When I was a kid, during the holidays, my sister and I would get the big Sears & Roebuck catalog and go through it marking all the stuff we’d like to have for Christmas. We called it the “Wish Book.” Some things don’t change all that much with the passing of the years; I feel the same way about a big firearms accessory catalog like the one from Brownells. There’s all those accessories just crying to be put on your favorite shooting iron. It boggles the mind of just about every defensive handgunner.
There are fancy stocks of all sorts for your favorite handgun. You’ll find cool magwells for most guns, too, and fancy sights. I don’t know how people could ever choose just the right sights for their gun, because there are just so many. There’s sights that glow in the dark and sights that shine a red or green dot on the target, too.
Some years ago, they sent me one of those red-dot sights to mount on the top strap of my Ruger .44 Mag. revolver for a deer hunt that we were going on. I got to the hunt and Larry Weishuhn asked me if I’d gotten the sight mounted securely. I told him that I had, but that there wasn’t any red dot that I could see. Larry looked at my work and said, “Well, let’s turn the sight around, like it’s supposed to be, and see if that works.”
But I digress. I’ve found that “extended” is an important word in defensive accessories, too. They’ve got extended slide releases, extended safeties, ambidextrous extended safeties, extended mag releases and even extended magazines. It appears that the thinking is, if in doubt, extend it.
All joking aside, we are fortunate to live in a time when there are so many accessories available to assist us in making our concealed-carry gun even more personal. One has to be careful not to add so many accessories that one's self-defense gun is no longer as reliable as it should be.
But my column title was about the best accessory for a fighting pistol. So I will go directly to the first runner-up which is not really an accessory at all but, since this is my column, I’ll list it anyway.
The first runner-up is training. You can take a box-stock pistol to a good defensive-training school and learn wonders. I’ve seen it done. The value of a good training school is that they will teach you to fight with a handgun, any handgun.
And the very best accessory for the defensive handgun? Lots and lots of practice ammunition. Shoot it often and shoot it a lot. Over the years, I’ve known quite a lot of real, live gunfighters, men who had been shot at and who had shot back. The vast majority of them had two things in common. One is that their guns were pretty much like they came from the factory. And two was that they shot all the time; every chance they got, they were burning powder.
The simple fact is that a fancy, tricked-out handgun won’t make up for practice.