by B. Gil Horman - Thursday, April 4, 2013
Laser sights for defensive firearms have quickly become an integral part of many people’s self-defense plans. The technology continues to become more affordable, reliable and compact. LaserLyte, the shooting and hunting division of P&L Industries, offers a variety of laser products for shooting, including laser sights, bore sighting tools and training devices. Here's a look at three laser sight systems you just can't find anywhere else.
RML Kryptonyte Center Mass Sight (CM-15)
Defensive shotguns, especially the 12-gauge, have a near mythical status for personal protection. There's no doubt that in close-quarters combat a shotgun is one of the more effective self-defense options. However, despite what Hollywood and the under-informed may say, shotguns must be aimed to score threat-stopping hits. To aid shooters in aiming their defensive scatterguns properly, Laserlyte has developed a green laser sight designed for use with scatter guns.
The RML Kryptonyte Center Mass CM-15 green laser is a rail-mounted sight fitted with a splitter that breaks a single green laser beam into one central point of light surrounded by a halo of eight additional bright light points. As the distance to the target increases, the central laser beam remains on the bullseye while the eight surrounding points spread apart to form an expanded pattern. The result is a laser pattern that approximates the pattern size for a load of buckshot pellets fired at that distance.
Splitting the laser beam to create multiple light points has some trade offs. Green lasers have the advantage of greater visibility in bright conditions, with the single-beam version of the Kryptonyte sight generating a laser dot that's visible on lightly colored targets out to 50 yards in bright, natural light. In the same bright conditions, however, the eight outer dots of the CM-15 start to become squint worthy at 10 yards, with the central (brightest) dot becoming difficult to spot at the 15- to 20-yard range. Again, this was in the brightest natural light available. Moving to a well-lit shooting range kept the center dot clearly visible out to 25 yards. But in regular interior (home) lighting and low-light situations, the CM-15 offers an excellent level of visibility, especially in the 25-yard range. When faced with night-time levels of darkness, the nine-beam pattern can be seen out to (and beyond) 50 yards, although the pattern is fairly large at that distance.
After stretching the visibility of the CM-15 beyond most practical applications, the sight was attached to a tactical 12-gauge and sighted in for testing at an indoor range. The sight was adjusted so the central laser beam was in line with the front bead sight to form a center-of-mass aiming point. It should be noted here that the rule of thumb with the typical 18.5-inch Cylinder Bore shotgun is that shot pellets will spread apart at a rate of about 1-inch-per-yard traveled. With the CM-15 pointed at a target set at 7 yards, the eight bright points of light formed a 7-inch pattern around the central light. This is not a coincidence of design.
What is difficult to photograph, but easy to see in low light, is what could only be described as an additional birdshot pattern effect around the nine brightest laser points. These small flecks of green light, too numerous to count effectively, expand the on-target light pattern to about 13 inches at 7 yards. It's a cool looking effect that serves a purpose. The variety of loads fired through the test gun followed the shot pattern rule-of thumb, but not exactly. Some buckshot loads formed tighter than expected 5-inch patterns, while one birdshot load opened up to 9 inches. So no matter the load, the CM-15 created a bright 7-inch inner ring of light to highlight tight groups, with a dimmer 13-inch outer ring to demarcate the outer edges of more open groups.
The CM-15 proved to be a top notch accessory for close-quarters self-defense. It would also be useful in training new defensive-shotgun shooters to help them get a sense of what to expect down range. This laser sight uses a single CR-123 3-Volt battery, providing up to six hours of battery life using the momentary on/off mode on the provided pressure switch. The suggested retail price for this laser is $313.95.
The Venom Sight for the Black Widow Mini Revolver (NAA-VM)
North American Arms (NAA) makes some of the smallest defensive revolvers available, with models ranging from the ultra-tiny, 4-ounce .22 Short to the 4-inch barrel Mini Master revolver. The Black Widow .22 Mag. revolver, which this single-beam red laser is designed to fit, successfully splits the difference between the two ends of the NAA size range.
The Black Widow features stainless-steel construction, a 2-inch vented heavy barrel and a hand-filling rubber grip. Owners can choose between adjustable target sights or fixed low-profile sights, both by Millet. Conversion cylinders are available to allow shooters to practice with the less expensive .22 Long Rifle ammunition. With an unloaded weight of just 8.8 ounces and a cylinder width of 0.85 inches, the Black Widow is a truly, small pocket pistol that is easy to shoot well at defensive distances.
The Venom laser sight's chassis is milled from aluminum for added strength and durability. Powered by four LR626 button-cell batteries, this laser can provide up to five hours of constant usage. The battery life can be doubled if the laser is used one minute on, and one minute off, to give the batteries time to recover. Despite its small size, the Venom can be programmed to pulse, and will automatically shut down after six minutes to preserve the batteries.
The Venom is installed as a replacement for the Black Widow's factory removable cylinder pin. It just slips and twists into place like the original pin without any modifications to the revolver. Once in place, the laser is activated by pressing a button located on the underside of the unit, just behind the battery housing. It can be activated with the tip of the trigger finger or by the index finger of the support hand.
This laser is pre-sighted at the factory for use out to 50 feet, but accuracy testing was conducted from a standing position at 7 yards. At this distance, the laser hovered just above the front sight when the sights were aligned with the target. This laser and gun combination consistently and reliably hit to point-of-aim using self-defense grade .22 Mag. loads, including rounds from Hornady, Speer and Winchester. The shot groups formed around the laser dot impact point did not exceed 1.75 inches, with most groups in the 1.25- to 1.5-inch range.
The North American Arms Black Widow and the Venom laser sight were a treat to use, with both products showing solid performance. Holsters from North American Arms that accommodate the Venom laser module include the NAA Vertical Shoulder Holster and the NAA Folding Holster Grip for mini revolvers with magnum frames. The Venom is also compatible with the North American Arms Mini Master revolver. The suggested retail for this laser unit is $159.95.
RML Red Center Mass Sight (CM-MK4)
Using the same beam-splitting technology as the CM-15 green shotgun sight, the new CM-MK4 is a compact red laser module designed for use with handguns that have at least 1 inch of tactical rail space. Three of the 357 silver oxide batteries provide power for two and a half hours of constant-on usage, or up to five hours with the laser turned on and off to rest the batteries. Two activation buttons located on the back panel of the polymer housing make the unit operationally ambidextrous.
So why would a pattern of laser-light points be useful for a single-projectile firearm like a semi-auto pistol? The pattern creates a projected aiming reticle, much like those in holographic sight systems, but at a lower cost. Also, the shooter can still see the pattern, even if the eyes are not perfectly aligned with the sights. Defensive handgun accuracy calls for quick target acquisition and center-of-mass bullet strikes, instead of the long-range precision that is usually emphasized in hunting and target shooting situations. For those with less than perfect vision, it's much easier to visually align a halo of light, instead of searching for a single point in an open space.
At the shooting range, the CM-MK4 laser sight was easily attached to a 9 mm tactical pistol. The nine light points opened up to form a 12-inch pattern on-target at 10 yards. As with the green version of the sight, the red version was adjusted so that the central light point was visible just above the front iron sight of the pistol. Using defensive shooting drills, it was quite fast and easy to get on target with the CM-MK4 because there was no need to visually hunt for a single dot, and the outer ring of lights so nicely framed the inner rings of the target.
Another benefit of this sight became clear when the pistol was held in a low-ready position. The bright red baseball-sized spot of light projected on the floor made it perfectly clear to the shooter (using peripheral vision), and those around him, exactly where the pistol's muzzle was pointed. This will be useful to pistol instructors and new shooters as they work together to master safe gun handling practices. For those who want this laser to be even more eye catching, it can be set to strobe. Suggested retail for the CM-MK4 is $164.95.
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