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Crimson Trace is currently the manufacturers of handgun lasers. But there was a time that while their solutions weren’t quite as elegant, the craftsmanship was still remarkable. I recently had some time with Lew Danielson, CEO of Crimson Trace, as he walked me through the history of the company and their products and I couldn’t help being impressed by their products. For example, spot the laser on the Glock above . . .

Lew is one of those people who, once you get started, doesn’t stop. Which is great, because the man is a veritable treasure trove of interesting information. Over at Crimson Trace’s super-secret bunker they keep some examples of their earliest work, which included one of the first Glock handguns that they installed a laser into (which was their first product, BTW). And when I say INTO, I mean INTO.

Lew started his telling of the tale with an interesting observation. With metal framed handguns there is always going to be a removable grip into which you can pop some electronics. But with a polymer frame handgun there’s nowhere to put anything. There are no grips. But being a company founded by engineers, they didn’t let a little thing like the impossibility of an elegant solution stop them and plowed right ahead with the obvious one: drill the thing full of holes.

The first lasers for Crimson Trace were installed by hand, one at a time. End users would ship their handguns to Crimson Trace HQ where each one was measured, drilled, and had custom wiring cabled through the body to make the thing work. It was a painstaking process, but the result was a product that still works even decades after it was installed.

Their latest incarnation of lasers for handguns has done away with the process of transferring handguns to and from their shop, but the utility and quality of the finished product hasn’t changed a bit. And you don’t have to sacrifice a perfectly good frame.

Stuff like this always interests me. Then again, I am a gigantic nerd…

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  1. If you gotta have a laser, I reckon Crimson Trace is as good as it gets. Personally I don’t use anything that requires batteries on my firearms. Batteries are for cell phone and vibrators, not something that you might have to bet your life on.

    • There is a huge psychological effect of a red dot being on you if your are being targeted too.

      • I suspect the barrel of the weapon provides most of the intimidation factor. Lasers are the stuff of Internet lore.

        • Yes, but coming from my brother in law who is a police officer, he says the laser dot on a perps chest has a huge effect on compliance. “Where there is RED, there is lead”. I hope I never have to put this to the test.

    • They may be as good as it gets, but they’re definitely as expensive as it gets. I bought my girlfriend a gun for Christmas and the Crimson Trace grips cost as much as the damn gun did!

  2. That is a nice option. I am going to assume that the spot laser doesn’t interfere with having in a holster either and it is small to boot!

  3. The suspense is killing me, so where the heck is the laser in the pick? I see the laser warning sticker, so is it between the ejection port and rear sight?

  4. It is disappointing that no firearm maker provides polymer pistols with a pre-installed grip switch and wiring to contacts on the rail. Many pistols these days already have interchangeable backstraps, so even if only the wires were pre-molded into the gun, the switch itself could be sold as an option to keep costs down. Metallic serial number plates are already molded into the rails, so you know a contact plate could go alongside it very easily. The spring contacts and defeat switch would be on the laser module, so everything in the gun itself would be solid state.

    • Jayson, I don’t know if it really that big of a deal. I have a poly Kahr PM9, and I have the CT Laser site and it is really cool how the engineers at CT made it attach to the trigger guard. It actually straps around the guard and then there are a set of screws forward of the guard where the laser itself it. Very sturdy and looks like the gun was made that way.

  5. I met Lew in San Diego at the Spec-Ops Expo in Dec of 94. He was showing off his Glock to anyone who would look. Did an awesome demo by the pool targeting a medivac heli that flew over enroute to the hospital on the ridge otherside of the frwy. Just the lower, no slide. But he put that dot on the side door of that Huey and followed it all the way in. Impresive! I was sold at that instant and still have my original 1st gen 23 w/CT built in laser. Along with several lasergrips. Great Guy, would work for him anytime! Later, AF.

  6. Love my CT on my PM 9. If it only sounded like jacking a round into my 870 when it turned on. By the way, in a completely dark room where you can’t see your sites, it casts enough light you can identify your target before firing.

  7. I kind of like the way the ‘old’ laser integrates into the receiver. But how do you activate it?

    • By the small pressure button directly under the trigger guard next to the grip. When you grip the pistol, it activates.

  8. I have one of the original laser systems on my Glock and I LOVE IT!! Going on 15 years now and still sighted in!!

    • do you have a model number? i have the same thing on mine but i cant find anything online about it ive searched high and low.

  9. The original CT system was known as the GLS-630.
    For those who say nay to lasers on pistols,
    I would rather not have to find my glasses in the middle of the night,
    before I could confront an intruder.

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