Andrew Branca interviewed: "Should you modify your carry gun?"

Hey folks,

Back in February I was interviewed by the Women Carry podcast, by the lovely ladies Tammy Smith and Jenna Meek (herself of Carry On Colorado), on the subject of modifications to carry guns.  Fun was had by all, and I meant to upload the audio file here at the first opportunity–but I forgot.

So, better late than never, here’s that interview.  Thanks Tammy and Jenna for taking the time to speak with me!

(If you’d prefer to download the audio as an MP3, click here.)

About the Author

Andrew Branca
Andrew F. Branca, Esq. is currently in his third decade of practicing law, and is an internationally-recognized expert on the law of self-defense of the United States. Andrew is a Guest Lecturer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, a former Guest Instructor at the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor Member, and an NRA Certified Instructor. He also teaches lawyers how to argue self-defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country. Andrew is also a host on the Outdoor Channel’s TV show “The Best Defense” and contributor to the National Review Online. Andrew has been quoted as a SME (subject-matter expert) on use-of-force law by the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many other mainstream media, including nationally syndicated broadcast media. Recently, Andrew won the UC Berkeley Law School debate on “Stand-Your-Ground,” and spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting Law Symposium on self-defense law. He is also a founding member of USCCA’s Legal Advisory Board. In addition to being a lawyer, Andrew is also a competitive handgun shooter, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.

4 Comments on "Andrew Branca interviewed: "Should you modify your carry gun?""

  1. Excellent info as always.

    With regard to modifying a trigger, I have a question that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to…

    While I realize that it’s a much simpler approach to buy a gun and leave it as is, living in Massachusetts complicates things. Preban Glocks are often hard to find and/or way overpriced when you’re lucky enough to find one. And, some manufacturers don’t produce MA compliant models (e.g. Springfield), so our options are relatively limited.

    If you live in Massachusetts, where S&W puts 10+ pound triggers in their M&P line, is it reasonable to put an Apex carry kit in that would bring the trigger weight down to around 6.5 pounds?

    This would only bring the trigger weight down to the same weight range that most guns in other states come with. In fact, there are even other manufacturers with MA compliant guns that have lighter factory triggers (e.g. Ruger SR9c).

    And, bringing the trigger weight down to the 6.5lb range would arguably make it much easier to shoot accurately, and therby less of a danger to others who may be around if you’re, God forbid, ever involved in a deadly self-defense situation. To me, this logic is along the same lines as adding sights so that you’re better able to hit only your intended target.

    Any advice/input would be appreciated. Thank you.

  2. If the trigger mod retains all the safety features of the OEM, does not reduce the final let-off weight (or even raises it) but refines the mechanical features and thus contributes to practical accuracy, then the owner/operator of that gun has to decide if being a “better shot” is worth the possibility that an overzealous prosecutor will attempt to mine that alteration in his or her “Narrative of Guilt.”

    The M&P Shield 9 is mechanically an excellent choice. Long trigger pull necessary to activate the striker block (check), trigger let-off high enough to require a deliberate movement of the trigger finger to deliver a measure of trigger safety equivalent to OEM triggers across various platforms (check), a trigger designed to require activation by a “finger-shaped” object (check), but the stock trigger has so much overtravel/backlash that even under the controlled conditions of a range session the bullets scattered too much for comfort to me.

    The Apex trigger “job” retained all of the features above but simply eliminates most of the overtravel. In fact, their reset spring raises the trigger pull a little, much like the New York trigger on Glocks does to satisfy the requirements of the NYC police department. The Apex kit delivers far better accuracy while retaining every bit of the safety of the original firearm.

    Yes, a politically-ambitious or hard-leftist prosecutor could add this to his or her list of “how do I make this guy look bad in front of a jury,” and yes, even with a defense attorney who knew and understood the entire backstory of why the modification was made, along with possibly an “expert witness” to explain it, a jury of dull people might not be capable of understanding the reality…but to me, it remains irresponsible to think about using a gun for self-defense if the person has not done everything possible ahead of time to maximize safe, accurate shooting under the chaotic conditions of defending himself.

    And yes, part of the rationale for writing this comment is to document why I carry a gun that has an Apex trigger kit installed. If price was no objection, Smith & Wesson would put these parts into every gun they produce.

  3. It would be nice if S&W offered the Apex as a factory option. 🙂

    –Andrew, @Law SelfDefense

  4. I love S&W these days but if I were in charge, yes, at the very least the “Performance Center” M&P’s (including Shields) would all come with Apex’s internals and trigger.

    The other situation of interest to me would be a “modern” 1911 vs. Browning’s traditional design, specifically with regard to firing pin blocks.

    People with far more experience than me state that the Kimber/S&W/etc. system (the block is actuated by the grip safety) is prone to failure (gun won’t fire when properly held and the trigger properly pressed), and the Colt system (actuated by the trigger itself) is only somewhat better. Springfield Armory among others still produces guns without the firing pin block. Its purpose was and always has been to prevent the extremely unlikely accidental discharge of a gun dropped directly on its muzzle on a very hard surface from a very significant height, a situation where the odds of the discharge actually harming someone are almost too small to imagine. After all, the gun would be pointing INTO the floor or sidewalk or pavement, and in all likelihood the bullet would simply splatter in largely harmless pieces.

    This is a case where the “safety feature” fixes an imaginary danger. Unlike modern designs that incorporate long take-up triggers to better reduce negligent discharges due to “light triggers,” the 1911’s unmatched mechanical trigger quality heightens the already paramount importance of keeping ones finger off the trigger until the decision to fire is made.

    S&W’s 1911’s are among the finest of that platform available. Their scandium alloy frame is lighter and claimed to be stronger than competing alloy frame models. The guns are astonishingly accurate. But that darn, useless, unnecessary firing pin block….

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