The Trouble with Lasers

I have had the opportunity to live with a Crimson Trace laser sight for a few months now. It is the Laserguard model that fits my Ruger LCP. I can report that the sight works fine, exactly as advertised. It comes on easily when I grip the pistol. The light itself is bright and crisp, and so far, readily visible, especially at self-defense ranges. It's aligned.

It has been on and off of the gun a number of times. Now, it's back in the box.

At this point, I have two issues with the sight, one minor, one major.

The minor issue is a personal preference. I have found that I do not care for the "instinctive activation" feature - the button built into the grip section so that when you grip the gun for firing, the laser is activated. I've found that on many occasions, I don't want it on, and have to change my grip to make it go off, which plays hell with my shooting accuracy.

Some folks say, primarily on the gun forums, that they don't want to fool with turning on a laser when they are in a quick-response self-defense situation. This does not make much sense to me if the shooter has spent enough training time with his or her firearm and the laser. Most of us have the basic sequence down pretty well: access your gun, get a proper grip and draw, present and aim, define your target (don't shoot anything you aren't intending to shoot) and fire. Some shooters prefer to carry with a manual safety in the 'on' position, so swiping off the safety should become an integral part of their sequence. Putting in a simple button push, if desired, should be no big deal.

If a person is too hurried or panic driven to be able to push a button before shooting their gun, they probably shouldn't be carrying a gun in the first place.

The big problem for those people, and for those that are leery of a safety, is that they don't spend enough time training their motor reflexes to deal with those things. Drawing and swiping off a manual safety fifteen or thirty times isn't enough. You have to do it enough so that it becomes second nature - you don't think about it, it just happens. Every time. Same goes for actuating a laser sight button.

But the main reason my Crimson Trace is back in it's box has nothing to do with it's effectiveness or training to use it. It's because I am not going to duplicate my favorite holsters in order to carry my guns with laser sights attached. I have spent a great deal of time and considerable money on finding and getting oriented to a few good holsters. I carry different guns in different places, depending on conditions, weather and my mood for the day. I have IWB, OWB and pocket holsters - a number of each. Frankly, I can't afford to duplicate them. I'd rather spend the money on an SR1911 if I had it to spend in the first place.

A case in point - my favorite OWB holster for my Ruger LCP is my Bullard Bodyguard. It's one of the best holsters made, in my opinion, and it's not cheap. Dave Bullard has a current 20 week wait time if you want something not in stock. I'd do that, but I am not spending almost $100 on another Bodyguard that will accommodate my LCP with the Crimson Trace attached. Now, apply that to the other holsters I like, IWB and OWB for my other carry guns, and I could run up quite a tab in new holsters.

I had a conversation with a Crimson Trace representative a while back who admitted that their (and all makers of handgun laser sights, I'd say) biggest problem with sales was the holster question. Although many people like the laser sight concept, many don't want to, or can't afford to buy more holsters.

It does not have to be that way.

There is plenty of real estate exposed on a semi-auto handgun, like the Ruger LCP, when holstered. About one third of the slide area and all of the grip is exposed, leaving more than enough room for an innovative designer to create a laser sight system that can be user installed, easily actuated and would not interfere with a standard, existing holster. My belief is that the laser sight makers have so far taken the easy road, producing products that hang off the front of the pistol with enough bulk to easily accommodate the sight and battery. The attitude seems to be, buy a simple holster that will fit your gun with our without the laser, or buy a specially made one that will. Either way, you have to buy something else in order to carry the laser equipped handgun.

This is particularly onerous since the laser sights are made for and heavily advertised for self defense. You really don't want to carry a self defense gun without a good holster.

My challenge to the laser sight makers is to design a good sight that I can easily attach to my Ruger LCP, or LC9 or SR9c that does not require me to buy another holster, or holsters, in order to carry it for self defense.

I know they can do it. I just don't know why they don't....