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Why aren't lasers more popular on handguns?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Smaug, Oct 5, 2022.

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Why don't use use a laser on your carry or home defense gun?

Poll closed Oct 19, 2022.
  1. I don't like them (reason posted in a reply)

    17 vote(s)
    19.3%
  2. They're too expensive

    5 vote(s)
    5.7%
  3. Not available for my choice of gun

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Not practical for my choice of gun (holster compatibility, etc.)

    3 vote(s)
    3.4%
  5. I don't feel like they're reliable enough

    6 vote(s)
    6.8%
  6. I DO use a laser on my carry or home defense gun!

    32 vote(s)
    36.4%
  7. Other

    25 vote(s)
    28.4%
  1. Smaug

    Smaug Member

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    I read a recent thread about "do you use a red dot on your carry gun?".

    Folks pointed out that RDS' on carry guns need training to be able to aquire sight picture, when one is used to irons.

    That got me to thinking, there are a few modes of sighting when shooting a pistol:

    1. Point-shooting; no use of sights
    2. Front sight only; it's faster than a full sight picture but slower than point-shooting
    3. Full sight use; slower but more accurate
    4. RDS (automatic full sight picture)
    5. Laser sight (automatic full sight picture, and no need for any kind of sight picture. For revolvers, no need to even hold the gun up at shoulder height)
    A good laser like CTC is expensive, (+ ~$200) but also reliable. They are now built into high quality grips that don't make the gun appreciably bigger or harder to find a holster for.

    Do people not trust them or just not want to spend the coin on them?

    Or are they just less available, with integral polymer grip frames being so common now?

    For my part, I have one on my home defense gun, my 3" 357 SP-101. I figure it's automatic, works in the dark, no need to acquire any kind of sight picture, and I can even shoot it accurately from the hip if needed. But that's a revolver without integral grip. If I got one for my XD-45 Tactical, it would either be rail-mounted or have some kind of wrap-around grip that would make it too big.

    Is that what's holding you guys back, or cost or something else?
     
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  2. Hartkopf

    Hartkopf Member

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    I prefer simple, no electronics and no batteries on my carry gun. Nothing to turn on or activate, or count on to activate itself when I need it most.
     
  3. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    I've not shot a laser on a handgun.
    I have a red dot and it took about 600 rounds for my subsequent shot speed to be on par with fixed sights. I now carry a Glock with a dot.
    Without having shot a laser equipped handgun, I'm wondering about subsequent shot speed; most valid comparison would be with a shot timer.
    In low light I can envision the laser giving assailants a general area of where to shoot. Whether that matters is debatable, but it is a possibility.
     
  4. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    I see to many people that are not use to using lasers spend more time chasing the dot than actually shooting. And accuracy suffers from it. Like any type of sight or aiming device, one must practice to be proficient.
     
  5. John_R

    John_R Member

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    Tried 'em. Never had the batteries die or electronics fail on iron sights, so I'll stay with that.
     
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  6. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    A lot of people find the lasers on handguns to be a bit frustrating for anything other than opening shots and slow fire. Plus, lasers are much more difficult to use in daylight or bright light situations such as inside a convenience store (such as during a robbery).

    If it isn't a dark environment, it is easy to lose sight of the laser is very busy, cluttered environments, particularly when there are things that are the same color as the laser.

    In watching folks at the range with a laser, most are not quicker with it than they are with open sights. They seem to watch the dot and try to chase the dot onto target as opposed to watching the threat and bringing the dot into view, like you would do with regular gun sights. Why? In part because when the dot appears, it attracts the shooter's attention off the threat.

    This is not to say that they don't have their purposes or that people cannot be trained to use them effectively. They do have a purpose in various situations and people can be trained to use them very effectively, but most people don't understand when lasers should or should not be used and most don't have the training or take the time to become really proficient with their lasers. It is a bit of a different mindset. As such, they aren't as popular as they appear to be useful.
     
  7. Smaug

    Smaug Member

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    Hmm. I'm going to try this next range trip with my SP-101. I'll have someone time me. Five shots center mass @ 7 yards with laser and then with it switched off.
     
  8. sgt127

    sgt127 Member

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    At any decent distance, where it might help me, I can’t see the laser dot. I have to find it on the ground and track it to the target.

    If they made one, bright enough for me to actually see, I probably wouldn’t need it attached to a firearm and simply slice my opponent in half like a light saber.
     
  9. JoeHenry

    JoeHenry Member

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    I have had a couple of the Crimson Trace lasers. They are just not visible in the day time. My wife has one on her J frame, but she (during practice) never uses it. I had one for a while on a M&P compact. Just didn’t like it.
    The only reason it is still on my wife’s J is the grip feels better than what it came with.
     
  10. WrongHanded

    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I've never used a laser aiming device on a handgun. However, it seems to me that if one is looking for a bright dot on target some distance away, one may spend a lot of time doing so without finding it.

    On the other hand, if a person were to use the iron sights and then see a dot on their target? That would be good confirmation that (assuming it were correctly zeroed), the bullet was going to hit pretty close to that dot.

    Many of the lasers seem to be designed for right handed use. Consequently, I have not bothered investigating further.
     
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  11. starling

    starling Member

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    The purpose is for at night. Daytime you use your sights (Hopefully).....Unless you are hip fireing or something unconventional. Then there is nothing better IMO unless you are a Bronco Billy under stress but thats a movie. For some weapons they are a match made in heaven. A Mac11,Tec9 9 type they are perfect as those are not really handguns nor rifles. Something like a shockwave or a raptor gripped shotgun as well.

    Any CCW I carry at night has them on them as does something I am going to carry in say a Movie Theatre with the Family. Being that they are small, light, and underneath the barrel there is no drawback IMO as far as sight picture obstruction or CCW bulk.

    I just tell people to get a good one. Buying a $30 laser off Amazon or Ebay is going to give you disapointing results. Those are meant for airguns more than anything else. Good ones are pretty innexpensive today. Back in the 90s a decent one would run you $200-$300 (not sure what that is in todays market).

    Anyone thinking they are going to be faster and more accurate with irons or a red dot in a crisis situation while trying to stay behind cover and fireing from unorthodox possitions is kidding themselves. If you are out and about town and get into an encounter with an armed perp you are in a defensive position not offensive. You may have to fire from all sorts of possitions behind all sorts of weird cover. Also a good chance it happens at night since thats when the creeps tend to come out.

    Now Im not a tactical nutjob by any means but a laser is more practical than tactical reguardless of what Hollywood projects. I have the same attitude towards suppressors. From a practical standpoint its kind of foolish they are regulated. At least lasers are easily available and affordable to common folk.

    As far as giving away your position. A perp likely knows exactly where you are anyways. If he doesnt you are likely on Offense not Defense. People dont talk about it much but as a CCW holder used for defense you will most likely need to absorb the first strike anyways unless you are going looking for a gunfight.
     
    Smaug likes this.
  12. DustyGmt

    DustyGmt Member

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    I hate them. I've never owned one for my own personal guns, but have used them before and I find it distracting. I actually hate them. I acquire a sight picture and try to keep my front sight on target with as lil deviation as possible from where the post needs to be in relation to the rear notch, sometimes depending on speed and other things I can start to drift but the rear and front sights are all I need and all I want to use for reference. Last thing I need is one more thing thrown into the mix to complicate life, I have a tremble and the last thing I want to deal with is a wobbly laser light streaking across my target in frantic fashion to have to process and add to the equation.

    Not for me. For all you steady eddy's, if it works for you, great. I hate em. I probably wouldn't hate it on a rifle, I could probably manage that if I had a laser in addition to a red dot, but for a defensive handgun, no thanks. Handguns are hard enough to shoot as it is. When I see people at the range using a laser, it looks like a light show and they can't shoot for sxxx. It's not my place but I want to tell them to master the concept of handgun sights first before going full tactical timmy........
     
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  13. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Lasers are too slow.

    Finding the little dot on the target downrange takes a lot more than finding the front sight
     
  14. DustyGmt

    DustyGmt Member

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    Another thing of note in terms of lasers. I don't think they are for beginners either. I see alot of people who go get all kitted out with the red dot on their handgun, light/laser combo, etc... and they've never shot a handgun with regular sights but they show up to the range and that laser is bouncing all around and they are firing wildly and the guy they come with tells em "you need to sight it in" and the expert this person usually is will take their gun and "sight in" by standing and shooting offhand, unsupported, get somewhere within 1ft of their intended point of aim and say "there ya go". I shake my head.

    People need to start off at square one and learn the basics first with irons and once you've mastered that, then move onto the lasers, etc once you understand the basic principles. Alot of times this is the doing of the gun shop employee wanting to make a sale instead of giving solid advice. If you can't hit with the sights that are already on your gun, you ain't gonna hit nothing with your "laser assist" either.
     
    starling likes this.
  15. starling

    starling Member

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    I Agree with you there (fundamentals first) but short of requiring people to pass a shooting test before purchasing a firearm... thats not going to happen. Your average non gun enthusiest is not going to put that much time, effort, and money into a firearms purchase for prottection in an emergency. In that case I would probably recomend they use whatever accuracy assist they can get.

    For those familiar with fundamentals... lasers should not take the place of irons unless the use of irons is simply not possible.
     
  16. DustyGmt

    DustyGmt Member

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    When I picture the novice, somebody completely inexperienced on the fundamentals, I imagine they are not only worse off with a laser, I think of the scene in pulp fiction where Jules and Vincent are about to carry out the hit on 'marcellus wallaces' behalf and the guy jumps out of a bedroom gun blazing with the .44mag and misses everything, shoots everything but the two assailants 8ft away, I imagine it gives people a false sense of ability. "Derp, I have a laser, don't even have to aim or practice, derp!". Maybe I'm wrong, idk.
     
    starling likes this.
  17. warnerwh

    warnerwh Member

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    They are slow and sometimes hard to see depending on conditions. Also at under 10 yards a front site is all you need and as mentioned it takes time to see the dot. Practice point shooting and you'll be amazed how well you can do without any sight at all.
     
  18. starling

    starling Member

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    Gotcha... No worries, I understand now. I think of the little old lady wanting a pistol for home defense.
     
  19. Nasty Canasta

    Nasty Canasta Member

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    I have a few mounted on SD pistols & they have their place
    -I only use green, red is worthless in daylight & I can still pick up the green in most daylight conditions.
    -Really helped Mrs when training-very easy to see movement of the frame & good dry fire aid too.
    -As mentioned, easy to get accurate shots of from awkward positions.
    -They could give away your position but most likely wouldn't come into play in a SD scenario.
    -Especially good on small pistols with less than great sights. I put some CT grips on a Beretta Bobcat & can actually shoot a decent group now where I struggled before.
    -Becoming outdated as red dots are becoming so popular-I prefer those in green too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2022
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  20. DustyGmt

    DustyGmt Member

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    I could be way off too man, in my limited experience with em, they "seem" more detrimental than anything, but perhaps they help inexperienced people, I'm no expert by any means.
     
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  21. jar

    jar Contributing Member

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    I'm afraid I'd kill one of my cats should I use one.
     
  22. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    During daytime if you are outside and it's sunny a laser is more then useless. You'll never see the dot and you'll spend too much time trying to acquire the dot when you should have shot already. In many self defense situations you have to make a split second decision. If you waste time looking for a laser dot you've already lost. Most CCWs are point and shot type guns. You get used to it and you practice that way.
     
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  23. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Ever picked up a handgun with a laser on it and pointed it?
    That dot is all over everywhere.
    And, instinctively, we humans will watch the dot and over-correct trying to get the thing where we want it. (There's even a term-of-art for this, it's "chasing the dot.")
    Yes, with practice, you can "settle down" where the thing points.
    But, the geometry and the ergonomics are stacked against you.

    You are holding, presumably, the hand gun out at arm's reach. So, the geometry of angles is not in your favor. Your hand moves an entire squidge, and the dot follows that alignment and turns it into MOA in a heartbeat (or just from the beating of your heart).
    Angles are harsh. Recall that 1 MOA is 1.07" at 100 yards. That's only 0.0107" at one yard, like the length of your arm. That 0.0107 is a hair more than half of 1/64 inch. So, all the effects will appear to be divergent, and by ever increasing amounts.
    And, the human factors stuff is in there, too. Under stress, you are like to over-grab the gun, which is going to introduce muscular trembling, so, there wil l be more "jiggle" not less.

    RDS works in "reverse" of that. The dot does not appear to move that much, because it's right there at the weapon, same as the iron sights. You are still squidging the sight around, but the angular reference is only the length of your arm, and at the "converging" end of that angle.

    And, for me at least, there's the volitional need to switch the thing on. And, if using a pressure switch, having to remember One More Thing while under stress, while all your perceptive senses are trying to "grey out" any distractions around you.

    So, for me, shake-awake RDS is a better choice.

    For others, a different choice may be better.
     
  24. starling

    starling Member

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    Your not way off. Anyone who thinks putting a laser on their pistol is going to turn them into an expert marksman is off their rocker. I dont even think they over ride irons outside of possible strange situations that can happen in a deffensive situation. For range use in daylight?.... Why? Just use your sights.

    Reguarding the red vs green thing. Its a little overkill. Green is much brighter but at night it doesnt matter much. The big difference is Green vs Red on black clothing. Green doesnt dim nearly as much which can help to find the dot. Neither are real great in daytime use... use your sights when you have the light. I dont use lasers at the range other than initial sight in and zero check purposes.

    Extended ranges? At night I have no problem seeing a laser at 100 yards. Thats not my shooting ritual but even the old stuff from the 90s was visable at longer distances at night. I dont know of any lasers with a shorter range than the human eye. Not really useful on a defensive handgun unless maybe you are shooting at ballons floating on a lake at night for recreation. Need to factor in bullet drop though.

    Anything Hollywood shows as far as laser use on firearms is mostly just for dramatic effect. Similar to when you see an image through a scope in a film and the crosshairs are completely stationary no matter what the distance. Its all BS. Its simply just a straight line dot that can be used to line up your bore to a target in darkness regardless of fireing stance/hold ... thats it. Lasers are useful and are used for everything from star gazing, power tools, education etc. Its just that hollywood and scifi stated making them "mythical" in films like Terminator...Cobra..etc. so they became this tactical thing. I dont really see them as purely tactical at all. Practical yes but not some tactical thing.
     
  25. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    That's a real issue. 1911s and revolvers seem to be the only lasting market for laser grips. Anything else has to fit on a rail.

    The beauty of the laser grip is you simply grip the gun and the laser turns on. That's not the case on most rail mounted lasers.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2022
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