There was a time when I would have said that handgun mounted lasers have limited utility for the civilian shooter. That opinion was very much a product of the crop of lasers that were available at that time. The market was flooded with junk that didn’t work. They were bulky, burned through hard to find batteries quickly, and required extra steps to bring them into action.
Then, Crimson Trace (CT) came along and changed everything. Their lasers always seemed to be integrated into the host firearm, always took easy to find batteries, and always had what CT calls Instinctive Activation. So, when CT offered to let me check out a few of their products, I jumped at the chance. The subject of this review will be the LG-417 LaserGrip for Gen3 GLOCKs (stay tuned for a review of the LG-405 for S&W J-Frame Revolver and CMR-201 IR Rail Master).
The LG-417 is part of the CT’s LaserGrip Series. LaserGrips are designed to either replace or wrap around the grips of many of the most popular handguns on the market and integrate in such a way that they change the handling characteristics of their host as little as possible (in some cases, LaserGrips actually improve the handling characteristics).
The one piece LG-417 wraps around the grip of the GLOCK and fastens with a single screw in the “beaver tail” area of the grip. The wrap around design places the activation button, a small rubber covered nub, on the front strap of the grip where it is automatically activated by the middle finger when the GLOCK is held. This design also allows the 2 CR2032 batteries to be placed on either side of the grip which forms a sort of palm swell.
This is CT’s lowest profile LaserGrip for GLOCKs yet. It is actually low profile enough that it will fit in Safariland SLS and other security holsters. The laser module sits on the ejection port side of the GLOCK. It is placed lower and closer than previous versions that mounted on the backstrap only. The older backstrap mounted versions are still offered and that is a good thing because they work with a wider variety of GLOCKs.
Observations from Use
I will start these observations out by saying that I tried lasers from several different companies while I was testing the CT LaserGrips. The lasers from Crimson Trace are the only ones I saw that turn the laser on just by gripping the firearm. Crimson Trace calls this Instinctive Activation. Lasers that do not have this feature are toys. I have no use for a laser that adds a step to my draw stroke.
I think that the 2 biggest takeaways from the time I spent with the CT LaserGrips so far are how they excel in low light and how they have changed my training. There have been other lessons learned which I will talk about, but these 2 have been the most revolutionary for me.
I’ll touch on how they have changed my training first. The training value of these units is off the charts. I have been using them to augment my dry fire training in two main ways: improving trigger pull and improving the ability to move while shooting. The laser shows you very graphically what your sights are doing in relation to the target as you pull the trigger or move. I like to place a photosensitive night light (the kind that turns off when the ambient light is bright) on a wall that I can dry fire toward safely and then dry fire toward it. If I can keep the night light turned off throughout the entire travel of the trigger, then that was a good trigger pull. Even if you never carried a set of LaserGrips or took them to a live fire range, they could earn their keep just during your dry fire regimen.
The CT LaserGrips are good for more than just training. They are amazing for low light. I tried the LG-417 with all of the pistol lights I could get my hands on (Surefire X300, Streamlight TLR-1, Insight M3 and WX-150) and it worked perfectly with all of them. The combination of white light, laser sight, and quality night sights gives you tremendous capabilities in low light and some good redundancy. The laser greatly increases my confidence in low light. I can engage targets measurably more accurately and more quickly.
The LaserGrips are also a great aid when trying to shoot from non-standard or retention positions. The laser really helps get good hits if you are knocked to the ground on your back or side. It is also allows you to place aimed shots from retention positions rather than just relying on indexing.
I found that it is best to approach the LaserGrips with some discipline. You do not want to change the way you present the handgun or start searching for the laser dot instead of using the sights. You will still need to present the handgun in such a way that the front sight can be brought into your vision and aligned quickly as this will still be your fastest and most consistent way to get on target. You can watch the front sight onto the target until the laser dot becomes visible ON THE TARGET. Only then should you switch focus to the laser dot and you should still be looking over your sights. Having a laser is not a license to forget about your sights and I’ll tell you why.
Imagine for a moment that there is a target placed in front of a large white wall like you might find in your home. If the laser dot is not on the target, it can easily be tracked on the white wall and moved until it is on the target. However, this is not always the case in the real world. Now imagine for a moment that the same target is placed in the middle of a large, empty field. There is nothing on either side of the target to use to track the laser dot. Your only hope of getting that laser dot on target quickly is to use the sights first. You must discipline yourself to use the same sighting and indexing methods that you have already trained before transitioning your focus to the laser dot. Once you have the technique down, the transition is easy, fast, and seamless.
One person that I spoke to about the LaserGrips questioned the battery life. These run for about 4 hours on a set of batteries and if you think about it, that is an eternity since they only turn on when you gripping the handgun. The LG-417 also has a kill switch that can be used to turn off the laser for those times when you want to practice without it (which should probably be most of the time). It will take you a long, long time to go through a set of batteries with normal use. If you are using the laser properly, it is easy to transition to the sights if the batteries give out on you at an inopportune time.
Speaking of batteries… it should not be overlooked that CT builds their LaserGrips to take common, proven batteries. In fact, they usually take batteries that many shooters keep on hand. In this case, the LG-417 takes 2 CR2032 batteries that are quite common and very reliable when purchased from a manufacturer that makes them in the US.
The laser can be difficult for me to see in bright sunlight. I have a form of color blindness that makes seeing the color red a bit difficult so I confirmed this with other shooters as well. Just a little bit of shade makes the laser much more visible, even on bright days. CT is working on green versions of the LaserGrips which should be even easier to see in full sun light.
The LG-417 does add some bulk to the both the front and the sides of the grip so shooters with smaller hands will want to test one before they buy. The extra bulk is a complete non-issue for my medium to large hands.
The durability of the LaserGrips appears to be excellent. The laser is well protected and the housing seems to shrug off impact. No amount of recoil, holstering, or manipulations seems to be able to move the laser or affect the laser adversely in any way.
It is no secret that I often have things sent to me for free so that I can review them on here on JTT. One of the best compliments I can pay a review item is to spend my own money to purchase more of the item that I reviewed. After spending time with the LG-417, I bought another CT LaserGrip for my carry gun and I plan to buy others as funds allow.
The LG-417 improved my training. It improved my confidence and performance across most lighting conditions. I am sold on Crimson Trace LaserGrips and I can’t wait to see the green versions.
Check out the LG-417 LaserGrips on CrimsonTrace.com.
Disclosure: Crimson Trace sent me these LaserGrips to review, free of charge.