Gear Review: Crimson Trace Rail Master Universal Laser Sight

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.

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

15 Responses to Gear Review: Crimson Trace Rail Master Universal Laser Sight

  1. avatarMoonshine says:

    Idea: the “Rail-Mounted Laser Round-up”.

  2. avatarblargy says:

    Every M&P has removable grips, Crimson Trace makes grip lasers for them.

  3. avatarDerryM says:

    I use a Laser Barrel Sighting system to line up the Laser Sight on my Glock 19. It mounts underneath the barrel and has an on/off pressure switch under my right thumb. The only issue is that you need to decide on a point of impact, as the Laser Sights are pointing in a diagonal beam up/down left/right depending on where they are mounted on the gun. So, at a lesser or farther range the Laser will sight the POI a little lower or higher, and/or to the left or right, which you can compensate for if you are a fair judge of distance. Since my Glock is for in the house defense I sight it at 20 feet and practice at closer or longer distance in an indoor range. Generally, if you are intending a torso hit, this works well. IF POI is center of the Torso the inch or so the bullet may strike higher or lower is still effective.
    My Laser Sight is older and kind of big, so I have never found a good ready made holster, which is why it’s a Night Stand gun.

  4. avatarChris Dumm says:

    Nick and I got these from Crimson Trace some months ago, and Nick (being a harder worker than I) reviewed his first. I’m working on a ‘Take Two’ review of my own, and I totally dig it for range gun/nightstand duty. It weighs nothing, takes up almost no space, mounts solidly, and puts a brilliant laser dot wherever you want it. It would kick ass mounted just forward of an AR’s vertical foregrip.

    In fact, the only issue I’ve found with the Universal Laser Sight is that it’s fairly easy to bump it on by accident and leave it on unintentionally. This is a special pain in the ass when it happens in your range bag or when your gun is holstered.

    Hmm, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I might not need to do a whole ‘Take Two review after all because I agree 100% with everything Nick has said.

  5. avatarDrewN says:

    I’ve tried visible lasers, and don’t find them to be of very much utility at all. It’s actually harder for me to concentrate on that stupid dot for quick follow-ups then it is to just use the darn sights. Not to mention they work both ways. 99% of folks would,IMO,be better off spending that money on proper training and ammo.

  6. avatarPeter says:

    Think back to the first weapon lasers, they were the size of a large maglite, I remember first seeing one in a movie where it was almost the size of the shotgun it was mounted on. Now they are small enough that the power button takes up a significant amount of the real estate.
    Gotta love technology!

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Terminator 1. The laser absolutely was the size of a large scope, and IIRC, was mounted in scope rings.

      • avatarMurr1525 says:

        It probably was a scope… just a prop afterall. Couldnt fit the electronics in anything smaller at the time I guess.

        • avatarAlphaGeek says:

          Actually, it was a Spectra-Physics helium-neon tube laser with the power electronics packaged separately. It absolutely was a real laser, though it produced less output power (tenths of a milliwatt) than today’s LED laser emitters.

          I was kind of a laser geek in middle and high school. Made a holographic imaging setup as my science fair project one year.

  7. avatarensitu says:

    so do they fit on P-rails?

    • avatarChris Dumm says:

      That’s what they’re primarily designed for, but they should also fit Weaver rails. The Crimson Trace kit also includes several interchangeable rail-mounting so it won’t slop forward/backward in the pic-rail mounting slots.

      • avatarAlphaGeek says:

        If it has interchangeable mounting components, could a reasonably skilled machinist make a replacement mount to fit it to the proprietary USP rail slots?

        My sole regret in buying my USP was that H&K was ahead of the market on rail-equipped handguns, and you have to use an extra adapter to retrofit the USP to have a 1913-spec rail.

  8. avatarmscsniperx says:

    Don’t buy this! It’s a lemon!!!

    I have had two of the crimson trace rail masters.. both with exactly same problem. They stop working from the recoil shock after about 50 rounds- you have to take the batteries out,reseat but will stop working again. Look on Amazon you will see numerous people with same problem

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