I haven’t had much opportunity to shoot in low light conditions lately, however I just recently had the chance at a local IDPA club.  They shoot at an indoor range, and will frequently run the stages with the lights off except for ambient light to simulate a low light shooting incident.

Knowing that, I hauled my ParaUSA LTC with Crimson Trace Laser Grips out to the range to run it in exactly the sort of environment that the laser was designed for.  The laser isn’t great for total darkness, as it doesn’t provide a lot of illumination, but in low light it quite literally shines.  What was most interesting to me was how much light on the target the laser did provide though – splash from the dot lit up the entire -0 of an IDPA target, allowing me to see the area around the dot and in one case identify hard cover and re-adjust my aim to get a hit where I needed it.

Of course, me being a fan of lasers for defensive firearms and training purposes shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  While the laser isn’t a substitute for the sights on the gun, there are times where you simply won’t be able to use your sights, whether due to lighting conditions, body mechanics, or whatever – in those situations a Crimson Trace laser becomes an invaluable tool as it allows you to still precisely designate your target and get fast hits.  Crimson Trace, in addition to being a good company that makes the best laser products on the market has also been phenomenal at engaging with direct media.  I enthusiastically recommend their gear to anyone serious about putting a laser on a defensive firearm.  Sure, you could get a guide rod laser, or one of those absurd “rear-sight lasers”, but all of those lack the intuitive activation and grip integration of the Crimson Trace Laser.

If you don’t believe me, try one out!  Find a range that will let you shoot in low light situations, maybe turn the lights off in your booth or shoot outdoors right around dusk.  Use of the laser in a low light combat situation greatly improves your ability to get rapid hits on target, which is exactly what you’ll need to win the fight.

FTC Disclaimer: I have in the past been provided products by Crimson Trace for testing and review.


  1. Our only indoor range in the area is permanently low light, as they apparantly keep only as few lights on as possible. It’s very easy to run your target down the zip line into a spot that has practically no light on it at all.

  2. Robert, think of that as an opportunity to practice your low light shooting. At Crimson Trace you can see what kind of lasers they have in stock. If you’ve got a modern defensive pistol such a Glock or an M&P, they have a laser for you.

  3. Did you also run the stages for score without the laser? How did the times compare?

  4. We ran the stages in full light, using the sights. I was about 2 seconds faster with the laser in low light than I was in bright light with the sights.

  5. If I could only have one, either a laser or a light then I would likely choose a light. However, the advantage of the Crimson Trace is that because they’re weapon mounted and are activated by gripping the gun, you can easily hold a light in your weak hand and have the advantage of the laser for your strong hand.

  6. Now, that surprises me. Faster in the dark with the laser than with irons and a light would be expected. But faster in the dark with a laser than with sights in daylight was pretty unexpected.

    What was actually part of the match, full light or no light? I ask since lasers aren’t legal in IDPA.

  7. The run in the dark was after I had already shot the stage in full light, and since I knew I was going to use the laser I decided that I also wanted to put on a good show and go all out.

  8. I’ve got one mounted on a stainless 1911, and the spatter from the laser reflecting against the side is annoying. It marks the side of my gun with a big red splotch. It still stays, as it’s the gun’s only night-sighting system (and a very effective one), but it marks my position more than I’d like.

    If not for that, I’d have one on everyone gun I own.

  9. You know, I’ve never understood the concern about “marking my position”. I’m not a cop or a soldier, so if it’s a home invasion then my position is already going to be given away by me shouting “I HAVE A GUN AND I CALLED THE COPS IF YOU COME THROUGH THAT DOOR I’M SHOOTING”.

    Same idea applies to a mugging – my position is already given away, and if I’m using the laser it means I’m probably shooting at someone already.

  10. I can see it if the likely home defense scenario is going to involve sneaking through the hallway to make sure the kids and dog are safe.

    The most likely scenario in my house is someone breaking in one of the back doors and being met by a very large and angry dog. So if I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my dog getting into a fight… foolish as it probably is I’m coming out to help her, and it’d be nice to keep the element of surprise there if possible.

    That said, I think in low light using a laser at all is going to do that, and the risk seems significantly outweighed by the benefits of being able to actually aim in the dark.

  11. The loud noise and fireball is going to mark my position a lot more than the laser. I’ve found that my trigger finger naturally blocks the laser when it’s indexed along the frame/slide. If my finger goes to the trigger, I’m about to shoot anyway.

  12. I’ve thought about saving up and getting one of those laser/light combos that go on the rail for use when I’m at home.
    Oh well..maybe someday… 😛

  13. My concern (and conclusions) is exactly as Mike stated. As dumb as it may be, I like to go investigate noises in my own house. Not because I think I’m under attack, but because sometimes the noises indicate something I should care about (raccoons in places, appliances left on, cats eating things they shouldn’t, etc).

    I sometimes bring the gun along when I do this. While my index finger covers the laser, it still glows on the side of the gun if activated.

    For a gun that spends most of its time in a holster, and it drawn only in an emergency, it’s a non-issue. For a gun that spends its time unholstered (in a table or in a hand) it’s a little annoying.

    1. It is quite possible to grip the gun without activating the laser. With the master switch on, the “instinctive activation” switch requires a certain amount of pressure. You can easily hold the gun securely without having the laser illuminated.

  14. Absolutely true, which is what I try to do. With the front-activation, it’s actually pretty sensitive if you take a firing grip, but a non-firing grip with a relaxed middle finger keeps the laser off.

  15. Hey, like an idiot, I finally looked at your picture. You’ve got practically the same gun, and the same laser grips! Nice!

  16. Being left handed, I usually find the laser grip puts a brilliant red dot on my support thumb. I do think that the laser is a fantastic tool, I just haven’t found an application that fits my needs yet.

  17. Any experience with the trijicon (sp?) type night sites vs. laser?

    I’ve been thinking about getting the lighted sites for my 1911 carry gun, I currently use a 3 dot sight so they would not be “something new to deal with” as a laser would be, and as far as I know they are not visible from the front of the gun.

    I already carry a mini maglite so I have enough illumination to see an attacker, and the advantage of being able to hold the light away from myself in case they get the urge to shoot at the light! {main reason I do not like the weapon mounted light idea)


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