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Simple question: Is it really worth it to have a laser on a pistol?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Hokkmike, Mar 13, 2017.

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  1. JPDeacon

    JPDeacon Member

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    If your laser light is sighted in and you pistol sights are on.....when you present pistol(training ???) both will be on target, chose the one you like and pull the dam$% trigger. milliseconds to decide. Not exactly rocket science.
     
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  2. redbullitt

    redbullitt Member

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    I like a laser if it does not make the gun any less reliable, or change the grip in a negative way.

    Works great on small short barrel guns, snubbie revolvers for example. I love my LCR with a laser. Makes the little 38 much easier to shoot. Laser on a suppressed pistol, where sights are not quite high enough, can work out pretty well too. I generally do not like them on full size, nicely sighted pistols, but on the small ones it can really augment the gun.

    I like that the pistol can be fired accurately from any position where you don't even need the sights. I could envision plenty of scenarios where that could be useful.
     
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  3. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Yes. I have used both visible and IR lasers on moving targets. Not exactly rocket science if you do your part at the range and zero them for the task and distance you expect to use them. Personally I have a harder time teaching most new shooters proper sight picture (and nuances how to adjust said picture) than how to aim with a laser.
     
  4. Nanook
    • Contributing Member

    Nanook Contributing Member

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    See, that's what I get for skipping some of the posts. :D
     
  5. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    I don't follow that thinking either. So much of the negative that's being posted on lasers makes me think that most people have never even used one, or they can't handle a handgun for crap. I know this latter can't be the case for most here, but otherwise I just can't understand the posts. It sounds like they point the gun at the target, then look around on the opposite wall or something to see if they can find the laser dot. It's not like that. You draw the gun up on the target and the laser dot will instantly be within a few inches of where you're wanting to aim. Within less than a second or so of the initial move to draw the gun to target you're dead on, especially if you're within 10 yards or so. No "finding the dot" involved whatsoever. It's brilliant and right there on your target. In fact, I just went and got my nightstand gun and walked around the dark house to see if my memory was playing tricks on me. Nope, the laser still works beautifully just like I remembered, and the night sights are a relatively slow PITA to aim compared to the laser, especially on unlit targets.

    I also agree on trying a laser pointer to give you a feel for how easy and intuitive it is to put it where you want it, but keep in mind that a laser pointer is typically very weak compared to a good green gun sight laser, so the gun sight laser will be much brighter and easier to find, and will provide MUCH more illumination of the target.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
  6. DMK

    DMK Member

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    Muscle memory and proper form play a large part in that as well.

    Forget lasers for a moment. If you know how to draw and extend a gun properly, and practice it often, you can draw and extend your gun with your eye closed, then open your eyes when the gun is extended out and be pretty close to aligned up with a sight picture. This is where drawing, extending and dry firing nearly daily really helps you (and no reason not to, it's free practice).

    Now if you can do that consistently and your laser is properly aligned with your sights then the laser should also be pretty much right on target.

    If one has problems with their draw and extend form, and/or doesn't practice enough, then I could see where one would be fishing around for the laser dot (or their sight alignment)
     
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  7. Torian

    Torian Member

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    I have a set of crimson trace grips on my BHP. I like them. Sometimes I'm not always going to be looking down the sights when I aim a weapon. The laser does help provide a point of impact.
     
  8. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    It's a matter of personal preference.

    There are some circumstances where a laser can be of use.

    Saying that I have never felt the need for such. If my legs are damaged then I need a crutch to move. If my legs are healthy then the crutch gets in the way and is of no use.
     
  9. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    Anyone who would like to see for themselves can get a very good laser for a reasonable price right now.
    The Crimson Trace CMR-206 is on sale at some outlets (Optics Planet and Midway among them) for $140 - $150, then a $50 rebate. I have the prior model CMR-203 but bought one of the 206s to try. The 206 uses a new laser diode and is more compact than the 203 that I have, shown below on my P-01.
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Casefull

    Casefull Member

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    You said it better than I did. I was made fun of and called an Internet jockey for posting my experiences with a laser on a pistol. My experience was with a Sig938 with the factory installed Crimson laser. It was for my wife until we found out it's worthless in daylight. I suppose if you are not proficient with a pistol then any aid is helpful. Little leaguers can hit a man-size target 10 out of 10 times with a baseball or a rock at 20 yards easy. If you can't do it with a pistol by just extending your hand and pulling the trigger you had better practice more. Some guys watch way too much TV. Do you not notice that on TV the bad guy always waits for the good guy to shoot. People seem tothink that there is some power in the laser painting the target. If I was a bad guy I would shoot at lights and lasers. Why would you want to reveal your position?

    I would suggest getting in a paintball competition and see for yourself whether or not shooting first matters.
     
  11. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    Wow, I guess if our paintball combat veterans don't like lasers.....
     
  12. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    Paintball veterans' experiences are probably as (or more) credible than comments from folks who have NEVER used lasers in a force-on-force training environment, or who have never actually evaluated the effectiveness of their tools anywhere but at a pistol range. (If someone has actually used a LASER-mounted weapon in a real-life situation, he or she will be reluctant to discuss it on a forum like this -- or anywhere -- if they're smart.)

    I've asked for it before, and I'll ask again -- how about some impartial tests of different aiming methods? This discussion, thus far, is mostly about theoretical advantages.
     
  13. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Member

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    I used Infrared lasers with night vision goggles in two of my past careers, police and military. They did have a use for building clearing in total darkness. But that was on an M4 carbine or an MP5 so they were a tad bit more steady. For home defense use I would rather hang a light on my pistol for proper target(s) identification. IF I was inclined to bolt things to my pistols.
     
  14. CornCod

    CornCod Member

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    The day you have to use your weapon in self-defense is the day the battery decides to go dead. Forget the laser and PRACTICE!
     
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  15. Jim NE

    Jim NE Member

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    I guess it's weird I've owned all these handguns through the years, and not one laser. Not the voice of experience, really.

    But I do know that whenever I see people at the range practicing with lasers, their targets don't seem to have any more bulls eye hits than anyone else's. That doesn't mean anything, necessarily...it's unscientific, and it could be be that their shooting would be demonstrably worse without the laser.

    My own approach to accuracy, for better or worse, has been this: Own or experience shooting as many different handguns as you can, and carry or buy the ones that are most accurate for you. (Obviously, among the carryable models...no six inch 686 with a scope.) Many of your guns, even some made by reputable makers, will show that they aren't up to the task. Then...practice...hopefully a lot, but at least enough to keep yourself from flinching from recoil and report on the first shot.
     
  16. lsudave

    lsudave Member

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    Without being antagonistic, I don't see a lot of use for a laser. I've done enough practice that I can point-shoot and hit a man-sized target without relying on sights. I try to keep my pistols consistent enough that the point of aim doesn't stray that much across platforms. That way, I can point my pistol downrange in the target's direction (the bad guy), and use my nearly 50 yr old eyes to focus on looking for the target. A laser would distract that point of focus.

    For a defensive pistol, I'd suggest that the cost of a laser be applied to cheap range ammo instead, and taking the time to practice point-shooting 2-3 rds at a time, until you can quickly and acceptably hit what you think you're pointing at. Remember, you're not going for dime-sized groups, you're trying to put several rds on center mass FAST.

    For target shooting, I find that my experience with lasers is that the dot is lost in the sight picture, and by looking for the dot, I am changing my posture. I prefer to retain the posture/grip/sight picture I grew up using, so it's worthless.. to me.
     
  17. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    I ordered a Streamlight TLR-4 earlier today. Once it's in and I've worked with it a bit, I'm going to try some timed tests at a local indoor range, where I can control the light in a couple of lanes. That may not convince others, but it'll give me a bit more than just theoretical arguments for this sort of discussion. (I'm probaby going to order some TruGlo sights for my home protection gun, too -- and use THEM along with the TLR-4 in my "tests."
     
  18. usp9

    usp9 Member

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    I expect that most of us can point at and hit a man-sized target without sights. The question as I see is; can you do that without raising the pistol to a normal sight line, say from the hip or across your body or some other unconventional pose. Not all fights occur standing. That's when a laser helps.
     
  19. 45_auto

    45_auto Member

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    They have impartial tests all the time, they are called "pistol competitions". IPSC, IPDA, etc, etc. I've run an unsanctioned one at a local private range for a good many years. Lots of them around here. I've never seen anyone using a laser sight even be competitive. Maybe none of them have an official "internet warrior" medal, who knows?

    Mini red dot > Iron sights (but never break or need batteries) > laser

    Go to a couple of competitions, try all three, it'll quickly become obvious to you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  20. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    Can you show us, in the rule books, where those types of sights (LIGHTS or LASERS) are even allowed in sanctioned contests like IDPA, USPSA, IPSC, etc.?

    I don't think they are -- which may explain why they're not seen. (They aren't allowed in IDPA.) Some electronically-enhanced (red dot?") sights -- I may be using the wrong terms -- are allowed in more advanced "unlimited" type competitions. The guns used in these "space gun" contests are typically NOT the type of weapons carried concealed or used in self defense situations.
     
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  21. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

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    This is the crux of the question in my opinion. Why do you think this is Walt?
     
  22. Styx

    Styx Member

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    I'm not Walt, but I think it's only because the rules disallow it. If it were up to the contestants, I'm sure you'd see them regularly during competition.
     
  23. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    The new IDPA rule book has a provision for special item divisions where clubs can run guns that IDPA recognizes are used for defensive purposes but which don't fit into IDPA's six standard gun categories. So we may begin to see more common comparisons.

    (I don't think you're using the term "Sanctioned" as IDPA does, by the way.)

    I'm still thinking about this overall question and trying to formulate a coherent broad statement that expresses my experiences and thoughts. That isn't easy.

    About the best I've come up with so far are a few statements I think are probably true:

    1) There ARE very specific circumstances where a laser is unquestionably better than iron sights for making a shot. These are far more limited than most people suspect, but they do exist.

    2) The best use of a laser is still dependent on proper pistol fundamentals, which can best be described as, "presenting the pistol as though using the iron sights for a high-speed aimed shot, but then -- not able to discern the front sight -- observing the laser dot as a final aiming confirmation." This relies on very good practical shooting habits/training, and discipline in practice and execution so the "observing the dot" step doesn't become "chasing the dot." I.e.: a poor practice and crutch which slows down execution.

    3) The very specific circumstances mentioned in item "1" above, may indeed hinder or even make impossible the best practices described in "2." In other words, those times when a laser really IS better, all you may have available to you is the lesser "fishing around to find the dot" capacity, because you really can't see the gun, or can't get it presented well/normally.

    4) We speak as though the transition between using the sights in a proper presentation and shot, and switching to laser-dot aim confirmation, is a completely instantaneous thing, with no significant detriment to speed of breaking the shot or ability to react to changing conditions like a moving threat. I do not believe this is so. Or is not often/rarely so. Any complexity introduced into a high-speed highly practiced skill like shooting a handgun in a dynamic situation can cause very surprising failure modes and hangups. E.g:
    a) There's a threat! Draw and present the pistol.
    b) I can't see my sight.
    c) Switch on the laser/laser should be activated because my hand's on the grip button.
    d) I do/don't see the dot! Is it on? Where is it?
    e) Do I need to move the gun and locate the dot? Or do I need to change my grip and make sure I'm on the button? Or double-check the switch?
    f) It's on, now where it is?
    g) He's moved/moving! Am I tracking my front sight to keep on him? Or trying to sweep my laser dot across the wall and get it back onto him?
    h) Etc., etc.,

    5) Many of these things can be reduced in negative impact by extensive practice. However, this is problematic. Few of us practice "enough" with our handguns in very dynamic shooting scenarios, period. Those of us us DO practice a lot with dynamic situations and moving targets probably don't dedicate anything like even 1% of that practice time to shooting with a laser sight at all, especially under the very challenging circumstances which -- we're seeming to agree -- define the times when a laser is more likely to be better than iron sights.

    6) For way too many shooters, in fact probably almost every shooter who owns one, (though fortunately none here, of course, of course!) a laser sight is like almost any other tactical add-on: Something that is bought so that "well, now I have the option to use that," and then assumed to be a viable tool at their immediate, seamless, disposal in the fairly unlikely event that it is needed. But that assumption is very probably unfounded. Like buying a trauma kit "in case I ever need it" -- when the most dire need arrives there may be uncomfortable lessons learned about how and how well it does what it was assumed to do, and for most of us, learning its intricacies in the worst possible conditions may be disappointing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  24. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Actually, I've never met an IDPA or USPSA shooter who would consider going into a competition using a laser sight. Not one, ever. They're just known to be so slow as to completely ruin your match performance. Like entering a marathon in a set of chest waders.

    Granted, very little of what goes on in any practical shooting match is even at all similar to the circumstances under which a laser sight could be advantageous.




    [The real reason they (and weapon-mounted lights, for that matter) are disallowed is that hanging something off your gun can be used as a muzzle weight to dampen recoil rise and make for faster follow-up shots. Whether that's practical or not is up for debate, but IDPA has forestalled the matter by saying no such add-ons are allowed.
    Crimson trace style lasers ARE allowed, as long as the dot is covered.]
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  25. Styx

    Styx Member

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    I'm willing to bet, Sam, that if the rules allowed, many would... At least in IDPA.... I've seen this same argument rehashed on forums for years. Some say they're slower, and others say they're not. I kind of wish they were allowed so the debate could be settled once and for all. If the consensus is that they slow down one's performance, then logically, l don't even see why they aren't allowed in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
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