Crimson Trace Laser Grips demonstrated on revolver

Crimson Trace Laser Grips Review [Hands on]

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So what’s the deal with Crimson Trace laser grips? Well, let’s start with the revolver itself.

I like to shoot revolvers. I like to carry revolvers. I like them a lot.

OK… so much for the first-grade-style sentences… I guess you can safely assume that I am a wheelgun type of guy. Do I own, much less carry, self-shuckers? Of course… as I put it in another review, I’m not a Luddite. Semi-autos are wonderful and I own several. Matter of fact, I’ve got a brand-new-model subcompact 9mm coming in that I can’t wait to review. It’s just that I drank the revolver kool-aid when I first started out shooting and have always owned some examples of that breed. 

My .44 Magnum Revolver

Here’s one of my revolvers… a 1982-vintage 8 ⅜” 629-1 .44 Magnum that has taken several deer with the cast bullet handload shown next to it. I do own some interesting guns.

.44 Magnum Revolver

Yep, revolvers are fun to shoot and tend to be reliable. There’s at least one area, however, that semi-autos have a distinct advantage – sights. Most semis have sights that you can remove and replace. Or, to cash in on the current trend, semis are coming with a cover plate that, when removed, allows the installation of a red dot sight.

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Red dots are interesting to me, since my progressive trifocal glasses sometimes have a hard time putting the front sight/rear sight/target into focus all at once. The red dot simply has one focal plane – stick the “dot on the spot” (you want to hit), and pull the trigger. I have red dots mounted on more than one gun and like using them. But, for revolvers, they aren’t so helpful. They are very difficult to mount on a revolver not set up to receive such a sight. It can be done, but it’s not cheap. So, in our search for an alternative to iron sights we go to plan B… laser grips.

I’ll Have One Revolver With The Laser On The Side, Please…

So, we do the next best thing – we put grips on the gun that have a laser built into them. As you can tell from the top photo, the laser protrudes but slightly on the right side of the grip, at the top. That way, your hand doesn’t cover it up.

Plus, it works for both lefties and righties. I am the former, and it works fine. I guess we don’t have to worry about it working for right-handers, since 90% of everything made for the shooting sports is made for them  – the R&D would have been carried out first and foremost for righties. But, I digress… it’s a right-handed world, so be it. (Never mind my frustration writing in a three-ring binder or spiral-bound tablet, or finding one of those wooden desks in my college classroom with the cutout going the other way. And, if you do try to use a three-ring binder upside down, the paper’s backwards…).

I have resigned myself to the fact that it’s  a right-handed (shooting) world. At least that isn’t an issue here – it works very well. 

It is clever how the laser sits on top of your grip but under the cylinder.  

Crimson Trace laser grip close up

The Crimson Trace Laser Grips close up

Easy to add or remove from your gun

The laser itself is contained in the bump above on the photo. The battery goes into the inside of the grip – you must remove the grip to change it. Not a big deal, as it’s fairly easy on and off. Another feature visible in the photo above are the windage and elevation adjustment ports. The laser comes with a tiny Allen key (or wrench, if you grew up where I did) that fits in the ports – one on the side and the other on the top of the laser bump. The adjustments are effective – a small rotation of the adjustment screw moves the laser’s location on the target a decent amount. There are no “clicks” like a scope adjustment turret offers, but you’ll get the gist of it quickly. 

To activate the laser, you must first have switched it on – the slider is at the bottom of the grip:

Crimson Trace Laser Grips power switch

Switch it on with ease

Just push it to the front and it’s on. The pressure switch is located towards the top of the front strap and is very easily activated, hence the on-off switch meant to save your battery. Even with its auto-off feature, you’ll want to keep it switched off until you’re ready to use it, just in case. 

Here’s a quick look at the specs, from the Crimson Trace  website…this laser is for my Taurus 85 .38 Spl. snubby. The model number of this grip is LG-385, and it is overmolded for this particular gun. MSRP on this grip is $319.99 and it was in stock on the C-T website as of this writing. (If you have another pistol or revolver, there’s a good chance that you can get a laser grip for it as Crimson Trace makes these grips for 91 different guns).

Activation Location:Front
Activation Type:Instinctive Activation (I translate this to mean "No thinking required, just grab the gun".
Attachment:Grip Replacement
Beam Intensity:5MW Peak, 633NM, Class 3R Red Laser
Dot Size:Approx. 0.50" at 50 feet.
Crimson Trace Laser Grips leftside grip

Left side. The slight finger grooves are not prominent and feel good in the hand, or at least in mine.

Crimson Trace Laser Grips rightside grip

Right side. The activation switch is visible on the front of the finger groove.

Crimson Trace Laser Grips backstrap

Backstrap. The fit wasn’t perfect on mine but it wasn’t bad, probably my fault. The grip is comfortable and really helps cushion recoil.

Do the Crimson Trace Laser Grips work?

Absolutely, unlike cheap alternatives

Of course it works. The laser is visible in daylight and doesn’t lose zero as you shoot the gun. This is a quality item, made by a quality company. I once owned a laser that cost, if I remember right, around $35. I bought it as an experiment, from a local store. The experiment failed miserably – it couldn’t crawl off the scientific table, so to speak. That thing was a piece of fill-in-your-favorite-description. It would not hold zero, no matter where I held my tongue and wished it so. I returned it. This laser will last you, hold zero and keep your tongue firmly in its rightful place.

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More comfortable than my factory grip

A laser grip is, in addition to the laser, a grip and has to function as such. Is the grip comfortable? Does it allow you to draw the gun quickly and surely? Can you get all your fingers on the grip as you draw? Will the grip allow a firm, repeatable grasp? The answer to all of the above is yes. Even though we see a thin separation line in the backstrap above, it has no bearing on the way the gun fits the hand and may well be my fault for not installing it properly.

To be honest, the grip shown here is more comfortable in my hand than the factory grip was. If this grip looks too long for your taste, you can outfit your Taurus 85 with the LG-185, a non-overmolded grip that more closely follows the factory grip profile. It goes for a MSRP of $234.95.

I appreciate the tiny bit of extra length – my pinkie finger doesn’t feel left out with this grip.

Easy to conceal, I almost forgot it was there

In terms of concealment, I have the gun in a pocket holster in my pocket as I type right now and basically forget that it’s there. Sometimes longer grips on a snubby will stick out of a pocket – I had this happen with my S&W 638’s replacement grip – but this grip is the best of both worlds. It is small enough it conceals very well, but is long enough to allow all of your fingers on it when you draw and shoot. As we know, that aids in controllability. I really like it and am glad I added it to my Taurus.

If you’ve had experience with one of these, please tell us about it below. As always, keep ‘em in the black (or, in this case, keep the laser on the black) and stay safe!

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