Like I said, I’m not a gun guy, but I am fairly mechanically inclined. The instructions that came in the box with the LaserMax Guide Rod Laser were clear, concise, and thorough. They even thoughtfully included a field stripping guide in an appendix. The entire process took me about 15 minutes from start to finish.
It begins with clearing the pistol, drop the magazine, clear the chamber by racking the slide (then rack it again and visually inspect the chamber!). Next, with the gun pointed in a safe direction, pull the trigger to release the action. At this point, I was able to pull the slide back about an 1/8th of an inch and depress the slide lock to the bottom. This allowed me to separate the slide from the receiver.
Setting the slide aside for now, the installation manual instructions directed me to “Remove the Factory Slide Lock”. LaserMax thoughtfully includes a small plastic tool which made it quite simple to push the slide lock spring down and then slide the actual lock out through the side of the receiver. Turning the receiver over and giving it a little tap knocked out the slide lock spring from the receiver. The manual suggests using the installation tool or a tweezers to pry or pull the spring out if it doesn’t come out easily. I was wondering why this spring needed to be replaced, until I took a look at the replacement spring, which has two raised bumps on it to create the détentes for the switch.
Installing the replacement slide lock spring was a little tricky since my fingers are pretty big and didn’t fit in the slide mechanism easily. After a little fiddling, I was able to get the new spring seated in its proper location. After that, it was a simple matter to push the spring down with the installation tool and slide the replacement slide lock/laser switch in through the side of the receiver. The manual stresses that it is very important that the slide lock be installed correctly with the yellow dots facing back towards the shooter. Improper installation will not lock the slide on the frame. I tested the switch by clicking it back and forth a few times through its three positions. Incidentally, this means that it’s great for lefties as well, since it works in either direction.
The manual instructs one to install a battery in the laser before installing it in the slide, but mine came with a battery pre-installed. Taking the original guide rod and spring assembly out of the slide was easy. Putting the new laser/guide rod assembly into the slide was equally easy and the manual points out that the word ‘barrel’ on the battery cap at the back of the assembly must be facing the scalloped depression in the pistol’s barrel lug. There is a warning in the manual which alerted me to the fact that the laser may turn on when installed properly in the slide. Sure enough, as soon as I pressed the assembly into place, there appeared a bright red flashing dot on the other side of the room. Wow, brighter than I expected. I don’t know if this kind of laser is eye damaging, but good thing I read the whole warning and kept it pointed in a safe direction!
I remounted the slide back on the receiver and clicked it into place. After cycling the action a few times to make sure everything was still operating correctly, I tried the new switch on the side of my receiver and was gratified to see a red dot lighting up a carefully selected spot on the wall.
A quick check of the alignment at about 5 yards showed it to be pretty much right on the money. The manual claims that it’s aligned within 3” of point of aim at 20 yards. I don’t know about you, but 20 yards with a 3.46” barrel is asking a lot. I can keep it on the paper at 20 yards, but just barely!
Using the laser is fairly simple. My index finger falls quite naturally along the frame of the gun as I draw it from its holster, and this happens to coincide with the actuation switch for the laser. The switch itself, which replaces the takedown lever, sticks out a couple of millimeters more than the original and has a slightly rougher texture. It requires a light yet firm pressure with the pad of the finger to click over the détente and activate the laser. Turning it off requires the activation switch to be pushed back from the other side of the slide using the off hand. The switch design is completely ambidextrous and is probably just as easy for a lefty as it is for me.
Is the LaserMax Guide Rod laser worth it? In a word, yes. The ability to line up on a target without struggling to line up the sights on a quick draw or in low light conditions is priceless. The benefits of not changing the shape or size of the gun itself are a definite plus, as my gun fits me great just the way it is.
There are guide rod lasers available for many different semi-auto pistols including Beretta, Springfield XD, Taurus, Sig-Sauer, Smith and Wesson, and most 1911 models. You can check on their website www.lasermax.com to find the proper one for your gun.
Lasermax Guide Rod Lasers