Posts Tagged ‘Lasers’

Young lady pointing a handgun with a Crimson Trace lasergrip toward you the viewer

Crimson Trace: Getting a Grip on Laser Sights

To hit the target, you must align the handgun on a plane with the target. I do not believe in any type of point shooting or instinctive shooting. Even at very close range, the handgun is aimed. It may be aimed by using the silhouette of the handgun over the target or by using only the front sight, but the pistol will be aimed. The exception is using it at contact range by pressing the muzzle into the target.

Black SIG P290 with boxes of ammo on a wood plank background

SIG’s Light 9mm, the P290

You should think carefully about the reasons for choosing a handgun. I do my best to test and review appropriate defensive handguns. And although the pistols may not be your choices, they are reasonable choices. With the explosion of concealed carry permits, many are carrying pocket pistols that give them more comfort than performance.

SHOT Show 2014 Special Edition Day 3: New Optics

Cheaper Than Dirt! staffers covering the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas have filed third-day reports on new optics introduced at the show. The big challenge for a shooter these days is matching the right optic to the right firearm at the right price. Fortunately, manufacturers have been busy adding features to lower-end models to make them more appealing to a broader range of shooters. And at the top end, you’ll be able to find truly astonishing high-end glass. Here’s a look at new riflescopes, dot sights, lasers, and other optics coming this year.

Laser Devices Mk7 BATTLE LIGHT

SHOT 2014 — Laser Devices New Mk7 BATTLE LIGHT

SHOT Show is always fun. There are vendors from all over the world touting their latest greatest gear. For a gun enthusiast, it’s the high point of the year for sure. However, as thousands of booths start bleeding together and your stack of business cards becomes unmanageable, it’s only the truly innovative ideas that end up sticking out in your mind. For me, the Laser Devices Mk7 Battle Light was one of them.

Laser Lyte Reaction Tyme unit

Beat the High Cost of Ammo and Shoot More

Ammunition is in short supply, but high demand these days. As soon as it is delivered at the loading ramp, the line starts forming in anticipation of when it will hit the shelves. The high demand has also caused prices to follow, but that doesn’t mean we can afford to let our hard-earned skills suffer as a result.

The new LaserLyte® LT-223

The LaserLyte Unveils the LT-223, a Cost-Effective .223 Training Cartridge

With rising prices in .223 ammunition, it can get expensive to practice aim and sight-in your new rifle with live ammunition. That’s where this little beauty comes in. The new LT-223 cartridge loads in the chamber just like a normal .223 cartridge, but only fires a laser beam when struck by the firing pin. Using a the LaserLyte Trainer Target, you can see exactly where your shots place. The LT-223 costs around $139.99, which is comparable to 500 rounds of live ammo, but instead of 500 shots, you get up to 3,000 shots out of the LaserLyte before you have to change the batteries.

Folding front sight

Belt and Suspenders

How do we aim rifles? The most obvious way is by pointing. No sights at all are needed at a very close range. Iron sights come next. They are rugged and do not require batteries. They do require front sight focus, which is no problem on a square range with high-contrast bullseye targets.

The four-inch-long bullet has actuators that steer tiny fins that guide it to its target.

Laser Guided Bullets?

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — Take two Sandia National Laboratories engineers who are hunters, get them talking about the sport and it shouldn’t be surprising when the conversation leads to a patented design for a self-guided bullet that could help war fighters.

Browning High Power sights were marked to 500m

Imperfection of Vision

Looking at historic arms, we often see sights graduated to extreme distances. Rifle open sights were marked out past a mile, and pistol sights sometimes went past half a mile. With such inspiring examples, how do people justify festooning their modern guns with lights, lasers, red dots and tactical kitchen sinks?

Plain or Fancy?

Plain Keltec Sub2000

Plain Keltec Sub2000

Sub2000 with quad rail and accessories

Sub2000 with quad rail and accessories

One of the most common discussions on gun forums is about the usefulness of accessories. Should shooters use a telescopic sight when irons are available? Are light, laser and wind speed indicators necessary on a home defense carbine. Are battery-operated red dots helpful or just another item to fail at the most inopportune moment?
The benefits of each piece of gear are clear: sights provide better practical accuracy, light provide positive target ID, lasers give alternate aiming options (especially when wearing a gas mask), and wind speed indicators help with calculating long-range windage. So what are the down sides?

 

For one, all of these accessories cost money. Good, durable accessories can be expensive. Fortunately, users can amortize their accessories over many years and the benefits of having a good scope can be well worth the few dollars per month in depreciation. Most accessories also add weight. A red dot here and a white light there, plus a side-saddle with ammo and a bayonet, and soon you are looking at pounds rather than ounces of extra weight. You are also looking at new corners that can snag during use. Maintenance is another issue: a plain-jane shotgun can sit in a closet for years and still work, but the laser battery might not last as long (though lithium batteries can last for years on the shelf). Regular rotation of batteries becomes a scheduled task.

 

Plain-Jane Winchester 1897

Plain-Jane Winchester 1897

Keltec KSG with light, laser and red dot.

Keltec KSG with light, laser and red dot.

The real cost of accessories is not the weight, the money or the maintenance requirements. It’s the training time. If you have a light/laser unit, can you turn it on and have it in the mode you want by feel, without having to think about it? The simple shotguns may be popular for reasons other than cost and a large bore — users generally operate it as point and click device with no elaborate sighting or mode selections. If you have a rifle with elevation-adjustable sights, do you make the changes for range or just aim off to allow for the expected deflection? If your gun has multiple possible modes, your sight has multiple settings, and you have the option to use light, laser, or both, how long before your decision-making slows down. In offensive use, operators can configure these options in advance, but what about the much more likely defensive situation?

Should we take the time to learn how to shoot while wearing a gas mask? The time taken to learn that would cut into the basic marksmanship or movement practice. How about using a sight with a busy range finding reticle instead of a simple dot or cross hairs — would the distraction affect of all that extra information ought-weigh the benefit of long-range precision it facilitates?

 

Plain-Jackie AR15 (Doublestar "teen" model)

Plain-Jackie AR15 (Doublestar "teen" model)

Crusader AR with scope, red dot, sound suppressor, light and laser

Crusader AR with scope, red dot, sound suppressor, light and laser

The same question applies to training of new shooters: simple or complex? Do we want the laser to help diagnose issues with sight picture and trigger control, or would plain iron sights be better? Should we teach with scopes that permit observing hits and misses, or with a red dot that’s forgiving of cross-eye dominance, or stay with the old reliable notch and post? Is even using sights an unnecessary complication when a plain barrel and a trusty bayonet were good enough for the illustrious ancestors? What do you think — should we embrace the technical progress or concentrate on the basic katas using un-accessorized sticks?

Quantity has a Quality of its Own

Henry Golden Boy .22 lever action holds 16 rounds.

Henry Golden Boy .22 lever action holds 16 rounds.

Use of a .22LR rifle makes practice easy and enjoyable.

Use of a .22LR rifle makes practice easy and enjoyable.

Not everyone can shoot powerful centerfire guns. For a person with wrist damage, even a mildly  recoiling 9mm service pistol would be too much. A person with little upper body strength would be  hard-pressed to handle an AK or an M1 carbine, though they feel very light to most shooters. Shoulder  damage would make recoil of a .223 feel excessive. Many turn to rimfire guns as the best alternative, counting on landing a greater number of hits to make up for the lower power of the round. Is that prudent?

Let’s look at the home defense application first. The reduction of power from the oft-recommended  12ga or 20ga shotgun to a .22 rifle is drastic. A typical .22LR bullet weighs 40 grains, same as a .30  caliber #1 buck pellet. A single round of buckshot contains 16 of them, more than a typical rimfire  magazine. Penetration is very similar at 10″ to 14,” with 40gr hollow points expanding to about .30  caliber in gelatin when fired from rifles. While rifle bullets retain velocity further downrange, that’s  irrelevant for the typical in-house defensive use. Due to insufficient penetration, 30-grain varmint  rounds are less effective against human size attackers.

By this comparison, we can expect a magazine dump from a sporting semi-auto .22 rifle to have an  effect similar to a single shotgun blast. A rimfire rifle has no muzzle flash and much less  pronounced report compared to a shotgun. Given the minimal recoil of such rifles, good practical   accuracy is actually quite typical in home defense situations. For the same reason, diligent practice  is possible even for those who cannot handle the recoil or the weight of the bigger rifles.

The down sides to using rimfire used to be the reduced reliability of the ammunition, the awkward  rimmed cartridge shape for autoloaders and the limited magazine capacity. Fortunately, these  problems are now largely imaginary. Let’s consider them one by one.

“Everyone knows” that rimfire ignition is less reliable than centerfire. That is certainly evident with  bulk ammo. Some brands and lots may have a misfire every 20 rounds. This lack of reliability is  most certainly not an issue with the higher grade cartridges. A CCI competition shooter has  recently reported a million rounds fired without a single misfire. While not up to a million rounds, I’ve  had zero malfunctions over tens of thousands of such defense-oriented types as CCI Mini-Mags  and Velocitors, or any of the Eley-primed types.

10-round box magazine.

10-round box magazine

32-round box magazines

32-round box magazines

50-round rotary magazines

50-round rotary magazines

Rimmed cartidges are indeed rather tricky to fit into magazines. Fortunately, we’ve had well over a  century to perfect the feeding devices. Straight box magazines can hold up to a dozen, tube  magazines up to 18, curved box magazines up to 32. They all work fine. Some people prefer the  smaller flush-fitting box (or rotary in the case of 10-22) magazines, others like the higher capacity  and the additional leverage at reload time afforded by the extended models. Rimfire drums can  hold 50 rounds but keep only the few rounds in the feed tower under spring pressure. The  remaining 40-odd cartridges are supported by the individual cogs. That solution drastically reduces  the friction inside the rotary magazine and also eliminates possible deformation of the unjacketed lead bullets. 275-round pans for the American 180 submachine guns remain a less practical  curiosity. The plus side of the rimmed design is the simplified headspacing which permits looser  chambers and thus greater tolerance for fouling.

AR15 with a dedicated .22 upper

AR-15 with a dedicated .22 upper

Sig522 with a red dot sight.

Sig522 with a red dot sight.

10-22 with a light/laser and a folding stock

10-22 with a light/laser and a folding stock

AR15 with a .22 conversion kit

AR-15 with a CMMG .22 conversion kit

The sporting background of the traditional rimfire rifle makes it a bit challenging to operate under  pressure, especially when reloading is required. Fortunately, a large number of rimfire clones of  fighting rifles are now available. These mimic Sig 556, AR-15 and SU16 carbines in all but the  caliber and the weight. Most use polymer lower and sometimes upper receivers to shave off a  pound or two of weight, with almost another pound saved by the lighter ammunition. These guns have familiar oversized controls, accessory rails and tend to be fairly robust. When recoil is a concern but weight isn’t, rimfire conversion kits become an option.

Keltec SU22, a very light carbine.

Keltec SU22, very light carbine.

Peter Grant, a friend who has trained many handicapped shooters, favors .22LR in very few  cases, mainly when centerfire is just not an option. He said that the low cost of the ammunition and  the minimal wear on the shooters allowed his trainees to hit a rolling ping-pong ball reliably after  expending hundreds and even thousands of rounds in practice. Three of his students used laser sighted rimfire pistols to fight  muggers, all with the same outcome: dead thugs had their faces  cratered by multiple .22 slugs. With the same rounds being notably more energetic when fired from  rifles, there’s no doubt that they can be adequate for self-defense. A 12-gauge shotgun or a  centerfire rifle may be the choice for most Americans, but the lowly rimfire rifle is far from  inadequate. In many cases, it gets pressed into defensive service simply by being closer at hand than a dedicated fighting rifle. In any case, it’s worth knowing what it can and cannot do in combat.