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.