4 Reasons Why Lasers Give You a Tactical Advantage
A red dot projected on a bad guy isn’t going to make anyone stop dead in their tracks; however, optics like red dots, flashlights and laser sights on your self-defense and home-protection guns do give you the tactical advantage. Here’s why:
Years and years ago, I purchased a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .38 Special revolver with an integrated laser with the intention of it being my primary carry/home-protection gun. Up until that point, I had no real experience using a laser sight. I fumbled with the laser a lot on my initial range trips. If you have always and only trained with iron sights, adding the laser might make you feel like you’re just adding an extra step, but once I got used to activating the laser upon draw, it helped me punch holes in holes. Much like the fundamentals when you first started shooting, after practice and training, using the laser will become instinctual. A laser can legitimately help your accuracy. I’ve since gotten rid of the Bodyguard but have reviewed other guns with lasers that I found extremely advantageous. I have taught many first-time shooters how to handle a firearm safely and fully understand the appeal of putting a laser sight on your gun due to the benefits they provide.
What is a laser sight?
Very simply put—using energy, a laser unit builds light to create one bright, powerful beam of light. The laser projects this bright light as a dot on a target. After zeroing a new laser sight, your laser should place the dot at the point of bullet impact.
According to the NRA, the first handgun laser sights were built by Laser Products Corporation—now SureFire—in 1979 and sold as a package deal with a Colt Trooper .357 Mangum revolver called the LPC Model 7. It was the first integrated laser sight on a firearm made for commercial sales. During the 1984 Summer Olympics, a Hollywood prop master saw Laser Product Corporation products on the LAPD’s shotguns and contacted the company, requesting they design a laser sight for a .45 ACP AMT Hardballer Long-Slide for the film The Terminator. Company co-founder and designer of the laser, Ed Reynolds, says, “The only thing I received for doing the job was a hat, tee shirt, and sweatshirt.” We wouldn’t think twice about a red dot beaming off a baddie’s chest or forehead in the movies now, but back then, the idea was truly terrifying and futuristic.
The demand for lasers grew. Lasers got smaller and cheaper and now almost every major firearms manufacturer makes a self-defense gun that comes with some type of laser.
There are grip lasers that have instinctual activation, guide rod lasers, rail-mounted (usually the most versatile) lasers, trigger guard lasers, MSW foregrip lasers, and rear sight lasers. Generally, they are either red or green. NcStar made a blue laser for some reason once, which has since been discontinued. Red lasers are more affordable than green lasers but aren’t nearly as visible during daylight. Green, though, also has its drawbacks. Green lasers drain batteries quicker than red and are not as small. Some lasers are universal—fitting any type of rail—while others are gun model-specific. Because laser sights are primarily used for self-defense, whichever style you go for, it needs to be easy to activate, as well as stand up to recoil.
Do laser sights improve accuracy?
Yes, they do. Here are four reasons why.
- They help you aim faster in low-light situations. Eighty percent of self-defense shootings occur at night. A laser is easier to see than your sights when it is dark.
- A laser helps your point of aim accuracy from weird positions. When protecting your home and facing a threat, its most likely you will not be in your preferred shooting position like you are when practicing at the gun range. Lasers can help you get on target when your sight is limited.
- The stress and the hormone dump your body experiences during a threatening situation may make you lose your fine motor control and your memory. A laser can help compensate for this.
- A laser prevents tunnel vision and maintains your situational awareness. Instead of focusing on your front sight—which takes too much concentration at a time like this anyway—a laser allows you to keep your eye on the target, as well as being able to survey your surroundings and spot other bad guys or threats. Because our instinct is to keep our eyes on the target and not take the time to aim our sights when faced with life or death, a laser sight can prevent miss shots.
A Few Reminders and Myths:
Lasers Give Away Your Location
This might be so, but I don’t buy into the idea this makes you a sitting duck. If you have pulled your gun and activated your laser, you have already made the decision that your life is in imminent danger and are 100 percent ready to pull the trigger. At that point, giving away your location isn’t going to be your concern.
Lasers Deter Bad Guys
Like the noise of racking a pump-action shotgun, a bright red dot projected on the chest of a bad guy might have deterred a crime before, but never depend on the presentation of a laser—or a firearm for that matter—for protection. Remember, we only pull our gun when we feel like our life is in imminent danger. We never brandish a gun as a warning.
Lasers Make You Lazy
Lasers won’t make you lose your shooting fundamentals. They are an aid, not a crutch. The only way you lose your shooting skills is by not training or practicing. Staying proficient—in my opinion—is an important part of responsible gun ownership. Policemag.com reports that after a major law enforcement agency studied training with lasers they found that point and shoot technique improved after the use of lasers. They write, “In fact, laser sights have been shown to improve basic shooting skills at a much higher rate than is the case without lasers.”
Lasers Make Your Accurate
Lasers do need to be zeroed. Nothing comes perfectly sighted in from the factory. You can do this quickly and easily with a laser boresight. Nothing makes up for training, practice and time at the range. You still need to know how to operate your gun with or without the laser. After all, lasers are electronics and you never know when the batteries could run out or the unit could fail you. Just like with your gun—malfunctions happen.
Why wouldn’t you want a tool made to improve your odds…I mean, you do already own a gun, right?