Laser Sights - Usefulness


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quatin
January 13, 2013, 02:03 PM
Is there a consensus on using laser sights for defensive shooting? IE Laser sights on EDCs? Is it useful, do I have to completely retrain sight acquisition when using one?

I have a TCP that I really like pocket carrying, but the lack of sights bother me. I get concept behind low profile sights for point and shoot pistols, but these sights are completely useless. I was considering drilling just a front night sight on the TCP and using it like a shotgun bead, but the laser sight seems like an easier alternative.

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Inebriated
January 13, 2013, 02:11 PM
Lasers shouldn't be an alternative to sights, but if you don't really have sights... work with what you've got. Zero to the furthest distance that you can make an accurate shot (say hitting a 5-6" circle) with that gun, would be my suggestion (take it for what it's worth... which isn't much). If you try to use the TCP like a shotgun, you're going to be terribly disappointed. Shotguns work with beads because you're always plopping your face down in the same place, and using your eye as the rear sight (essentially)...

230RN
January 13, 2013, 02:17 PM
I've become a strong advocate of them and hang the expense.

I'm 74 and even though I shot competitively with rifles and handguns, as the years progressed, I no longer have that fineness of vision, especially in low-light conditions.

I mounted one on a Smith 340 and discovered I can shoot much better, and by holding the gun solidly with two hands down by the bottom of my rib cage, I can print groups better than with the iron sights, which are black on this gun with a short sight radius. In addition, the inevitable muzzle flash is way below my line of sight and does not give me that one or two second blindness. (Yes, even with low-flash ammo.)

I mounted one on my winter gun, a 1911 in .45 and the same situation pertains --better grouping. However, holding the gun that close to the body interferes with the slide operation, so a slightly different technique is involved --that is, holding the gun slightly away. (Ruined a good shirt with a close-to-the-body hold when the slide came back. "Duh," I said to myself.)

The main problem with them is that in just "holding" the gun as one would with iron sights emphasizes the unsteadiness of one's hold. That dot dances all over the target and discourages the shot. You don't realize how unsteady your hold actually is with iron sights.

The other disadvantage is a slight mechanical one. Adjusting the sights is tricky. Somehow, your instinct in adjusting the sights this way or that to bring the group to where the dot is seems backwards, and the first time I adjusted mine I was chasing the dot all over the place. My first adjustment put the group even further from the dot. I finally got a rush of brains to the head and figured out what I was doing gnorw.

Another hint is the first thing you do is put a piece of colored tape on the little teeny-tiny adjustment wrenches that come with it. I dropped mine at the indoor range and had a heck of a time finding it on the floor. The tape makes it obvious when it falls down there --or in the grass. I found it just before I was about to give up and get the steel-ammunition testing magnet from the RO.

I used to practice point-shooting indoors with airsoft clones on the theory that in a defensive situation, one might not be able to "aim" at those close ranges, so I got pretty good at that. The laser sight makes this a lot easier, as shown by testing with my unloaded lasered guns in front of a mirror. (Watch out for the reflection of the laser, though. You don't want to get it in your eyes.)

Terry, 230RN

WoodchuckAssassin
January 13, 2013, 02:20 PM
I'm not a huge fan of lasers. When you draw down on your target, that little red dot is movin' and shakein' a mile a minute - it always seemed to me like the extra money you send on a laser might be better spent on ammo and range visits so as to become proficient with your firearm, instead of relyin on technology.

At the same time, I remember reading an article a while back that said a woman who was home alone had someone break in. She found the man in her living room, and promptly drew down on him with her pistol/laser combo. The suspect could see the red dot on his chest, and stayed very still on the opposite side of the room until the police showed up. In this case, the laser did a fantastic job of letting the criminal know EXACTLY what would happen if he tried to excape/harm the resident. No shots fired, no messy legal action, just a resolved nightmare that could have ended much differently.

And as far as your tiny sights go, I really wouldn't worry about it. You're not entering any sharpshooting contests with it, and IF you need to use it, you're going to point and shoot - no sights necessary.

jim243
January 13, 2013, 02:23 PM
Is there a consensus on using laser sights for defensive shooting

Each person will have a different view. I had a SP-101 (Ruger 357 mag) that had a CT laser pistol grip.

I had so much movement (me) on the target with the laser that I found it distracting and could barely hit the target with the gun. It only had a front sight and a ferrow on the strap for a rear sight. But, I found I could do quite well using these open sights. Now this was a double action only revolver so pulling the trigger would send the laser all over the place.

Is it better than no sights? Kind of. Is it good, no. My solution was to get rid of the 2 1/2 inch barrel 357 and go to a CZ 75 P-01 (9mm) with both front and rear sights (3.8 inch barrel).

It will take you a lot of pratice to get use to using a laser. But it is better than no sights at all.

Jim

9MMare
January 13, 2013, 02:27 PM
Like very much. Train with it at home, very helpful, esp for trigger control.

Train with it in IDPA practice and without. I feel it would just be one more advantage for me in a real life situation.

Do not believe in 'red dotting' as a warning.

Sam1911
January 13, 2013, 02:58 PM
There have been many threads on this. This one's probably one of the best: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=671943 Reading through that thread would save a lot of re-hashing here.

...

But, in case you don't go read... some of my comments therein:
They can be a useful training tool for dryfire practice. Being able to keep that dot perfectly still (on the wall) as you pull through the trigger is like a high-tech version of the "dime" drill.

They can be useful for officers using shields where they cannot get the gun up into their line of sight, or even properly shoot from retention.

Otherwise, they are a whole lot less useful than the advertising makes them out to be.

I have a friend who did a very long-term, very scientific test of shooters of various skill levels as they learned and trained and used their handguns, both with traditional sights and with lasers. The laser-equipped were never able to get even somewhat close to either the speed or rapidity of accurate aimed fire as they could with iron-sighted weapons.

It has to do with the process by which we learn to see the front sight imposed on the target, and are able to track it as it returns to the target. The "bouncing ball" of the laser sight goes way off track during recoil (because it is at the end of an infinite line the angle of which is sweeping through many degrees of arc rather than a fixed object on the end of the slide, no farther away than the end of your reach). That has shooters NOT seeing "front sight, press, front sight, press" but peering over and around their sights trying to locate that little red dot on Mr. Bad Guy (or the wall behind him...:scrutiny:).

Some shooters feel that the laser helps them aim "difficult" guns better, or shoot under conditions they otherwise could not. But these are, generally speaking, training issues that the laser cannot truly solve.

And...
That's why they are banned in all the shooting competitions, they are faster and more accurate than iron sights.

Said with the best of heart, that's utter hogwash! I've been begging IDPA to allow them because it would be quite a telling thing to have a few more experimental types bring them out ... probably just once ;) -- and I'd be willing to be that within the first year after they were made legal for competition, sales would plummet. In my more conspiratorial moods I've often supposed that it was the laser manufacturers themselves that pushed to have them banned from competition. They do NOT want thousands of shooters losing matches with their products!

A weapon using a laser sight cannot be drawn and fired accurately NEARLY as fast as an iron sighted gun. And when firing aimed rapid fire, the distance between the systems just gets that much worse.

gspn
January 13, 2013, 03:00 PM
Things I like about the laser:

Fast target acquisition

Vastly improved situational awareness as you can see SO much more of your surroundings. The first time I used a laser I was blown away by the awareness/visibility aspect of it. Rather than having tunnel vision on my front sight I could keep my head up and both eyes in the fight.

Vastly improved ability to get on target in less than ideal light

Things I don't like about the laser:

At longer distances (this distance will be different for every single shooter) the laser becomes a distraction as it dances all around and I'm not sure if I'm going to hit where I want. In these cases I shoot better with the iron sights.


On a different note I hear a lot of people saying it's a good warning device because when people see a dot on their chest they'll back down. This always makes me wonder...how many people look at their own chest? If someone is pointing a gun at me I figure I'm not taking my eyes off them...surely not going to look down and stare at my chest. Dunno...that one always sounded off to me.

12gaugeTim
January 13, 2013, 03:04 PM
I remember reading a home defense experience where the home owner credited landing hits on target entirely to his laser sight. Keep in mind this was probably in a fairly dark environment where the red dot would be easy to locate. Trying to find the red outdoors could get you killed when shooting instinctively or aiming would be much faster.

Fishslayer
January 13, 2013, 04:03 PM
Low light, 10-ish yards or so, gimme the red dot. I found I could get back on target WAY more quickly with the laser in the dim light of the indoor range.

Farther than 15 yards I'll ditto gspn. Shooting bullseyes it's a distraction.

Been looking at a combo low mag scope/laser to try on one of my rifles though.

Good for training as it shows my wife exactly where her muzzle is pointed. I swear she waggles around more than Sergio Garcia over a fairway wood.:fire:

I'm waiting for her to put one into the ceiling.:evil:

browningguy
January 13, 2013, 04:07 PM
That's why they are banned in all the shooting competitions, they are faster and more accurate than iron sights.

Said with the best of heart, that's utter hogwash!...

But they are still banned in all the shooting sports, apparantly some people in charge still think they give an unfair advantage.

Coop45
January 13, 2013, 04:10 PM
I like lasers because without my glasses the front sight disappears in a blur.

Isaac-1
January 13, 2013, 06:45 PM
I am just like Coop45, if I were to ever loose my glasses there is no way I could use a traditional handgun sight, that is one reason I have a laser grip on my normal carry gun.

krupparms
January 13, 2013, 06:46 PM
As I get older I have found them to be a great aid in most shooting situations . It all depends on the light &distance. I use C.T. lasers on several of my SD &EDC guns. I think they are a tool that you eather have a use for or don't. They work for me & others I know so I say give them a try! If you don't like them, you can sell them. If they are in new condition you will probably be able to get your money back out of them. If you do like them you will find they do add some new tricks that are useful! JMO.

flatlander937
January 13, 2013, 06:56 PM
I aim a laser equipped pistol and get angry trying to hold it still as I see it dance around, so it dances around more under anger/stress and I suck at it.

It IS good for trigger pull practice to keep steady, and practice shooting "from the hip" or other awkward positions.

I would have no problems having one on a HD gun bit I would certainly not devote any considerable time to training just with the laser.

230RN
January 13, 2013, 07:54 PM
Oh, one thing I forgot to add in my post #3 is that with the 1911 and the CT sight, the beam just barely brushes the right side of the slide stop lever and diffuses slightly from that cause. Still eminently usable, though. I'm toying with the idea of grinding that slide stop back a little.

See also http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=8637705&postcount=8

Terry, 230RN

Sam1911
January 13, 2013, 08:10 PM
But they are still banned in all the shooting sports, apparantly some people in charge still think they give an unfair advantage.It's a weight thing. Most of the action shooting sports restrict how much weight can be added to the gun. You'll note they also prohibit weapon-mounted white lights, and that's for the same reason. If you allow laser sights, guys and gals will pick a big heavy one, mount it up under the barrel and use it as a counterweight to manage recoil.

They give NO benefit to a competition shooter. NONE.

jmr40
January 13, 2013, 08:21 PM
I never thought I'd like them but ran across a used S&W 1911 that already had a set of CT grips on it a couple of years ago. My plan was to replace the CT grips, sell them and I'd have very little invested in the gun.

That was before I tried them. It took a little while to get them adjusted, but after I did, WOW. I have no trouble with them "dancing" on the target. They are just as steady as when using any other sighting system. Plenty accurrate especially at longer ranges. At least up to 25 yards, I haven't tried them farther. In extreme bright light they may not work well at longer ranges, but I still have regular irons for that.

The best part is that you don't have to hold the gun in a traditional way to see the sights. They are just as accurate if held low at the hip or reaching around a barrier etc..

They are expensive, and I really doubt I'd have ever spent the money had these not aleady come on this gun. But I'd spend the money now that I've had a chance to actually use them.

Sam1911
January 13, 2013, 08:23 PM
That was before I tried them. It took a little while to get them adjusted, but after I did, WOW. I have no trouble with them "dancing" on the target. They are just as steady as when using any other sighting system. Plenty accurrate especially at longer ranges. At least up to 25 yards, I haven't tried them farther. In extreme bright light they may not work well at longer ranges, but I still have regular irons for that.

The best part is that you don't have to hold the gun in a traditional way to see the sights. They are just as accurate if held low at the hip or reaching around a barrier etc..How are your split times and transitions? Anything's workable for one shot.

What does the timer say?

quatin
January 13, 2013, 08:27 PM
There have been many threads on this. This one's probably one of the best: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=671943 Reading through that thread would save a lot of re-hashing here.


I read through some of this and I pretty much agree. Using a laser sight in place of an iron can only slow you down. However, here's what I'm working with:

http://www.shootingillustrated.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/W7215_SI_Taurus738_1814.jpg

I have trouble lining up these "sights" in broad daylight, let alone low light conditions. Would a laser sight help me line up the irons at least or is it lost in a blur in the background?

Sam1911
January 13, 2013, 08:31 PM
Sheesh, what IS that thing?

I would have taken a close look at those sights before I dropped the cash on it. :(

youngda9
January 13, 2013, 08:34 PM
I prefer to practice than to rely on electronic gadgetry that may fail when I absolutely need it.

Lateck
January 13, 2013, 08:35 PM
I have lasers on all my edc guns. I practice with and without lasers. I prefer the laser for lowlight (night) and I feel the red dot may (yes the word is may) help detour an assailant.
I do not feel a laser is a fad.

Lateck,

quatin
January 13, 2013, 08:37 PM
I knew the sights were going to be a problem when I bought it. Unfortunately, there's a train of thought that pocket size 380s are only for point and shoot distances so the alternatives weren't any better.

9MMare
January 13, 2013, 11:31 PM
I prefer to practice than to rely on electronic gadgetry that may fail when I absolutely need it.

I prefer all the advantages I can get in a life or death situation and train to be prepared when ANY part of my firearm fails.

230RN
January 13, 2013, 11:34 PM
OP:
Is there a consensus on using laser sights for defensive shooting? IE Laser sights on EDCs? Is it useful, do I have to completely retrain sight acquisition when using one?


I guess there's no consensus. Sam1911 has given slight indications that he doesn't like 'em and I do. ('Course, my eyesight probably isn't as good as Sam1911's.) :)

I even recently put one on my M4gery. <gasp!> :what:

Terry, 230RN

Sam1911
January 13, 2013, 11:37 PM
Indeed, if your eyesight simply won't let you see the front sight of your handgun, but you can make out the red dot of the laser on your target, that's probably the better choice. There are still going to be downsides in trying to make hits fast and repeatedly but assuredly something is better than nothing! You can only do what you can do. :)

230RN
January 13, 2013, 11:42 PM
Sam 1911:

Indeed, if your eyesight simply won't let you see the front sight of your handgun

Well, part of that is that I practice with the range lane lights off, since that's when I'm most likely to really need a defensive sidearm --in dimly lit circumstances. I'm not practicing for competition on a range in noon daylight, I'm practicing for competition in dark alleys, as it were, or by the handicapped spaces of Walmart in the dark of night. As it were. G-d forbid, but that's what my defensive sidearm is for, not racking up points on a range, and with my handicap, I ain't going to be dancing back and forth in evasive maneuvers. Well, maybe "hobbling," back and forth if my cane doesn't get in the way too much.

No offense, but you and I seem to have different goals in our practice regimens. I want a plunk preferably near or in COM at three yards, not the ring (versus no-ring) of a gong exactly 10" in diameter at 25.

In the dark.

Terry, 230RN

gym
January 13, 2013, 11:48 PM
In a shoot out, they aren't a good idea. But if you need to take an off angle shot from cover, or a weak handed shot, they can save your life. The main thing is not to get hung up on looking for the dot.
It's ok at the range, but if you have to draw down on someone, your front sight is still your fastest way to go, now if there was a guy with a gun to your loved ones head, the laser "could" make a difference weather you took the shot. If I had to shoot and it was a matter of inches, I would use the laser as long as I had it zero'd in to where I knew it was right on.At 25 yards I was putting every shot in the black using a lasermax on a 9mm.On a std 25 yard rifle "sight in", target, that was very impressive. I couldn't see that far without the laser. the range is dimlly lit. Close up it was a quarter sized hole at 7 yards.

Sam1911
January 13, 2013, 11:53 PM
We do a lot of low-light stuff (several times a month, and in almost every match), and I personally still don't choose a laser for that. I've trained with a well-known defensive trainer in near pitch blackness and we did not use lasers then either.

Competition and self-defense are not the same thing, but practice for them can overlap. If I run drills in the dark, I'm trying to make the best hits I can in the least amount of time regardless of which "event" I'm practicing for. I prefer a white light for target identification and acquisition. I can't shoot what I haven't positively identified. If I'm close enough to make an identification in the dark, I'm close enough to shoot with or without a light. If I'm farther away, I'm not shooting without a light on the target, and in the glow of the light I can see my sights just fine.

It is probably difficult to set up truly comprehensive and comparative tests of these principles in action. I can't tell someone who cannot see their iron sights that they will do better without a laser. I know I train with one system (irons, and a white light if needed) so whether I'm on the competition range or on a city street I don't have multiple paths to try to choose from. Just do what I've done thousands of times before.

230RN
January 13, 2013, 11:58 PM
^ OK. I like my steak medium well, and laser sights on as many guns as I can afford to put them on.


YLMV --Your Lumens May Vary.


Terry, 230RN

-v-
January 14, 2013, 02:29 AM
Also +1 for laser sights. Good training aid. Now how absolutely useful they are will depend on how you train. Personally, I prefer to have as many up's over the BG as I can get. Under stress a bright dot might be much easier to get on target then to line up your sights. Additionally a laser helps when you are moving around, since you can keep the gun at mid chest level and still expect a good degree of accuracy.


One option that has intrigued me lately is the Viridian C5L sights. Small and they use a green laser vs red. Seeing as our eyes have the greatest sensitivity in the green range, the dot is damn easy to pick out, this coupled with a 140 lumen light with strobe feature all in one fairly compact unit.

Sam1911
January 14, 2013, 07:02 AM
Under stress a bright dot might be much easier to get on target then to line up your sights.Have you practiced this? IS IT? "Might be" is a terrible thing to be counting on in the moment. Have you run timed drills or done any force-on-force practice, or done any stress-inducing training in which you compared the speed of placing that dot on the target vs. "front-sight-press?" A practiced shooter can snap the gun up, see the front sight on the target and break a shot in a fraction of a second. I've yet to see anyone practicing with a laser who could come anywhere close to that speed...and fractions of a second COUNT.

Now...take that second shot! A decent pistol shot can see the front sight again and press the trigger in 0.15-0.25 seconds. How long does it take you to find the red dot again?

Additionally a laser helps when you are moving around, since you can keep the gun at mid chest level and still expect a good degree of accuracy.See, this is one of those ideas that I challenge. I really don't know how to prove the point, though, without somehow getting a bunch of people together from both sides of the debate and running scenarios.

IMHO, eye-hand coordination is not good enough to line up a laser dot and take a shot when the gun is held at chest height, compared to the speed at which you can snap the gun up to eye level and take aimed shots. And that's just for the FIRST shot. Once you consider that defensive scenarios aren't "one-shot" deals, but usually strings of rapid shots, the laser simply falls far away. And at the distances we're talking about here, you don't even need to see the sights, per se, but simply the silhouette of the gun imposed on the body of the attacker. A decent pistol shooter could have 4-5 aimed shots hitting the bad guy in the first second. I've never seen any such shooting with a laser and cannot do so myself. I'm willing to be convinced, but haven't been yet.

quatin
January 14, 2013, 03:58 PM
You bring up some good points about night time shooting. I've not had the opportunity to practice pitch black or low light so this is all new to me. I did what you said about holding a flashlight and using the glow to see the sights. Here's what I got:

http://i48.tinypic.com/2u7n0it.jpg

There's no way for me to see those sights during an intense situation. I will see the silhouette of the pistol against the background. Having done USPSA, I agree that a laser sight won't help for follow up shots, but what about that first shot? Wouldn't a laser help me get the first shot on target and at least get me oriented for follow up shots?

Sam1911
January 14, 2013, 04:37 PM
Argh...the pic is too small for me to make it out. There are a couple of different good ways to hold a flashlight when shooting under low-light conditions. Some give a better view of the sights than others. Without running this drill with you I can't do much to show you what I'm talking about.

Can a laser help you put the sights on target under those conditions? Sure. I won't say it's the fastest way or the best way, though. It all depends on your level of practice/familiarity with the different methods.

gym
January 14, 2013, 05:24 PM
I also agree that a flashlight or weapon mounted light is absolutelly necessary, I just stuck to the laser issue. I carry a tac tight or mini tac light even when I walk the dog at dusk. If I can't see what I am shooting at, the laser nor the sights are going to help, and where I live there is no light at night. Just a road with some sparselly built land across from my development, so it's pretty much black at night, all my house lights do are light me up.
First thing I do if I hear something suspicious is kill all the lights, then get my tac or mag light and 45 or shotgun, and wait in the dark. I heard this metal sound, like hitting my grill, last night, "first time in almost a year", and didn't even wake up the wife, just rolled out and sat by the window, peeking through the blinds.
A laser would have done me no good if it were a bad guy, as I couldn't see anything unless they walked into a motion dectector and tripped a light. So light trumps laser and light and laser are a good combo.

Ehtereon11B
January 14, 2013, 10:39 PM
I love using a laser/light on my EDC weapon. I train with it both ways as I don't become too "dependent" on one or the other. Half the ammo I intend to shoot at the range I do with laser and the other half without. Laser really helps with dryfire practice. You really notice how much you jerk a trigger during pull when you first start using a laser on a spot on the wall. With practice your trigger squeeze really becomes a squeeeze.

Sight your laser at the farthest distance you expect to use your weapon. For instance on a home defense weapon, sight it the length of the longest room in the house. Or from the top of the stairs to the bottom if the bedroom is upstairs. This will throw off your shot at closer or further distances.

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