At some point, every shooter considers adding a laser to their pistol. Video games, pop culture, and general dissatisfaction with accuracy can all be contributing factors. However, are pistol lasers worth it? Of course, this will depend upon your needs. People who struggle with iron sights, don’t practice shooting, or have vision problems may find that pistol lasers are worth it and assist in acquiring the target. However, pistol lasers do not necessarily make a shooter more accurate. Therefore, lasers are best suited for personal and home defense rather than marksmanship.
With proper setup and good shooting fundamentals, lasers can be extremely accurate at close distances. First and foremost, the laser must be zeroed to produce accurate shots. Additionally, sound shooting fundamentals reduce the shooters impact on shot placement.
Although it may not be visible, lasers themselves can be accurate for long distances. However, laser visibility has a great deal to do with accuracy. Thus, if a shooter is unable to see the dot on the target their accuracy will suffer.
For this reason, I estimate the maximum distance that a shooter can accurately place shots with a pistol laser is about 20 yards. Of course, there are other factors that affect laser visibility including; laser color, ambient light, and battery power.
Do Lasers On Guns Help?
Remember that a lasers on handguns are only tools to aid in target acquisition and aiming. Unless you adhere to shooting fundamentals it won’t matter how accurate the laser is. However, if achieving proper sight alignment or sight picture are a problem then a laser may help. Additionally, if you do not practice using your sights then in a high stress environment lasers can help shift your focus to other shooting skills that impact accuracy.
Many new shooters struggle with focusing on the front sight post. Sometimes this is a result of generally poor vision. However, it is more often associated with a lack of practice. Regardless of the reason, a laser may be helpful in this situation. But, lasers are not the be-all-end-all of accuracy.
Lasers and Home Defense
The answer to the question “are pistol lasers worth it,” boils down to how you will be using your pistol. Environmental factors and laser zero can impact accuracy over distance. Therefore, they are not recommended for developing your marksmanship.
However, lasers can easily help you acquire a larger target and discern general point of impact. For this reason, lasers can be ideal for shooters of any level when used in a home defense situation. Additionally, adverse lighting conditions are less likely to impact laser visibility in a home defense situation.
Pros and Cons Of Lasers On A Handgun
I’ve already discussed some of the pros and cons of having a laser on your handgun. However, there are a few additional criteria worth considering. Use the below information if you are still deciding if pistol lasers are worth it.
Pros Of A Pistol Laser
- Simple target acquisition for novice shooters in self defense and home defense situations
- Lasers can provide an advantage in low light scenarios
- Can assist people with poor vision or unable to achieve proper sight alignment and picture
- A laser can act as a deterrent without shooting (psychological effect)
- Lasers can help shift focus to other shooting fundamentals in high stress situations
Cons Of A Pistol Laser
- Require that laser zero be checked regularly
- Lasers can be difficult to see in certain light conditions
- If used on a concealed carry pistol, you need a holster to accommodate your laser
- Can give away your location (e.g. where you’re taking cover in a home defense situation)
- Lasers run on batteries which can fail if not maintained
- Lasers can lead to dependency on technology
I believe that every shooting tool has its place. Therefore the answer to “are pistol lasers worth it” really depends on the situation you expect to be using your firearm. As an instructor, I believe a firm foundation is key and every shooter should be able to use iron sights.
However, each individual will struggle with different aspects of shooting. If you are not an avid shooter and don’t practice regularly then a laser may be beneficial for home defense. Hopefully this article has helped clear up the pros and cons of a laser. If you found this article helpful please share with your social network or leave a comment below.