Crimson Trace: Closing the Accuracy Gap

By Bob Campbell published on in General

The primary requisite to hitting the target is being able to identify the target, acquire the target with the sights, and hit the target after getting a good sight picture and properly pressing the trigger. It is simple, but it isn’t easy. Crimson Trace Lasergrips go a long way toward closing the accuracy gap.

semiautomatic pistol with wood Crimson Trace lasergrips

This is a rather nice wood-stocked lasergrip.

The use of the sights, in daylight, isn’t difficult. In dim light or when the sights are below eye level in a very close range situation the problem is more severe. Crimson Trace Lasergrips are the answer for many. The grips are easily mounted on the pistol or revolver. Once mounted, they sometimes are closely zeroed for close range combat, sometimes they need adjustment for precision shooting.

The Lasergrips fit easily and offer a superior firing grip to many factory set-ups. Be certain to use the inner cover that covers the grip frame; it is essential for proper installation. There is a small on and off switch on the grip to conserve the battery. For my personal setup on the Kimber Micro 9, the pressure switch is in the center of the front strap. The laser is easily activated by simply grasping and bringing the pistol on target. As for adjustment, a tiny wrench is used to adjust the laser. It is possible to get the laser beam dead on the point of impact for the point of aim to at least 15 yards.

I recently grooved into the Crimson Trace and the Kimber Micro 9 by firing more than 300 cartridges over a two-week period. This included the American Eagle Syntech 115– and 124-grain loads, CCI Blazer 115-grain FMJ, Federal 135-grain Hydra-Shok Deep Penetration, and the Federal HST 147-grain HST. I chose the 922 fps 147-grain HST load based on an excellent balance of expansion and penetration, and perfect reliability, although none of the loads failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

Revolver with green Crimson Trace Lasergrip

Crimson Trace offers both red and green lasers.

I had the Crimson Trace sighted in easily to a precise point of impact related to the point of aim at 10 yards. It took perhaps a couple of tries and a dozen cartridges. I found that the Crimson Trace offers a high hit probability at close range. However, if you need to make a precise hit and take your time, you need to use the sights.

The red laser is actually slower to a precision hit, but faster to a coarse hit. In other words this is what is needed in personal defense at close range and in dim light. At ranges past seven yards, you need to use the sights. If you cannot see the sights, then the red dot may be a good trick. The laser sight did not go out of zero during the test, even though there is a lot of momentum firing the 9mm Luger in a Micro 9.

The laser is emitted from the right upper side of the grip. There is a small hump on the grip and you need to be certain you do not get the firing finger in the way of the laser beam. If you use the generally adopted technique of keeping the finger out of the trigger guard in a ready position you may meet the light beams path. Some practice is needed in this regard. The Crimson Trace Lasergrip integrates the laser with a handgun grip, so the concept is good with firearms that do not have a rail for mounting lasers. Handguns with a rail may be mounted with a combat light for good all around utility.

Kimber Micro 9 pistol with Crimson Trace Lasergrip

The Kimber Micro 9 is an excellent carry gun. Note unobtrusive laser grip.

My evaluation and long term experience indicates the Lasergrip is useful in training, low light situations, rapid sight index, and may make target acquisition easier if you are in a non-standard firing position. You may find that muzzle awareness and discipline are enhanced. There may be a certain deterrent to the laser as well. I am not certain the deterrent is more than simply pointing any other firearm, and I am pretty certain those not frightened by a firearm being aimed at them will also not hesitate to charge into the face of a laser grip pistol.

I am not going to use the laser sight to control a subject. If they need to be shot, the gun is drawn so quickly that there is scant seconds of time for them to desist or the decision to shoot is made. I am not going to brandish a firearm as a threat.

As for training, the laser gives an instant feedback of a less than perfect trigger press—if you practice with the piece during dry fire and laser on. No one can hold the handgun completely steady. However, flinching or milking the trigger shows with a laser.

pistol with combat light and Crimson Trace Lasergrip installed

If you own a pistol with a light rail, the Crimson Trace remains a useful addition.

Those with visual problems may find the laser sight works well for them. As I have stated, I would use iron sights for a precise shot, but the laser sight allows good aiming when you are firing at moderate to close range. In dim light, you may need a flashlight, especially for target identification, but if there is any light at all, the Crimson Trace is highly visible on the target.

You need to use the front sight on the target, press the trigger technique whenever possible. Looking for the bobbing red dot at close range has defeated several students and slowed them down. But in a low light, fast shooting situation, the laser works like nothing else.

One advantage that isn’t difficult to qualify is that the shooter must always keep his head behind the sights to aim with conventional sights, but this isn’t true with the laser-sighting device. You may fire around cover or around a corner and connect the eye with the red dot if the eye is not behind the sights. It is important to note, laser sights cannot replace iron sights or marksmanship training.

The lasergrip’s dot size is about a half-inch at 15 yards. The unit uses two 2032 batteries with a life of four hours. The sights seem impervious to water, oil, and solvent. They are service grade. They need to be cleaned occasionally as the aperture that emits the laser may become occluded with dirt dust and other material. Overall, Crimson Trace Lasergrips are a good kit worth its price to save your life.

Do you have Crimson Trace Lasergrips installed on any of your handguns? What has your experience been? Do you have a training tip for laser-equipped handguns? Share your answers in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell


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Comments (10)

  • Ralph Seeder

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    Valuable post Bob. The use of lasers on handguns gives them an extra edge of efficiency. Lasers can help you with training and practice. Using a laser while doing dry fire practice at the range will provide absolute feedback on the quality of your trigger presses. If you see your laser dot move down and left (for right-handed shooters), you’ve got some work to do on your trigger press. Lasers obviously help you with lowlight shooting. They also support our instinct to focus on the threat.

    Reply

  • BossShot

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    I’ve got numerous lasers. CrimsonTrace is either a “go” or “no go”. They are excellent on my Kimbers but virtually useless, from a rapid acquisition perspective, on my S&W Bodyguard and M2.0 9mm which came factory installed. I’ve got a nicely modified Judge with CT grips and there is no way to effectively grip the weapon, activate the laser and shoot. Makes the laser ineffective. I contacted CT about the poor irgnomics on the Judge and customer service told me I was just going to have to figure out a way to marrying up with their design. Contacted them again on the M2 and received an email blabbing about how much they value their customers. S&W requested I send it back to them. Disappointed in CT, absolutely.

    Reply

  • Retired Navy Spook

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    I love to shoot — my wife doesn’t. She’s shot the Glock 17 we keep in the nightstand enough to know what happens when she pulls the trigger but not enough to become proficient. Solution: a Crimson Trace laser. Only two things she has to remember if ever confronted by an intruder when I’m not there: put the red dot on center mass and pull the trigger.

    Reminds me of my favorite service dog poster, a German Shepherd in cammo, helmet and goggles with a sniper rifle equipped with a laser. Caption: “here kitty, kitty — follow the red dot.

    Reply

  • Chuck Cochran

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    Years ago, I would have laughed and ribbed anyone using lasers. As I got older and good old presbyopia set in, I quit laughing. By the time I reached my middle 50’s and vision at arms length dimmed, I seriously began looking into a laser for every handgun I own (BTW, even a top of the line laser costs less than very expensive quadrofocal glasses). My biggest regret, is that I didn’t purchase a CT for my Walther PPK/S when they were still available..

    Reply

  • techs

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    It can’t be literally true, but my recollection is that CT instructions say the on/off switch is *not* to conserve battery life. I take it to mean you should get a year out of them either way, and shouldn’t try to get more than a year. To mechanic on the gun, use or train with only iron sights, or store for extended periods, the switch is easier than battery removal.

    Because the laser is diagonally out of the bore axis (low & right) it can only be precisely aligned with the iron sights or the bore at a single distance. Register the laser with the iron sights at five yards, and the dot will appear low & right at 3yd, high & left at 10yd — aim with the dot and your shots will be off in the opposite direction.

    Your iron sights can only precisely match the bullet impact at two distances — going up, and going down. The lateral displacement of the grip sights means they can only match the bullet at a single distance. You can’t beat geometry, so don’t expect magic. A good compromise should suffice for short defensive ranges.

    Reply

  • David

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    Have them on several of my S&W EDC’s. Governor & BG380 were factory installed when purchased. Added a trigger guard unit to Shield 9 & 45 and a rail mounted one to PRO-CORE 9. Living in city limits I do not shoot as much as I would like to and after being muzzle swept 3 times at range before I even unpacked my bag I don’t go there any longer. My range time is mostly at friends house now a few miles away but lucky if I make it there once a moth or so. I do a lot of “dry-fire” practice in garage (40 X 60′) that allows me control lighting and feel that helps make up (somewhat) for limited practice.

    Reply

  • OldGringo

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    OK Pete in Alaska, I could not agree more. I have a lot of experience in that split second issue, and pose this one question. Can a brown or grizzly actually run 30 miles per hour or 44 feet per second?. And a Ranger in Denali once clocked one at 46 miles per hour. So you are saying if a bear covers 11-22 feet in that 1/4 to 1/2 half second that the laser delays…..that it could get you eaten? Point well taken, good post.

    Reply

  • Pete in Alaska

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    Bob, great writeup! Cant disagree with the logic at all. My only concern is this.
    I have noticed that there seems to be a somewhat slower lock up time when using a Laser because one is looking for the dot and it’s location on target instead of using the instinctual shot placement.
    I have tried several of the laser systems and find that it slows the actual shot response time.
    I subscribe to learning to actually shoot a weapon using center mass targeting, front sight aqusition, and double tap instinctive shot placement before starting to add additional devices to a firearm.
    If looking for the “dot” on target causes even a 1/4 or 1/2 second of time before engagement it seems to me to be a tic of the clock to long.

    Reply

  • OldGringo

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    Great article and close to my thoughts. As a cop, I despised them because they are a crutch, all the rookies used them. And I did not want that darn little red light when I was searching in the dark. As noted, things happen too quick in the real world. Like Bob, as an instructor, I do love them for new shooters. They see that wobble factor instantly and can learn muzzle control by watching that lazer. I also have learned they are fantastic for shooing skunks in the dark. LOL I live in a suburb with a stream in my yard. All the skunks in this area carry rabies, 9 tested in a row, all were carriers. So, they are the only thing I shoot, but usually 2-3 per year. Having shot several at night with a 9mm or 357, I have learned that neighbors get pretty paranoid after the first couple of misses. Problem solved, a 1911 in 22, with a suppressor and lazer. Nobody every knows and the lazer gives you a one of two shot deal. Try shooting a running skunk in the dark sometimes while holding a flashlight in the other hand and trying not to get sprayed….lol .Also, for SWAT use they do have special application since you can place a bullet around corners and without a direct lineo f sight. FWIW

    Reply

  • Huggy

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    I wish I could take advantage of installing and using this laser on several of my guns.
    But with the way my trigger finger indexes on the trigger while firing, it impedes the laser light from painting the target.
    With my arthritic hands, even attempting to adjust my grip doesn’t help.
    I have a laser/light combo unit that mounts on the dust cover of several pistols, but it doesn’t lend itself to CCW in an IWB holster.
    IF ONLY those lasers that replace the recoil spring/rod were more durable, that would be a good option. But, oh well.

    Reply

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