Thoughts on Crimson Trace Laser Grips
I own one pistol with Crimson Trace laser grips, a Beretta 92FS. I rarely shoot the pistol any more, but because it was the first gun I bought after leaving the US Navy, I have kept it. Mel Gibson was shooting bad guys in Lethal weapon with a laser sight at the time, and as soon as I could obtain laser grips, they went on my black Italian high capacity blaster. Years later, I purchased a used SW1911 that wore Crimson Trace laser grips. I quickly sold off the laser grips to lower the total price I paid for the pistol.
I have kept the laser grips on the Beretta so people I take shooting can try them out if they like. Laser grips have a few advantages. They are another sighting option besides conventional sights. What they are not is a panacea for poor marksmanship skills. If you can not hold the front sight on target as you pull the trigger towards sear break, a laser will not help you. There are no laser guided bullets, and the bullet will still go where the muzzle is pointed when the primer ignites the charge.
Laser sights do help a shooter to see what is happening during their trigger pull when used with dry fire practice. The red dot bouncing all over the place as the muzzle twitches around is undeniable proof that the shooter needs to work on trigger control. Laser grips can be the reality check that spurs the shooter in the right direction towards marksmanship.
Many people harbor a childhood fear of the dark, but darkness can be a friend and a great equalizer if used to tactical advantage. Advantages in low light are quickly negated by the improper use of the laser or a flashlight. While demonstating how these tools can be used in conjunction to engage a threat in a dynamic environment, it is easy to forget one of the most important principles of survival. Keep it simple. I have to wonder if a low light situation might have a higher survival rate if the defender holds a position and depends on their dilated pupils to see an approaching threat, and then suddenly illuminating it to identify and blind it while the decision is made whether to fire. House clearing with a handgun is complicated enough in a crunch. Placing flashlights and lasers in the mix does not make it less complex or more survivable.
Being able to accurately shoot on the move is one of the most essential skills to surviving a gun fight. One must not only be able to shoot accurately while closing and escaping a threat, but also while moving laterally to it. When exposed in the open, a shooter's own movement is what helps protect them from being shot. Although it is possible to contine the fight once shot, a defender's ability to persevere drops dramatically if they take a bullet. In my experience, if a person can not hold the sights on target while moving, they will not be able to hold a red dot on target while moving. Again, the laser might be a useful teaching tool, but it is not a substitute for the skill needed.
Some cite the advantage of being able to shoot around corners, and from your back with the laser as an advantage. Shooting around corners is a tactical problem, not an equipment problem. I figure if I'm on my back, my attacker is on top of me, and I will either be at close enough range that the laser will not make a difference. I will shoot to stop the attack in progress, or I will be getting to my feet and seeking cover. Of course, anyone can be surprised and end up fighting from the ground. This is when alternative skillsets come in handy, and a laser can not replace them.
Most advocates of laser sights cite the "shit in the pants" factor a thug supposedly receives when he realizes a red dot is placed on his breastbone. This may or may not be true. Thugs are individuals and may not react like normal people. The red dot on the chest may have the same effect as the sound of hand cuffs clicking or a pump shotgun chambering a round. The stimulus that compels one thug to comply may cause the next thug to attack. Red dots don't stop threats.
And another thing..... When holding a gun on a threat, assuming a civilian even has the occasion to do so, conventional wisdom states that the finger should be off the trigger, especially when using a single action firearm such as a 1911. This is done to prevent an unintentional discharge that may kill a compliant person who was previously a threat. I personally index my trigger finger alongside the frame of the gun to prevent a startle reflex from initiating a sympathetic trigger pull that could result in an avoidable tragedy. The Crimson Trace laser is frequently obscured when the trigger finger is indexed in this way. I encourage every shooter considering this product to also consider how it will be used, and how it fits into the training they have already cemented into their psyche. It is that training they will revert back to in a crunch, and the new gizmo they are dependent on may not work as they expect.
Recently, I have looked through a series of advertising videos with the byline "The One with the Laser Survived." In fairness, I have embedded these videos here. I embedded these videos not to dispute the conclusions of the distinguished luminaries advocating laser grips, but simply to allow their views to be heard as well. The end decision is up to the individual shooter. I may very well purchase a set of Crimson Trace laser grips for my Model 649 Bodyguard. Heck, if I don't need the laser, it isn't there. I use the gun for training though. If the laser can help me with training, and perhaps help in a crunch, why not?
But as far as the person with a laser being the person who survives? I challenge anyone to point to a person who was mortally wounded in a gun fight because they lacked a laser sight. One conclusion appears over and over again when considering laser grips. They are not a replacement for basic marksmanship or tactics. A shooter must integrate the laser into their training if they are to use it effectively. Expecting a laser to perform a magic trick in lieu of proper training is a recipe for disaster. In my experience, the person with awareness, training and a bit of luck on their side will be the one who survives. You can't buy that at the gun counter.
Mas Ayoob's Thoughts