Crimson Trace Rail Master Universal Green Light Laser Sight Review

Crimson Trace Rail Master Universal Green Light Laser Sight Review

Crimson Trace Rail Master Universal Green Light Laser Sight Review

A new sighting system that uses a green laser sight has attracted a lot of attention recently. It is the CMR 203 Rail Master with a Universal Green Light Laser by Crimson Trace (CT). It is an instantly activated universal laser sight that is designed to fit picatinny and weaver rail-equipped handguns, rifles, and shotguns and is promoted as a universal sight that will fit on just about any firearm with a rail. It is CT’s first universal-fit green laser platform. Many questions came to mind when CT shipped the sight to me to review. I wondered if the overall build quality was top-notch and how long was the warranty? Was it really versatile to fit any of my handguns with a rail and would it easily transfer to some of my pistols and also fit my rifle? Would it fit my 1911s, full-sized pistols, compact, and subcompact pistols? How about specifically fitting my M&Ps, XDM, XDS, Glock, H&K, Sigs, Beretta, and Ruger guns? Did the green light laser have a significant advantage over the red light laser, for about double the price? Would the green really be brighter and more visible than the red both during the day, low-light, and at night? What was an average battery run life and was there an automatic shut off to help preserve battery life? Could I easily install it and what tools are necessary? Does it use AA, AAA, lithium or what type of batteries? Can you change the battery on the laser without removing it from the pistol, so as not to risk disturbing the zeroing adjustment?  Is it easy to zero in? Is it adjustable for both windage and elevation? Are the switches and/or buttons nearby and easy to access when gripping the gun normally?Are holsters readily available to accommodate the large green laser device? Most importantly, would the gun recoil cause it to loosen easily, require frequent adjustments, drift after a few hundred rounds, and be unstable? So many questions that need answered, so let’s get started.

First, here are the CMR 203’s Specifications that I found on CT’s website:

Crimson Trace Laser Sight-CMR-203-SPECS

CMR-203 LaserBelow are My 10 Criteria for evaluating the CMR 203 Laser Sight. My process is to assign a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. The more total points accumulated after evaluation, the better.You can certainly add your own additional criteria or desires and subtract any of mine. Here are mine:

1. Reliability and Accuracy – Performs well consistently without reoccurring problems, stoppages, and is dependable resulting in clearly observable and very accurate target hits; does not become unstable or loose easily and does not drift after reasonable use;

2. Laser Sighting & Adjustment – Both windage and elevation adjustments are easily accomplished and completed quickly in less than a few minutes; zeroing is basic and simple; instructions are provided;

 

3. Battery – Life for continuous use is more than 2 hours; batteries are readily available & easy to install; batteries can be installed without removing laser sight from pistol; there is an automatic battery shutoff;

4. Fit, Finish, & Build Quality are very high; at least a two-year all-inclusive warranty is included;

5. Laser Brightness Output is very strong and easily seen in bright daylight and at night; the most powerful and brightest wave length allowed by law;

6. Versatility – Fits other handguns with either picatinny or weaver-type rails, as well as rifles;

 

7. Easy to Operate Controls – Switches and Buttons are located closeby to the trigger finger with quick activation possible; has ambidextrous activation switches;

8. Easy to Mount & Re-Mount – bolts, spacers, screws, etc. provided for simple and secure mounting on different firearms; 

9. Price – You get what you pay for; advantages and actual results clearly justify the expenditure; and

10. Miscellaneous – Excellent Customer Service reputation and availability; several holster options available, weighs just a few ounces (preferably less than 3 ounces), does not interfere with iron sights, etc.  

After using the CMR 203 in bright day light, low-light at dusk, and at night, here are my observations and ratings for my 10 criteria.

1. Reliability and Accuracy –  It performed very well without any problems for me. Most definitely it places a bright green dot on your target which is easily seen in all lighting conditions. GREEN IS GREAT! The Green really helped me with fast target acquisition when outdoors in bright light especially.This helps deter and defuse lethal violent attacks up front, in addition to helping me shoot like a Pro with a one-inch group at 10 yards (slow-fire for me), which I am not. I could count on the point of impact that I wanted without any drifting, after firing about 200 rounds. The laser sights did not interfere with my iron sights when I choose to use the latter. I caution that to me the laser sights are a SUPPLEMENTAL sighting system and are NOT a substitute replacement for knowing how to aim and acquire proper sight alignment and sight picture. They should not be a dependent “crutch” for shooters who do not want to learn aiming fundamentals. A very nice option to have however… 10.

2. Laser Sighting & Adjustment – It was easy for me to use my usual method of aiming and sighting with the laser sights. I started by zeroing my pistol’s iron sights as usual. Then I simply adjusted for windage and elevation for the laser’s dot to move the dot precisely where the already-zeroed ideal sight picture indicated. It is important to pick a distance range of about 30-50 feet to do your zeroing, rather than a shorter distance, due to the parallaxing. It was already zeroed by the CT factory at 50 feet when I got it. It comes with a small allen key to adjust the windage and elevation… 10.

3. Battery – The claim is that the battery will last for more than 4 hours with continuous use. Although I didn’t use it continuously for that long, it did remain bright for the about 2.5 hours total I used it, so I trust it will last at least 4 hours. It takes one CR2 lithium battery. Of course, with any manufacturer’s product like this, I will most definitely have BACKUP BATTERIES just in case. You do need a Phillips Screwdriver to change batteries, so have one on hand just in case. The laser shuts off automatically after about 5 minutes of run time to prevent battery drainage… 9.

4. Fit, Finish, & Build Quality – The CMR 203 looks very good on my pistols and does not appear as a cheap add-on. The black finish is attractive. It fits solidly without rattling on all my handguns with rails and is finished nicely. It stays in place locked securely because of their Secure-Lock Technology. There are no sharp corners and it is lightweight… 10.

5. Laser Brightness Output – Seeing the bright green light was great and it really stood out in daylight, especially compared to the red laser light. It also lights up a dark room. The green is so much easier for me (and most folks) to see, given my aging eyesight and (red) color blindness. The green laser visibility is rated at .5″ at 50 feet and I think that is correct. Beam Intensity is 5mW peak, 532 nm, Class 3R laser… 10.

6. Versatility – The CMR 203 adapted to ALL my handguns (with rails) without any problems. It was so easy and quick to do and fit my M&P 9C, Sig 226, XDS-4, Glock 19 (these four shown above), as well as my HK P30, XDM,  M&P Pro, Sig 220, Ruger SR9, Ruger SR9C, Beretta PX4 Storm, Taurus 92, etc. CT says it will fit most other rail-equipped pistols with a minimum of 1 1/16″ from recoil lug. It will fit a rail-equipped AR-15 long gun… 10. 

 

7. Easy to Operate Controls – The hand controls and switches are located very conveniently and are easy to use to activate it. Tap on and Tap off. It has 2 side paddles/switches (ambidextrous) near the trigger guard for on-off activation and they work in tandem. So if you turn it on with the left switch, you can turn it off with the right switch. You can turn it on while indexing your trigger finger. A slight word of caution about the exposed switches protruding. For just a few minimalist IWB-type holsters, I see the possibility of an unintended activation when re-holstering. This did not happen to me with my IWB holster, but I was very aware of that possibility and watched it. So, check your particular holster gear and practice with it before using it with the CMR 203 for safety and effective use reasons… 9.

8. Easy to Mount & Re-Mount – So easy to switch it among different guns, just make sure you have a flathead screwdriver if you do this at the range. It is not self-locking and does take some concentration and time, but not complex at all. It comes with 4 different spacers for mounting options to different rails. The provided instructions are very clear and easy to follow… 9. 

9. Price – The MSRP is $269, but you can shop and find it for about $230 or a little less ($213 from Amazon). This is a higher price than the red laser sights and some of the other green ones, but the build quality is exceptional and I believe you almost always get what you pay for. It is not a $1,000 or more military-grade laser nor is it a cheap $75 one. But it does handle the recoil and works for what you paid. Like everyone else, I would like the green laser to be less expensive… 9.

10. Miscellaneous – The product was shipped to me quickly and the CT customer service is well-recognized as being tops and they have a great reputation for supporting their products. The CMR 203 with battery weighs about 2 ounces. There are some holster options available for the CMR 203 from Galco, Cross Breed, Remora, and Simply Rugged, but you will be challenged to find a tight and proper holster fit. Compared to the red Rail Master CMR 201, the green is larger than the red and is a consideration if you own a red Rail Master holster. It will most likely not fit the green one. I believe CT offers a basic and universal nylon holster for laser and light with a thumb break to fit the CMR 203 for $35 or so… 8.

Total Points = 94 out of 100 Possible. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this Universal Green Light Laser Sight. It is a great addition to a home defense or carry gun, but not a substitute for fundamental aiming, sight alignment, and sight picture. It can assist you in getting tight groups up to at least 50 feet or so and is very adaptable to different firearms. It is a quality-made product and proved to be accurate and reliable for me. This review is just my opinion and you should try it yourself on your firearms to decide if the price is worth it for your purpose and use.

I hope this review of the CMR 203 Crimson Trace Rail Master Universal Green Light Laser Sight has helped you gain some information for YOUR decision. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited use and using only a few rounds of available ammo. Like always, I recommend that you try any shooting accessory or firearm yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun or device, and what’s important to you ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the product or gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds.

Continued success!

Photos by Author and some from Crimson Trace Corporation, Wilsonville, OR; phone: 800-442-2406; www.CrimsonTrace.com.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting, acquiring, & using YOUR firearms & accessories, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2014 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected]

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  • Cobrawing

    As always a most excellent comprehensive evaluation of a product from you. I think the only thing you missed was the fact that a green laser will definitely give away your physical position and thus tactically put you at a disadvantage in some situations. A red laser in many situations can be a tactical advantage in this regard. However, it’s nice to have the choices out there now and a green laser in daytime can have an advantage. I think it will come down to an individual decision. I really wish all these laser makers would provide a model with the option of a green & red laser that is user selectable. Yes, this will add bulk and cost but also choice. Thanks for the excellent review Co. Findley.

    • 2ThinkN_Do2

      Just curious, how does the color of laser give away your position any more so than red?. Yes I realize the green aids in your ability to see it more quickly, but if your target does not know you have it (which they wouldn’t, would they?) then whether you use green or red, they will see it, just as you would. I’m in control of it, so it’s still to my advantage.

      • Cobrawing

        A good question. It’s not that a green laser is bad it’s that in tactical concealment situations it’s actually “too good”. The spectrum of light used by green lasers will far more reveal your position in darkness than a red laser, which is a tactical disadvantage. If you try both at night you’ll see exactly how this works. A green laser is fine for daytime but may not be ideal at night.

        Green lasers are less battery efficient and greatly effected by temperature variations . . . meaning it appears weaker when very cold or hot temperatures are present. The green diodes tend to be more fragile as well, which can be a tactical weakness in combat. Green illuminates your surroundings in low light, laser splatter &
        reflection of the green laser off your gun is that much more dramatic which is again not an advantage.

  • MacTex

    Excellent article. I have had CTC lasers on several of my handguns for many years now, some for over 10 years. I have worn at least one of these CTC equipped weapons each day for 10+ hours and have had not one problem with any of them. My preference, after trying several different styles of lasers, is the CTC Lasergrip style. One of the main reasons is that with the laser issuing from a small port located at the approximate top of the grips, it is easy to place your trigger finger – which would be laying adjacent the port when not on the trigger -in front of the port so that the laser does not betray your location while seeking your (possible) target, yet as soon as the finger is moved to the trigger it is right back in service. Also, while the laser is not intended to be a surgical weapon, the placement of the laser port with the Lasergrip places the path of the laser so that it runs closer to the bore than any other laser, with the possible exception of perhaps the Lasermax guide rod laser. Also, I like having the activation switch under my control. With practice you can actually hold your weapon securely without activating the laser, but when you tighten your middle finger it activates. Much of your selection will come down to personal preferences, but I must emphasize to anyone getting a laser that you must practice with it to get used to it, and you CANNOT ignore your iron sites: they remain your primary sights, and you must be ready to go to them in that split second you realize you laser has not activated. The really good news – especially with cost of ammo these days – is that any laser you get is an excellent training tool. Dry firing drills can be used to get your trigger pull down to the point where the laser doesn’t even waver – and the laser doesn’t lie!

  • Rick Battram

    Not sure if this is an individual/user error thing, or if others have experienced this as well. I have owned the CMR203 for about 2 weeks now, bought it from a local store at the same time I purchased a SIGp320 compact 9mm. The store installed the CMR203 for me and zeroed it in. My initial impression was that it was AWSOME! However, once I took it to the range it showed a quirk of turning off or on unintentionally. After doing some reading on gun forums, one suggested the “quirk” could be related to over tightening. So, after cleaning the p320 and reinstalling the CMR203 I went back to the range and tried to shoot without the unit turned on but still installed. Not only did I experience the same problem (turning on without intentionally activating it) but the CMR203 actually fell off the rail. So I’m pretty sure it wasn’t “over tight.” I have sent an email to Crimson Trace for help, and will update after corresponding with them.

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