This article originally appeared at Ammoland.
Sometimes technology is awesome.
Considered a gimmick years ago, lights and lasers for handguns are now standard equipment and few gripe about reliability concerns. Thanks to innovations like miniaturization of lasers, advancements in battery technology, and low power consumption LED lights, you can add light and laser capability to a small concealed carry gun while only adding a couple of ounces to your carry package.
The bottom line is that there are few reasons not to consider adding a laser and light to your carry gun.
Why do you need a light and laser?
Allow your brain to travel to a dark place for a minute and put yourself in the planning mode of a mugger, murderer, or terrorist. The odds are that whoever is out there plotting some nasty activity intends to succeed. For a criminal, the definition of success most likely includes accomplishing their goal of robbery or worse, not getting hurt in the process, and making a clean getaway. Even in a terrorist situation, their goal is to do as much damage as possible before getting stopped. Neither scenario will appreciate a fast and effective interruption of their plans.
Again, putting yourself in the evildoers thought process, you as the aggressor will almost certainly benefit from executing your plan in a low visibility situation. Dark and crowded places like movie theaters and restaurants are densely populated, and low light prevents victims from quickly assimilating a chaotic situation. Observation and orientation must happen before anyone can take any defensive action, whether that be resisting or escaping.
We already know that simple crimes like muggings are far more common at night. Now consider that the recent terror attacks in Paris also happened in the dark, staring at about 9:20 pm. In that case, restaurants, bars, stadiums, and a concert hall were all targeted well into the evening hours. Likewise, the Aurora, Colorado theater attack also happened at night, although the interior of a movie theater would be dark at any time of day.
Now flip your thought process back to you, the victim of a defensive scenario. Even if the odds of having to defend yourself in low light conditions are only 50/50, wouldn’t you rather have every possible advantage? Wouldn’t you always prefer to have a crisp, clear, and fast sight picture just before you pull the trigger? Thanks to the current crop of light and laser products, and their small footprint, you can.
Before anyone regurgitates the tired old “but it will just give away your position” argument, think this through carefully before repeating that myth. Well, OK, in offensive military or law enforcement scenarios, it’s not necessarily a myth, but in almost any conceivable self-defense situation, it is. If you draw your gun, you are already in a gunfight, and you’d better be prepared to shoot. If you’re prepared to shoot, you’d better be sure of two things.
First, you need to clearly identify your target, even in the dark. A gun-mounted light is not ideal for wandering around and searching but is unbeatable for verification of your target in the instant before you pull the trigger. It also enables the use of iron sights whether they’re Tritium equipped or not. Even through the light shines forward, you’ll see your sights clearly.
Second, You’d better be sure your gun is aimed directly at your intended target, even in the dark. Night sights are great, and I have them on all my carry guns. However, when shooting in the dark, lasers are simply faster and more supportive of your natural instinct to fixate on the threat, not to mention enabling shooting from unconventional positions. You always have your night sights available, so there is no loss of capability when adding a laser.
Besides, most lights and lasers offer pressure activation of some sort, so it’s easy to turn on or off at will.
Tips for carrying a light and laser-equipped handgun.
The only real challenge to adding light and laser capability to your carry gun is finding a compatible holster. With modern equipment, size doesn’t impact your ability to carry, even inside the waistband, and additional weight is minimal. The supply and demand equilibrium has finally leveled out and now holster makers have a multitude of options for guns equipped with lights or lasers.
Depending on your specific carry gun, the laser additional can be easy and not require any change in your existing holster. I have yet to run into a compatibility problem with any gun using Crimson Trace Lasergrips. The only irregularly shaped addition to the handgun is on the grip itself, which is rarely, if ever, fitted to the holster. Likewise, if you carry a Beretta or Glock, you can try the guide rod lasers from LaserMax. Those are contained completely inside of the frame of your gun, replacing the original guide rod and spring, so once again there is no holster impact.
If you choose to add a light or use a rail-mounted laser, you’ll need to accommodate that configuration with a specific holster. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do. Check out the Holster Resource Guide at Crimson Trace and you can easily find holsters from a variety of manufacturers to fit many combinations of guns, lights, and lasers.
If you choose a combination of gun, light and laser without a readily available holster option, never fear, you’re not out of luck yet. Check out something like an N82 Tactical Original IWB holster. These are quality holsters that use an elastic band to secure the gun to the holster back panel. It’s well done and does a great job of keeping your gun secured. The best part is that the elastic mount offers a bit of give so you can fit a carry gun with a rail mounted light or laser. You may need to go up one gun size in the holster mount, but that’s a small price to pay.
As I write this, I have at least a laser on every carry gun I own. Now, I’m in the process of figuring out to which guns I can add lights. For example, the 1911 shown here has both – and that’s comforting when I’m out and about town in evening hours.