The debate has raged for decades. Are laser sights worth it? There are many factors to take into consideration, but we’ve broken it down into the main pros and cons of laser sights:
Pros: The Benefits of Laser Sights
Laser Sights Improve Aiming
An obvious benefit of a laser sight is how immediately one can improve your marksmanship. The key to accurate shooting is focus. Not on the target ahead, but on the front iron sight. This is often the trickiest part for new shooters, as it goes against the natural instinct to look where you are shooting. Laser sights offer a big advantage in this regard by projecting a red or green dot onto the target ahead. This way you’re looking at your “sight” and target at the same time.
This is not only beneficial to new shooters, but to experienced shooters working to hone their skills, as well. It can be tough to tell at times why your hit ratio is not as high as you might like. Is something misaligned? Or are you, perhaps, not holding as steady of an aim as you think?
Laser sights can improve accuracy in this regard, as they illustrate immediately when you drift off the bullseye. They allow you to discover if your aim bounces around, or if you jerk the trigger, or if you overcompensate for recoil. You can find out not only when this happens but in which direction you move the gun. This is a big plus when it comes to laser sight pros and cons.
And, for those whose eyes are not what they once were, laser sights can be an incredible alternative to iron sights that might be growing increasingly blurry. Older shooters often report a return to form with the addition of laser-guided target acquisition.
Laser Sights Get You On Target Faster
When it comes to self-defense, every moment counts. However well trained a person might be, there is simply no question that laser sights provide a faster means to get on target, right out of the holster— even in moments of high stress.
Life threatening situations are chaotic and unpredictable. Even with training, the impulse is to look at the threat itself, rather than your iron sights. Not to mention, if you’re taking cover, laying prone, or shooting around a corner, achieving a proper stance and alignment is next to impossible.
Laser sights give you the advantage in the face of adversity and attack. They allow for rapid, accurate point shooting, especially in low lighting situations (e.g. indoors, at night). Plus, an added benefit of a laser sight is obvious: how it can de-escalate a lethal situation when your aggressor is marked with a laser point. In the Pros and Cons of Laser Sights debate, this can prove to be a vital point. Laser sights are the superior option for self-defense.
Cons: The Drawbacks of Laser Sights
Laser Sights Are Battery Operated
As far as the pros and cons of laser sights are concerned it’s important to remember that every battery dies. Even with regular use, proper maintenance, and on-going upkeep of your firearm, you may not think to change out the battery on your laser. Think of it like the TV remote or the fire alarm in your home. When’s the last time you changed that battery before you discovered the channel wasn’t changing or the BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-ing began?
There are useful tools which can make your battery last longer, like LaserMax Spartan™ “auto-off” technology, which automatically turns your laser/light off after 10 minutes of inactivity. Nevertheless, battery life is a factor to be considered.
Laser Sights Can Add Bulk To Your Gun
With the exception of our own internal Guide God Lasers, most laser sights attach to the outside of guns. Whether mounted to the trigger guard or the rail of your gun, there is that additional size and bulk to take into consideration. Adding an external-mount laser can require a new, larger holster or alternative storage method for concealed carry.
In terms of the pros and cons of laser sights discussion, it should be noted that, while internal lasers do not share this issue, they are not as easy to add or remove as a trigger guard laser. This is another factor to consider when thinking about things like the replacement of batteries.
Laser Sights Cannot Be Seen Under Direct Sunlight
Perhaps the most important downside to laser sights is how obvious a laser sight is in full daylight — or rather, how not obvious. In the sunshine, even the brightest green lasers lose their effectiveness over any reasonable distance. They are generally not ideal over longer distances in general, as the bullet fired from a gun drops due to gravity and the laser does not.
This is a big reason why proper training remains necessary. Although ideal for home defense and less-than-optimal lighting, life-or-death situations are rarely, if ever, going to occur under ideal conditions. In order to be ready for anything, train for everything.
Pros and Cons of Laser Sights: Final Thoughts
There are a number of other things to take into consideration: How obvious a laser sight is to your adversary in the dark, for instance; some fear it would give away their position. Weather and environmental factors can play a role in laser sight accuracy as well — wind, elevation, etc.
There are also some legal factors to take into consideration. For example, it is a federal crime to point a laser beam at an airplane. This is not to say you would be aiming at pilots overhead, but mistakes happen. Make sure you are aware of all the laws guiding the ownership and operation of laser sights where you live.
Overall, however, most confrontations that call for the use of a firearm happen at close range, in low light. Many happen in the home. These situations are going to involve movement, stress, obstacles, and possibly injury. Like Mike Tyson said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” And he was only talking about fists, not firearms.
The pros and cons of laser sights are worth considering as they may guide your decision on exactly what kind of laser sight is right for your needs. But there is no doubt lasers offer incredible advantages when it comes to self-defense. The benefits to accuracy, the addition of a light in addition to a laser, and the ability to get on target right out of the holster all combine to make the laser sight a self-defense must-have.
Keep training, stay safe out there, and always be prepared.
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