A lot of people ask me what the best style of laser sight to get is. There really isn’t a completely right or wrong answer, it all depends on the application and how deep your wallet is. There are three styles of reliable laser sights. I will try and give you the best pros and cons for each along with a list of applications and duty styles they are built for.
1st we have the picatinny/weaver style mount on the lower receiver. This by far is one of the most time and application proven styles of laser sight. It has been developed and re-developed over the years so many times that even cheap knock of brands are pretty good bang for the buck. That being said, you can spend as little as 50 dollars and upwards of several hundred. This Laser sight can mount onto just about any pistol with a picatinny rail. This makes a very large market for parts and it is easy to research and find reviews for the best brand. Most newer generation 1911′s are being outfitted with a picatinny rail located under the recoil housing. A con to the picatinny mount on a 1911 or any handgun is that you have to decided where to mount the on/off switch. Luckily most pressure switches are so streamline that they dont impose a huge snag risk when using for duty or competition. All in all the Picatinny Mounted Laser Sight for 1911′s and other handguns is a great solution when looking for an inexpensive and reliable sight.
Here is a great example of one of ArmaLaser’s StingRay Sights: STINGRAY by ArmaLaser Weaver Picatinny rails Glock SIG H&K RUGER S&W Taurus Walther 1911 Springfield XD Beretta LASER
Example number 2 is the “LaserGrip” style where the laser is actually housed in the grip. I love the concept of the laser grip style, but have to question the reliability. I would probably only purchase these from a well trusted manufacturer such as Crimson Trace. They have done years of research developing this style of laser sight. One reason I love the idea is that just the natural grip of the pistol will activate the light. They do have a dedicated switch, but it is very sensitive. This is good, because it allows you to not worry about un-necessary details when the poo hits the fan. Also, they are very stream line in appearance and do not create a snag hazard when drawing your weapon. A couple cons are as follows. I question the accuracy after heavy use due to the grips being help in place only by stock grip screws. Depending on house often you remove your grips for servicing or modification eventually you wear on the threads. If this were to “cant” the laser in the smallest bit, it makes a huge difference when very far down range. Another con is if your weapon has an ambidextrous safety lever. Most gun manufacturers are now using this style of safety lever. Not only does it create an extra snag point, but in order to install laser grips you have to modify either the lever of the laser housing. Now Gun makers will tout this new style of lever as a good back up for if you have to shoot with the weak hand, but I believe the did this in order to increase manufacturing. Here is a good example of set of Crimson Trace’s LaserGrips for the 1911: Crimson Trace Lasergrips for 1911 Government and Commander Front Activation Button
The last style I want to recommend is the “Guide Rod Laser Sight”. This an absolute genius design. I just want to see it have a little more duty and prove time before I go outfitting every pistol I own with them. This style is fool proof and completely snag free. The Guide Rod Laser does replace your factory guide rod. Laser Max is the most trusted maker of these sights. They say that their guide rods are built to Mil-Spec Standards and they tested them with 20,000 rounds of live fire. Alignment stays in place with their design and the on off switch is located with a custom take-down lever. One of the other neat things about this design is that there is no need for a holster upgrade. Check them out here: LaserMax Guide Rod Laser Sight for Paraordnance 1911, Stainless Finish