Who doesn’t love to customize their guns? From just changing a trigger to a complete custom job, there’s always something that can be modified to make any firearm the perfect fit. This list is an attempt to identify the top 5 pistols to customize with a nice spread in size, price, caliber, and popularity.
Glock is the best place to start this list because hundreds of aftermarket parts and accessories are made for just about any of their pistols, but the Glock 43 made the list because of it’s popularity. This model came out in early spring of 2015. “In its short time on the market, the Glock 43 has become one of the most popular Glock pistols for concealed carry purchasers. This flat-carrying semi-automatic pistol gives you Glock reliability in a small, powerful package.” (Eric Nestor, Wide Open Spaces) The Glock 43 is a single stack 9mm that is capable of holding 6+1 rounds, and the basic model will cost about $450. (Read more: Our 4 Favorite Glocks on the Market)
This list just wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include the Colt M1911A1, designed by John Moses Browning and originally manufactured by Colt. It is a semi-auto that originally used .45 ACP with a single stack mag with a 7+1 round capacity. There are now over 100 companies that create their own version of the 1911, supporting many parts on the market to modify the classic. Grips seem to be the biggest trend, with “ivory” and custom engraved designs being some of the bigger sellers. Gun coatings are also “in” with colors like Flat Dark Earth and O.D. Green. With various manufacturers producing the 1911, however, you’ll get what you pay for. “While prices run a vast spectrum, a serious custom 1911 can easily run in the $3,000 to over $5,000 range.” (
Sig Sauer P226
Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG, also known as “Swiss Arms”) started working with J.P.Sauer & Sohn in the 1970’s to create what is now known as Sig Sauer. The P226 was created for the US Army to test around 1984, during which the government was looking for “a new standardized 9mm sidearm to replace their aging – though highly successful – Colt M1911A1.” (Staff Writer, Military Factory) Today, the P226 is the choice of many LEOs and servicemen around the world. There are literally a dozen models of the P226 that range from $1030 to $1440 (new), and the P226-22 (a .22LR version) starting at $630. Available calibers for the P226 include 9 x 19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and .22LR. Because so many professionals carry the P226, there is a wide array of accessories such as sights, grips, and rail adapters.
The original Springfield XD was based off of the HS2000, a pistol manufactured by HS Produkt (a Croatian company), which Springfield bought the rights to. The rebranded pistol gained much popularity and became serious competition to Glock. In 2006 the XD was updated and it became the XD(M) – the only differences being interchangeable backstraps, a match grade barrel, and some minor aesthetics. There are 6 models of the XD(M), with assorted calibers like 9mm, .45 ACP, and .40 S&W. There is even a model with a threaded barrel and tall sights for those that want a suppressor with no customization required. “It does have an accessory rail which means you can put all kinds of lasers and lights on it. You can swap out the sights to whatever style you like. There are a couple of companies making aftermarket magazines for it as well and you can never have too many mags.” (Staff Writer, Pew Pew Tactical) Models of the XD are priced anywhere from $500 to $650 (new).
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
Smith & Wesson started their M&P (Military & Police) line of polymer pistols in 2005, and within the first year over 100 departments started carrying them. The Shield series made its debut in 2012, refining the standard M&P pistols into a more compact and concealable format. When it was released, the M&P Shield was the smallest & lightest pistol on the market. The Shield is available in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. This firearm is similar to the P226 in the sense that many LEOs and service members carry them and there is an abundance of aftermarket accessories to be browsed. The M&P Shields are available (new) from about $350 to $500.