What is your take on lights and lasers for your concealed carry gun? As I noted in Episode 1 of this series, I don’t think much of handheld flashlights for every day carry — and I stand by that. A lot of you disagreed with me on that, and that’s fine.
With respect to lasers there is a lot of “wisdom” out there from a gaggle of “professionals” who have zero experience in combat but who will argue that having a laser in a gunfight will make you forget your sights or that it won’t work or that it will compromise your ability to fight back.
Check out all the episodes in this series:
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 1 Stop The Nonsense!
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 2 Revolver or Pistol for CCW?
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 3 Fighting with Edged Weapons
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 4 Lights and Lasers!
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 5 Holster Selection & Where to Carry
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 6 Red Dots vs Iron Sights
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 7 Truck Guns
That specious argument, however, is firmly rebuffed by our experience in the Global War On Terror. For the first time in history, in Special Operations Forces at least, the majority of the killing was done in the dark — with lasers. Granted, we were using infrared (IR) models and what you want for a street gun is something you can see with the naked eye, but the principle remains true. If we can shoot Jihadis at 200 meters with an IR laser, all night long, any marksmanship debate about the efficacy of lasers is closed. They work. They work well. And actually, they might be easier to use than traditional sights.
What are the advantages exactly? Good pistol marksmanship generally includes the statement “focus on the front sight.” Couldn’t agree more. And that works, as long as you are incredibly fast, attuned to combat and you can change focal planes quickly.
What does a laser do for you? It not only allows you but encourages you to look at the threat as the engagement is happening. Real targets, unlike the paper bad guys at the range, don’t hold still. There is no way to replicate that in training. Even expensive moving targets move in a predictable pattern. A laser forces you to focus on where the target is now. Given your natural instinct to look at the target, this is an awesome combination. You can not only track where the threat is but also confirm that it is, indeed, a threat.
Seeing small details when your blood is up is an acquired skill. In military circles, we have the distinct advantage of spending enough time in firefights that we become attuned to it. Anyone that isn’t full of B.S. will also probably tell you that their first combat experience was a less than ideal performance. As an armed citizen, you don’t have the luxury of real world practice. Screw up the first encounter, and your odds of surviving to a second drop.
Lasers work in all light conditions. If you want to experience real fun, start shooting at a threat in zero light at close range. Tritium works great, as long as you are paying attention to it, and your chosen powder doesn’t blind you. Plus, a laser always offers a little target splash, and barring that a great way to end incoming muzzle flash.
Last, a laser expands the number of shooting positions in which you can put lead on target. When I teach new students, this is one of the things that blows their minds, how easy trick shots or otherwise difficult shots are with lasers. You can hold your pistol behind you and shoot via a mirror if you have to. Odds are you will be faster with a position closer to your normal shooting stance, but the weird stuff will work with lasers.
Lasers are a fantastic tool in the arsenal. They don’t take the place of training, but like all good technology, they shorten the learning curve. Drastically. It’s not all you need, but it is a solid investment. You won’t regret it.