5 Concealed Carry Pistol Laser Sight Myths

I want to start by saying that I LOVE laser sights. I own several of them and use them on carbines, .22s and airsoft rifles. I bought my first Crimson Trace laser for a Kimber 1911 18 or so years ago.  I’ve got red, green, and IR lasers from Crimson Trace, Lasermax, Insight, and more.  I use them for night shooting with night vision, I’ve used them a lot with my boys since they were VERY young to introduce them to shooting, and my wife’s M&P Shield came with an integrated laser.

In the right hands, lasers are a great tool on a defensive gun, but there are some big myths about them.

Used correctly, lasers act like a turbo charger.  Used incorrectly, they’ll slow you down and make you more dangerous because of false confidence.

Awhile back, a guy asked me a couple of great questions on Facebook about lasers that highlighted one of these myths.

In short, he said that using a visible laser sight on a defensive pistol in a gunfight will get you killed because the enemy will know exactly where you are.

That’s one of 5 myths about laser sights that we’re going to cover today.

On TV & movies, this appears to be true, but reality is a little bit different. Two of the biggest problems with this myth involve science and tactics.

Science. For all intents and purposes, lasers, even visible lasers, are invisible until they hit something that reflects light. That could be an object, moisture, dust, smoke, etc. Depending on the laser, there will be a little or a lot of light at the “muzzle” end of the laser, but there won’t be a beam of light going from your gun to where the muzzle is pointed unless there is something in the air that reflects the laser light.

In a firefight in a warzone with lots of dust, smoke, explosions, and dirty ammo that causes excessive smoke, there will be more of a “beam of light” effect, but in a self-defense situation, it’s much less likely that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you have the “beam of light” going from your laser to the target…especially before the first shot.  After the first shot, there’s a little thing called “muzzle blast” that just might give away your position too.

Tactics. TV & movies show 2 things pretty consistently with lasers…there’s a visible beam that goes from the laser to the target AND the laser is always on. If you need to keep your location unknown, it’s just as bad of a tactic to turn on your laser and keep it on as it is bad to turn on a flashlight in a low light situation and keep it on.

When you need to stay hidden, you should only turn on your laser when you would otherwise be verifying sight alignment on your target.

But back up a second and think about the kind of typical self-defense situation that you’re likely to face.

Chances are that the attacker not only knows where you are, but has selected you as their intended prey. You are the goal or you’re standing between them and their goal. They’re going to use subterfuge to close the distance on you to 10 feet or less and use speed, surprise, and violence of action to do what they want to do with/to you.

They know where you are and they don’t need a laser to figure it out.

In these cases where you can’t hide your location or where you’re giving away your location with a flashlight, don’t worry about the laser giving away your location.

Laser Myth #2: “Lasers will help me shoot better in the dark.” Lasers won’t help you identify a target in a dark room…you still need light for that. Once you can see your target, lasers, night sights, and red dot sights will all help you aim better than factory sights that aren’t visible in low light.

Lasers can have advantages over night sights and red dots.  Depending on how you hold your flashlight, you may find that the reflection off of your sights or optic washes out your target.  On red dots, your ability to see through them in low light is going to depend A LOT on the quality and cleanliness of the glass.  A common problem with pistol mounted red dots is not being able to find your dot when you bring it up in front of your face.  In these 3 respects, lasers are more forgiving.

Laser Myth #3: “If I have a laser, I won’t need to shoot…all I have to do is put the laser on the bad guy’s chest and he’ll stop.” This is true with some low-level attackers, but not for determined attackers who are drugged, drunk, or deranged. For people who insist on believing this myth, I suggest that they buy a toy gun and duct tape a cheap laser pointer to it. That way, when they hesitate to shoot an attacker, he’ll only end up with a toy and a laser pointer when he punches them in the face and takes it from their hands. (That’s not REAL advice…I only say it to highlight how bad of an idea it is to depend on the laser without being willing to use the pistol.)

Laser Myth #4: “Lasers will make me a faster shooter.” This is a tricky one. Many shooters shoot slower with a laser because they’re shocked by how much it’s moving around. In a high stress situation, a laser will probably cause you to shoot slower but have more hits…IF you’ve got good fundamentals and don’t jerk or mash the trigger.  In compromised positions, like I’ll address in a minute, they do make you a faster shooter, but that’s not what most people are thinking about when they make that claim.

Laser Myth #5: “I don’t need to practice. I can’t miss with a laser.” Lasers won’t help you grip the gun correctly, present the gun correctly, naturally aim the gun so that you’re only verifying alignment with the laser/sights.  BUT, pressing the trigger without jerking or mashing the trigger actually takes practice.  So does acquiring a grip that manages recoil effectively.

So, what’s the best way to train with lasers?

In short, >THIS< is the only course or training that I’ve ever seen that teaches people how to train with lasers effectively.

It’s important to realize that lasers work better as a turbo charger to enhance good fundamentals than as a crutch to compensate for bad fundamentals…but they ARE a great crutch to help people with good fundamentals compensate for bad situations.

Specifically, lasers will help with the following bad situations…

  1. They help shooters who aren’t proficient with their support hand and who are forced to shoot with their support hand…sort of.  It’ll help you aim–especially with a non-ideal grip–but it won’t compensate for a bad trigger press.
  2. They help shooters shoot around obstacles or in other situations where they can’t line up the sights between their dominant eye and the target.
  3. They help shooters who have a long history of shooting, but their vision has diminished to the point where they can’t see their sights clearly anymore without corrective lenses…if they don’t know that they’ll practice enough to be proficient with a red dot, then a laser may be a great answer.
  4. They help shooters with eye dominance issues, specifically cross-eye dominance or visual suppression issues, but also shooters who have monovision, wear bifocals or trifocals, and several other vision issues.
  5. They help with small pistols with sights that are too small to see due to lighting or vision issues.
  6. If you can’t find the dot when you go to aim a pistol with a red dot, a laser is much more forgiving…in fact, having both a laser and a red dot on a pistol and alternating back and forth between having the laser on & off can be a great way to shorten the learning curve with a red dot.

All of these are great reasons to use lasers, but a successful outcome, regardless of the sighting method you use, depends on practicing the fundamentals enough that you can execute them under stress without thinking about them.

It’s ridiculously easy (and common) to put the laser on a target 10 feet away and mash the trigger so bad you completely miss…the laser on it’s own won’t get the job done.  It has to be combined with skill.

And, it’s important to remember that the learning process in your brain is the same, regardless of whether you’re using iron sights, a laser, or a red dot sight.

Regardless of whether you’re using iron sights, a red dot, or a laser, you want to train your brain to automatically present your gun in a way that the muzzle is aimed at your intended target without you having to think about it or make adjustments

You don’t want to use your sights, dot or laser to aim…you want to use them to verify sight alignment.

Use the wrong training and wrong practice methods, like what most shooters use, and your performance will fall off a cliff when you add speed or stress.

Use the right training and practice methods, like what we teach >HERE< and your chances of success will shoot through the roof with the least possible effort.  It’s fast, easy, and super-affordable.  Learn more now by clicking >HERE<

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  • Thomas

    Reply Reply February 18, 2022

    One thing I would like to add, often, when I take the pistol out of the case, *somehow* the laser got turned on and now the battery is dead.

    Also color is important. Red is less likely to kill your night vision. Same can be said for “Red Dots” and illuminated reticles.
    Green or blue are hard on your night vision, but can be seen at greater distances in the daytime.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply February 22, 2022

      Depending on the laser, they may drain when the switch is in the “off” position. In addition, some micro-lasers that aren’t really intended for defensive use use hearing aid batteries that begin discharging immediately on opening the package.

  • David Johnson

    Reply Reply February 18, 2022

    Hey Ox,
    Great article. I’d like to amplify one point you sort of made that doesn’t specifically apply to lasers and optics, but does apply to learning to defend yourself.
    Stop watching movies and TV while you are learning defensive firearms. Half of what you see is ridiculous, the other half will get you arrested.
    Keep the good stuff coming.

  • Harvey MIller

    Reply Reply April 14, 2021

    My green laser used on a recoil enabled Glock 17 Airsoft with red Laser Ammo causes the high speed infrared camera to record shots due to the green aiming laser. Is there a way to use the aiming laser without the system misreading it?

  • Steve

    Reply Reply June 5, 2020


    Thanks for this. I battle a significant cross dominance issue with pistol shooting
    (Left eye/right hand + aging eyes) that at times drives me nuts. Still working to nail down fundamentals with your dry fire drills and range time. Will give some thought to a laser at some point.

    Is there a module you can specifically point to for cross-eye dominance and/or conversion to non-dominant hand training? Thanks

  • Mikial

    Reply Reply May 17, 2016

    Lasers are a useful tool, but they will never replace solid shooting skills and techniques. Grip, trigger control, breathing, moving off the X, being able to cope with malfunctions, etc. will never be replaced by a laser. Useful? Absolutely, especially on guns with poor sights like subcompacts, but they will never replace solid shooting skills.

    Learn to shoot without them first and practice without them. then practice with them. And remember, the bad guy might have one too.

  • Chris

    Reply Reply May 17, 2016

    I’ve a problem with my balance and I need to use a cane most of the time, so for me, I’m pretty much a one-handed shooter. Having a laser means that I don’t have to raise my weapon to eye level to shoot accurately. I always know where my point of aim is. Further, I always have some lights on at night, because, without them, I have no balance at all. So, I don’t have the No-Light/No-Seeum problem.

  • Nancy Lott

    Reply Reply March 26, 2016

    Thanks for your article on laser sights. It confirms much of what I already know. But it’s always good to have an expert opinion. It also gave me some information to use the next time I’m explaining why I do or don’t us a laser in a certain situation. I really like your dry fire cards and use them alot in training my grandchildren, other novice shooters, and trying to keep my own skills up. Thanks for all your good work. Be safe.

  • David Eberhardt

    Reply Reply March 26, 2016

    This was a super good article with many good comments from other readers. I’m gonna share this with future students.One of the things you said in Myth #5 was “…present the gun correctly, naturally aim the gun so that you’re only verifying alignment with the laser/sights,…” I was teaching an NRA Basic Pistol course a few weeks ago and one of my students was having trouble taking shots with a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38 revolver (w/ Crimson Trace Laser). The red dot on the target was moving around pretty good so he was hesitating to pull the trigger. He was overly concerned with trying to steady that red dot and it was causing him to over compensate with his hands to try and steady it. I suggested he try and focus his mind on his hands and arms (to keep them still. When he focused on using his arms and hands to point at the target (“presentation”) the red dot become more steady. New shooters and even older shooters like me tend to try too hard some times to eliminate the “arc of movement” and this sometimes lead to more of it. Hope I made sense there.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply March 26, 2016

      You made perfect sense, David.

      That’s ironically one of the shortcomings of lasers. If you’re focused on where the laser is hitting, you’re going to notice wobble from every joint in your body. A 1/8 shift of the front sight will move the point of impact by 7 or more inches at 15 feet. And, as you focus on the wobble, your brain releases cortisol which only makes the problem worse. In addition, a lot of pistol shooters think that you need to hold your breath when you’re pressing the trigger. If you’re focusing on the wobble of the laser while your breath is held, your blood oxygen level starts dropping. This affects your eyes’ ability to see initially and your supporting muscles that you need to stop the wobble shortly thereafter.

      You were exactly right in not telling him “don’t focus on the wobble.” Telling someone NOT to focus on something is like telling someone not to imagine a pink elephant…it’s very hard. Instead, do what you did and have them focus on something else. It could be focusing on hands and arms like you suggested, OR you could have them focus on their front sight. At most self-defense distances, you can focus on the front sight and still get a lot of benefit from the laser.

  • Mark

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    I got a laser for my long gun. Personal protection. Figure at night, the laser will add needed accessory to locating an intruder. Just point and shoot, unless you want to be discreet. It will take some targeting for the placement for the laser. But I still fill a better addition to a primary weapon in lower light situations at least.

  • Ben Boren

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Thanks for the article on laser sights. I would appreciate it if you would describe in detail the difference between “Pressing the trigger” and “Mashing the trigger”. It would help my wife and I learning to shoot defensively what that means. What part of the index finger to place on the trigger, position of the finger on the trigger, correct method of moving the finger back to fire the weapon. Do you vary your finger position or grip for rapid fire? Any other information on trigger control and grip would be very helpful.


    • Ox

      Reply Reply March 25, 2016

      Hey Ben,

      Great questions…

      On pressing vs. mashing: When you press the trigger, you want everything except your index finger to be solid and still…like a vice. You want to isolate your trigger finger and move the last joint/bone straight back so that the sights don’t move while you’re pressing the trigger.

      Someone who’s mashing the trigger is squeezing their entire hand while they’re pressing the trigger. The effect is that the muzzle goes to the left for right handers and to the right for left handers.

      The way that you get to where you can press the trigger under stress is to practice pressing the trigger so many times that you no longer think about it…you just decide to shoot and the next thing you know the bullet is hitting what you wanted to hit.

      As far as what pat of the index finger to place on the trigger–argh–there are a lot of people who are very passionate about what part of your finger you should have on the trigger. I’m not one of them. There are a lot of differences between triggers, grips, finger length, and grip strength. What works for me may not work for you. What works best on a semi-auto target pistol with a very light, single stage trigger may not get the job done on a pistol with a long, heavy double action.

      I’ve found that on Glocks, it’s most comfortable for me to have the right side of the trigger touching the joint on my index finger. If you look at a graphic on what you’re “supposed” to do, this is incorrect and it’s called “too much finger” and it’s supposed to cause you to pull your shots to the right. It doesn’t for me. It works perfectly and allows me to shoot 1 hole groups, shoot targets at 100 yards, and put 6 rounds per second on target within 21 feet. I’d play with it during dry fire and see what position allows you to press the trigger without moving the sights.

      I try to use the same grip, regardless of whether I’m shooting precision, high speed, or dry fire. I use a fairly tight grip that creates a solid platform and the end result is that the gun cycles reliably, I get very little muzzle flip, and I don’t have to adjust my grip between shots. Occasionally, if my hand is getting fatigued and I’m shooting a slower course of fire, I’ll lighten my grip, but I always make sure to get the most reps in with the technique that I’d want to use if I found myself in a surprise situation where I had no time to think.

    • JR Jansen

      Reply Reply November 1, 2018

      1. The Pad of your finger should be on the trigger; the finger joint shouldn’t be against the side of the trigger.
      2. Pull/squeeze the trigger; don’t jerk it.
      3. Practice your trigger pull (do some dry firing) so that you’re moving ONLY your trigger finger and not any of the other fingers or your thumb. When they pull the trigger, people often tighten their grip and/or anticipate the recoil, which moves the muzzle, throwing the shot off. Practice till you can fire by moving ONLY your trigger finger and no other part of your hand.
      4. Strengthen your hand grip by squeezing a dense foam rubber ball.
      Hope that helps a little.

  • Gene

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    SPOT ON! There is no substitute for daily preparation. When I find myself habitually doing the right things to get on target, I realize that the training has proven its point. Practice the fundamentals ALL the time.


    Reply Reply March 25, 2016



    Reply Reply March 25, 2016


  • Russell "Doc" French

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Keep the good stuff comin’, can’t get enough!

  • Stiles Watson

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    My lasered S&W Shield helps me see the issues I have with trigger pull. If I jerk, the laser will move accordingly. So I can more quickly correct my fundamentals. Further, I am cross-dominant, i.e., right-handed, left eyed. I still try to use my right eye when shooting , but tire toward the end of a practice session.

    The laser really helps maintain aiming point consistency throughout the training session. Cataracts, even small ones, cloud and blur vision making sharp target acquisition difficult. Laser support helps me put 7 out of seven rounds in the inter rings of the head portion of a silhouette target from twenty feet.

  • Boozer

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Great article. I might add two other items: Lasers, needing a battery to operate, can and will at some point need replacement or they will fail (maybe at a critical time); and laser users should be cognizant of the “zeroed” distance of their laser/firearm. Thanks for all you do.

  • Earl Young

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Thank you like your info on the laser.

  • Ed Manning

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Great article, I’ve resisted lasers for decades for all the reasons stated here but now I’m struggling through the human aging process and my eyes are not what they used to be. During daylight hours I can operate fine, have been to many firearms training sessions and always finish in the top 5-10%. Yes, firearms training is a life and death competitive sport. But like a vampire, my life changes at sundown. I cannot focus on the front sight and must rely upon instinct which unfortunately begins to fade too. I’ve gone through eye wear specifically designed for shooting but they are an annoyance while not in the tac bays and very expensive to learn what works and doesn’t work.

    So, I’m asking the Easter bunny to add a laser to my basked for Easter this year.

  • Rodney Steward

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    This is some very informative reading and I just learned a few things and also cleared up a few things!! Great job!!!

  • Chas

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Great read, Now that I am reaching the age that the sight alignment is getting harder, this has given me a better understanding. I will be looking into the different sight. Thank You

  • Leon

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    #6: Anecdotally, I haven’t had any good results in bright daylight conditions at defensive range using my pocket pistol. The laser was not a Crimson Trace, but I’m not sure that would have made a difference in consideration of the micro sized, i.e., less powerful lasers used on pocket pistols.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply March 25, 2016

      Great point, Leon! Green lasers show up better in daylight conditions for most people. Something you could do is go to your local gun store and ask to see a red laser, a green laser, and a bright (500-1000 lumen) flashlight. Shine the light on the wall and shine the lasers on the bright spot and see what shows up best for you. Try both light and dark backgrounds. If they’ll let you, take the lasers outside and try the same test, without the flashlight.

      Reviews on particular lasers are good…and I may do one in the near future, but keep in mind that the chemistry of your particular eye and your particular visual cortex CAN determine which laser works for you and which does not.


    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Great article, I can see that lasers are used by people who train long and hard, but most of us do not have the patience to train all the time. Have thought about getting a laser, but have not done so because I wondered if the laser ison, if the attacker could not see the laser form the gun before I could locate them..

    • Ox

      Reply Reply March 25, 2016

      Great questions/comments. You can practice with a rail mounted laser on a http://www.DryFirePistol.com or an AirSoft platform for a few minutes a day at home for free and catch up with most “pros” in short order.

      The easy answer for keeping an attacker from seeing the laser before you see them is to keep the laser turned off until you’re aligning the muzzle with the attacker.

  • Morgan Leake

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    7. They can be real eye-openers about just how bad some shooters are about muzzle discipline. Little red dots moving all around an indoor range can be unsettling, but may just get some shooters to realize they are not keeping muzzles downrange as well as they think they are.

    (Not advocating doing this on purpose; have observed it plenty of times when watching random shooters.)

    • Ox

      Reply Reply March 25, 2016

      I DO advocate doing it on purpose…just not with a real platform capable of firing live ammo. Video tape it it with blue guns or SIRTs and the results are shocking.

  • Candy Pailer

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Great Thanks for all the good tips Candy Sue

  • Morgan Leake

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    6. They are a phenomenal dry fire aid, providing instant feedback on grip and trigger control. They also show how close to on-target a point-firing presentation is.

    (Not all of us have a SIRT.)

  • marty jones

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    You must learn to shoot with a laser. To shoot properly you must focus on the laser not you sight. This is done after you have sighted the laser in to match the front sight at the range or distance that you feel it will be most effective. Stay safe tiu Sheep Dogs out there.

  • David

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Lasers are great for dry fire practice. Trigger discipline, or lack thereof, gets instant feedback. Are you smooth, or mashing the trigger? Just watch the little red dot and you will know. In compromised shooting situations, the bullet will hit where the laser is illuminating. My first time using one, I told the range officer “It feels like cheating”. His response? “There is no cheating in a gun fight”.

  • George

    Reply Reply March 25, 2016

    Lasers are helpful and fun. With night vision goggles the beam is clearly seen. I found that a great practice technique is to aim with peripheral vision to the side then activate the laser. I was amazed at how accurate I have become after 60 years of practice. The perp is not always in front of you and that situation needs serious practice. The laser is a great tool. The more time you spend with the gun in your hand, the better you get. More recently I purchased a SIRT and a laser target. This is even more fun with a purpose. Sure hope I never need to actually shoot someone but I am more ready every day.

    GW (genuine OF)

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