Back in the good ol’ days, my father shot his television. He was stationed at an Air Force base in New England at the time. This was the 70’s, and like many shooters he was using dry fire practice to improve his trigger control while watching David Carradine in ‘Kung Fu.’ He left to run an errand and came back, not knowing that my mother had loaded the gun in his absence. Yes, he violated safety rule number one. As dad settled into his chair to watch a little western karate drama, mom went to the kitchen where she had only a moment to feel horror as she heard my father shout, “I’ll get the bad guy for you!” . . .
Thankfully, the only casualty was a 19-inch Sylvania.
Now, we all know that complacency brings about calamity. Dad freely admitted that his discharge was no accident, it was negligent. However, thirty-nine years later, I’m guilty of dry firing my gun while picking targets on the TV screen, too.
I have always been extremely careful about checking the chamber when I do it and making sure my ammo is securely locked away in the safe. But I always remember the story I heard from my parents so many times. And it worries me. Well, I should say it worried me. Past tense. Because unlike my father, I have this.
This is the Laser-Ammo SureStrike Ultimate LE Edition. It is not very useful by itself unless I want to annoy the cat. So what do we have handy that we can install it into? A SIG P228 will work.
For this testing session, I got together with a couple friends, older gentlemen, but with far more experience than I have. Retired Marines, Former LEOs, certified pistol instructors, longtime shooters…and that was just two guys. One of whom just happened to be back from an undisclosed location training people in the sandbox. Everything in this review includes their opinions and thoughts on the products as well.
The SureStrike is dry-fire improved. It locks out the chamber of the gun while simultaneously providing an alternative effect when you pull the trigger. It shoots a little red laser dot. This dot can be used to safely show you where each bullet would have hit if your gun had gone bang.
You can use it to target bad guys while watching your favorite TV shows, practice target transitions between living room lamps, or even have your kid/spouse/dog call out objects in the room. The laser module is shaped to mimic a 9×19 round, which it does remarkably well.
A safety tube is then screwed into the front of the laser module that extends beyond the crown of the barrel. This is threaded for a red plastic safety nut that will flag the gun as “safe.” The nut can be inverted to adjust for barrel length between compact, carry and full-size pistol barrels. And it is also tapered so that the end of the nut enters the barrel crown, and centers the tube. The tube isn’t needed, and in fact isn’t used on the shotgun and rifle adapters at all.
Use with the pistol adapter may be optional, but is highly recommended, as it serves as a “safe gun” flag. Once everything is in place, you can also press down the “primer” switch for seven seconds, and the laser module will serve as a fine bore sight. Just pull the trigger to turn it on and off. Press the button for another seven seconds, and it switches back into laser flash mode.
With the laser module firmly in place, the safety tube connected and screwed down with the safety nut, you’re ready to test it out. The safety tube is metallic, but there are little 0-rings in there to protect the rifling. Now, with the slide locked back on the SIG, we can just poke out, finger, or use a roll pin punch, or an Allen key. Hold down the button and switch it to bore sight mode, and it should line up pretty well with your sights. I tested this in the P228 pictured, as well as a GLOCK 23 and my RIA 1911. The SIG came up a little bit low, but the other guns lined up almost dead-on.
But what if you’re using a striker fired gun? Naturally, Laser Ammo thought of that. Racking a GLOCK (for instance) over and over will fling most dummy rounds across the room. But the SureStrike laser module is rimless. It headspaces on a lip where the mouth of the case would be. The extractor can’t touch it, and the entire laser module is held in the chamber by the safety tube locked in the barrel.
That means you can rack the slide on your M&P, VP9, SR9, whatever you carry, all day long and the laser module won’t move. If you happen to own a GLOCK, you can also purchase a “reset trigger” that effectively converts the pistol into a DAO weapon, one that only shoots little red dots.
Also included in the LE Ultimate Kit are little adapters for weapons chambered in .40S&W and .45ACP. These little sleeves are screwed in with the 9mm adapter and change the headspace lip diameter and position to suit the case mouth, while holding the module snug in the chamber. These sleeves may look tiny and weak, but they are very solidly made of stainless steel. I had an inadvertent test of “boot to floor”, and the little .40S&W sleeve didn’t even flinch. Which means that not only is it sturdy, it is much kinder than my bathroom scale.
Also in the package is SureStrike’s laser-sensitive target. It includes six little plates that slide into the top of the case to reduce the target size, a nifty little folding compact tripod, and it even comes with batteries. The controls are simple; a power button, a reset button and a mode switch button. There are four modes of use.
- Shot Counter – It keeps a running tally of your hits, but not your misses.
- Shot timer – A random amount of time passes before the LaserPET beeps, cueing you to draw and fire. Once you hit, the screen shows your time, then resets for another random interval.
- Burst Shooting – In this mode, the target gives you four seconds to prepare before the beep. Following the beep, you have five seconds to score as many hits as you can.
- Double Tap Mode – The target will count down four seconds, as in burst mode. When the first shot hits, the shot timer starts and is stopped by your second hit.
As you can imagine, running through these other modes with a 1911 will rub your thumb raw. Both of them, really. The first night I was testing this thing out I wore the prints off both digits. The G23 was a little more forgiving, but only for a while, as racking the slide every shot gets old. It made me wish I had that reset trigger. But when I installed it in the SIG P228, that double action trigger made it a whole new game. Calling shots on paintings in the living room, or plants in the garden while sitting on the deck at night. Rapid fire with the burst setting on the LaserPET, and double taps from the hip.
Ok, yes, we did some stupid things while testing it, too. But since I took notes, it counts as “science” and not “being a dumbass.” My two testing buddies acclimated to the slight change in point of impact with the SIG by simply ignoring the sights. Point shooting is a valuable skill, and these gentlemen were ringing the beeper on that target without even raising the P228 from their laps.
I was in my modified ISO, shifted two inches left, guesstimating POI to get on target. And I was all over the place. I too did much better when I ignored the sights on the SIG. I think this may be due to the really long, heavy pull on the SIG’s DA trigger. At least, that’s where I will be placing the blame.
By the end of the night, we had agreed that this kind of equipment would be very beneficial for training. Not only for dry fire training, but also for acclimating newbies to the safety lessons and functions of handling a gun.
An instructor friend of mine was teaching a CCW class not long ago, and very nearly caught a 9mm in the head by way of a new guy who kept his finger on the trigger while he tripped. With a product like this locking out the gun, it couldn’t have happened.
The Ultimate LE kit runs about $200.00. Additional pistol caliber ring adapters are about $13. (Available in 45ACP, .40S&W, 45GAP, 10mm, and 357SIG). Shotgun adapters are available in 12 and 20 gauge for $40. Rifle adapters are available in .223/5.56, 30-06 Springfield, and 7.62×51/308, also for $40.
They offer a selection of revolver adapters, which I believe also will work in the Desert Eagle and Coonan, but they are rimmed and will engage the extractor. These use a different setup, and can be quite costly to use properly in a revolver. The only reason, is because you need six laser units. (Or five, or seven, or eight.) But they are available in 38/357, 44 Magnum, and 45 Colt. They do offer a pretty good selection of kit options at various prices, along with various other adapter sets, and individual laser modules. The LaserPET target runs about $120, and in my opinion, is a worthwhile addition.
Battery life? No clue. Over the last month, we have made that little light flash thousands of times and it hasn’t dimmed a bit. When it does, the battery packs are 10$ for a set of three.
Ratings (Out of five stars):
Build quality: * * * * *
The stainless casing, o-rings to protect the rifling, and thoughtful design make this a stand-out product. There are two plastic parts, the end of the safety tube and the safety nut, but that’s so you won’t damage your chamber headspace or barrel crown by over-tightening the safety parts. Also, if you break these plastic bits, they can be replaced and the unit functions perfectly without them. I would like to see a more robust case on the LaserPET target, but it’s designed for indoor use in stationary positions. For the intended purpose, the casing is more than adequate.
Functionality: * * * *
It’s not flawless. Setting the laser module on bore site mode can be a little tricky and the button is a bit stiff. It’s not a complicated process, and is easily accomplished with a 1/8th Allen key while the module is installed in the gun. This added function really shines, though, because you can use it in any gun with the proper adapter, and bore sight with it in full battery.
Value: * * * *
It’s not cheap, but it’s worthwhile. I have often told people that the best tactical accessory for any gun is 10,000 rounds of ammo. Practice beats a new sling, or pop up sights, or tuning your trigger. This set up, as tested, can be had for the price of 2000 rounds of 9mm. With the added ability to use it in your home, your office (careful there), your garage, basement…basically anywhere except outside in direct sunlight on bright days, this unit can easily replace thousands upon thousands of rounds of live ammo. While it is no substitute for live fire practice, it is an excellent alternative with great quality at a decent price.
Overall: * * * *
I have played around with a couple of similar products in the past. Fully converted guns, dummy guns and that bulky setup the Army used to use. This is the best, most refined product of this nature I have seen or used. The lack of boom and recoil is only an issue for practicing follow-up shots or rapid fire. But to train for that first shot, knowing your trigger, your hold, and the rest of your fundamentals is high priority. I would absolutely recommend it for anybody who is serious about dry fire training, teaching newbie classes, or introducing others to firearms.