Who doesn’t love picking up a little something new? In that spirit, in this column I break down 5 must-have accessories that not only help protect your firearms, but can also help you train or keep you safe. These awesome, yet inexpensive, accessories are things you might not have even known you needed until after you’ve read this. (You’re welcome!) They also make terrific gifts for your firearm-loving friends.
What they do: The small, custom-fit piece of molded Kydex slips over your trigger to reduce the chance of an unplanned discharge. Trigger guards are generally accompanied by a paracord lanyard for easy and fast removal. Because a trigger guard completely covers your trigger and snaps securely onto your firearm, it’s a great option for pocket carry. Simply attach the lanyard to your belt or belt loop, and if you need to draw your firearm, the trigger guard will snap off when the lanyard becomes taut; your firearm will be ready to fire.
Why you want one: Completely covering your trigger makes an accidental discharge unlikely. And since Kydex comes in many colors and patterns, you can have some fun with customization. Whether you pocket carry or just want a little extra protection, a Kydex trigger guard is a great accessory.
Where to get one: Many custom holster makers are now producing trigger guards. My favorites are from Miller Tactical Group. Make sure you get one custom molded for your specific handgun. You can find inexpensive ones online, but remember: You get what you pay for. MSRP: $25 to $35.
What they do: Empty-chamber indicators make it clear that your firearm is unloaded and safe when you’re at the range. Generally made from a small piece of brightly colored plastic, the indicator slides into the chamber, rendering your firearm inoperable. If someone needs to go downrange, a quick glance from the Range Safety Officer or the shooter in the next lane will assure them that your firearm is unloaded and safe.
Why you want one: Any time you’re on the range and place your firearm safely on the bench, you want everyone around you to know that your chamber is empty and your weapon is safe. With one quick glance, other shooters will know your weapon is safe.
Where to get one: A plethora of different styles and colors of ready-made chamber indicators are available at most sporting-goods stores, as well as online. However, if, like me, you’d prefer to save your hard-earned dollars for other accessories, there are plenty of items you might have lying around the house that make excellent empty-chamber indicators—possibilities include zip ties, golf tees, and more. If you read my column in August you may remember some of my ideas; if not, click here to check them out!
What they do: Bore lasers are inserted into your empty chamber and shine through the bore of your firearm. They provide a very accurate and convenient method of sighting in your firearm and working on your accuracy while dry-firing.
Why you want one: These inexpensive and handy electronic devices are excellent tools for practicing your gun-handling skills and dry-fire exercises. They are available for pistols, rifles and shotguns. They’re also safe for indoor use, so you can work on your skills when you can’t get to the range for some live-fire training.
Where to get one: Just about every major retailer and discount chain carries these handy gadgets. Different models are available with various bells and whistles; plan on spending between $10 and $60, depending on the type you buy.
Soft Pistol Case
What they do: Commonly referred to as “pistol rugs,” these soft cases are ideal for storing your firearms. Usually small, portable and padded, they’re an excellent choice for transporting your firearms.
Why you want one: The padding and soft interior will help protect your baby from bumps and bruises while in storage or during transport. Mine holds two pistols and four magazines comfortably, and still fits neatly into my suitcase, range bag or gun safe. Most cases can be locked for extra security.
Where to get one: Many of the larger firearm manufacturers sell them, but mine is from LaserMax. It’s beautifully made and has a dual zipper with a lock. And because mine is in a beautiful zebra print, I’m unlikely to confuse it with any of the cases the guys at the range have brought. MSRP: $20.
What they do: Magazine loaders aid in loading your magazines without risk of pain. Winter, spring, summer or fall, this handy gadget will enable you to reload your magazines quickly and efficiently, regardless of the temperature.
Why you want one: Because you value your thumbs! Ever tried loading a .45 magazine by hand in the dead of winter? I have, and it hurts! Not only do magazine loaders help you physically load, but using one also helps reduce the chance of damaging your magazines. Damaged magazines can cause malfunctions, and when push comes to shove, you want your weapon to go bang when you pull the trigger.
Where to get one: Online, in stores, or pretty much anywhere. My Springfield XD-9 came with a loader when I purchased it. One popular brand that I also own is the Uplula; it loads various calibers, from 9mm to .45 and everything in between, including single-stack and double-stack magazines. MSRP: $30.
What’s your favorite little accessory? Tell us in the comments below; we might just feature it in an upcoming article!