Legal Perspective: Can You Modify Your Firearm?

Tom Grieve is at it again! Here’s his advice on modifying your firearm:

Tom Grieve is a highly awarded former state prosecutor - see more about him at the bottom of the blog article.


Being honest about it it’s more than just how your gun looks, it’s gonna be how you look. I’m not saying I agree but wearing some of the more colorful language shirts with lots of tattoos( you know the kind) will also come into play. None of that should matter but being aware that it will might change some wardrobe decisions.


Are you saying my tattoos and riding a Harley make me more intimidating, @Sheepdog556? LOL! I’m sure some would be intimidated by me - but most never notice my tattoo. And if they do, they’re more interested in it’s story (it’s of three kids playing in a tree growing out of a book on my right foot.)


Lol. True.

I was leaning more towards punisher type tattoos and shirts like the grunt style kill a commie for mommy shirt, I’m not a lawyer but I’m sure a prosecutor would try to use that as well.


He’s right on. Anything you do that gives the impression you were looking for a chance to shoot someone and get away with it or which makes the firearm more lethal it absolutely will be used against you.

If you are charged your gun will be examined with a microscope to see if you’ve done anything to it to make it less safe, or more lethal they will find it and use it against you. Trigger modifications to lighten the pull below factory spec’s is one thing they always check for.

Good subject and a good video.

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  If my tattoo is offensive to someone, it would be heart breaking, (but it is covered

and on my left shoulder). I have modified my firearms mildly to easy disassembling
for cleaning and repair also, I have lighten the trigger pull to take the slack out of trigger,
(two trigger springs and the bar, it made a crisper trigger and better reset},
by the training of USCCA and manufactories, I have done wrong. All 4.5 Glocks !!

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No, what you’ve done however is open yourself up to both civil and criminal liability with those modifications.

That’s all we are teaching in both USCCA and NRA courses. We teach it because it is true and to protect you.


I understand your education. That is the way that USCCA teaches, to not
alter your firearms in any way. Leave it in stock condition, always. I carry
Springfield XD nd XDM’s and Sig Sauer P320’S. My 3 GLOCKS stay
for practice. I am educated by USCCA too.


It’s not just the USCCA that teaches it. Every lawyer in the country will explain the same to you as will every other recognized training organization.

I too carry XD’s and XDM’s primarily so you’re preaching to the choir with respect to them.

It’s not a matter of opinion, when we make those modifications we open ourselves up to significantly increased civil and criminal liability and we have to accept that because it is reality.

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Thank you for your help and I restored my Glock 20 Gen4 back to its best 10mm.

Thank you!


Hey man that’s why I’m here.

I understand where the thought process comes from on modifying your firearm. The problem I see is when you have people with 50 plus firearms that also compete. The way we look at is, are you saying I can only use the firearm that is unmodified for self defense ? What do I do if Im coming back from practice and encounter a situation where my competition firearm is more readily available than my designated defense pistol ( because now that the guy has a bunch of modified ones, he has to define one as his defense gun) ? What if Im hunting ( I use a pistol to hunt) and I need to use my pistol as self defense ? Do I have to carry my hunting pistol AND my self defense pistol ? What if someone breaks into the house and my wife grabs the first firearm she can get to which happens to be a modified 1911 ?
I can understand only having 1 pistol and for the most part keeping it stock. I can also understand how having certain things written on it can look like you were out to kill, but for a lot of us, that is the questions we ask about our modified firearms and no one can say anything but " don’t modify it". There are two sides of the coin and I see both.
When you add a stand your ground state to the mix, it gets hard to say one way or another. Another thing brought up is I know “personally” cops that modify their pistols to make them shoot better, but I doubt their modifications would be called into question.
This is all just food for thought, not meant to be argumentative at all.

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No, you can certainly use any legal firearm in self defense.

The problem is that if those types of modifications are made on a gun you use in self defense you’re putting yourself at at a much higher level of risk of being charged, indicted, even convicted criminally and it will certainly be used against you in civil court if you are sued on the premise those modifications made the firearm “deadlier” and particularly with respect to trigger mod’s the argument will be made that you made the weapon less safe thus making you less of a “responsible gun owner only interested in lawful self defense under the most extreme circumstances”. It can also then be argued you were inclined to use the firearm when not absolutely necessary thus more culpable in a wrongful death suit.

You can do everything perfectly legally and still lose in both civil and criminal court so this is all about risk mitigation should you ever be involved in a defensive gun use.

We have seconds to or less to decide whether or not to use deadly force but prosecutors and plaintiff atty’s will have months to review a case, and juries hours, days, weeks, even months to go over absolutely every aspect of the same shooting and they will be under none of the stress you were and are.

You can lose your freedom and everything you have if things go bad in court while none of them are risking anything. Should it becomes a big national case they all have much to gain from the publicity politically, financially and from the aspect of career enhancement.

Once you enter the system you’re just meat for the grinder and in many communities the sympathy will always go to the person you shot and their family.


If you’ve modified your firearm for competition and need to use it on the way home from a competition for some self-defense, use it. It’s better to spend the time in court defending your actions than to not be here.

Some modifications aren’t going to raise many eyebrows or give you an issue in court - different grips for example (unless they have a violent saying on them).

The most important thing is to be able to explain why you’ve made the adjustments. Different sights? Better for accuracy and everyone’s safety.


When you hear modification, it means different things to different people. Adding a light, new sights and grips are modifications in my opinion. They are very good, explainable mods. I think what most people that argue against mods think of when they say modification is changing triggers and engraving/wrapping the pistol with sayings or slogans.


Very true, @Jacob2. Being able to explain why you made any changes to your firearm may be important depending on where you live or have the self-defense incident.

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A post was split to a new topic: Two guns while hunting?

I appreciate your comments here. I know this is August now and I will keep it short. I have Glocks that I love buying and using match barrels of another caliber, I also use a heavier recoil spring to combat the famous muzzle flip; it works.

But that is all and I have done and this and not to the extreme. The BARRELS are for cutting cost on ammo only and I get use to a firearm them go to the one is the best.
( .45 ACP changed to 10 MM. or in reverse OR 10 mm to .40 S.W.)

I use store bought ammo, with standard loads for practice and use HP rounds for defense ( off the shelf, standard ) . I am not using 1600 per second hunting rounds and I know that smaller the bullet, smaller grain in size the faster it will go.

Fight is on and I have to carry with confidence. Thank you, William Smith

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No worries about it being August, @William_H! These threads are meant to be there for everyone no matter when they find the thread. :slight_smile:

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