Dedicated Armed Intelligentsia members are well aware that RF isn’t a fan of mouse guns. He makes a fair case that you’re better off with nothing. Number one on his hit parade of reasons is that someone trying to shoot an attacker, given the adrenaline rush, low light, moving target, etc. – not to mention the inherent difficulty in shooting a pint-sized pea-shooter – is likely to miss. Without plenty of practice, that is. Well, I like my pocket gun. And I practice with it, so I’m pretty accurate. But throw in the heat-of-the-moment pressures and, just like being skinny, you can never be too accurate. So I figured I’d up the ante a little…

My pocket rocket is a little Kel Tec P3AT. Yeah, yeah, I know. But I gave it the fluff and buff when I first bought it and it has never been anything less than 100% reliable. It’s also small, slim and eminently carryable.

But yes, it can be tough hitting what you’re aiming at with these little bangsticks. And like any mouse gun, my P3AT has a sight radius shorter than certain body parts after getting out of an icy pool.

And then there are the sights themselves. Or should I say, “sights.” Calling them rudimentary is, well, generous. Throw in less than ideal lighting and it’s like trying to find a polar bear in a snow storm.

So instead of putting any extra shekels toward a new gun, I figured they’d be better spent making sure I’m as accurate as I can be with the gun I carry most. And adding a Crimson Trace Lasergrip is the best way to do that.

Design
You really have two choices. If you’re going to add a laser to this gun, there’s ArmaLaser and Crimson Trace. The ArmaLaser is cheaper but bulkier. The Crimson Trace is smaller and more elegantly designed. It’s also widely regarded as the Cadillac of the industry.

The Lasergrip adds relatively little size or bulk under the barrel and very little thickness to the trigger guard itself. It features a rubberized actuation button that’s positioned very comfortably on the upper part of the grip.

The laser’s so slim and changes the profile of the gun so little that I can still use most of my existing holsters. And while it’s a little snug in the Uncle Mike’s #1 pocket holster I use most often, Crimson Trace thoughtfully includes a new pocket holster specifically designed for the gun.

Installation
Putting the laser on couldn’t have been simpler. Mostly because my friendly retailer, Top Gun Shooting Sports, volunteered to do it for me. Nice guys, them. But he did it right there at the counter while I watched and even I could have accomplished it.

The laser is basically a two-piece affair that slips over the existing trigger guard and is held in place by two tiny Allen head set screws. Just pop the included battery into the business half, position both halves together sandwiching the trigger guard and use the tiny Allen wrench to fasten them together. Boom, you’re done.

Zeroing
Crimson Trace says the light comes factory sighted at 50 feet. Which is about three times the range you’re ever likely to have to shoot something like a P3AT. Not to worry, though.

The Lasergrip has easily adjusted windage and elevation controls. You simply use one of the two tiny Allen wrenches they include. It couldn’t be simpler. Before shooting it, I adjusted the light to sit right on top of the gun’s tiny front sight at about 5 yards.

When I got to the range and set up at that distance, the gun was shooting an inch or two low. One quick turn of the wrench and it was dead-on.

You have to remember, though, that while the light sits only about an inch below the gun’s barrel, there’s some parallax to deal with. This mostly comes into play at longer ranges. If you need to use a P3AT, it’s most likely going to be up close and personal.

When I shot the gun at 15 yards, the point of impact was about 1 ft below the light. Well within a minute of bad guy, but you’ll want to keep that in mind at longer than smell-the-bad-guy ranges.

Creep
I’ve put about 150 rounds through the gun since I added the Crimson Trace. And my hand can attest to the fun of extensive mouse gun range time.  The good news is that the laser hasn’t shown any creep or movement from all that high-recoil shooting. It’s stayed fixed right where I set it. Just what you’d want to see in a quality unit.

Training
Did I mention that a laser’s good for more than just shooting? Point your light at a spot on the wall. And please, double check that the gun’s empty first, OK? Now pull the trigger. The light’s probably jumping around like Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch. Especially with a gun that has a long heavy pull like the P3AT.

A laser can show you  – better than almost any other tool – just how well (or poorly) your trigger pull technique is.  Use it to practice keeping that little dot as still as possible all the way through “click” and you’re shooting will improve measurably.

Summary
If you’re going to carry a pocket pistol – and I am – you owe it to yourself to make it as easy to hit what you aim at as possible. I bought mine for $179. But if you need some financial incentive, Crimson Trace has a $50 rebate on this and other models though 6/30/11. No, it still isn’t cheap, but it makes a little .380 as useful and effective as possible. And the model LG-430 fits both the P3AT and the P32. If you own one of these guns, buy one.

Specifications

Materials Polymer with Rubber Actuator
Sighting Factory Sighted at 50 feet
Zeroing User Adjusted Windage and Elevation
Battery Life Four Hours Continuous
Battery Type 1/3N 3V Lithium (1) OR 357 Silver Oxide (2)
Laser Output 5mW peak, 633nm, Class 3R Red Laser
Laser Visibility Approximately .5 Inch Diameter at 50 Feet
Warranty 3 Years Complete
Wrench Size .05

Ratings (Out of Five Stars)

Build Quality and Design: * * * * * The CT is put together extremely well. Looks like an original part of the gun. The laser’s visible in even full-on daylight.

Ergonomics: * * * * Just grip the gun and you’re illuminating your target. You will feel the little rubber button tucked right under the trigger guard, but it’s not uncomfortable at all.

Installation: * * * * * You need zero gunsmithing skills to install the Lasergrip. If you’ve ever assembled anything from IKEA, you’re more than qualified.

Accuracy: * * * * * Get it zeroed and you will hit whatever you, uh, laser. The Crimson Trace significantly improves a difficult shooting gun’s accuracy.

Overall Rating: * * * * * This is an extremely well-built and useful addition to any small pistol. And not just mouse guns. I’d probably want one on a pocket 9mm if I had one. Other than my inherent cheapness (and saving for other heaters on my list), I’m not sure why I waited so long to add one to my carry gun. Shame on me.

 

[Have a special firearm you’d like professionally photographed? Contact Dan Zimmerman through his website or email him at dan@danzphotography.com.]

13 Responses to Gear Review: Crimson Trace Lasergrip for P3AT

  1. Why not leave it sighted for 50 ft? Then you’ll only be 3/4 of an inch (or less) off anywhere within that range and no thinking will be required.

  2. Guess I could have done that. It’s my first laser and I assumed it made more sense to zero it at the range it’s most likely to be be shot.

  3. I was not been a big fan of lasers, but I put one on a P3AT simply because the sights on it were so tiny I figured anything would be an improvement. After shooting it, I am now a big fan of lasers. The P3AT is actually quite accurate with a decent sighting system on it. (And although reliability with KelTec is a bit of a coin toss, mine came up heads, so that’s ok too.) However, if you’re going for speed, that precision can be a detriment. I had to train myself to break the shot as soon as I got the dot back in the A-zone, and not try to make it perfect. A laser also allows a chest-high press out rather than eye-height, which I find helps recoil control. The two combined make it very easy to empty a little .380 in no time at all. The laser also allows focusing on the target rather than the front sight, which is backward for experienced shooters, but should be easier for new shooters.

    While I still don’t like the idea of being dependent on electronics, it does seem like lasers are getting a lot more reliable, and to the extent that a little money can put an effective defense in the hands of people who need it right now, CTC is doing great work. A S&W 442 with a laser, for example, is about as close to foolproof as you can make a handgun.

  4. He makes a fair case that you’re better off with nothing.

    Um, no. That’s a terrible argument. “I don’t like it, so I think people should be unarmed because of my personal preferences” is NOT a “fair case”. Try aiming nothing – the sights are far worse than any mouse gun. Nothing also has far less capacity, the caliber is zero, and the velocity and mass are also zero.

    If it goes “bang” it’s enough gun.

  5. I also carry a P3AT with a crimson trace. (Well in the summer and certain “clothing situations.”) Excellent choice. 600 rounds through it (200 with laser) not a single malfunction. A .380 is still a hole.

  6. I have CTC grips on a S&W 638 and although I love it, esp for training, I find I have a hard time keeping the button pressed through a DA pull. The grip radius for the P3AT is very different from that of a J-frame, but the button is jammed way up by the trigger guard on both, not that I can think of a better spot. Did you have any problems keeping it lit?

    • No problems at all. It naturally comes under your top finger and lights as soon as you grip the gun.

  7. Hmmm.. Crimson Trace makes one for the .32 NAA Guardian… And it only adds 60% to the price of the gun!
    That might actually be worthwhile.

  8. Will it mount on a PF9? The PF9 has decent sights, but a local shooting incident has me looking for a tiny laser for my tiny 9mm.

  9. I have five CT lasers and they all work great. A few years ago I had a problem with one of the lasers with an expired warranty, but I sent it to them to see if it could be repaired. They sent me a new laser at no cost and they knew that my warranty had expired. Crimson Trace makes a quality product and they have the best customer service dept. I’ve ever dealt with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *