In order to shoot something, you need to be able to see it and know where you’re aiming. In daylight, fulfilling both of those criteria is trivial, but once you turn off the lights things get…hard. That’s where Crimson Trace comes in, one of the foremost manufacturers of lasers for firearms. They make a line of products called “Lasergrips” that replace the standard grips on your metal framed handgun and have a small laser built right in. But how well do they work . . .
Installation is an absolute snap. The original grips come off, and the new ones are designed to fit perfectly in their place. The batteries are hidden inside the grips, but once you take them off they’re easily changed. There’s a small strip of rubber that connects the two halves and contains a few wires, but it’s designed to blend into the grip of the gun.
The grips do make the gun seem a little fatter in the hand, which for me is perfect. I have huge meathooks which is the reason I like the SIG P226 so much. And adding a little extra padding (plus the nicely tacky rubber the grips are made from) makes the gun fit my hands perfectly. I can see this being an issue if you have small hands, but I recently taught a young girl how to shoot with my SIG and she had no problem holding it and out-shooting everyone else.
The laser is located on the upper right hand side of the grips which can be problematic for lefties who use a high grip as the thumb might obscure the laser’s aperture. And for right handed shooters, I find my trigger finger sometimes gets in the way when I lay it along the side of the frame. But for me, when the finger’s on the trigger life is good.
The laser in the model I have is activated by one of two pressure switches located on either side panel and placed conveniently right under where your middle finger should lay. Or, if your hands are smaller, it comes into contact with the palm of your hand. So if you’re holding the gun loosely you can choose when you you activate the zapper by varying the amount of pressure you use.
Or, if you’re gripping your pistol in an “OH SHIT” deathgrip, the thing just comes on naturally. Which is perfect, as you don’t have to worry about flipping a switch to turn them off or on. There’s also a version that comes with the button in the middle of the grip for those with small hands. There’s also a master on/off switch for the power, so you don’t have to worry about them being accidentally activated in your range bag and sapping the four hour batery life.
Adjustments are made using a tiny wrench (provided) that slips into a nearly invisible notch. Using the wrench you can adjust for both windage and elevation, but there are no clicks like in a standard scope so its a change-and-test process for adjustment and zeroing. But if you have your sights already on target, you can eyeball most of the sighting-in by getting the laser and the sights to line up.
I know what you’re thinking. “That’s all nifty and stuff, but do they WORK?” The answer is “yes, yes they do.” Crimson Trace brought me out to their Midnight 3-Gun competition to prove just that.
I’m an okay handgun shooter, so I kinda knew where my handgun was pointing. But having a visual confirmation that I was 100% on target for the shots was a tremendous help and let me know if I needed to make a follow-up shot on the paper targets.
In a self defense situation, knowing you’re on target is even more important. If you only have one shot, knowing that shot is going to count is critical. And that’s where these grips absolutely shine.
Crimson Trace’s Lasergrips are designed to give shooters peace of mind about where their shot’s going to land even in pitch blackness and under stress. And for that, its perfect. Compared to using the standard iron sights it’s a little slower to get a “fine” bead on your target (like a small steel plate), but when all you’re concerned about is hitting a man-sized target these are just as quick. And when you can’t even see your sights because its too dark, they’re an obvious choice.
There’s another benefit, too, but it’s mostly for law enforcement. A visible red dot is one hell of a good deterrent – seeing exactly where the round will land if you decide to charge that police officer holding a gun on you. The typical thought of someone in that situation especially when sufficiently inebriated is “there’s no way he can hit me,” but seeing a visual confirmation to the contrary might make someone think twice. And a laser, much like a red dot on a rifle, gives the shooter tons more situational awareness since you’re not focusing solely on your front sight.
Personally, I think a pair of these should be on every home defense handgun. They’re on mine, and I don’t think I can give an accessory any higher praise.
Crimson Trace Lasergrips
Price: $240 – $340 (depends on exact model)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Design: * * * * *
They look just as good as the original, the material gives you a better grip on the gun, and the mechanics of the operation is genius.
Durability: * * * * *
I have no concerns about this product suddenly breaking on me. And even if it does, there’s a lifetime guarantee.
Overall Rating: * * * * *
If you’re concerned about being able to hit a target in the dark, you need a pair of these.