Got a laser in your sights?

Picking the right laser for the job

     The suspect tried to escape by sneaking away from the beam and unknowingly backed out from behind his concealed position into the arms of waiting officers. He was taken into custody and the incident ended without injury. The suspect later told officers he thought he had been flanked and was afraid because he could not figure out where the officer with the laser was positioned.

     The Web sites of manufacturers, such as LaserMax, Crimson Trace or Beamshot, a San Antonio, Texas-based manufacturer of green laser sights, offer more testimonials supporting the effectiveness of this equipment. The testimonials are from law enforcement, military and civilian personnel, who have used lasers effectively in real-world encounters.

     Laser sights also allow officers to shoot much faster in low-light conditions. Sometimes finding and aligning iron sights can be difficult in such situations. Additionally, with a laser in place, officers can focus on the threat rather than trying to focus on their sights.

Safety issues

     There are safety issues to be considered when using laser sights. The laser can be harmful to the human eye. Most reputable manufacturers have filters installed that alleviate this concern. It's best to inquire whether a laser is filtered.

     In team environments, the various colors and pulsating versus steady beams can be an advantage. However, if several officers are using lasers, it can be difficult to determine which one belongs to whom. Having team members use different colors or pulsating and steady beams helps avoid confusion and ensures that each officer is confident in his point of aim.

     Advances in technology and design have not only produced lightweight and durable lasers, they have allowed for a wide choice of mounting options for any weapon officers' carry. With proper training and application, laser sights can greatly enhance officers' effectiveness on the street or at the range.

     John Marrs has been a deputy with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department in California since 1988. He serves as a firearms instructor for his agency and the Allan Hancock C.C. Regional Training Site Basic Academy. He can be reached at

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