I have been using Crimson Trace Corporation (CTC) laser sights on my law enforcement duty and off-duty guns for nearly 20 years. Currently, a set of red CTC Lasergrips resides on my duty gun (Beretta M9A1) and my off-duty Smith and Wesson Model 642 .38 Special J-frame revolver.
By Scott W. Wagner
My law enforcement and training career have given me plenty of time to judge the performance of laser sights under real world conditions, and of all the systems out there, I feel CTC laser sights are among the very best. But before I talk more about the CTC laser sight advantage, let me go over the advantages of laser sighting systems in general—advantages you may be unaware of.
Improving Intrinsic Accuracy
While the presence of a laser on your gun will not automatically make you a better shot—extensive dry fire practice with it will. Using an unloaded gun, practice keeping the laser dot on a safe spot on a wall as you roll the trigger back. If you see the dot drop out of your line of sight as you complete the roll back, you’ll know you have jerked the trigger. Keep practicing until the dot remains in place through the trigger cycle. Laser training will help you become a better-shot overall—even when using only the iron sights. It is important to stay familiar with your gun’s iron sights. Lasers are at their best in normal or lower interior lighting, or outside when the sun is not directly overhead.
Unconventional Shooting Positions
Laser sights allow you to put your gun on target, without using the iron sights, from all sorts of awkward positions—grounded, from the hip, or one handed. When I taught police firearms at our academy, the demonstration I used to convince our cadets of the importance of laser sights was shooting my Lasergrip equipped Beretta 92 from the hip at 50 yards, keeping all the rounds on the silhouettes.
Controlling the Threat
Beyond that, the biggest advantage of laser sights in a defensive situation is to give you an additional chance of having to fire any shot at all. When a person, be it a law enforcement officer or civilian, points a firearm at a bad guy beyond contact distance, there is that little bit of hope in the miscreants mind that either you won’t really shoot at them or, if you fire your shot you will miss. The laser dot painted on their chest helps show not only are you willing to fire, but they can see where your bullet will strike. Both things increase the certainty of a bad outcome for the bad guy.
Perhaps most importantly, laser sights change our focal point from the front sight of the gun to the threat itself. Thus an object that might appear as an indistinct black blob in a suspect’s hand when we look at the suspect through our gun sights is fully recognizable as a cellphone as our focus is on the dot painted on the subject’s chest. The target, not the front sight, is in sharp focus. And, a laser dot painted on the suspect is a real attention getter.
Several years ago, I was involved in an off-duty situation. It was in Columbus, Ohio in the middle of Interstate 70 where I was forced to illuminate a suspect with the Crimson Trace Lasergrip mounted on my Smith and Wesson 642. The suspect had been pointing, what later turned out to be, a laser pointer at cars in traffic on the interstate as I was driving home—my car included. I was concerned the suspect also had a laser mounted on a gun.
As I tried to position my vehicle behind the suspect’s to get his license number and call it in, he suddenly stopped his car in the middle of the Interstate. He exited his van and came towards my car. As he did, I exited with my 642. As he rounded the rear of my car, he reached across his chest under his coat.
I activated the Lasergrip and placed laser dot on his chest ordering him to stop what he was doing. He asked if I was going to shoot him. I told him “Not if you get back in your car.” He quickly got into his car and took off. After a short chase, area Sheriff’s deputies who found the laser pointer arrested him. Fortunately for him (and for me as well), he wisely decided not to bring a laser pointer to a laser-sighted gunfight.
Crimson Trace is my favorite laser sight manufacturer for several reasons. First, CTC’s quality is impeccable. My original pair of Laser Grips for my Model 642 is around 15 years old. Recently, it lost the ability to hold its zero. I sent it in for repair and had it back for a week. CTC stands by its products and MIL-SPEC models are available.
The original CTC Lasergrip models, and the newer Laser Guard models are my favorites in the CTC lineup. Both use momentary switching, activated or deactivated by increasing or decreasing middle finger pressure, as the pistol is gripped. During SWAT operations, I found this momentary switching system to be the most tactically sound during dynamic entries.
Although Crimson Trace is in the manufacture of red lasers for the long haul, they have invested heavily in green lasers, and have managed to fix a number of bugs that previously made green lasers problematic—unreliability in cold weather, short battery life, and bulkier operating modules. Their current crop of green lasers are reliable in the cold, have a longer than previous battery life, and are now the same size as their red counterparts. If you register your CTC product after purchase, CTC will provide free batteries—one set per laser per year—for life.
Even if you don’t end up with a Crimson Trace laser product, I urge you to add a laser sight to your defensive firearms. Lasers are no longer cat toy, but a vital part of 21st century defensive armament. Share your Crimson Trace story in the comment section.
Scott Wagner is a 36 year law enforcement veteran and criminal justice professor. He has worked full-time as a State Liquor Investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, and uniformed patrolman. As a reserve officer, he was worked SWAT assignments as an assistant team leader, sniper, and entry team member. He is currently a reserve sergeant at Village of Baltimore, Ohio Police Department. He is a Contributing Writer for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association. He has written three books for Gun Digest Publications—Own the Night, The Tactical Shotgun, and Survival Weapons.