Should You Buy a Laser for a Pistol

laser for a pistol

Should you buy a laser for a pistol, especially a home defense gun? I get that question a lot.

Well, I have to say that I am pretty much old school. I never got used to using one. I shot a lot slower trying to get the laser on target rather than picking up a quick sight picture.

There are other people that swear by laser and I am not saying they are bad. It depends a lot on individual experience and training.

I found a decent video that goes over basic laser use and what you should think about. Check it out and let us know if you like lasers or not in the comments.


  1. I shoot regularly with both laser sights and iron sights. My laser sights are Crimson Trace, so they turn on automatically when I grip the gun. I do not need to align the front sight with the laser dot, because the shot is going to go where the dot is. The main reason why I have laser sights is that my eyes aren’t all that good. The only way I can focus on the front sight is with my computer glasses. So, if I am away from home and wearing my normal bifocals, I can’t focus on the front sight; the distance from my eyes is wrong, putting them out of my focal range. Without laser sights, I am shooting somewhat blind. However, one problem with the laser sights is that the batteries can go dead at the most inopportune times.

    I would highly recommend laser sights for people who have vision problems, as it might make it possible for them to shoot accurately, when otherwise they couldn’t. However, I would also recommend that at least one-third of your practice be with iron sights, so that you can use them, if needed.

    Anyone who is buying laser sights should consider the time it takes to turn them on. I use Crimson Trace because I don’t have to turn them on; the switch is in the grip, so when I grip the gun, it turns on. In a self-defense situation, I may not have that extra time needed to turn on the laser. The fact that it is easy to accidentally turn on the sight in the laser in the video is beneficial, as it shows that it can be turned on without much time or effort. I have had laser sights that require an extra action to turn them on, such as the ones that attach on the rail in front of the trigger guard, and I would strongly recommend against them; the time it takes to turn it on could be the difference between life or death.

    By the way, the shaking he was referring to in the video is the normal shaking that any of us do when holding a gun at arm’s length. he made it sound a bit like it was the laser’s fault, but that’s not true. It’s just more obvious with the laser sight, than it is with the iron sights, because of distance. The shot spread on both targets is largely because of that shaking; not the sight.

  2. It may be purely psychological, but I feel like I present less of a target when in the Weaver stance. I feel more focused, yet still comfortably scanning left and right for other threats..

  3. Irene Joyce says:

    Could the use of a laser make you a target? Would the person you would be shooting at see the laser coming from your gun?

    • absolutely, that’s one of the risks involved in using a laser. Military laser sights are infrared, so they are not visible, but civilian ones are visible.

      • Very good point , that’s why I like the S&W Body guard. You turn the laser on at the push of a button with your trigger finger .
        It’s laser / bang !!!

  4. Irene, you ask a valid question for which there can be many answers, but in a nutshell the answer is Yes, and No.
    Yes, insofar as the person at the end of the laser (the target or perpetrator) could see the laser beam (especially in dusty conditions) and follow it back to it’s origin, that being you with your gun. Seeing the laser before it finds him “may” be all the reason the need to leave.
    The No part of the equation isn’t really much of a concern since IF you are wielding a laser equipped handgun and IF you are preparing to use the gun in a VALID self defense scenario, it really makes no difference if the Bad Guy sees the beam/dot/origin of the laser.
    In our hypothetical scenario you’re in a situation where you NEED your gun so having the laser on is prudent. Now IF you have a truly BAD GUY in your sights and “painted” with the laser dot, you are well placed to use your gun should the unfortunate need to do so happens.
    The fact that you already have the laser activated and, presumably, painted on your target gives you the advantage of being but a moment away from firing in self defense.
    There are two asides that could also work towards your benefit, either of which could be good OR bad, depending on the circumstances.
    One, the alleged Bad Guy sees the beam/dot before you see him and realizes sh+t is about to get ugly and decides to un-ass the area (a WIN for you) or,
    Two, you already have the Bad Guy in your sights, his chest has the mystical dot properly aligned on his person and he realizes sh+t is about to get ugly and stops all illegal activity (another WIN for you) or he presses his attack and you, again in our hypothetical scenario, fire and, hopefully, stop him from further aggression (yet another WIN for you, albeit one with legal ramifications best left for another discussion).
    There are multitudes of tangent stories that would accompany any version of the above hypothetical story lines but I think you can get the drift of what I am describing here.
    Your mileage may vary but I would recommend you seek training and competent help in learning IF obtaining a laser eqquiped firearm is right for YOUR needs.
    Good Luck, God Bless and I hope you NEVER find yourself in a situation where you require the services of a firearm, with or without a laser.

  5. Excellent points and questions. What about using a Red Dot sight or Reflex sight as opposed to a laser. It projects a small (3-14 MOA) dot, but on the lens on the sight instead of on the target? It can’t be traced back to the gun (you), and still provides a pin point accuracy, especially in the dark. Some of the systems have auto turn on in less than a second, and auto brightness too.


    Here is another take on the subject. This is an article I wrote about lights and lasers on handguns. Might give you some more info and a different perspective.

  7. Steven MettingeR says:

    Lasers Are a distraction and the perp will know where exactly you are position and where the gun is pointed at. You lose that element of surprise when they know you are aiming at their balls. But then again they can’t see the laser when your committed to a nasal ocular shot!

    • jacob stevenson says:

      Not if your smart and don’t turn it on yet…that’s why most lasers or flashlights have a quick to use on switch

  8. jacob stevenson says:

    I don’t like the use of a laser…sure it’s great in the dark but you can’t see WHO your shooting, what if it’s a loved one home early from a business trip?? I prefer a flashlight attachment and if you know what your doing you can even sight in the flashlight to the gun just like a laser but better because your going to blind the intruder so it’s not as likely he shoots back as fast.

  9. I have lasers on both self defense pistols I carry everyday and wouldn’t want to be without them I do not need to aim with iron sights to use them that would defeat the purpose completely also they are fantastic for dry fire practice

  10. Attitude, practice with your handgun and use ammo that consistently penetrates 12 inches..the FBI norm.
    As for the laser good stuff, but in hi-stress rely on your eyes, if you can. Thanks.

  11. My problem with lasers is that it breeds dependance upon the laser for accuracy, and when the battery runs out your accuracy drops accordingly. Also it encourages tunnel vision and reduces awareness in combat as you are focusing on where the laser is. and that is very dangerous.

    • Your tunnel vision argument is the same for using the iron sights. Tunnel vision is a state of mind, not something caused by the type of sights one uses. Full situational awareness is necessary no matter what you are using.

  12. Here is one possible use for the laser-equipped pistol. Cell phones are now made with cameras that can pick up infrared light. You can test them simply by looking at the remote control for your TV. If you have an IR emitter (can be made with less than $5 in less than 10 minutes), you can use your cell phone to see in the dark. You can even see around a corner if you just extend the camera. And if you also extend your pistol with a laser, you can see your target on your cell camera. And all the bad guy sees is a laser point.

    I’ve demonstrated this technique to a couple of people, They’ve started playing around with the concept.

  13. All of my defensive pistols have lasers on them. All of them. The OP says (s)he aligns sights faster than a laser. Fine, on a paper target. The human eye tends to focus on the threat, which is exactly where the laser dot appears. Trying to focus on your sights is trying to undo about a million years of evolution.

  14. I’m near sighted, so I have a laser on my 9mm and it makes all the difference in the world!

  15. I have found lasers improve pistol accuracy a lot. The issue of spending too much time trying to see the laser can be fixed by using the regular sights for basic target alignment and then the laser dot for final aim. The laser changes the sight radius from a few inches on a pistol to the entire distance to the target.

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