The first time I laid eyes on Crimson Trace laser grips, was at a gun show. I was walking the isles, when I came across a Crimson Trace display. I started reading the description on how they worked and what exactly they were used for. The display consisted of different pistol frames, all made from blue colored plastic, each having a different set of grips that corresponded with that model pistol. I tried the revolver and the pistol out and I must admit, at the time I didn’t see the need to add these to my inventory of gun accessories. Plus the price tag was more than I cared to spend for a set of grips with a laser in them.
As the years passed, I continued to notice those Crimson Trace displays on gun show tables and thought, “Well there must be something good about them, and they’re still in business.” So I stopped once again and re-examined them and thought about their usefulness on a home defense gun. The vender at the table told me that they were best used when dealing with lower light situations, such as home defense. However they were not as good in bright daylight. I thought to myself, “Well I guess that’s where iron sights come in handy, but I still did not buy a set. But the seed was planted and I was on a direct course with my own set of Crimson Trace laser grips, I just didn’t know it.
It wasn’t till a couple years later when my wife and sons bought me a Glock 27 for Father’s Day, which is my primary carry gun, that I considered a set of Crimson Trace grips. I knew they manufactured grips for the Glock, but I wasn’t very happy about where and how they were attached, since Glock frames are polymer and have no grip panels to replace. Instead they are pinned onto the back of the grip using a longer replacement pin supplied by Crimson Trace. It also changed the feel of the pistol and to me it wasn’t a good feeling. But for the Glock 27 they manufacture the model LG-436 that installs onto the trigger guard. They have manufactured a new laser unit for the Glock that is front activation, the model LG-417, which fixes some holster issues, but since it’s new I have not had a chance to hold it and see if I like the feel of this model.
I thought about the one drawback I knew it had, and that was using the laser and shooting in a daylight situation. But I also knew statistics show that more crimes happen in low light situations and inside a structure or home. I checked this theory against information from a friend who is a police officer/supervisor in my home town Police Department. He mostly agreed with this, but like all things there are exceptions to every rule. So I contacted Crimson Trace and ordered the LG-436 for my Glock and within a short amount of time I had my first set of Crimson Trace laser grips.
Just from the box you get the feeling that they manufacture quality into everything they make, as this box holds a significant investment in you and your family’s safety. Within the box you will find one laser unit within a nicely made black bag, silk screened with the company logo, installation instructions, owner’s manual, warranty card, company sticker for your shooting box, battery(s), a small bag that contains two .050” hex wrenches for laser adjustments (sizes will very per unit), two swabs for cleaning the eye of the laser unit and two laser warning labels. The first label is the “Danger” warning label and the other is the “Aperture” warning label, which the instructions tell you must be installed on the firearm.
Following the instructions for installing the laser unit, “and yes, some men read the instructions,” it took me about 5 minutes to install the batteries and attach it to my trigger guard. I would advise you to test the battery before installation by pressing the pressure pad, but I had no problems with either battery from my two laser units. After tightening the two screws the unit is unmovable and ready to adjust to my preferred point of impact. Crimson Trace pre-sights their units at the factory for 50 feet and if you choose to readjust to your point of impact, it is very simple and instructions are clear and easy to understand. If for some reason you encounter any problems there is an 800 number to call for friendly help with your questions. The representative I spoke with was Fred.
I used the provided hex wrenches to set my point of impact to 7 yards or 21 feet, as this is a common engagement distance for indoor and most outdoor shootings. Again, it is your choice of what you feel meets your needs, just check alignment on your unit after installation so that your laser dot co-witnesses with your front sight. Or in simpler terms, the laser dot should be in front of your front sight on your pistol, almost like you are aiming at the laser dot. Crimson Trace recommends the dot sit on top of the front sight while aiming. Your point of impact is then set to your needs and all you need to do is go to the range and test your settings and make any adjustments. Don’t forget to take your hex wrench and cleaning swab. I carry one of each on my person along with an extra battery in a small storage bag and since they weigh next to nothing and take up very little space, you won’t miss them till you need them.
Now since battery life is really important here, your unit’s life depends on them and maybe yours, you want a high quality fresh battery to power your laser grips. Some units use one or two batteries depending on the type used. The LG-436 on my Glock 27 can use one DL 1/3N lithium or two 357 Silver Oxide batteries. My wife’s Ruger SP-101, model LG-303; can use one 123 cell or two CR2032 or DL2032 batteries. I prefer the Lithium batteries as these have a proven track record. They are commonly used in Sure Fire lights by the U.S. Military and don’t suffer power loss like some other batteries; although they may die instantly when full expended. These batteries commonly give you over 4 hours of intermittent run time and have a five year shelf life. Crimson Trace states that turning off the unit will not increase battery life and it may be off when you need it most. I only turn my unit off when storing my pistol with no plans on carrying it.
The laser itself is a class 3a visible laser diode with a peak power of 5mW, and a wavelength of 633nm. The Laser color is red with a beam size of approximately 0.5” at 50 yards. As of this writing Crimson Trace does not make a green laser for their pistol models, but they are working on a vertical fore grip Model MVF-515 GREEN and currently have a like model, the MVF-515 RED. I was told by my contact at Crimson Trace that with the current technology in batteries, a green laser is not practical at this time in their pistol grip configuration. There are green units available in larger packages from other companies, but from my experience they use larger batteries to power that green laser. They also fit on accessory rails of the pistol and use fingertip actuated switches to turn on the laser and/or light. I believe that if it’s possible to make a grip model green laser, the technicians at Crimson Trace are working on it, and will perfect it in the near future.
It was now time to iron out any sighting problems at the range, and to test its usefulness for what it was designed for. I currently use a weapon fanny pack made by Eagle Industries (http://eagleindustries.com) because with the laser attached, it will not fit into a conventional holster, and with the fanny pack, I draw right handed from the front. I shot in bright daylight first to see how visible the laser would be at 7 yards. I could see it dimly on the B-27, but for point shooting it would not be useful to me. I then shot at twilight and this is where the laser shines, excuse the pun. The laser was easy to see and direct on target. Shooting from my fanny pack and being well practiced at this technique, I was able to place all my rounds inside the B-27’s, inner rings, just using the laser with no difficulty. Even at ranges out to 25 yards I could score hits with a little practice, and it does what they say it will do. Of course to get use to its operation, which is instinctive, as well as being a new accessory on your pistol, you should put in some trigger time to truly appreciate it as a useful defensive tool.
Holsters present a small challenge with a few of the laser units Crimson Trace sells like the LG-436 on my Glock 27. Since the unit attaches to the trigger guard it will not holster in most conventional designs like Fobus or Blackhawk, instead it requires an open type holster or sleeve like the one in my fanny pack. The LG-303 on my wife’s Ruger SP-101 replaces the original grips so holster choice is still open to many holster types. There are choices for the LG-436 and with the recent explosion of pocket pistols in the .380 range, they are growing, since these pistols use the same type of laser units. My contact at Fobus (www.fobusholster.com) has told me they are planning on releasing a holster for this model sometime after June. Galco Gunleather (www.galcogunleather.com) has the Summer Comfort model and the escort fanny pack design. Blackhawk (www.blackhawk.com) has a few choices like the Paddle holster, hip holster, inside the pants holsters with and without retention straps, inside-the-pocket holsters, ankle holsters; ambidextrous multi-use holster with magazine pouch and concealed weapon fanny pack with retention belt loops, the size is small. These are but a few choices, just keep an eye out for more choices in the coming months as holster makers are seeing the need for these holsters and are filling the demand.
Now as time has passed my Crimson Trace grips have come to be an irreplaceable part of, not an accessory to, my pistol. The 2010 Shot Show gave me a great opportunity to try other laser units out, but I have found none as easy to use as these. I won’t tell you the others are no good or bad quality; I have not fully tested them as of this writing. But I believe without a doubt that under duress, in a defensive situation you can use the laser instinctively, even without training because you will squeeze the grips hard as adrenalin kicks in and in effect actuates the laser. Some of the others I would surmise, require repeated use and or training and muscle memory to get use to turning them on or off during a stressful situation. You want to instinctively use your trigger finger to squeeze the trigger, not try to find a toggle switch.
I am by no means an expert in urban warfare, but I use a healthy dose of common sense in everything I do, including protecting my family. The laws in some states are getting better in the areas of self-defense, but it is still dangerous territory for the gun owners. Luckily you still have some rights within your home and even on the streets, in some states. In others you have a right to be a victim and should walk around with your wallet out and your hands in the air. A good reference book for this is, “Traveler’s Guide to the Firearms Laws of the Fifty States”, written by J. Scott Kappas, Esq. I had a chance to meet him and he told me he updates his book every year and keeps it current, but he also told me to check on local laws before you travel as they are always changing.
Now if you’re a Navy SEAL and are used to getting shot at and spend 8 hours a day training, I’m thinking your problem free. But for the average person, I wouldn’t suggest walking around your house and with a laser or light on, unless you like being stabbed or shot. If you can, stay in one place behind good cover and call the police. Use your laser and light to cover your position and wait out the time it takes for the police to show up. Stay on the phone with the 911 operator and make sure you tell them you’re the armed homeowner. Give them a brief description of yourself, the current situation if you are able and where you are in the house to avoid being shot by the police, and above all obey all commands the police give you. Until they sort everything out, they don’t know who you are in the chaos they just walked into, and will more that likely place you in handcuffs for their safety.
If you have to search your home because children are in other parts of the house, move slowly and be ready, but most importantly, check your targets. Shooting your spouse or children will haunt you all the days of your life. If you are trained in this area, great, if not, I suggest you seek training. There are a lot of gun clubs, ranges and training facilities that have people that specialize in this field and can get you up to speed in this and other areas of defensive shooting like Gun Site and Thunder Ranch. I feel the average person, who utilizes these grips, who has all the good intensions of going out and practicing and training with the pistol and laser unit to become proficient in its use, but doesn’t in the end. The laser helps with target acquisition in low light situations, it does not make you a better shot, and this is where your range time is so important. I assure you the pistol, laser and light paired with training and practice will give you a fighting chance to become a survivor not a victim.
Crimson Trace puts good stuff into their products and is backed by friendly people who will help you with whatever issues you may have, whether installing or using any of their laser units. And to make sure you’re happy, they offer you 30 days to love those new grips or you can return them. I won’t part with mine and love to show them off at the range to other shooters. I am excited to see what the men and woman at Crimson Trace come up with next, so for the now go visit their website for a lot of information on their products. www.crimsontrace.com will have something good for your handgun or rifle; you won’t be disappointed. Make sure you request their video, “The Art of Survival: Real-World Laser Tactics,” or you can watch it on Crimson Trace’s website. Here is a link to one part of the DVD called, Conquering low light with David Hackathorn.