The use of a laser sight on a handgun is a contentious topic amongst shooters. Some swear by them and others swear at anyone who dares use one. I come down in the middle of the group and see a use for them. While I don’t have a laser on my duty handgun I have chosen to outfit my backup gun with a set of Crimson Trace LG-405 Lasergrips.
My Lasergrips live on a Smith & Wesson 442 which spends all of its time on my ankle hoping it never gets used. For anyone who has shot a stock J-Frame you know the sights are pretty basic and while they are functional for daytime shooting, low-light shooting is pretty tough. I looked at getting a tritium dot on the front blade of the J-Frame but cost and turnaround time from a smith dissuaded me.
I found the LG-405 Lasergrips from Crimson Trace. They are a one piece wraparound grip that replace the stock grips of your revolver. Installation is as easy as installing the batteries, removing your old grips, aligning the lasergrips and tightening two screws.
The zero upon installation was dead-on for me but the sight is adjustable for windage and elevation if you need to change it. With an offset of about 7/8” from the bore, the zero is good for as far as I’ll shoot. The specs say it is factory sighted for 50’ and this seems correct.
The laser is activated by a button, under the trigger guard, that is pressed by your middle finger upon obtaining a firing grip. There is an on/off button on the butt of the grips if you don’t want the laser to activate for whatever reason.
The LG-405 also comes with an “air pocket” on the backstrap that is supposed to reduce felt recoil. I don’t find the .38 Spl. to have horrible recoil but this might be a good feature for someone that has these on a .357 or .44.
As I said earlier, I got the lasergrips to improve the low-light performance of my backup gun. A lengthy argument can be had about the ranges a backup gun is likely to be used at, if it’s ever used at all. All of that aside, the grips provide a clear aiming point that is clearly distinguishable in low-light. It is an aiming reference that is unaffected by dominant eye or hand manipulation. For these reasons I like the lasergrips for low-light backup use.
With that said, the deficiency of the lasergrips is their poor performance in bright light. The laser is barely visible during the day from more than a couple of yards. Not that big of a deal because in bright light the functional sights of the J-Frame are more than adequate for my ability to shoot it. For consistency sake I still bring it up to eye level when shooting in low-light so there’s no daytime vs. nighttime habit formed. I would worry about someone only shooting with the laser and not keeping the fundamentals in mind. If the laser goes down or you can’t see it, it’s best to have the pistol up where you can pick up your iron sight picture or get a good point shooting index.
I’ve been carrying the grips daily for the last two years and they’ve never failed me. They’ve been up and down countless mountains, arroyos and fences and have never hiccupped. They are made in America and the quality shows in the durability, fit and function. If you’re looking for an alternative low-light sighting system for your handgun, consider Crimson Trace.