You can hardly pick up a gun magazine anymore without coming across a lot of ads for laser sights, which seem to have become the ubiquitous modification in the firearms world these days. Many of the ads make claims I’ve wondered at, such as the one about criminals wetting their pants when they look down and see a red dot on their chest. If that were the case, I figure it would be cheaper to just keep a laser pointer in my pocket, instead of going to the trouble of carrying a gun around.
So, while sitting around the campfire one night during a hog hunt at Mobley Ranch, near Bryan, Texas, I decided to pick John Russo’s brain a little. John is a detective from southern California, and a firearms instructor, so it can be safely assumed that he’s probably forgotten more about guns than I’ll ever know.
I asked John if laser sights were all that great a deterrent to crime. He said that often they really are. You’d have a hard time finding someone in today’s world who hasn’t seen enough movies to know that having a red dot on your chest is a Bad Thing.
So I asked John if he uses laser sights himself, and if they help people shoot better or just make them feel like Sylvester Stallone in ‘Cobra.’
He said, “Laser sights are fantastic. They can be a great aiming aid for anyone, especially for novice shooters, and they’re a lot of fun. The only problem is that some people become dependent on them, and forget they have iron sights on their pistols.”
One problem pertaining to laser sights is bright sunlight. On really bright days it can be difficult to see the little red dot on a distant target. John said he’d had many students on a shooting range start to shoot at targets, and then turn to him and say, “I can’t see the dot. How can I shoot if I can’t see the dot?”
John shook his head. He said, “I tell them, ‘You’ve got sights on your gun. Why don’t you try looking at those?’ People get tunnel vision, and if something unexpected happens, they don’t know what to do.”
Still, John encourages students to use laser sights, but not to allow them to become a crutch. One of the main lessons he tries to teach police officers is to adapt. If one method doesn’t work, try another one. Laser sights are great, but they’re not the only way to aim.
Another problem people have with laser sights is wobble. Holding a pistol rock steady is impossible, and when a recreational shooter, such as yours truly, aims a laser sighted pistol at a target for the first time, the little red dot looks like it’s in a paint shaker. That, in itself, John says, is a good lesson. It teaches people how little movement is required to miss a target completely, and possibly shoot something that shouldn’t be shot, such as an innocent bystander.
When Texas Governor Rick Perry shot a coyote during a morning jog, he used a Ruger LCP .380 with a Crimson Trace laser sight attached. Without question, Crimson Trace (CTC) is the leader in laser pistol sights today.
CTC offers replacement grips for just about every handgun made, and incorporates their laser sights into the grips. The sight part usually makes a slight protrusion at the top of the grip on the right side of the gun, and never interferes with normal operation.
After using CTC grips on several pistols, I can honestly say they make aiming easier in every situation except in bright sunlight. And in good light, the iron sights are easy to see, anyway. CTC grips are ideal for all low light shooting, which is when most encounters with bad guys are likely to occur.
I think that’s why Crimson Trace decided to start holding nighttime 3 gun competitions. The idea is to give people a chance to experience the advantage of using quality gun lights and lasers in darkness, as opposed to trying to hold a flashlight and aim a gun at the same time.
The only complaint I’ve ever had about CTC lasergrips was that they weren’t wood. Their simulation wood grips were not bad looking, but it just seemed wrong to put a pair of rubber grips on a nice 1911 pistol. And then CTC solved that problem, too.
Their Master Series line of lasergrips offers beautiful rosewood and walnut grips that enhance the looks of a nice gun, and they’re available for straight gripped or bobtailed 1911s. I no longer have any complaints.
If there’s a pistol shooter on your Christmas list, you’d have a hard time coming up with a nicer gift than a pair of CTC lasergrips. And just so there’s no misunderstanding, my pistols are all 1911s, except for a Smith M&P 9, and my address is below. CTC also offers vertical foregrips for ARs with the light and laser built in. I could use one of those, too.
I mean three. I could use three of those . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who needs all the help he can get, when aiming. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org