What Is a Laser Sight?

In the world of firearms, laser sights are increasing in popularity for a number of reasons and purposes. Once considered too large, heavy, and unwieldy for practical use, advances in technology have led to laser sights that are accurate, durable, and portable. These days there are many models available that will fit most handguns on the market.

This article covers the basics: what a laser sight is, what kinds of laser sights are available, and some of the benefits of laser sights.

What Are Laser Sights?

Generally speaking, laser sights are devices attached to or even built into a firearm. They (ideally) project a laser beam as near to the same trajectory as a bullet fired from the barrel as possible. They aid in rapid target acquisition and accurate shooting, particularly in close-range and low-light situations. Though they can be affixed to rifles, they are more widely used with handguns.

Unlike with iron sights or optical sights, you aren’t limited to looking through the device to aim. Instead, a projected bead of light appears directly on the target. This can be especially useful for personal protection and self-defense. Not only does it make it faster and easier to find and take your shot, the presence of a red dot offers a next-level intimidation factor which can de-escalate a situation and give you advantage.

When Were Laser Sights Invented?

The first laser sight was created by Laser Products Corporation in 1979. Named the LPC Model 7, the helium-neon gas laser sight was massive. The battery that powered it was too. Back then, it could only be bought in combination with the .357 Magnum Colt Trooper. 

Due to the size and weight, the battery was built directly into the gun’s grip. The laser was permanently affixed to the barrel and they could not be bought separately.

Initially, laser sights were sold almost exclusively to SWAT and Special Forces. Soon thereafter, they started to be made for firearms used by military and law enforcement. Then, the public discovered what a laser sight is thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger in James Cameron’s 1984 film The Terminator.

As one of the pioneers of the laser sight industry, LaserMax was founded in 1989. We’ve been designing, producing, and distributing laser sights ever since. Our wide range of laser sights are accurate, reliable, and infinitely adaptable.

Photo of a man doing indoor target practice with a handgun

What Is a Laser Sight Used for Today?

Laser sights are often used by military and law enforcement personnel. That makes sense, given that’s who they were originally created for. More and more, however, laser sights have found their way into civilian hands and regular use. Although they are used for target shooting, laser sights are most valued for their use in self-defense, especially in low light conditions (e.g. at night or indoors).

The projected laser speeds up target acquisition, meaning it takes less time for you to aim and fire — and in a life or death scenario, every second is critical. You might not have the time to line up a shot with traditional iron sights, and that means you’ll have to rely on hand-eye coordination. 

Fortunately, that’s what laser sights are ideal for — point shooting, AKA “threat-focused” shooting. And these days, it’s not just military and law enforcement personnel that need to be ready for anything. It’s obvious why so many of us are looking for ways to protect ourselves. Especially at night.

Are Laser Sights Accurate?

The short answer is yes, laser sights are accurate. Not to mention advantageous. If you’re shooting long range in the bright sun, it can be difficult to see a laser, but in most other conditions, laser sights improve accuracy even without any training.

What a laser sight is best suited to is handgun use in low light and at close-range. Like all sights, they must be properly aligned before use. During the day, they’re as effective as iron sights over short distances. At night or indoors, you can’t find a better option.

Another huge advantage of a laser sight is that you don’t have to level the gun to your eye. With, for instance, a rail mounted laser, you can ready any handgun for use from any angle, position, stance, or vantage point. Just as long as you can see the laser dot, you know where your shot will land. This makes a laser sight a vital addition for defensive handgun use.

Black and white photo of a woman pointing a handgun

Which Laser Sight Is a Good Fit For Me?

It depends on what you’re looking for. There are four factors to consider when shopping for a laser sight:

  1. Where and how does it attach to your firearm?
  2. What kind of battery does it need?
  3. What color laser does it project? and 
  4. What is the quality of the device?

Fortunately, our team at LaserMax offers a range of premium products that cover the range of options for the first three. Our collection includes Trigger Guard Lasers, Internal Lasers, Rail Lasers, and all the accessories you might need for them.

And when it comes to the fourth factor… let’s just say you’re in the right place. Whether it’s our powerful and rugged Green Spartan Rail Laser or our inspired and innovative Red S&W Gripsense Trigger Guard Light/Laser, every single product LaserMax offers is the direct result of decades of experience, attention to detail, rigorous testing, and masterful manufacturing. 

When you genuinely care about your customers as much as we do, "good enough" is simply not good enough. When it comes to operator safety, nothing short of the best is acceptable. What is a laser sight? Possibly the very thing that saves your life.

Our legacy spans more than a quarter century because we do take our responsibility seriously.

For more information on who we are, what we do, and how we’re leading the industry in innovation and design, check out our story here. And don’t forget to stay informed of all the latest and greatest in news, deals, and advice — sign up for our newsletter today.