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A lot of gun owners these days, particularly those that are new to the discipline, ask "The Laser Question."

"Should I put a laser on my fill in the blank?"

It never fails, in my classes these days, that someone will ask the question during the open floor Q&A part of my class.

I doubt there is a pat, hard and fast, rule that could be applied in order to generate the proper answer that is applicable for everyone. But, there are things you can think about that'll help you decide if a laser is right for you. Here's how I go about doing it ...

1 - Anyone who has ever zero'd a laser to his particular sidearm knows that the further away the target the shakier it gets. So be willing to find the sweet spot, the Goldilocks Zone, if you will. When you practice know your distances and at what general range that laser can be used to its maximum efficiency. For most that is somewhere between 10 and 25 feet. Not yards, not meters, but feet when it comes to a handgun.

2 - Understand that bad guys used to freeze when they saw that little red or green dot on their chest. In the business we call it "marking the target." What we've seen lately is that bad guys have learned that they can use that little laser dot to their advantage. If the dot's not hot then they fear not being shot. (pardon the poetic waxing, but I couldn't resist.) Do this. Take a laser pointer, one of those used to point to blackboards or whatever, and have a fit, capable person run around the room seeking concealment ... see how well you do keeping that pointer on them long enough to get a shot off. Now, imagine the stress of you with a finger on a trigger and imagine again how much tougher it might be in darkness, or only flashlight illumination ... you'll soon start to understand what I am trying to convey.

How have the pros learned to overcome the hot dot reaction by bad guys these days? It's called numbers. You only engage your laser (on your firearm) if you have numbers ... meaning, the bad guy is painted with multiple dots by multiple shooters. (Now, this does not apply to tasers that are laser equipped. We've found that, if you are in a room, or otherwise close quarters, with a bad guy and you choose to employ your taser rather than your sidearm ... usually that bad guy, once he realizes that he really has nowhere to go and that you're far more likely to pull the trigger on a taser than a firearm ... once you paint him with a taser laser he may very well turn meek on you - but don't confuse the two.)

3 - Lasers are excellent for behind cover shots. Meaning ... you can have your head in one place and your firearm in another and as long as you can see where you are placing the dot, (sic: painting the target), you can get a shot off. This does have its place and it can come in handy.

4 - It takes a lot, I mean a lot, of practice to get the full benefit out of lasers whether you are employing them on a long gun or handgun.

5 - Laser equipped firearms can make for some very beneficial dry firing exercises. IMHO lasers are best suited for this purpose for the average citizen out there.

6 - If you've never seen what happens to a laser when it hits smoke and/or dust or other airborne particulate matter, especially at night and in other low-light, low viz situations ... make sure you do not find out when it is too late and you are depending upon that laser for an accurate shot. And believe me ... if the shooting happens indoors and it is violent - there is going to be stuff in the air. For those not with me on this ... google "refraction."

7 - Lasers are worthless if they are not working properly. Unfortunately, lasers rarely work properly for very long. They require as much, or more, maintenance than does the firearm a lot of times. Little pieces of debris get on lens, batteries go dead or worse, corrode. They get knocked-off of zero. Buttons go bad. So, if you decide you are going to rely on a laser ... stay on top of the thing. Don't just shoot it once a year and think you are good to go. You gotta replace batteries when you do not think they need replacing ... or either practice so much that you instinctively know how long those batteries are going to last. Keep them clean. Keep them zero'd. Etc.

8 - Lasers are expensive ... at least the good ones are. Some of them are as much or more than the firearms themselves ... and most people will never get their money's worth out of them. So when I am asked, by friends or students, if investing in a $300.00 laser is worth the money my response is pretty much always the same. I explain that if you spend that same $300.00 on practice ammo ... you'll end-up being a much better shooter than you will if you slap that laser on your new Glock or SIG or whatever. But, if you want to spend $50.00 on a cheap Wally World laser and another $15 bucks on a set of snap caps for your handgun ... yeah, you can get some good dry fire trigger time and immediate action drills under your belt and still have a lot of money left over for practice ammo and range time..

Anyways, sorry for being too long winded. I had read a couple of laser threads today and, after teaching a class this weekend and having the question asked once again ... I thought there might be some who would be interested in another perspective where lasers are concerned.

As with most things, Hollyweird has skewed the realistic perception of laser equipped firearms in the eyes of the average citizen and subsequently it has led to a rampant misconception about the practical application of modern lasers by the Concealed Carrying general public out there these days.
 

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Harley Dude
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Excellent Summary!

You are correct.:thumbsup:
 

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Great write up. I never cared for lasers. I have seen to many people at the range "hunting the dot" instead of concentrating on the target.
 

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My agency gave me one for my glock six or seven years back. I never put it on the gun. I like night sights on a pistol. I don't care for lights or lasers.
 
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Very nice write up! I've spoke to some ex military and police friends and they say the only thing a laser will do is let you forget how to properly use your gun sights.
 
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