Are some firearms accessories good? Or bad? Can they help you? Or hurt you? What about modifications? And I am only asking in regards to using the firearm in question.

Regarding modifications, some will tell you that you can’t even modify a gun for legal reasons. I’m afraid I have to disagree with them, based on experience. Don’t make modifications that make you look foolish, like adding an ejection port cover with an idiotic phrase on it.

This article is about firearm accessories and identifying the good from the bad. 

Example #1: Recently, sight unseen, I bought a gently used left-hand eject Remington 870 from the estate of a knowledgeable co-worker. I was told it had an AR-15-style stock and pistol grip – instead of a traditionally designed stock. For me, it was a must-buy because it was left-handed, the barrel had a vent rib, and the crew at Vang Comp had already done their magic to the barrel. 

The toe of the stock is in my shoulder pocket, but the sights are well below my eye line.

When the shotgun arrived at my local gun store, I could examine it. It looked like the AR stock would create an issue with seeing the sights when mounting it. When I put the top of the stock in my shoulder pocket, the sights were quite a distance below my eye line. I had to drop my head down to the stock to look through them and get a sight picture. 

To see the sights, I had to drop my head over and way down. Not at all comfortable.

Lowering your head and eyes to the stock is uncomfortable. It is also the opposite of the preferred method – bringing the stock and sights up to your eye level. 

Lowering your head creates a position in which the felt recoil can transfer to your face. The impact goes from uncomfortable to painful. Previously, I have seen shotgun students who repeatedly did this looking like they were victims of blunt trauma to the face. 

Magpul’s SGA stock on my Beretta 1301 gets the sights into my eye line comfortably while keeping my head up.

If you are going to choose an after-market stock, please consider one that puts your eyes in line with the sights when you mount the shotgun. 

An example? Magpul’s excellent SGA stock for Remington and Mossberg shotguns. Aridus Industries has made an adapter that allows you to add the SGA stock to the Beretta 1301 shotgun. 

Example #2 

In the last shotgun class I taught, one of the students came with a Mossberg loaned to him by a friend. Some “friend” because that loaner shotgun had a top folding stock. That stock also had a pistol grip, which I’ll return to in a moment. 

The pistol grip kept my thumb far away from the Mossberg’s safety button.

Why? The top folding stock is not adjustable for length. It is usually too long for most. Additionally, the butt plate does not come with a recoil pad. Finally, the stock is “U” shaped, which puts an edge against your face rather than the side of a curved stock. 

Now, the pistol grip. Mossberg 500 and 590 series shotguns have their safety on the receiver between the rear sight and the stock. With a pistol grip, instead of a traditionally designed stock, the user’s thumb may have difficulty reaching the safety to use it. Add the pivot points on either side of where the stock attaches to the receiver. Few people’s thumbs will reach the safety button without radically compromising their grip.

The pivot points for the folding stock completely blocked my thumb from the safety.

Losing access to the mechanical safety leaves the user in the position of having to work the shotgun without the benefit of it. Slinging the shotgun is out of the question.

A couple of other alterations to mention include attaching items to the stock. This is not an issue if you only shoot from your strong shoulder. However, it may be of concern if you have to switch shoulders.

Additionally, some accessories attach to the buttstock of a rifle or shotgun. Some hold spare ammunition; others might hold a tourniquet. Regardless, ensure that you can still mount that weapon without compromising your mount and head position to do it. This does not mean all of these are bad. You must ensure the accessory in question will work for you with your equipment. 

Know how your chosen firearm works and what could impact that. Buy accessories that do not interfere with its function, make sure that it is good quality gear, and then train with it. Ensure that it will maximize your baseline performance, rather than comprise it. So that you can better defend yourself, your loved ones, or your community.