Crimson Trace makes laser sights that fit just about every firearm. Their Lasergrips are a prime example, designed to fit most of the guns on the market and provide an easy to use laser sighting system. But what about guns that don’t have replaceable handgrips, like Glocks or the M&P? Or obscure firearms? Or rifles? Turns out Crimson Trace has been working on something for just that market, and they call it the Rail Master . . .
The idea is actually pretty ingenius. There are way too many guns to make Lasergrips for each model, and even if there is a pair available for your gun, they will only work with that model. If you change your gun, you’ll need new Lasergrips. And that can can get expensive.
There’s a market for a universal laser sighting system that isn’t dependent on a particular model of gun or design feature and instead used a standard mounting system. And with the increasing popularity of standard M1913 rails on handguns, it makes sense to take advantage of all that rail acreage.
The Rail Master is a compact, self-contained laser system that attaches directly to any standard M1913 Picatinny rail. Fully ambidextrous, there are buttons on both sides that allow the shooter to turn the unit on and off. The laser is adjusted just like any other Crimson Trace laser, using a hex key in two small adjustment holes, one on the top and one on the side.
In terms of ease of use, while it doesn’t have the same intuitive on/off system as Lasergrips or Laserguards, it does offer the shooter the ability to turn the laser on…and leave it on. The switches on either side are simple on/off toggles rather than momentary pressure switches. Meaning that instead of having to apply constant pressure to the switch, the Rail Master is a set it and forget it operation.
I know, not very exciting, but for me its great. I spend a lot of time training new shooters, and especially younger shooters. I’ve kinda become the go-to guy for introducing new people to shooting (having written the book on it and all), and the one thing that I’ve wanted to do but couldn’t — due to the limitations of Lasergrips — is have the kids use the laser to see exactly where they’re aiming.
Lasergrips are great for someone with bigger hands, but when you can barely get your hand around the grip to begin with, pushing a button at the same time is kind of hard. So something that I can turn on and leave on the whole time without needing the shooter to push anything is perfect for training purposes, which is the niche that the Rail Master fills quite nicely.
When the laser isn’t on my handgun, it can usually be found hanging out on my rifle where it performs just as well. For the most part I’ve been using it to quickly mount and zero new scopes (since I tend to use my 300 AAC Blackout rifle as my T&E host gun). I set the gun up at the same point in my apartment each time, shining the laser to the wall on the other side, aligning the scopes to that point. And that works surprisingly well.
While that seems like a waste of a perfectly good laser, before I kitted out my new Sig P226 Mk25 as my nightstand gun I was leaving my 300 BLK rifle propped up against the bed with this attached. Turning on a red dot is a little difficult in the middle of the night, but the Rail Master’s on/off switches are easy to locate and simple to operate even in the pitch black.
As far as how the unit functions, I’ve had no issues with it. It’s been on everything from a Sig P226 to a Glock 19, from a 300 BLK to a 308 Win and it hasn’t so much as hiccuped. And when using it simply as a way to zero new scopes, it has always been within 2 inches at 100 yards. There have been some reports of these falling apart or stopping working after a few rounds with a large caliber handgun, but I haven’t run into that.
There is, however, one slight issue with the product. Namely, once attached, not many of your existing holsters will work with the laser, especially the form fitted leather and kydex style holsters. The Rail Master obviously changes the geometry of the gun enough to keep it from slipping into the holster as designed. So if you’re planning on carrying your gun with one of these, you’ll need to get a custom made holster — these haven’t been around long enough to warrant a new holster shape. That’s one situation where the Lasergrips still have the upper hand.
And that issue might actually be a fatal flaw for the product for self defense users. If your only option with your setup is “Mexican Carry” then you need to start looking at other alternatives. Which is exactly what Lasergrips were made for.
So the Rail Master might not be the be-all end-all for self defense laser systems, considering the concealed carry issue. But for home defense “night stand guns,” for range toys, for guns that don’t have Lasergrips available (but have an open M1913 rail) and for shotguns and rifles, the Rail Master is a well-made gizmo that keeps its zero and keeps on ticking no matter what firearm you throw it on. Especially if you have a home defense AR-15, this is something you need to think about investing in.
Crimson Trace Rail Master
Price: $149 MSRP
Ratings (out of five stars):
Design: * * * * *
Its a sleek and stylish design that fits in well with existing firearms and seems like it came with the gun. It was designed with handguns in mind though, so on rifles it may look a little out of place.
Function: * * * * *
I have no concerns about this product suddenly breaking on me. And even if it does, there’s a lifetime guarantee and Crimson Trace’s legendary customer service backing it up. Then again, Iain Harrison might just be prioritizing my requests behind the scenes and not telling me…
Overall Rating: * * * * *
There are a ton of laser units available on the market that clamp onto a standard rail. Most are complete crap. This one isn’t.