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Shooting Accessories DIY: How to Customize Your Shooting Experience

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Aftermarket shooting accessories to personalize your firearms

By Corey Graff, Online Editor

At no other time in the history of modern firearms have we had so many choices in guns from which to choose. Hunting guns. Competition guns. Self-defense guns. Concealed carry guns.

But once you’ve narrowed down the specific gun you want for your intended application, it’s time to look at shooting accessories to personalize the firearm for your needs. Here is an overview of the best gun upgrades.

 Shooting Accessories | gun belt, shooting glasses, ar-15 sling

If you want to see shooting accessories, check out 3-gun competition. Here, Ben Fortin, shooting in Tactical Optics, uses his Dueck Defense RTS sights to engage short-range targets at the 2011 Rocky Mountain 3-gun.

Gun Safes & Gun Cases

Some of the best gun accessories — and arguably most important — don’t attach to your gun or help you shoot. A good gun case matched to your firearm is worth the investment and will keep the scope from getting bumped. It’ll prevent the gun from getting damaged or dirty, and will keep all your shooting supplies organized and handy.

While that may sound like overstating the obvious, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the gun range and needed a wrench, or was approached by some other shooter who’d left his tools or gadgets at home and needed to borrow mine.

Tip: A rifle backpack can double as a protective case, accessories solution and shooting platform. You can lay your rifle across the pack in prone, sitting or kneeling positions for a fast and rock-solid sight picture.

Get a good range bag to keep your shooting glasses, shooting gloves, targets, and other shooting gear in one place.

Gun safes are important, too. They don’t have to cost a fortune or be so elaborate (and heavy!) so as to become impractical to move about. And they needn’t be unaffordable. Simply find a good  “value” gun safe that will afford basic protection, keep guns locked away and organized.

While I still believe parental training is the best, when the home defense handgun is not being carried it should be locked in a quick-access bedside safe so children can’t get their hands on it. Get a model that recognizes your fingerprints or has a short code combination.

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Gun Sights & Optics

Probably the one thing needing upgrade on most of the new guns I acquire are the sights or optics. That goes for rifles, shotguns and handguns. Gun sights are the one thing that you will use to place rounds on target, so they have to match your application.

For a home defense shotgun, get a good pair of ghost ring sights — I like the Wilson Combat Ghost Ring set — and pay the money to have a gunsmith install them (they require drilling and tapping). Red dot scopes for shotguns are also popular shooting accessories. The idea is to be able to see your sights in the dark and accomplish precise shot placement at close range.

When it comes to gun accessories for rifles, think about your application. For AR-15 accessories, flip-up style Back-Up Iron Sights (BUIS) used in conjunction with a red dot scope or AR-15 scope are popular. An AR with a Picatinny-style flat top receiver rail make installing sights and accessories in the comfort of your home very easy.

In my opinion, the best handgun accessory upgrade is a good pair of night sights. They allow you to get a sight picture in low light and I prefer them to stock sights even in daylight.

Depending upon your handgun they can be easy to install at home or may require additional gun tools to install. To upgrade my Glock I needed a rear Glock Sight Tool and Front Sight Tool. These were somewhat costly investments — a tad bit more than the sight itself — but worth it as I expect to upgrade future Glocks.

One word of advice: Many gunsmiths in rural areas may not have handgun sight tools or experience. I’ve found they tend to be more accustomed to installing scopes on deer rifles, so you may have to do this job yourself.

Tip: For the latest in sights, optics and other sights, study all you can about 3-gun competitions. 3-gunners compete in a fast-paced tactical environment and you’ll see lots of interesting gun gear solutions used to give the winning edge.

AR-15 Sling | AR-15 accessories, shooting accessories

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Gun Slings & Bipods

Second only to a scope, a good quality AR-15 sling is one of the best gun accessories you can add. They’re so simple to install even I can do it. And a sling can be used not only to carry your rifle but also to get a solid shooting platform in a jiffy.

Modern shooters have a tendency to spend too much time shooting for accuracy off of a bench. When you’re hunting you may not have a solid rest from which to shoot. A rifle sling can be adapted in numerous ways to steady your rifle.

For this reason I like the leather 1903-style military sling. You can lock your arm in it for a steady rest from the prone position, or get into a “hasty sling” for a quick shot on game.

Likewise, a good bipod used with a rear bag for mid- to long-range shooting is an accessory that will pay dividends. They’re easy to attach — usually to a rifle’s sling stud or rail — but be sure you practice with it in all shooting positions. 

Gun Lights & Lasers Sights

Home defense guns are improved by the addition of lights and lasers. So-called “tactical lights” are so good these days — powered by high candela/lumen output LED light — that you can practically blind your opponent. This is a strategic advantage. With some tiny little lights throwing 500 Lumens or more, you’re carrying a powerful force multiplier.

Bright lights facilitate target identification, which is critical in a home environment. Lights for handguns, home defense shotguns or AR-15s can be attached to the guns via accessory or Picatinny rails and installed at home with basic tools.

Shooting Accessories | shotgun outfitted with optics, lights and lasers

Outfit your home defense shotgun with shooting accessories such as optics, lights and lasers. 

Lasers, too, are a useful gun accessory. They require training, but can make pointing and shooting a very fast affair. Of course, like a light, a laser can reveal your movements and location in a dark room so use judiciously.

Endless Shooting Accessories

Entire volumes about gun accessories for AR-15sand other types of guns can — and actually have been — written.But these are the top gun accessory upgrades I consider for any new gun. Other accessories for your guns pose endless possibilities. The key is to add upgrades sparingly — customizing your gun where needed but striving to keep things as simple as possible. 


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Corey Graff is the Online Editor for His personal interest in firearms includes handguns for hunting and self-defense as well as guns from the World War II era.