There are modifications for every pistol out there. Some are practical in certain situations where others are not. There are a few recommendations for everyday carry pistols that I would like to cover, as well as some modifications that I would recommend staying away from.
If you’ve been to the range in the last decade, odds are that you’ve seen somebody a few lanes down running a “race gun” or something that is optimized for range or completion use. While these pistols are a blast to shoot, I highly recommend staying away from configurations like this for everyday carry. One of the most common modifications for these race guns are trigger or firing group modifications, and they will usually sit in the “sub-two pound” area in terms of trigger poundage.
They are usually capable of adjusting the under-travel as well as the over-travel, which means that the length of the trigger pull is greatly reduced. This is what we would typically call a “hair trigger,” and I’ve personally seen some that are so light I would legitimately tell people to hold their breath around it, as it might go off if you blow on it. Again, extremely fun and fast to shoot. However, self-defense situations are high-stress situations and a factory trigger would be much better to have since the last thing I want happening in this situation is a negligent discharge.
There are other common modifications on racer guns that are really unnecessary for everyday carry configurations as well. For an everyday carry set up, I do not need a “skeleton slide,” extended barrel, RMR sight (though some do like these for concealed carry, I just find them a little bulky and the snag potential is higher than I like), or any “mottos” engraved or etched on the firearm. (See my article on “Novelty Vs. Practical Accessories” about how having something engraved or added to your gun can go wrong.)
With any modification you make, your potential for malfunctions increases as this usually involves altering or replacing factory parts. As for getting “mottos” or sayings engraved or painted on firearms, this is absolutely fine for the range or for competition shooting. It is fun to modify and personalize your firearm, and this helps to set your firearm apart from others in competition settings as well. This is not advisable for an everyday carry set up though, as this could potentially hurt you in a court setting should you ever have to use the firearm in defense of your life. There have been cases where the jury have looked at firearms with these modifications and determined that the sayings were an “insight” to the personality of the individual, and in many of these circumstances it was detrimental for the persons defense.
I am in no way saying that there are no modifications that you can do on an everyday carry pistol. I have a lot of friends that have Cerakoted or painted their everyday carry pistols or done some really awesome color schemes. Many people do not recommend doing any trigger modifications on everyday carry pistols. I disagree with this. I am not saying go with a racer trigger, however there are plenty of companies that make drop-in trigger configurations that are adjustable but do not drop the trigger weight significantly below factory poundage. One modification that I do highly recommend would be sights. Factory sights are usually kept fairly cheap in an effort to keep manufacturing costs down which subsequently keeps the cost of the firearm down. Switching these out to a good tritium sight is a great idea as this will allow you to get a better sight alignment on a target in reduced-light situations.
Accessories are another category of things that can be added to an everyday carry pistol. This is also where I see a lot of people go cheap, which I have never understood. If you’re going to spend the money on a quality pistol, why buy cheap gear for it? The first two recommendations I have for everyday carry accessories are a good weapon-mounted light and a good fitted holster for the set-up. If you don’t buy a good holster that fits correctly and comfortably, you are not going to want to carry it all the time, so don’t go cheap here.
I highly recommend staying away from universal holsters as well. If they are designed to fit a large range of different firearms, they generally will not fit any “one” firearm well, and this compromises retention on the firearm. There are quite a few good companies out there that make holsters that fit specific firearms with specific weapon-mounted lights that are relatively inexpensive. There are also a ton of video reviews on almost every holster and holster company online as well and these are great to watch before making a purchase.