In part 1 and part 2 of the j-frame carry gear, we looked at holsters and ammo for you compact carry revolver. Today we’ll look at a piece of gear that, while optional, is something I believe every compact revolver should have on it – a laser sighting system. There are a lot of options out there for laser sights for you carry gun, but the clear winner is the Crimson Trace LaserGrip for J-Frames or the Ruger LCR. I do believe that your carry gun should have night sights, but in an actual self-defense situation at low light, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to see the front sight, or that you’ll be in a position to use that sight. The laser grip from Crimson Trace takes that uncertainty out of the situation. Even if you’re in an unorthodox firing position, you’re still able to make aimed hits on the target, simply by indexing the red dot from the laser on the threat and firing. Again, it’s an optional item for your gun, and you’ll probably never need to actually use it – but then again, I don’t carry a firearm for self-defense because I’m an optimist. Having a good holster and powerful defensive ammo doesn’t do you a whole lot of good if when the threat appears you’re not able to get reliable hits on the target. Having a laser on your defensive firearm allows you to get those hits while keeping your eyes focused on the threat. This eliminates having to shift between two focal planes (the sights and the threat) and allows you to better asses a defensive encounter in real-time.
I also believe your carry gun should have good night sights on them. Recently, I came around on XS Sights for carry guns – while I don’t believe they’re the right fit for every gun, for a compact revolver they are a significant upgrade over the usual gutter/front post arrangement that you’ll find. My personal j-frame wears a Trijicon front night sight and S&W adjustable rear sight. The goal is to be able to see the sights in any lighting condition, and have the laser as a backup sighting system should the sights be unavailable for any reason.
The compact revolver, be it a S&W J-Frame or a Ruger LCR is a great carry option. Yes, it takes practice and discipline to master the double action trigger pull, and they hold less rounds than some semi-automatics. But they’re far more reliable than other pocket .380s on the market, and offer the option of considerably more puissance in a .357 Magnum chambering than a comparably sized or smaller .380. With a good holster, good ammo, and most importantly good sights and a laser, the compact revolver is one of the best and most reliable carry guns out there.