One of my favorite firearms innovations of the last decade or so has been the swift rise of aftermarket laser aiming systems for handguns. Remember when adding a laser to your handgun meant installing something that looked like a small flashlight onto your gun’s tactical rail with a coiled cord attached to an activation switch? Thankfully, we have come a long way. The innovation and greater integration will likely continue.
Crimson Trace (CT) has been an industry leader in laser sighting systems. It even offers high-tech laser grips for the relatively low-tech snub-nosed revolver. The Smith & Wesson 638 pictured here has forever been a favorite snubby, and adding a laser aiming system makes it even better. There is truly much to enjoy and not much to gripe about when it comes to adding Crimson Trace Lasergrips to a gun, but there are a couple things. With that, here are the things I love and hate about Crimson Trace’s LG-350G Lasergrips.
Love: Activating and Aiming
Adding most CT Lasergrips to a handgun means enjoying CT’s well-known, reliable and unobtrusive means of actuating the laser. Simply grasp the grip and depress the small button located on the frontstrap of the grips, and the laser comes on. When the laser comes on, the dot shows you where your rounds will hit. Granted, there a few nuances to aligning, aiming and actual point of impact. Since the laser emanates from the right sight of the gun just slightly lower than the barrel, there is some adjustment needed to accommodate the paths of the laser beam and bullet. If you point the gun and laser at something one inch from the barrel, the point of aim and point of impact may be different by an inch or so. At varying distances, the point of impact closes. At extreme distances, you defeat the point of shooting a snub-nosed revolver, but for the most part, where the laser beam lands is where the rounds will hit. The key is that you do not have to align the gun with your eyes; you can aim and shoot accurately without that extra step. For the record, CT’s Lasergrips install easily, activate intuitively, aim reliably and generally make the whole shooting process better. The activation switch works every time, and the bright green laser beam makes it easy to see even in daylight.
Love: Excellent Grip
Snubbies are not known for having a good grip quality. That is because they are known for being very concealable. Their shorter grips leave less to hold onto. Adding the LG-350G Lasergrips means removing the usually shorter handles and gaining some extra real estate in the grip. Since I carry this snubby inside the waistband, it is no trouble to hide just a bit more handle length. What I gain is a grip that helps fill my palms and finger grooves and even has a place for my pinky finger. Since the Lasergrips use two different types of plastic (one for comfort and one for structure), I get a solid grip through the sides with a little give in the frontstraps and backstraps. Considering the benefit of activation and aiming working in conjunction with greater grip and comfort, I will gladly give up the more concealable handles.
Hate: Finding the Right Holster
“Hate” is just too strong here, but as I said, there are a couple of points to gripe about. First is the matter that adding different grips with a protruding housing for the laser source means some holsters will not work with the gun. Leather and plastic holsters can be altered to accommodate the laser, but there is a risk with modifications like that. It is better to find a holster that does its job regardless of what grips are on the gun. The Blade-Tech Klipt fits the bill. It holsters the Lasergrip-equipped, J-frame snubby perfectly.
Hate: Fussing With Batteries and a Power Switch
It’s a compromise I’m willing to live with, but I am generally not a fan of adding electronic accessories to a mechanical handgun. Electronics need power and can fail. That is true for mechanical parts made from metal or plastic, but less so. CT’s Lasergrips require four small lithium batteries. Before you can operate the activation switch on the frontstrap, you have to turn the grips on by using the switch on the base. When the laser is powered on, you will get about two steady hours of time when the activation pad is pressed. You should burn through the battery over a very long period of time because most lasers are activated for only a few seconds at a time. I leave the power switch on all the time and have yet to use up the original batteries. The battery power management is excellent. You just have to be diligent to check the laser and replace the batteries when needed. The CT Lasergrips are very robust. They handle the recoil of round after round and stay on target. I have never gotten them very wet, so there is no telling what would happen if too much moisture got in or around the gun. While it is not likely to happen, it is possible, and therein lies one of the dilemmas of this kind of technology.
For more information on CT’s Lasergrips visit CrimsonTrace.com.
Do you use CT Lasergrips on your handgun? What are your experiences with this kind of technology?
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