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G&A Basics: How to Choose Lights and Lasers for Your CCW

by James Tarr   |  December 6th, 2016   |   0

Choosing the Right Lights and LasersTechnology is progressing at a rate most people find hard to grasp. Cars these days are basically computers with wheels. LPs were replaced by eight-tracks, which were replaced by cassette tapes, which were replaced by CDs, which have been all but replaced by digital music carried around in iPods a quarter the size of a deck of cards.

Technology pertinent to gun owners — i.e., flashlights and lasers — has advanced as well. Remember the laser unit on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1911 in “The Terminator”? It was mounted on top of a seven-inch model because the unit itself was the size of two toilet-paper tubes (and I’ll let you in on a little secret — the battery pack was hidden on Arnold, connected to the gun by wires running down his arm). That movie came out in 1984, which means that in less than 30 years we’ve been able to make brighter, more powerful, longer-lasting lasers that are not one-tenth that size, but one one-hundredth! Flashlight technology has advanced apace, and modern handheld offerings are so bright that I’m surprised they don’t come with warnings that say “Accidental exposure may cause temporary blindness.” Let’s look at modern lasers first.

Targeting Dots
These days you have your choice of red and green lasers from most manufacturers. If you’re not quite sure what the big difference is between red and green lasers (other than the color) and don’t feel like paying the extra money required for most green lasers, let me explain.

It takes more power/technology to generate green laser light, which is why they cost more. So why choose green? Well, green lasers appear brighter to the naked eye. Red laser dots are great for indoor or low-light use, but they’re almost impossible to see on a bright, sunny day and tough to see outdoors even on a cloudy day. If you think you might have need for your laser in well-lit conditions, you’d be well served to buy something in a nice emerald green.

Lasers are getting so small that manufacturers are finding ways to mount them just about anywhere on a gun you can think of — triggerguard, forward accessory rail, some even replace the recoil-spring guide rod. One new product that caught my attention is the Master Series of laser grips for 1911s from Crimson Trace. Most laser modules are ugly, but the Master Series grips combine attractive cocobolo-style wood with only the smallest bits of black plastic and rubber for the best of both worlds.

To be honest, I am not a proponent of handgun lasers as sighting systems. Personally, I feel that if you’re trying to aim your gun using the little red or green laser dot, you’re not using your sights. This is a bad habit to get into.

However, I do feel that handgun lasers have huge deterrent value. My feelings on that are directly echoed by an experience Blackhawk’s Chuck Buis had in a dark parking garage one day. Chuck spent a number of years as a plainclothes cop. He’s a large man with a loud voice, but that didn’t stop two men in that parking garage from approaching him and then splitting up to flank him. At the time, Chuck’s thought was, I’ve seen this movie before.

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