picitany rail forearm on my beowulf or freefloat on my bull barreled 5.56.  Scopes, bipods, fold down iron sights, lights and lasers!  LOL.

If I am protecting myself….my 870 or my .45 auto are my 1st and 2nd choices.  Those are lean and mean. 😉   My .50 Cal Beowulf  and Weatherby 300 Mag are LAST on my list. 


Lights and lasers are neat, but I don’t want the B.G knowing where I am.  I think night sights are more practical When used with a hand held light.  For self defense you are not talking great distances and more stuff on your gun makes it harder to conceal.  When it comes to self defense guns…K.I.S.S.

Dan Ess

I would have to agree with most everything said. Simplistic, reliable, accurate and comfortable are the keys. With that said, replacement grips may increase comfort, which could aid in accuracy.  Night sights, I personally like the Meprolight better. They are more functional with the white outline during daylight, and seem to be brighter and larger than Trijicon. I own firearms with both, Meprolight is the winner in my book. Fiber Optic sights are nice for an outdoor daylight use carry gun. A flashlight is a great idea, gun mounted or not; depends on if you can handle the firearm with one hand and if you can get in follow up easily with one hand. Do you ever practice one handed? Along those lines, do you practice with the opposite hand? If not, it’s a good idea, start with a smaller caliber. You never know when one hand might be out of commission for one reason or another. I think this is where lasers come in, especially trigger or squeeze activated ones. One hand, no time for sighting, hit them with the laser and shoot. I have an M&P9C with CTC laser grip, nice (will also work on the M&P40C).Constant on models are okay for practice, but in real life, a squeeze activation is better; you don’t give up your location constantly. Some carry melt work to smooth sharp edges (if there are any) isn’t a bad thing for a carry conceal weapon; but that’s not an add on, it’s a take off ; ) Did some to my BDA380, much nicer. Magazine grip extenders are nice on pocket pistols, LCP, Kahr MK’s and the like. I have them on my M&P9C too, allows the full hand to be on the grip in my case. Extended Mags (1 or 2 xtra rounds) can be handy in low capacity guns and aftermarket mags might function better in some guns than standard issue. Seems to be mostly a 1911 topic I read about with certain brands. Beyond Carry Conceal weapons: My shotgun(s) for Home Defense all have pistol grips, no full length stock, Hogue or ATI Talon/Scorpion set-up. My Saiga is another story, it has an  ATI Talon/Scorpion Tactical stock, MD V gas plug, E-Tac Puck and an upgraded piston rod. Except for the stock, it looks basically stock. As the author of the article wrote, it’s about functionality, not coolness. I don’t even have flashlights on my shotguns. I’ll have to shoot my short barreled pistol grip 410 with one hand, or use the 12 and hold the flashlight in my mouth (not a good idea). Bi-pods are useful as are scopes or reticle reflex sights depending on the weapon and it’s basic use.

Sherm Risdall

Handgun accessories:  concealed carry holster, standard belt holster, minimum of 3 magazines, night sights, minimum of 500 rounds of ammunition, (or the supplies and capibility to make it yourself).

Rifle accesories:  sling, scope, iron sights mounted in case the scope fails, minimum of 300 rounds of ammunition.

Shot gun:  extra barrel; 18″ w/ cylinder choke, minimum of 300 rounds of ammuntion

other gun accesories:  back up guns and more ammunition.

flashlights are not gun accessories unless they are mounted to the firearm, mounted flashlights are not a necessity, lasers are not a necessity……..kiss principle first


The more junk. The greater the risk of a malfunction. Keep It Simple.

Kahr Carry

I started reading this article in my inbox, just like I begin all USA Carry articles.  When I opened the web page to continue reading, I had a good laugh at the photo!

But seriously – any weapon I carry concealed for protection will have a laser sight installed.  I agree that the fundamentals must be followed without relying on a device.  But, on a Friday night in the darkness of a movie theatre parking lot, you are probably going to need some kind of sighting system that you can see in poor lighting conditions.

Also, my Ruger P90 that sometimes does nightstand duty has night sights installed.  I consider this essential equipment for use in low light.  It’s this simple; if you can’t get the red laser dot on your target or see them in your sights, you should not be pulling the trigger.


Of all the “accessories” for your personal carry weapon I absolutely believe the best would be the flashight. A handheld light is good for a secondary weapon if necessary.  Other than that the best accessory would be more ammo so I can practice more. Nothing beats more practice.


My glock model 35 has adjustable sights that came with it and that is enough…..i have been tempeted in the past to get a laser sight but by my own thoughts, constant use of them would have to rattle them to the point that you couldnt trust them when you needed them….although i would not be opposed to telling a new shooter to get one and learn where their gun needs to be when shooting because after repetitive shooting in the same spot you wouldnt need it since that position would be 2d nature……all that being said, the flashlight is the best buy 🙂 


Learn how to use what you carry.  Proficiency is usually attained by efficiency and simplicity.
A small flash light in your pocket may be make all the difference you will need.
Many buildings or rooms are land locked with no windows, which become totally dark even in broad
daylight if the power goes out, for what ever reason.


I have a friend w/ar he can barely pick up there is so much crap on it!


You need:
1-ammo.Lots & lots of ammo.
2-light.It Is Written:”Who controls the light need not fear the dark.” “If you carry a gun carry a light.If
   you DON’T carry a gun carry a light.”
3-extra magazines if appropriate.Minimum 2 extras:1 loaded on person/at hand,1 to rotate.
4-holster or sling.
5-cleaning kit.
6-did I say ammo?

1A-mindset,practice,training,& study.


Any add on requires new and different training, whether it’s weight adjustment or bulk adjustment , everything changes . Practice practice practice


I agree with Jason, although I have more to add. Some of my home defense handguns have weapon-mounted lights on them, or a flashlight right next to it. I also like the XS Big Dot sights, because I don’t need to align 3 dots together, plus get it all on target, then have to do it all again for each follow-up (if necessary). My shotgun is mostly stock, but has a clamp-on flashlight and a sling with extra rounds in it. I would never use a rifle as a home defense gun. Here’s why:
With all the ‘tacti-cool toys’ that you add to a gun, there is a weight penalty. You don’t want to have all of that weight when you are trying to move. There is also your wallet…
I agree with Jason, that, a jury would convict a person with a ‘Tackleberry gun’ very easily. Conversely, a basic home defense gun is less likely to tell the jury that you were out ‘looking for a fight’ or waiting for a ‘reason’ to have a fight. With all of the ‘Tackleberry’ stuff, you are begging for a conviction. (BTW: For those who don’t know, ‘Tackleberry’ was a fictional character in the 1984 comedy movie “Police Academy”).  
A laser is not necessary, especially for a shotgun (sorry Steven) because if you miss with a shotgun, perhaps you shouldn’t have a gun at all. For a pistol, you should be able to hit a man-sized target at 21 feet or less. People may want to look up the Tueller Drill (created by Sgt Dennis Tueller of the SLC, UT police dept) and how it relates to the ’21 Foot Rule’.
Rifle bullets travel at extreme velocities and WILL penetrate drywall, studs, siding, etc of, not only your home, but the home next door, the innocent home owners body, his/her drywall, studs, siding, etc. Rifle bullets will create unnecessary injuries, deaths, and collateral damage if not used correctly, and you WILL have a difficult case in court. It also adds fuel to the ‘assault rifle’ controversies we all know about.
My opinion: KISS principle (‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’) applies.
I see this opinion in this thread a lot. 
Disclaimer- I am NOT an attorney and my opinion is NOT legal advice.