Lights And Lasers On Your Carry Gun?

By Tom McHale

This Springfield Armory 1911 TRP has Crimson Trace Lasergrips and a Crimson Trace Lightguard. Neither one makes this gun any more difficult to carry.
This Springfield Armory 1911 TRP has Crimson Trace Lasergrips and a Crimson Trace Lightguard. Neither one makes this gun any more difficult to carry.
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-( Sometimes technology is awesome.

Considered a gimmick years ago, lights and lasers for handguns are now standard equipment and few gripe about reliability concerns.

Thanks to innovations like miniaturization of lasers, advancements in battery technology, and low power consumption LED lights, you can add light and laser capability to a small concealed carry gun while only adding a couple of ounces to your carry package.

The bottom line is that there are few reasons not to consider adding a laser and light to your carry gun.

Why do you need a light and laser?

Allow your brain to travel to a dark place for a minute and put yourself in the planning mode of a mugger, murderer, or terrorist. The odds are that whoever is out there plotting some nasty activity intends to succeed. For a criminal, the definition of success most likely includes accomplishing their goal of robbery or worse, not getting hurt in the process, and making a clean getaway. Even in a terrorist situation, their goal is to do as much damage as possible before getting stopped. Neither scenario will appreciate a fast and effective interruption of their plans.

Again, putting yourself in the evildoers thought process, you as the aggressor will almost certainly benefit from executing your plan in a low visibility situation. Dark and crowded places like movie theaters and restaurants are densely populated, and low light prevents victims from quickly assimilating a chaotic situation. Observation and orientation must happen before anyone can take any defensive action, whether that be resisting or escaping.

We already know that simple crimes like muggings are far more common at night. Now consider that the recent terror attacks in Paris also happened in the dark, staring at about 9:20 pm. In that case, restaurants, bars, stadiums, and a concert hall were all targeted well into the evening hours. Likewise, the Aurora, Colorado theater attack also happened at night, although the interior of a movie theater would be dark at any time of day.

Now flip your thought process back to you, the victim of a defensive scenario. Even if the odds of having to defend yourself in low light conditions are only 50/50, wouldn’t you rather have every possible advantage? Wouldn’t you always prefer to have a crisp, clear, and fast sight picture just before you pull the trigger? Thanks to the current crop of light and laser products, and their small footprint, you can.

Before anyone regurgitates the tired old “but it will just give away your position” argument, think this through carefully before repeating that myth. Well, OK, in offensive military or law enforcement scenarios, it’s not necessarily a myth, but in almost any conceivable self-defense situation, it is. If you draw your gun, you are already in a gunfight, and you’d better be prepared to shoot. If you’re prepared to shoot, you’d better be sure of two things.

First, you need to clearly identify your target, even in the dark. A gun-mounted light is not ideal for wandering around and searching but is unbeatable for verification of your target in the instant before you pull the trigger. It also enables the use of iron sights whether they’re Tritium equipped or not. Even through the light shines forward, you’ll see your sights clearly.

Second, You’d better be sure your gun is aimed directly at your intended target, even in the dark. Night Sights ( ) are great, and I have them on all my carry guns. However, when shooting in the dark, lasers are simply faster and more supportive of your natural instinct to fixate on the threat, not to mention enabling shooting from unconventional positions. You always have your night sights available, so there is no loss of capability when adding a laser.

Besides, most lights and lasers offer pressure activation of some sort, so it’s easy to turn on or off at will.

Tips for carrying a light and laser-equipped handgun.

Crimson Trace LG-922 Master Series Aluminum Lasergrips for 1911 Classic
Crimson Trace LG-922 Master Series Aluminum Lasergrips for 1911 Classic

The only real challenge to adding light and laser capability to your carry gun is finding a compatible holster. With modern equipment, size doesn’t impact your ability to carry, even inside the waistband, and additional weight is minimal. The supply and demand equilibrium has finally leveled out and now holster makers have a multitude of options for guns equipped with lights or lasers.

Depending on your specific carry gun, the laser additional can be easy and not require any change in your existing holster. I have yet to run into a compatibility problem with any gun using Crimson Trace Lasergrips. The only irregularly shaped addition to the handgun is on the grip itself, which is rarely, if ever, fitted to the holster. Likewise, if you carry a Beretta or Glock, you can try the LaserMax Guide Rod Lasers. Those are contained completely inside of the frame of your gun, replacing the original guide rod and spring, so once again there is no holster impact.

If you choose to add a light or use a rail-mounted laser, you’ll need to accommodate that configuration with a specific holster. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do. Check out the Holster Resource Guide at Crimson Trace and you can easily find holsters from a variety of manufacturers to fit many combinations of guns, lights, and lasers.

N82 Tactical Original IWB holster
N82 Tactical Original IWB holster

If you choose a combination of gun, light and laser without a readily available holster option, never fear, you’re not out of luck yet. Check out something like an N82 Tactical Original IWB holster. These are quality holsters that use an elastic band to secure the gun to the holster back panel. It’s well done and does a great job of keeping your gun secured. The best part is that the elastic mount offers a bit of give so you can fit a carry gun with a rail mounted light or laser. You may need to go up one gun size in the holster mount, but that’s a small price to pay.

As I write this, I have at least a laser on every carry gun I own. Now, I’m in the process of figuring out to which guns I can add lights. For example, the 1911 shown here has both – and that’s comforting when I’m out and about town in evening hours.



Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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In North Carolina is it legal to have a scope with a built in green light laser on a rifle or a AR-15 ???


What about ArmaLaser lasers? They aren’t mentioned.


You lose precious time by trying to find your laser dot on the bad guy. I agree with the use of a light (a focused light even provides a soccer ball sized dot for your round to strike), but the laser has marginal, if any, benefit.


My Taurus 709 slim is outfitted with the Crimson Trace Lasergrips..Getting older my eyesight isn’t improving and the Laser will not require as much orientation to low light levels when awakened in the middle of the night..I have small LED nightlights situated around my house so I can move from room to room without any other light source..Outside floodlights are great, but you never want to outline yourself during a possible threat..The only time I might give my position up is just before I put some lead downrange on a bad guy..The activation switch is automatic as you squeeze the… Read more »

Mike Murphy

Being in my 60’s, with less than perfect balance and agility, I need every advantage I can get, since having time to get perfect aim is not likely. But, being the “same gun, same way, every day” carrier, and Crimson trace on my carry and all house guns, I have been more than satisfied with Alien Gear Holsters, hybrid IWB. If you change guns, free gun shell exchange, great warranty, adjustable cant, ride height and retention, makes a great way to carry laser mounted, but concealed auto or revolver.


Don’t need n a laser for a 10 – 15 ft shot. If you can’t see them they can’t see you unless they have night goggles on.

Dr Dave

Every major self defense trainers (Ayoob, Pincus, etc..) supports the use of lasers and most reject the use of lights. Lights that are attached tend to require you to unsafely “paint” the entire area with your weapon barrel to see what you probably aren’t going to deal with anyway, let alone fully displaying your location. Lasers on the other hand do NOT give your location away unless the room is FILTHY with air-born dust UNLIKE in the movies. The only two spots to see it are YOU and the endpoint the “trail” is not seen with which to follow the… Read more »


Hear, hear! This —> “WAY too much TV involved in self defense decision making in this country.”


Jr roscoe made me a custom leather shoulder holster that fits beretta 45 with laser on the rail


My biggest concern when i carry my P226 with a TLR-2 is comfort, most holsters make it a sacrifice to carry with a light. Last April i bought a Comfort Pak Hybrid holster from
Black Iron Holsters
and i haven’t looked back. I was skeptical of a new company but having my holster custom molded to accommodate my specific tac light was too tantalizing a proposition. Needless to say it fits like a glove and is the most comfortable holster i have ever owned.

2nd Amender

I don’t want to tell anyone anything they probably already know, but a laser on a gun must be tuned to point of aim, then YOU must hold that poa……

I prefer a flash light and “night sights”. Only need to identify my target! If I don’t practice, it don’t matter.

I do have a green laser for our Sig p238hd, though.

Thomas Houston

Crimson trace grips have a 1″ deviation at point blank range. If zeroed in at 50′, you will only have a 1″ deviation on your target. So yes, for bullseye target practice, fine tuning is necessary. But for self defense, tuning becomes irrelevant.

John Reynolds

Having used a crimson trace on defending my home during a burglary, I am a firm believer in them.


My logic for getting one is simple: I’m in my 60s now, so in any direct confrontation I’m going to get knocked to the ground. Waving a gun around on your back or side while struggling to get up or to avoid punches or kicks or whatever doesn’t work. A laser gives you great aim from virtually any position.


Crimson Trace provides free batteries for life. So maintaining the laser is way easier than maintaining your firearm.

jim smith

I think laser sights are great. 1) They don’t take a lot of power so the batteries tend to last a long time 2) they are available with an automatic grip switch that doesn’t require you to fumble for a remote switch which in some stressful situations has resulted in an inadvertent trigger pull 3) If you are in a position that does not allow you to have a good aim, all you have to do is ensure the dot is pointed where you want the bullet to go 4) If you are facing an assailant with a firearm and… Read more »

jim smith

I think laser sights are great. 1) They don’t take a lot of power so the batteries tend to last a long time 2) they are available with an automatic grip switch that doesn’t require you to fumble for a remote switch which in some stressful situations has resulted in an inadvertent trigger pull 3) If you are in a position that does not allow you to have a good aim, all you have to do is ensure the dot is pointed where you want the bullet to go 4) If you are facing an assailant with a firearm and… Read more »


I’m not saying I’m against lasers but always felt they gave away your one true advantage at night and that’s your location. If I’m in my bedroom and you’re breaking in, then I don’t need you knowing where to find me until YOU are seeing my muzzle flash! Just my thoughts.

Wild Bill

That is the nice part about the wonderful world of firearms and accessories. We can each follow our own logic, and play with what we each want to play with. What else is keeping the American economy afloat?


Everyone has their opinion…. opinions as like ….(you can fill in the rest). How many of us have had the need to draw down on a real live threat? I haven’t but I train and practice for that day at the range etc… What works for one might not work for another. I can attest to the fact that as we age so does our eyesight. For me when I turned 40 I had to give into wear glasses. 30 years later it by no means has improved. I have added lasers to my carry weapons as well home defenses… Read more »

Clark Kent

MyGunCulture: Except that your life is not on the line when your car battery goes bad. THINK before you post. ‘All the modern inconveniences’ – Mark Twain. P.S. Using a laser is actually SLOWER than using fixed sights.


The statement that lasers are SLOWER is unequivocally false. If you’re trying to use them in bright daytime conditions, maybe. But their whole purpose is to be used in low light and dark conditions. The vasty majority of credible self-defense trainers will recommend them for all the reasons stated in this article.


And exactly how much is your life worth.
You do the math.


Too expensive for a stinking little light or lazer!

Clark Kent

And when will the battery fail on your laser light firearm? Remember Murphy’s Law. A laser is about as ‘necessary’ on a carry firearm as a TV set is on a honeymoon.


You’re killin’ me 🙂 With that logic, we should ride horses cause the car battery could die. Then what??? Because Murhpy’s law!!! Should we switch to gas lamps in homes in case the electricity goes out? Or ditch air bags in cars? Believe it or not, it’s possible that things can be improved over time.

Or, you could change the batteries once in a while. Oh, and the iron sights never go away when adding a laser. You can use them any time you like.

Thomas Houston

Plus…. Crimson Trace have a fail safe feature on their lasers that causes it to dim long before the battery dies (think electronic door locks). So if you are even this the slightest bit familiar with your carry gun, which you should be (at the very least dry fire practice), then you will never find yourself in this situation.

Steve K

I agree! Necessary, especially on your nightstand gun.