So, you’ve been wondering about laser sights? If you’re new to firearms, adding lasers to your firearm may sound... intense.
But, lasers have actually become a very popular firearm accessory.
Laser sights are small devices attached to, or may be an integral part of, your firearm that project a laser beam on to your target. This is used as an additional reference point in the sight picture: rear sight, front sight, laser dot, and target. The eye grabbing effect of the laser in conjunction with the sight picture allows for much faster sight alignment and target acquisition. This is vital in a self-defense situation.
There are a couple of different placement options for handguns: grip, rear sights, trigger guard, internal guide rod, and rail.
A laser grip attaches to the grip of your gun. Most have a switch on the back or side of the grip that activates the laser automatically from the pressure of your hand. Other lasers must be consciously switched on. Be sure the laser you choose is designed specifically for the make and model of your handgun. While the laser grip is very convenient to use, it must be used with a proper grip to activate. And as there are not many left handed versions, if you are left handed it may block the laser.
Rear sight lasers are just that. They attach to your rear sights and are lightweight and easy to attack. Many shooters prefer these lasers since they don’t add much bulk to the gun. However, some argue that because they are smaller and lighter, they can be less powerful.
Trigger guard mounted laser sights are great if you wish to use these sights on multiple firearms. They are very versatile and can be used on many different guns. They are larger than other lasers but that also makes them more powerful. However, trigger guard lasers usually require a new holster. A second issue that may be encountered is that the mounting bracket may not provide a secure attachment to the gun, thus accuracy can also be affected.
If you wish to keep your holster and not alter the shape and weight of your gun so drastically, consider a laser that replaces the internal guide rod. While this design is very appealing, installation is more complex than other lasers and you lose the ability to adjust these sights for windage or elevation.
One of the most common lasers are rail mounted laser sights. They may not be the smallest but they are easy to attach. You just must make sure you have enough rail space. Much like with the trigger guard mounted lasers, these can have issues with the mounting bracket holding the laser perfectly still.
After you choose the laser sight mount, you’ll have to choose whether you want a red or green laser.
Red lasers can be practical due to their durability and cheaper manufacturing costs. They have a wider temperature operational range and are ideal between 15 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, a major drawback against red lasers is day time visibility. During the day, red can typically only be seen up to 25 – 30 yards.
Green lasers, on the other hand, have daytime visibility up to 100 yards. They are closer to the center of the visible light spectrum than red lasers making them more visible during day light. This is ideal for target shooters who practice primarily in daytime hours. However, green lasers require more power, which makes their battery life half that of red lasers. They are also slightly more sensitive to temperature and are operational between 40 and 100 degree Fahrenheit. Also, since green laser sight technology is more advanced, they are more expensive than red lasers.
Ultimately when choosing a laser, keep in mind your intended use, environmental conditions, and type of firearm in order to find the one that works best for you.