May 18, 2011

Other lasers

I forgot to mention this from my NRA Convention posts. I was looking closely at lasers, and have a few quick notes:

Crimson Trace: They are the gold standard for integrated laser sights. I've played with them numerous times and I like the setup. They've started offering different patterns and designs molded into their grip, and I believe they even have a wooden grip panel available for 1911s. If you're using a proper grip on your gun, activating the laser is automatic. Unfortunately, I don't love how their grips *feel*. Price-wise, they run the gamut from affordable ($180 for a J-frame) to rather pricey ($300+ for 1911 slabs).

Viridian: Their main offering is rail-mounted lasers and laser/light combos. The units are small and light and intuitive to turn on. I was very impressed by the X5L and will be saving my pennies for one to put on the M&P. They're not cheap - around $325 - but for a green laser/LED light combo, I think it's competitive.

LaserMax: This company is known for their guide-rod lasers for semi-autos, and most of them seemed pretty slick. The guide rod is replaced with a laser unit, and the takedown or slide-release lever is replaced with a new unit with a built-in switch. It's a good location for the activation button, and if your pistol is one of the models they support, it's a great way to keep your rail free for other accessories...

BUT. And this is a big one... I would not, can not, recommend their 1911 product. The activation switch is, instead of a push button, a rotating switch. It requires pushing a small rubber nubbin 90 degrees around the axis of the slide release, and that little nubbin is TINY. I was unable to activate it with one hand without looking at the gun, and two hands meant my support hand was nowhere near a good firing grip. Poor design, and a potentially dangerous distraction.

So that's it - my quick take on lasers from five minutes of playtime at the show. I can't tell you which is the best option for you, but IMHO, a weapon-mounted laser needs to be mounted and activated in such a way that it can be turned on one-handed, from a firing grip, without looking at the gun. Keep your head UP at all times. CTC and Viridian manage this, as does the StreamLight TLR2 (not played with).

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