Lasers on Concealed Carry Weapons – Do You Need Them?

Lasers on Concealed Carry Weapons - Do You Need Them?

Laser sighting accessories are another topic upon which everyone in the Second Amendment/CCW community has an opinion. Everyone. If you don’t believe me, bring it up next time you’re at the range with your friends and watch the discussion jump the rails.

So let’s cut through the conjecture and look at the facts: are lasers a viable accessory for concealed carry? Are they, under some circumstances, a necessity? Should you, faithful reader, rush out and buy one?  The answers are “yes”, “rarely”, and “maybe”, so let’s dive in.

Lasers as sighting devices have been options on firearms for a while, and they do seem to offer some advantages: fast target acquisition, functionality under low-light conditions, and a definitive improvement in hits-on-target. That having been said, for most of their history they were simply too bulky for CCW use. The caused significant printing, they limited holster selection, and they made drawing the weapon an exercise in mind numbing slowness. However, technology advanced and as batteries and lasers got smaller, lasers sights became compact enough for CCW use. Coupled with some clever designs that integrated laser sights into the standard-sized grip of the weapon—or better yet into the grip or guide rod, putting them on-axis with the barrel—and they  become an idea worthy of consideration.

So do you need one? Well, that depends on your individual situation, but the answer is most likely “no”. You shot just fine before—provided you were running good practice drills regularly—and you’ll continue to shoot just fine without a laser . . .

. . . Unless of course due to age, accident, or genetics, you’re dealing with some vision issues. If you’re somewhere south of 20/20 or have night-blindness issues, a laser sight can be a godsend. Or maybe  you just find that a laser makes things easier when dealing with multiple targets or shooting off the hip. If that’s you—go for it! Slap a laser on your CCW piece, train with it regularly, and go forth in peace.

That having been said, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. First, depending on the laser sight you select you may need to buy a new holster and adjust your draw/presentation/reholstering technique. You’ll likewise want to remember that you sight differently with a laser: with fixed “iron sights” you look at the front sight. With a laser, you look at point-of-impact of the laser on the target. This is a small difference, but one that effects how you train. Likewise, lasers are by and large intended for relatively close-quarters use; for longer distances the difference in alignment between the sight and the bore can have an impact on your accuracy.

And all that before we address the big issue: in adding a laser sight to your CCW piece, you’re adding another component that may fail when you need it. Batteries die, electronics get damaged, nothing last forever. To that end, you need to train such that you can transition quickly back to your iron sights when you need to. At the end of the day, they are far less likely to fail at an inconvenient moment.

And for me, that’s it in a nutshell: laser sights are tools. They have their place, and if they fit your needs, use them while keeping their limitations in mind. I suspect some of you have your own thoughts, and I’d like to hear them in the comment section, so let me know.

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  • Reloader54

    I have two guns that I use for carrying. One is a 1911A1 no laser. The other is a LC9s and it does have a laser. I shoot mostly out an outdoor range and the laser is useless in broad daylight. So I shoot it mostly with the iron sights. But I do check every so often to make sure that the laser is still in alignment. I agree that laser sights are good to have. But you still need to be able to shoot any firearm without one.

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        • G50AE

          Well said!

  • Montecristo

    I apprehended a guy trying to break in my car at night. Not only did the laser sight help me, it made him very uneasy seeing the laser point on his chest.

    • drizd

      I never used one or need one but I can see how it serves to really drive home the point. It’s just the thing that would get the attention of some stoned out meth head so you wouldn’t have to put a hole in him. I can see it in the hands of a woman driving the point home better too. Stoner boy may well think she won’t or couldn’t do it while that red dot serves to drive home the point .

  • I never used them, but I can see a use for them. The other thing is the added training to use one. Would I be better off spending the money on fiber optic or tritium sights or just on more ammo to practice in general? DK.

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  • 1eagle

    Added a laser to my LC9s because I have a some shake in my arms when I used which I could see when using iron sights. Thought the laser would make it easier to aim. Found out that it just made it more difficult since the laser was moving all over the target. Went back to iron sights. I realized the only stable laser sight picture is in the movies since in real life we all have some shake however slight and the further the target is away from us the more area the laser dot will cover.

    • I wonder if training in instinctive shooting would help?

  • nunyaeffinbizness

    I have a Crimson Trace light/green laser combo on my M&P Shield and I think it is very useful in several areas. First off, the flashlight helps me identify any potential threats in a low-light situation. The laser itself helps me get on target quickly at short ranges during daylight and at just about any range at night. For those of you that have not used them I can see the green laser easily at 15-20 yards in full daylight, and can clearly see it well over 100 yards at night.

    What I really like about the laser is the same as one or two other commenters mentioned earlier, making the “bad guy” think about what he is going to do next. I carry for protection and am prepared to shoot someone in self-defense but I have absolutely no desire to kill another human being. I want to provide the potential threat with as many opportunities to make the choice to survive as I reasonably can, that way if I do have to shoot them it’s because they chose to die, not because I chose to kill them, does that make sense to you? The situation will dictate if I have time to use that option or not, but I want to be prepared to defend myself both during the encounter and during the court case that is sure to follow. The easiest way not to lose a gunfight is not to get in one, once you are in it, win it.

    I fully understand that even with quality equipment and proper maintenance Murphy’s Law does apply and whatever can go wrong will go wrong so I do train without the laser as much as I do with the laser, both in daylight and in darkness, dry fire and live fire.

  • disqus_409GNN3AvA

    I have a laser on my home defense gun where I will probably be shooting in the dark, however I don’t on my everyday carry gun only because of the cost and they are hard to find to fit a Colt Mustang

  • Shianne Kahleel

    I have the ArmaLaser on my S&W and it’s no trouble at all. I have poor vision and it helps in low light situations. Also, the Red Dot will scare the crap out of anyone it lands on.

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