Seeing Red

I’m personally a big fan of laser sights for self-defense handguns, especially the easy-to-use LaserGrips from Crimson Trace. The old myths about laser sights being useless gimmicks have mostly been put to rest, but if you still need some convincing before you try a laser sight for yourself, here are a few good reasons:

Featured gear used in the video:
Smith & Wesson M&P9 w/ Crimson Trace Lasergrips firing Federal JSP 95 gr 9mm.
Ruger LCR-22 w/ Crimson Trace Grips firing CCI Standard Velocity 40gr LRN.

From “Ahnold” to Your Carry Gun

When handgun laser sights first came out a few decades ago, they were mostly seen by shooters as a gimmick. And rightly so. They were used in movies like Terminator when the creators wanted a gun to look high tech and futuristic, but the actual lasers sights on the civilian market in the 1980s and early 90s were far too impractical and expensive to be useful for the average shooter.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, companies like Crimson Trace started making laser sight products that were actually usable. The new generation of lasers were compact and rugged. They would hold a zero pretty well, had a long battery life, and were affordable enough that some people were willing to give them a try. It still took several years for serious shooters and firearms instructors to get over the gimmicky reputation that laser sights had. But finally, today laser sights tend to be viewed more as a useful accessory for a self-defense gun and not just a novelty.

CT Grips for Ruger LCR
Crimson Trace LaserGrips are by far the most user-friendly laser sight tools on the market. The laser is activated by a small pressure switch in the grip. As long as you have a firm grasp on the gun, the laser is on and ready to go.

Despite having an improved reputation, plenty of gun owners aren’t convinced that adding a laser sight to their carry gun is worth the expense. The best handgun lasers aren’t cheap, and can add up to 50% to the price of a new firearm that has a laser sight pre-installed. That’s not chump change, especially if the prospective buyer hasn’t had the chance to see the benefits of a good laser sight first hand. Even some people who have actually tried the lasers don’t always see the benefits right away, which I think is often the result of misplaced expectations.

If you still don’t buy the hype about lasers after watching the video above, I’d challenge you to at least seek out somebody who can let you try out a laser equipped handgun at the range in low light. Coupled with some decent flashlight techniques, a good laser offers an enormous advantage for fighting in the dark. If that doesn’t have you drinking the Crimson Kool-Aid, then I promise not to complain when you call me names in the comments.

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  • John McGrath

    I do not agree with having a laser on a carry pistol. My opinion is NOT because of the expense of a quality laser or what a good laser brings. My issue with a laser is a shooter using it as a crutch over good shooting skills and training. It’s one more device you’re adding in into the formula that can fail. If that device fails, and a person has been relying on that device the whole time, they are libel to do more harm than good.

    • Peter Eckley

      there is a lot in what you say. I always tell new shooters that they need to learn over iron sights before they even consider a laser. that being said, I have lasers on both of my carry pistols. The one thing I do know that alot of people may not be aware of, red lasers do not show up in bright sunlight, a mark against. Green lasers do show up.

    • Brock Fowler

      Well, I very seldom practice with a laser on the range (or dry firing). So, why wouldn’t I want to have it? Why would that extra possibility in low light, or when I can’t shoot from a normal position, be bad? I personally know a man who saved a shooting by putting a dot on the bad guy who then ran away: why would that not be a good thing? (My carry guns have lasers.)

    • John McGrath

      Brock Fowler Again, I’m not talking about the function of the laser it self, but its up to the shooter to be proficient with or without it. I see too many not taking the proper steps in being a good shooter without it.

    • Peter Eckley

      Very true.

    • Saw Dave

      Could NOT agree more. Laser’s should be used for people that do not train in all aspects of action shooting.Quick point and shooting skills are a acquired talent, which any CCW should do on a regular basic. Lasers are a gimmick Period. Mostly bought by new CCW weapon carriers that do not shoot or train like they should. Not worth a dime in daylight, Confusing to watch that hideous confusing, distracting beam going every where. Come on folks, get with the program of using your own skills, and training.

  • Mike Rowe

    I use mine at night to aim at a target since i would have time to fumble for my glasses, but could use the laser to aim…

  • David Cole

    The one thing to remember is lawyers will always ask how you judged a threat. I prefer a light instead of a laser. When you illuminate your adversary, you can honestly say you saw their hands. Lasers won’t allow you to say that with a straight face. My 2 cents.

    • Mona Lewis

      Okay ~ then, in broad daylight, with no guns involved (always in their best interest) ~ then what??

    • LG Chris

      Apples and oranges, man. Lights and lasers serve two totally distinct purposes on a pistol, and they’re not mutually exclusive.

    • Bruce Bradley

      Too many people rely on lasers and not on real shooting skills. It’s amazing to watch people with very expensive pistols and lasers shooting 3 foot groups at 10 feet with their laser dots bouncing all over the damned place. With a light you’ve got a chance of blinding the bastard.

    • Don Frejay

      Bruce Bradley I believe Flash lights make great targets at night.
      I also want every advantage I can get in case of a real fight.

    • Michael Taylor

      LG Chris Agree 100% lasers & lights serve different rolls – both useful in a HD scenario – the light has a greater downside – the obvious: giving away your position. the not so obvious: the tendency to use that mounted light as a flashlight. — e.g. neighborhood kid sneaking home late night through your yard. You hear a noise – you grab the pistol to check it out – you light up Johnny and realize he is not a threat. Unfortunately, you just pointed a loaded firearm at an unarmed kid – see where I am going with this?

  • Daniel Schwartz

    Here’s an argument in favor of lasers that I was expecting to see…

    In a self-defense situation, I’m not looking to put holes in anyone unless I have to. I’m hoping that the situation can be resolved without a shot being fired. And I suspect that, if a perp doesn’t back off when a pistol is aimed at him, he just might when he sees a red dot dancing on his chest. Extra deterrent, with no damage done.

  • Johnny Ainsworth

    Clearly, iron sight shooting is a necessary requirement and must be the standard, but a laser has many advantages. If you’re attacked at close range and cannot bring your pistol to bear on the target with a traditional hold, the laser will allow you to put it on the target at any angle. As a couple of people mentioned here, a laser illuminated on the perps chest will give them second thoughts. If that doesn’t work, maybe an eye flash will blind them, though eye damage is highly likely. Acquiring your target in low light, which is where the majority of attacks will occur, is nearly instant. If you don’t have your glasses on you won’t need to fumble around and find them to fire with a laser as someone pointed out here. Combine a flashlight with a laser and you have a tremendous advantage at night…and an advantage is what I am looking for when surprised with an attack.

  • jim

    My two favorite carry guns are laser equipped, in fact I wouldn’t think of carrying a gun without a laser. A laser check is part of the morning routine before holstering the gun for the day.

    do I practice with iron sights? Sure I do.
    Do I practice with the laser on? Sure I do.

    Can I stand 15 feet away from a silhouette, draw my gun, aim it from my hip I basically with a quick flick of my wrist, and hit said target in the forehead without my laser on? No…at least not by accident.

    Can I do the same with the laser? everytime on target in one second or less.

    and speaking of practice at the range having the laser has really calmed down my aiming. when I first started with the laser it would bounce all over the place. now it is much more steady on target.

  • Carl

    I totally support the use of laser sights for self-defense carry guns. Fast target acquisition in a high-stress situation.