Shedding Some Light on Reasons For Lasers

Laser Gun Sights On Target
Shedding Some Light on Laser Gun Sights

Chesterland, OH –-( Something happened two months back that made me change my everyday carry gun.

The “something” was coming home after work to find a strange car in my driveway and a few minutes later seeing two unknown men walking out from behind the house.

With my car blocking the only exit and the 911 dispatcher on the phone, things were pretty much under control.

Except the two guys kept walking toward me even after being told repeatedly to stay where they were and to wait for the police. Ultimately, they stopped about two strides short of me having to draw my gun, not voluntarily, but because of the Deputy Sheriff screeching into the driveway behind my car.

We live in a very rural area in a county that seems like it covers a quarter million square miles with only two deputies on duty at any given time.

It really isn’t that large, but there are really are only two deputies on duty per shift. And one of those two deputies just happened to have turned onto our street and was headed towards our house when the call came in. With only half a mile to cover, he was there in about thirty seconds rather than the more common thirty minutes. When all of this was going on, the sun was slipping behind the treetops and the shadows were already getting long. By the time deputy had secured the scene, it was getting quite dark.

Crimson Trace Next Generation Glock Lasergrips

It was that experience that convinced me to switch from my little Officer’s ACP that I have carried in a second generation Sparks 60TK for so long. It is a snarky little rig that carries beautifully and disappears under even the lightest cover garment. What I switched to was a Glock 19. Not because it conceals better than the Officer’s ACP and not because 15 plus 1 is better than the 6 plus 1 or because I am a fan of light and fast over heavy and slow. The reason is that the G19 carries a Crimson Trace laser. If I had had to hold those two gentlemen for the normal thirty-minute wait for the police to show up, it would have been a bit too light for night sights to work and too dark to really see a conventional sight picture.

That is where the laser shines (pun intended).

But that switchover reminded me that there are some misconceptions floating around concerning laser sights. One is that lasers are fast on target. Actually, lasers are slower than using your regular sights. This has been the experience of folks that are used to seeing open sights quickly. One local police instructor that is fast running plates spent a whole day familiarizing himself with the Crimson Trace grips. At the end of the day, what he found was that he was slower with the laser than with his open sights.

Not a lot, mind you, but enough to notice. However, he has thirty year old eyes and perfect eyesight at that.

It is easy to illustrate the issue here. All that is necessary is to look at the one advertisement for these sights. Imagine that you are at the ATM and have just been knocked to the ground by an assailant. You have drawn your sidearm and are trying to index it on the person standing above you. Unless you already have the bright red or green dot on your opponent, where is it? To find it, you have to find the surface that it is being reflected from. Is it the car twenty feet behind your opponent, or the building a hundred yards behind him, or is there nothing to see because the beam is racing away across the galaxy? When people are trained with lasers, it is on a range where the backstop is within a few feet of the target. If the beam is not on the target, it is easy to find it reflecting back just a few feet away on the backstop. Not so in the real world. Trying to find the beam takes time. And this is true even if you are standing on level ground and your opponent is facing you.

Laser Gun Sights
Laser Gun Sights – Shedding Some Light the Reasons For

When you use your iron sights, you know exactly where they are. They are the same distance from your eyes all the time and if they are not on the target it is only necessary to drive them left or right and up or down to get them on target.

The little dot from the laser moves in three dimensions, and searching in three dimensions is slower than the two-dimensional problem of using your iron sights.

That is the key to running lasers quickly. You have to drive the gun just as if you were going to use your iron sights and then confirm you are on target with the laser. That in turn means that you have to train using your iron sights.

You can’t just bolt the laser on your gun, regardless of where on the gun, and expect to have solved your sighting problem.

So I mentioned switching from a Colt Officer’s ACP to a Crimson Trace laser-equipped Glock 19 for my regular carry gun and looked at one of the claims for laser sights that can be misleading. There is a second claim I would like to address.

It is quoted all too frequently is that “Lasers will make you more accurate”.
They won’t. Period.

Lasers will only let you shoot to your skill level under lighting conditions that make your iron sights difficult to see. I was party to a dramatic demonstration of this a year ago. A local club hosts a winter league shooting the NRA forty-eight round Duty Gun matches. As part of the league, they also run a special forty-round backup match that is intended to promote practice with the competitors’ carry guns for those that have concealed carry licenses. The round count is reduced to make them accessible to the five shot revolvers that are common CCW guns.

One gentleman came in and shot the backup gun match with his 5-shot S&W 642. In good light, this healthy 64-year-old is a formidable shot with his long barreled Model 27. On the indoor range with the lights turned down over the firing points, his scores suffer somewhat. When you add in the silver-white front sight of the 642 in the silver-white aluminum rear notch, his scores suffer even more. Out of the 400 point maximum, he shot a 348 with the S&W iron sights.

Since there was only one more relay and it wasn’t full, he was given permission to shoot it again using his Crimson Trace laser. Just for grins and giggles you understand.

His second score was 390. There are a number of ways to look at that difference. One is that he picked up an additional 42 points. Impressive, but in the grand scheme of things so what? A second way is that his score was some 13% better. Again, so what? The other way to look at is that he was able to convert a lot of 8s and 7s into a whole passel of 10s and a handful of 9s. Years ago when Bill Jordan was razzed by a young hotshot PPC shooter at the Nationals over the 9s he had just shot, Jordan’s response was “Nines count in a gunfight!”

Now, a statistician would have some reservations about that comparison, but what I witnessed is about as close to a true “A-B” test as you are ever going to find: same gun, same ammo, same conditions, same shooter with the only difference being the use of the laser for aiming. And the difference is so large that even for a statistician it would be hard to ignore.

So, that is what a laser will do for you. If you are capable of making the shot, the laser will make up for eyes that have trouble seeing the sights. That is the reason I switched to a Glock 19 with a Crimson Trace laser on it.

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The only thing that troubles me about your article is that you waited until these guys were 2 paces from you to think about pulling your gun.Even then you didn't have it our. When I tell someone to stop,my pistol is going to already be on them and long before they are 2 paces in front of me, if at all possible. They could have closed those 2 paces in a split second and then where would you be? Maybe dead. It's your life but I would not take that kind of chance.


They can make you more accurate, as a training device. Splitting hairs, I've used a laser when trying to coach bad habits out of friends. They did make them more accurate, turning on the laser with a mixed mag of ammo and snap clips, showed flinches, and guys yanking to the side, due to poor positioning. They'd been told, but sometimes they just have to see it for themselves… Used to carry the Glock 23, with the laser guide rod. Didn't like the controls, not natural enough for me. Switched to the rail mounted Streamlight w/ laser. It's just plain… Read more »


Well said, equipment to assist is always desirable so long as the shooter remembers it is ONLY that. A person who chooses to carry must train, as an assist improperly used is absolutely worthless.