Lasers help set sights on personal defense
Friday, October 02, 2015
Years ago, I dismissed lasers. Real men trained and used sights, I thought.
But I have recently undergone a fundamental change in opinion, and two of the weapons in my arsenal now sport lasers. This change comes mainly from two reasons: me getting a little older (my eyes may not be as good as they once were) and laser technology improving.
Being naive, one of the reasons I did not like the idea of a laser is it gives away your position in a dark room. Truthfully, our house has many large windows, so there is no complete darkness. And with all of the fancy light-emitting cable boxes, coffee pots, etc., there are no truly dark rooms.
In reality, you do not give away much physical advantage and gain a psychological advantage in lighting your target up with your laser — kind of the same intimidation of hearing you pump a shell in the chamber of a shotgun. When a trespasser sees he is lighted and targeted, he might lose some advantage of the aggressor.
Lasers serve their main purpose when shooting in low light — like many self-defense situations — where using sights may slow your response or create potential accuracy problems. In the olden days, red lasers were (and still are) not good outdoors under the sun.
The new green lasers are much better. One reason for this is the sensitivity of the human eye to color. Red and violet are on the edges of our visible color spectrum, but green falls right in the middle, making it more easily seen.
One downfall of green lasers is the batteries drain quicker than with red lasers, as the green diodes need substantially more power (almost twice as much). Whichever you use, always carry a change of batteries and test your laser regularly. This is especially good for those people whose gun is rarely used, as batteries do deteriorate even in storage.
One of the deciding factors that changed my mind on lasers is that small, subcompact everyday-carry pistols have short sight radius — measured as the distance between the front and rear sights. This is why rifles and carbines are more accurate than pistols. They have a longer sight radius.
Using a laser, your effective sight radius changes to the distance of the rear sight to the target. Thus, a huge change in sight radius results in a huge change in accuracy (with practice).
A perfect shooting stance may not be needed when using a laser, as long as you are performing all of the other requirements of a good shot, such as grip and trigger control. The time it takes to get on target using cover, kneeling or other positions can also be reduced with practice.
Care must be exercised when sighting a laser in. I initially used my office wall to align the laser with the gun's sights. Taking the lasers to the range and shooting at 12 yards, I discovered a small angular deviation that I had not noticed in the small office.
Always sight the laser using the anticipated distance of the engagement. If you sight in over a longer distance, you will be more accurate over the shorter distance. I also shoot at an outdoor range that closes at sunset, so I took these guns to an indoor range to test them.
Last but not least, one of these guns was a small 9 mm with recoil that makes it kick like a .45. This gun also hurts the hand because of the recoil, and in a typical practice session, I rarely shoot more than two magazines because of the pain.
The recoil also makes placing the second shot on target a slower process. I discovered with the addition of the laser, the gun was better balanced and the slight additional weight did a lot to tame the recoil.
Lasers have come a long way than when they were first introduced and can be a valuable tool in your home defense arsenal.
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