Can I Modify My CCW?

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. Nothing in this content constitutes legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice on this matter, retain a licensed, competent attorney in your relevant jurisdiction.

So, you want to modify your gun. Can you do it? Yes. Should you do it? It depends. If you have the skills and the tools, yes, you can modify your gun. Go to town! Have fun.

But should you modify your gun? It depends on what modifications you want to make. If this is your EDC, the type of modification you want to do may impact whether or not an overzealous liberal prosecutor can use that modification against you in court, if you used your EDC in self-defense.

What prosecutors are looking for is anything and everything they can find to make you look bad. Their job is to get convictions. If they can introduce the slightest piece of evidence to create doubt in the minds of the jury that you were not acting purely in self-defense, they may do so. This includes modifications to your EDC.

So what kind of modifications are we talking about? Modifications generally fall into two categories with respect to the law:

  • Modifications that suggest a state of mind inconsistent with lawful self-defense.
  • Modifications that suggest the shooting might have been accidental/negligent rather than intentional.
Testing the trigger pull weight is not rocket science. Simply stick one of these trigger scales in front of the trigger and pull backwards. The scale measures how much weight is needed until the trigger breaks.

Suggesting a state of mind inconsistent with lawful self-defense means that you, the law abiding gun owner, had an ulterior motive, and that your intentions for concealed carry was not purely for self defense reasons. Example, adding a suppressor to your EDC. If your reasons for concealed carry was pure, why would you need a suppressor? A prosecutor can argue that because you wanted to suppress the muzzle bang, you were on the offensive rather than on the defensive, because gun owners with a suppressed gun WANT the bang to be muffled. Generally only bad guys want to muffle the muzzle bang. However, the argument changes if the gun to which you are adding a suppressor is not your EDC, but rather for home defense only. The argument here can be that you did not want to make your family members deaf inside your home. Another example, which is used frequently by prosecutors as to your state of mind is to alter the trigger of your EDC. If the factory trigger pull weight is 5.5 pounds, and you install an aftermarket trigger kit to reduce the trigger pull down to 3.5 pounds, a prosecutor may argue that the trigger weight reduction allowed you to be more aggressive because the amount of force necessary to pull the trigger was less, allowing you to shoot quicker.

Prosecutors will bring in witnesses who are experts in your particular EDC model. They will do all sorts of gun and ballistics tests to determine if the gun was modified.

Patricia McCloskey waving her inoperable hand gun

(As a sidebar, do you remember the incident in June 2020 involving the McCloskeys in St. Louis, the couple who stood on their front lawn and waved guns around as protestors marched outside their property? Did you know the wife’s small handgun was not functional at the time she waved it around? They deliberately disabled the firing pin so it could not fire. The crime lab discovered the disabled firing pin and Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley ordered his crime lab to put her gun back together correctly, thus making it functional. This tampering with evidence is what caused the Missouri attorney general to dismiss the case. Had he not done so, the Missouri governor vowed to immediately grant the McCloskeys a pardon. This sidebar is being presented here to point out that over zealous prosecutors will stop at nothing to get a conviction if they can legally get away with it.)

A threaded barrel serves only one purpose…to mount a suppressor. There is no need for an EDC to have a threaded barrel if you want to stay in front of the law.

Suggesting negligence with lawful self-defense means that you, the law abiding gun owner had a sound state of mind, but was more negligent than anything else. The modification which comes to mind here is removing the manual safety from your EDC. Here’s where the negligence part comes into play. If you disengage the manual safety of your gun, you are going to have a difficult time convincing a jury that you knew more about your gun’s safety mechanisms than the engineers at the gun manufacturer.

From a legal perspective of not helping your case, below are four (4) things you should never do to or with your EDC gun. We already discussed the first two.

Extended magazines can show aggression to a prosecutor. If this is your EDC, why in the world do you need a 30-round magazine?
  • Reduce the trigger pull weight
  • Disable the manual safety
  • Use gun models with threaded barrels
  • Use extended magazines

A threaded barrel serves one purpose and one purpose only…to screw a suppressor onto the muzzle of a gun. A prosecutor can argue that both using threaded barrels and extended magazines make your state of mind one more aligned with offensive aggression than purely self-defense.

So, if you want to install beautiful rosewood grips, go for it! If you want to install better sights, either a red dot or luminescence optics, have at it! If you want to add a laser, knock yourself out! If you want to make changes to your competition, range or hunting gun, go for it! Just don’t use any of those models for concealed carry self defense. Just ask yourself the following question: can this modification I am about to do be used against me in court?

Can I Modify My CCW?