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Old July 1, 2020, 05:55 PM   #1
Zzeke
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Modifying a Carry Weapon; Bad Idea?

I have been told by more than one person that it is a bad idea to modify your EDC weapon, other than maybe adding night sights. The reasoning is that if you start "tricking out" your EDC weapon with things such as lighter trigger springs, aftermarket barrels, aftermarket grips, extended slide releases, etc., and you ever have to use that gun to defend yourself or others, the prosecution at your trial will surly try to use your modified weapon to paint you as a gun fanatic who was just hoping for an opportunity to test his "rig" on human flesh. Do you all think this is a valid concern? Does anyone know of this situation actually becoming a factor in a real trial?
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Old July 1, 2020, 06:17 PM   #2
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If the shoot is a "good shoot," there won't be a trial.
If you are in a trial, everything will be used against you.
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Old July 1, 2020, 06:29 PM   #3
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Modifying a Carry Weapon; Bad Idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs View Post
If the shoot is a "good shoot," there won't be a trial.
If you are in a trial, everything will be used against you.

Only some states have protections against civil suits assuming criminal charges are cleared. You could still see the inside do a court room in a “good shoot”.


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Old July 1, 2020, 06:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zzeke
Do you all think this is a valid concern? Does anyone know of this situation actually becoming a factor in a real trial?
I think it is a valid concern. People who know a lot more about such things than I do think it's a valid concern. Masaad Ayoob thinks it's a valid concern. I don't know of any specific case where it has been raised and used by the prosecution but, being risk-averse, I don't care to become the test case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs
If the shoot is a "good shoot," there won't be a trial.
If you are in a trial, everything will be used against you.
I respectfully disagree. We don't get to decide whether or not it's a good shoot -- the police and prosecutor (and maybe a grand jury) get to decide. That's the problem.

Zimmerman certainly thought his shoot was a "good shoot." Initially, so did the police, and so did the prosecutor for that county. But the Governor sent in a prosecutor from another part of the state, and there was a trial.

Harold Fish thought his shoot was a good shoot, but he was not only tried, he was convicted. He finally prevailed on appeal and was released, but not before spending time in prison.

Neither of those cases hinged on a modified gun, but they should demonstrate that the fact that [you think] it was a good shoot won't guarantee that there won't be a trial.
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Old July 1, 2020, 08:25 PM   #5
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I'm going to stick with my bone stock gen 4 Glock 23 w/factory night sights for my CCW.
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Old July 1, 2020, 09:04 PM   #6
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I know I have heard this lore regarding using hand loaded ammunition to make it "more deadly" whatever that means. In the end it will come down to Atty vs Atty, what the other side thinks up, and how well you can defend your choices to a jury.

Here's how I look at it. For most people, Lord willing, a gun will be recreational only. It will be taken to the range a lot, and carried a lot, and hopefully never have to be used in self defense. That said make the gun how you want it so you can enjoy it at the range, cause that's most likely the only place it will ever get used. If you have to use it, there will be bigger things to worry about than if you tricked your gun out.

On a personal note I keep my guns mostly stock. I consider myself a reasonably good pistol shooter, but almost all guns have more potential in them that I have skill. IMHO unless you are a very good shooter, and getting into competition were tenths or hundredths of a second are make or break you don't really need the fancy stuff, you money is better spent on more training time(ammo, range time, targets).
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Old July 2, 2020, 01:48 AM   #7
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This question has come up before. The "Search" tool is handy.

Here is some light reading:

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...+modifications

And this one:

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...+modifications

Beteen those two threads,about 300 posts were made before they were put to bed.

The staff with legal expertise gave considerable contribution. Might as well recycle their time!

The issue of handloads for SD has also been extensively discussed:

Try here:

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...r+self+defense

And here:

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...r+self+defense

Enjoy.

Last edited by HiBC; July 2, 2020 at 02:13 AM.
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Old July 2, 2020, 02:20 AM   #8
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HiBC, thanks for saving me the work of looking those up.

On the question of handloaded ammunition, I especially recommend reading Frank Ettin's post about the important of gunshot residue (GSR), and why using handloaded ammunition can really muck up a case. Related to that:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow9mm
Here's how I look at it. For most people, Lord willing, a gun will be recreational only. It will be taken to the range a lot, and carried a lot, and hopefully never have to be used in self defense. That said make the gun how you want it so you can enjoy it at the range, cause that's most likely the only place it will ever get used. If you have to use it, there will be bigger things to worry about than if you tricked your gun out.
Considering how infrequently you're likely to fire your carry gun in self defense ... how much can you possibly save by using handloads? Buy a couple of boxes of good, commercial JHP ammo, run one box through the gun to prove that it's reliable, and use the other box for carry. Save the handloads for practice at the range.

That's my view, but I'm naturally risk-averse. YMMV.
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Old July 2, 2020, 03:05 AM   #9
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Just for the purpose of sociable discussion:

I've read some articles by Massad Ayoob on the topic of reloads for SD.

Here is what I took away for myself:

Frankly,I would not feel under armed if my 1911 was loaded with my 200 gr swc cast lead bullets at something over 800 fps. Cheap shooting target loads.

That pretty much takes care of the idea I'm a bloodthirty crazed whacko carving dum dum "X" s with a Bowie knife in my zombie Apocolypse silver hollow pointbullets before I pack them with garlic and teflon coat them so they slip through body armor and then,of course,load them up to +P+ for the 460 Rowland!!!.

No. My concern was about 200 gr SWC lead target loads.

And the part that convinced me that I would carry factory loads is this.

The primary evidence I might have to legitimize my SD shoot is Gun Shot Residue. Forensic lab testing.

In order to get admissible gun shot residue evidence,our forensic lab must be able to procure repeatable results with known factory ammo.

My handload recipe isn't admissible evidence.

The very subjective and less than reliable "Good Shoot / Bad shoot" question is pretty much why they are having a trial. It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

See,by definition,you confess to a homicide. Those are not real popular among prosecutors and juries.
Now you have to justify it.

In the case of Officer Wilson and Michael Brown...there was a "Hands Up,Don't Shoot" witness,and trial by media. Forensic evidence was crucial.

Now Zimmerman/ Trayvon Martin? There weren't any friendly witnesses. Pres Obama weighed in.
From the folks a jury might be pulled from,Zimmerman' case was not a clear cut "Good Shoot"

The gun shot residue helped prove Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman.

Had he been using handloads,likely that would be inadmissible.

You can legally carry pretty much any ammo you want...But I want that lab evidence,myself.
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Old July 2, 2020, 06:18 AM   #10
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I haven't been able to find many appellate cases involving modified firearms over the years, in spite of the automated searches I run on Westlaw on a weekly basis. That's likely because of the particular 'constellation' of events that has to happen in order for a case to show up on Westlaw. That said, we do have a recent, but non-precedential, case involving a modified AR and a whole slew of other issues. Discussion here: https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=607672

Legally speaking, gun mods are a different kettle of fish than handloads, but for those interested: https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=586732
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Old July 2, 2020, 06:39 AM   #11
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Thanks HiBC. Your post #9 was a good read that logically explains why I should want factory ammo.
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Old July 2, 2020, 12:10 PM   #12
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The adage I live by is reloads for practice, factory loads for carrying. Try to find the civilian equivalent of what the local PDs use.
Some have suggested use a cheap but reliable handgun for carry and home defense. If the police have to bag it for "evidence", it doesn't hurt so much.
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Old July 2, 2020, 01:57 PM   #13
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Everything in life involves certain risks. My risk management tells me that reloads are not a good idea in carry firearms, for reasons discussed endlessly. The only exception ever would be if I was attacked in the woods while hunting, and then reloaded LSW projectiles loaded pretty stout out of a 6” 357 will have to do. Why? I’m hunting and that is about the best hunting load for a 357. I also think there is almost a zero percent chance of a self defense need (from a human anyway). There is a far greater chance of me dying by lightning strike than for that to ever happen. But if it did, I would have to roll the dice on reloaded ammo. Otherwise, it’s factory ammo. And my advice would be to carry bone stock firearms.
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Old July 2, 2020, 02:10 PM   #14
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What would I NOT do?

Rebel Flag grips

Hare trigger from a range pistol on a carry weapon

Disable ANY type of built in safety, i.e. mag safety, pin a grip safety, change a Series 80 to a Series 70

Use an ammo that had teeth on the end of the bullet or had R.I.P. or Zombie Killer in the name.

Carve notches in the grip.

Avoid inflammatory or culturally insensitive cerekote finishes. Avoid "Kill 'em all, Let God sort 'em out" engraving.

Avoid a lanyard tied with a hangman's knot.

I restrict these modifications to my "RANGE ONLY" pistols.
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Old July 2, 2020, 03:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Michael Brown...there was a "Hands Up,Don't Shoot" witness
which as the Gentle Reader knows, was an out-and-out lie
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...michael-brown/
>
> What DOJ found made me ill. [Officer]Wilson knew about the theft of the cigarillos from
> the convenience store and had a description of the suspects. Brown fought with
> the officer and tried to take his gun. And the popular hands-up storyline, which
> isn’t corroborated by ballistic and DNA evidence and multiple witness statements,
> was perpetuated by Witness 101. In fact, just about everything said to the media
> by Witness 101, whom we all know as Dorian Johnson, the friend with Brown that
> day, was not supported by the evidence and other witness statements.
>

The bottom line is that is these times, facts matter very little unless/until actual disciplined investigation is brought to the fore.

“No, no!” said the Queen.
“Sentence first—verdict afterwards.”


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Last edited by mehavey; July 2, 2020 at 03:24 PM.
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Old July 2, 2020, 06:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
If the shoot is a "good shoot," there won't be a trial.
That is not true at all. Well, it would be nice to think it is true but reality shows differently.
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Old July 4, 2020, 01:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
That is not true at all. Well, it would be nice to think it is true but reality shows differently.
Well it can be true. But generally you are correct, the logic that “I’m good because it was a good shoot” is flawed. “Good shoot” is subjective at times, and you can never be sure that you won’t end up in a situation where you truly feel terrified for your life, justifiably even, but in the aftermath the optics of your actions look less justifiable. “Good shoot” is nothing but a term a prosecutor uses to declare no charges are being pursued. Until then, and only then, it is not a “good shoot.” Even after that, stand by for potential civil litigation.
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Old July 4, 2020, 02:11 AM   #18
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If you are the kind of person who believes that any answer more complicated than 'yes' or 'no' is useless, then this topic will be very frustrating for you.

Some modifications are fine under any circumstances. Refinishing a handgun or changing grips for purely functional reasons are examples.

Some modifications are a bad idea under any circumstances. Removing/deactivating safeties or decorating a gun with logos or mottoes that glorify violence are examples.

Some might be ok. Trigger modifications could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what was done, on who did it, and on the circumstances of the shooting.

Some are very unlikely to cause you problems in a criminal trial but might be an issue in a civil trial.

But what if it was a good shoot? Well, sometimes it takes a trial to prove it was a good shoot. That alone should make it obvious that not every 'good shoot' is an open and closed case...
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Old July 4, 2020, 07:18 AM   #19
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It’s a ridiculous worry, and an example of over thinking a basic issue. In a self defense situation, the ONLY valid concern is emerging from the event alive.
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Old July 4, 2020, 09:05 AM   #20
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The handgun that ends up in a concealed holster, for the pure purpose of self-defence would require to be made to fit that job because it did not come that way from the factory.

First, those ghastly cheap plastic sights, have to go. The best ones to replace them are now made expressly for the Glock pistols, Ameriglow night sights.
In daylight, the red circle around the front red circle around the green dot.
In poor light, good green dots. But still have the TruGlo on my Gen4 Glock 19 I carry.
In shooting thousands of rounds in IPSC & IDPA competition, the extended slide lock/release! Making a rapid magazine change work perfectly, even though normally the vigorous mag smack into the pistol, causes the slide to close on its own. The safety catch dug into my second finger, snip, corner gone.
The butt plug makes for more rapid mag change, the 25c polish job made for a 4.5lb trigger release. Perfect carry weight, no lighter.
In doing dozens of expert witness stints in Canadian courts, I feel I could defend these modifications in court. But I do not feel it should become necessary.
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Old July 4, 2020, 10:20 AM   #21
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Quote:
If the shoot is a "good shoot," there won't be a trial.
Except you may have to prove it was a good shoot.

One trend that I see, especially in civil suits involving firearms, is trying to prove the shot was accidental instead of self defense. The insurance companies have deeper pockets and will have to pay more if they can convince a jury the shot was really a negligent discharge instead of a shot made in self defense.
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Old July 4, 2020, 10:31 AM   #22
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Brit,I started this thread in 2016

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...+modifications

Among the questions I posed, What if I bought an ATI 1911 made in the Philippines and I just did not like the Harbor Freight look of the slide stop?
What if I decided to put in an Ed Brown slide stop,a Wilson Beavertail,Cylinder and Slide Duty and Carry , hammer/sear/disconnect/sear spring (with NO Dremel work!!) A new Colt thumb safety a flat mainspring housing,and Trijicon sights?

And I dd just a little more tuning so it will feed empty brass from the magazine and the ejection is civilized and consistent .

All systems tested and work as they should, 4 1/2 lb trigger.

Yes,I modifid it. I did the work,too.

I'm pretty confident if the police dept armorer evaluated it,he'd say "No problems"

I'm glad S+W M+P series triggers have seen improvement.of late. My 2016 vintage M+P 9 C trigger was off the scale of my trigger gauge. The trigger would lift a full,sealed 8 lb can of powder without releasing. It would not quite lift my M-1 Garand.

I put in an Apex Duty and Carry kit.

We are responsible for every bullet we launch. At some point,trigger pull can cause more misses. Misses are dangerous.
Which is "safer?" A 5 lb pull or a 9 lb pull?

The # 10 post ....I think it was by Spats,explained for the Homicide vs SD trial, Factors such as " Yes,I shot him in fear for my life,no accident" pose a different question than the civil case later.

The lawyer may try to (for example) go after your homeowner insurance by proving you may have accidentally shot the plaintiff due to gun modification.
"If only you had the factory 9 lb trigger,my client would not be a paraplegic today."

Its a pretty serious,thorough thread worth browsing.

The conclusion? There is no answer. You are on your own. There are things to avoid. Life has risk.

My initial post # 1,and post # 10 are worth a read,IMO.
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Old July 4, 2020, 11:25 PM   #23
Frank Ettin
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This is the best answer possible:
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnKSa

If you are the kind of person who believes that any answer more complicated than 'yes' or 'no' is useless, then this topic will be very frustrating for you.

Some modifications are fine under any circumstances. Refinishing a handgun or changing grips for purely functional reasons are examples.

Some modifications are a bad idea under any circumstances. Removing/deactivating safeties or decorating a gun with logos or mottoes that glorify violence are examples.

Some might be ok. Trigger modifications could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what was done, on who did it, and on the circumstances of the shooting.

Some are very unlikely to cause you problems in a criminal trial but might be an issue in a civil trial.

But what if it was a good shoot? Well, sometimes it takes a trial to prove it was a good shoot. That alone should make it obvious that not every 'good shoot' is an open and closed case...
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