Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Is custom work worth it on a defensive pistol?

Written By: Bob - Aug• 09•12

Springfield Armory XD. Generic version

I like my 9mm Springfield Armory XDs. I have both the compact and service versions, with the only modification on either being a LaserLyte RSL on the Service model. During the Lucky Gunner Shoot last year Sean Sorrentino forced me to fire his custom XD 45. I recall the trigger work was dreamy. If I had the money at the time, I would have shipped one of mine out to Springer Precision or Springfield’s Custom Shop for some work. Only nagging cost/benefit concerns kept me from taking the plunge.

Are custom modifications really worth it on a carry gun?  I’m not about to spend twice the cost of the basic pistol itself to turn it into a fickle and finicky race gun, but there is something appealing about a “carry” action job as long as it helps me shoot a little bit more accurately without compromising reliability.


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  1. Dave in Texas says:

    I always wanted a Walther PPK/s just cause it’s purty. But as a carry piece it needed a little work. Truth is it can be a persnickety little firearm. Sent it off to to have the barrel and frame rethroated, had the trigger polished and re-radiused, and the barrel and edges got radiused for smoother extraction.

    Turned it into a very reliable weapon. Still purty.

  2. Steve in TN (@sdo1) says:

    One has to be prepared to be WITHOUT a defensive weapon once it is used in defense (another way One is None – Two is One). One also has to be prepared to defend the alterations in court once it is used.

  3. Steve, please point to all the cases where an otherwise lawful shooter was convicted because of the “alterations” on his pistol.

    And Bob, I didn’t “force” you to shoot my XD. I just strongly “encouraged” you. First hit’s free!

    Mine was done by Springer Precision. They change out the internal parts and fit them. Springfield uses the factory parts and tries to fit them. The trigger work was the reason I sent it to them, but while they had it they installed Dawson sights and an extended mag release, stippled the grip, and crowned the barrel. It’s extremely accurate and improved my shooting dramatically.

  4. Roadkill says:

    So many reasonable customizations. New finishes, better sights, different grips, melt jobs, moon clip cuts for revolvers, making them DAO, and the list goes on. It might not be worth it for a new gun, but lots of good used guns out there. I’m saving some pennies to get my Sig 225 some night sights and its an old Swiss police service pistol. It could certainly tolerate a new finish in a year or so, too.

  5. NotClauswitz says:

    I’d have to be deaf to not have heard all the commotion about putting the Apex trigger doohickies in the M&P – and would do so if I had one, but I bought a too-expensive gun instead since it was on-sale-ish.
    Cost/benefit aside, if the improvements are substantial and work for you, they are worth what you saved when you bought a non-custom gun, so you should go ahead and do it. Two is one and One is None and all that, you should already have another one anyhow. :-)

  6. Caspian says:

    I would not for one reason – if you need it you won’t feel the trigger at the speed you will be going. Reliability is the most important thing in personnel defense. You’re not shooting Bulls Eye.

  7. Big Country says:

    Personally, I prefer to learn the “OOTB” handling of my weapons (thats ‘out of the box’, for those who don’t know) so that I can get used to the ‘factory standard’… I think its part of my military background in that ALL the weapons were identical (give or take) and therefor ALL could be counted on to act/react the same… that having been said, I can see why someone would like to tweek his piece… I just got a Springfield XDm 9mm that I’d love to play with, but since it’s my ‘duty weapon’ FL state regs don’t allow me to change or customize the trigger pull or anything else, with the exception of adding tritium sights. That goes along with Steve’s point of liability and/or legal issues. Being an Anti-Terrorism Officer, my duty weapon, by state law HAS to be factory specs… however, I agree with Sean vis-a-vis the civilian side, modifications (legal mods that is) would rarely land you in trouble in a courtroom.

  8. Hey Bob! Back in the 1500’s when I was an active duty police officer forced to carry a .357 magnum revolver, I also spent the extra money for a conservative action job. Not to make the trigger lighter, but to smooth out the pull through careful shaping and polishing of the involved action surfaces.

    But with the quality of contemporary semiautomatic pistol triggers, you’d be far better served spending that kind of money on practice ammunition, particularly some of the same ammo you carry. The mere act of repeatedly shooting the weapon will help to “self-polish” the trigger parts.