Concealed Carry

The Crimson Trace Advantage

Rivolver with Crimson Trace Laser Grips

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.

Rivolver with Crimson Trace Laser Grips
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.

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.

Threat Identification

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.

Young lady pointing a handgun with a Crimson Trace lasergrip toward you the viewer
For rapid reactive fire the LaserGrip is an excellent choice. The activation switch is well placed for rapid manipulation.

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.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. As the photograph, of the young lady, shows lasers work in both directions. it will show the bad guy the exact location of you and your gun.
    Try using the laser outdoors on a bright sunny day. It disappears.
    Try it on several different colors of cloth. Sometimes it disappears.
    A laser sight has a very narrow range of use.
    Personally I will not use one nor will I hang a light on any of my firearms.
    Just my opinion.

  2. I like the idea whether it’s using CrimsonTrace grips, or a laser mounted on a rifle. If I have it dialed in beforehand, I can be pretty darn sure where my round is going to hit. I don’t know about handguns, but a sniper rifle so equipped may actually help assure that only the subject is hit.

  3. Just a footnote for those not experienced in the use of laser sights, they are worthless in sunlight. They function well in most indoor lighting situations and only outdoors in low light or night situations. I am not familiar with the green lasers and cannot speak about their ability in sunlight. Maybe someone else can weigh in?

    Also, I just bought an off-duty S&W backup that came with a built-in Crimson Trace laser system. I’m going to have to check into that “free battery per year” offer and see if it also applies to factory installed packages.

    One last thing – Lasermax makes an internal after-market laser that I absolutely love in my off-duty Glock. A bit pricey, but most impressive in that it replaces the recoil spring assembly (spring guide rod) with a laser and converts the slide lock and spring (takedown latch) into the electronic on-off switch. The design is absolutely brilliant because there is nothing bulky or external to it. It merely replaces existing internal parts and can be activated at finger-length from either side of the gun.

  4. While I have too many handguns to mount lasers on all of them, most of those that I most frequently carry and those that I keep at home for exigent circumstances are equipped with lasers. I have found that getting on target is considerably faster with a laser sighted handgun… it a revolver or pistol…..than it is to point shoot or to lock in the sights on target. My favorite lasers for pistols are those that are housed inside the full length guide rod, thus always providing a consistent bore alignment without concern of need for adjustment. That said, however, I also have found that those that are housed in the grip and/or on the frame in front of the trigger guard provide good, solid sighting with little concern for maintaining proper alignment. As one who normally always carries a back-up piece, I believe that small pieces commonly employed in the back-up role derive significant benefit from laser sights.

  5. Scott brings up very good points. Every situation is different but if I can light up a subject and defused a situation without having to neutralize a subject, then everyone is a winner. Subject goes to jail and I avoid a legal nightmare and grand jury.
    Just don’t become dependent on the laser for accuracy and lose your iron sights accuracy. Lasers can fail.
    Nobody, law enforcement or concealed carry permit holder, wants to have to use lethal force. As I said in the opening, every situation is different. If you can show you used escalating force before lethal force, you have a better chance of coming out of the legal process unscathed rather than going from words right to lethal force. Remember open hands, hard hands? But if the solution is lethal force due to rapid escalation, God help you. Use your head, it’s the best weapon in your belt.

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