I was asked today why, in previous articles, I've recommended Crimson Trace laser sights for pistols over all other brands. My correspondent pointed out:
Most other laser sights are half the price of the Crimson Trace equivalent, and work just as well. Why should I pay double for the CT version?
I admitted that he was quite correct about the pricing: but cost isn't everything. I thought some of you might like to hear my explanation.
Let me begin by emphasizing that I don't earn anything for recommending Crimson Trace - no endorsement fees, no free products, nothing like that. I recommend them because, in my experience, their products perform as advertised, and they have one significant advantage that no other laser sight has.
Most people who've been in a few fights - whether involving fists, knives, guns or whatever - will confirm that things happen fast. It's seldom like the movies, where there's a build-up of tension, an exchange of words, mood music, lowering light levels, and all the other signs saying that violence is about to erupt. Look at some video clips of the so-called 'knockout game' circulating on YouTube, or some of the mugging attacks caught on camera. You'll notice most of the attacks come out of nowhere, with little or no warning.
That's where many (but not all) models of Crimson Trace laser sights have a priceless advantage that others lack. They work by what CT calls 'instinctive activation': as your hand grasps the firearm, your finger instinctively and automatically depresses the activation button for the laser, which is positioned on the grip itself. The button is highlighted by the red arrow in the illustration below.
On some models the button's at the back of the grip, rather than the front: but wherever it is, you don't need to use another finger or your other hand to activate the laser. It comes on as you grasp your gun. I've learned the hard way that when the proverbial brown substance hits the rotary air impeller, simplicity is speed, and speed of reaction is what will most likely save your life. You almost certainly won't have time (or a safe distance) to activate a laser using both hands. It'll take too long.
There's also the factor of your position. If a mugger has just knocked you down, and you're trying to react to save yourself before he stomps you, you won't have time to fiddle with your gun. You're on the ground, unable to take a firm two-handed firing grip and leisurely align your firearm's sights on your target. Your support hand will be trying to lever you up off the ground or fend off a blow or kick - you can't spare it to grasp the gun or fiddle with a laser sight. If you can simply grab your gun and have its laser sight come on instantly, so that whatever your position and wherever the gun may be, you can simply put the dot on your attacker and pull the trigger . . . that may make the difference between you walking away from the attack, or ending up in the hospital - or the morgue.
There are a few other instant-on options. Viridian, for example, offers waistband holsters with a built-in 'switch' that activate its laser sights the instant the gun is drawn. That's fine, if you're carrying in a waistband holster. If (as I often do) you need a type of holster they don't offer, or are carrying a smaller handgun in a pocket holster, that won't work . . . whereas the CT system will.
I'm not trying to say that the products of other laser sight manufacturers are technically inferior. They're not - they work just fine (mostly) and are often cheaper than Crimson Trace equivalents. However, they lack the 'instinctive activation' feature that CT patented some years ago. (Yes, I think CT's prices are unreasonably high: but they're charging what the market will bear. Since they're the only company to offer grip-activated lasers, if we want that convenience, we have to pay for it. That makes life difficult for my disabled and handicapped students, many of whom have enough trouble affording guns and ammo, let alone laser sights . . . but CT isn't a charity, and we can't expect it to operate like one.)
To date I've installed CT grip-activated laser sights on Ruger LCP's and LC9's, various models of Springfield XD's, Glocks and Kahrs, Smith & Wesson and Ruger revolvers, and a few long guns. I've never had one fail me or a student when it was needed (as long as one's made sure to replace the batteries as and when required), and the instinctive activation feature has proved its worth on more than one 'social use' occasion. That's why I'll be buying more of them, despite their relatively high price. In my experience, no other laser sight works as easily and instinctively on a handgun in the heat of the moment.