Flower Power

To sight a laser

The firearm-mounted laser has made tremendous improvements over time. Each year, they get lighter, brighter and more compact. The new products can be unclipped and reattached while still maintaining zero. They are inexpensive enough that departments can outfit their firearms and still have money leftover for training.

While laser use was initially met with a certain resistance, more officers are using them successfully. In training, for example, a steady laser can help improve trigger squeeze, and identify and help correct shooting problems.

For some duty applications, the laser is a viable option. Several agencies have reported an improvement in officer safety after adopting lasers. For backup guns, lasers are strongly recommended.

A respectable portion of the law enforcement community can benefit from firearm-mounted lasers. Of all shooters, only 80 percent are right-handed. Of that 80 percent, 35 percent are left-eye dominant. If this percentage is shooting right-handed, a conflicting sight picture is inevitable. For this particular population, laser-sighted firearms may be more efficient than optically sighted ones.

Sighting in
A laser is a light. It originates from a point and extends to a theoretical infinity. The bullet the laser is designed to guide is a projectile. It originates from the chamber and follows a trajectory, which is never straight. A laser can only intersect the path of the bullet a maximum of two times.

If a laser intersects the path of a bullet only once, it will only be accurate in one point in space. The question is where does law enforcement want that point to be? For combat ranges with a handgun, predicting the strike of a bullet at 7 yards is probably ideal. However, if the center of the bore is several inches away from the origin of the light, the strike of the bullet and the laser dot at 25 yards may be beyond a combat effective hit.

If the path of the bullet intersects the laser twice, at what distance should they coincide? For a handgun with the laser less than 2.5 inches below the barrel, try 10 yards. At immediate ranges, approximately the distance where two people can touch fingertips, accuracy is negligible and combat-effective hits are the standard. At this distance, the bullet and the laser are closer together than most shooters can shoot off-hand. Can one make a predictable shot at 25 yards? Yes.

This concept was applied using LaserLyte's Sub-Compact Laser Sight and its Universal Laser Bore Sighter Deluxe Kit. The bore sighter has a precision mandrel that fits down the barrel. Its universal kit will fit nearly any sized firearm. To test the laser, the Sub-Compact Laser Sight was mounted to the Picatinny rail on a handgun, 10 yards were measured out, and the laser sight was adjusted so both dots coincided.

The Universal Laser Bore Sighter Deluxe Kit comes with a daylight reflective laser target, making the task easier. It is easy to back up the sighting with a few bullets. After sighting in, one can easily engage from point blank to 25 yards with a handgun.

The good and bad half
Lasers provide an updated indication of the muzzle orientation at all times, which can be both a positive and a negative attribute.

One of the strongest selling points for laser use is the fact that they are intimidating. The target painted with a laser is immediately made aware of the firearm attached to it. This reminder is most productive when a lethal encounter ends safely without a shot. If this does not work, one can resort to the primary duty of the laser.

According to the National Institute of Justice, more than 80 percent of shootings take place in the dark and within 7 yards. For whatever reason, if an officer is unable to acquire a good sight picture, the dancing dot on center mass prevails.

Since the laser is a real-time indication of the orientation of the muzzle, it also locates that muzzle. If the dot precedes the officer during a search, that officer's location is compromised. Most experts agree the laser should have a momentary switch, followed by an officer conscious of telegraphing movement.

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