LuckyGunner Puts Red And Green Lasers Head To Head

green-laser-dark

Green lasers have been hyped a lot recently, but how do they actually compate with red lasers? LuckyGunner’s Chris Baker takes a look at this question in his latest article. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but his conclusions are recreated below:

Observations

The numbers don’t lie, but they also don’t tell the whole story. In all three lighting conditions, the green laser was much more visible than the red — more so than the sub-one second time difference would suggest. Using the red laser in bright sunlight, I had to hesitate for a split second on each target to confirm that I could actually see the dot. Crimson Trace claims that the red laser will be visible at 15-25 feet in bright sunlight, so it’s no surprise that shooting from 30 feet, I found it easier to use the iron sights in this kind of light.

I didn’t struggle to see the green laser in daylight, but I have a bad habit of sometimes jerking the trigger the moment I see a good sight picture. So my confidence in being able to see the green dot actually led to a few more missed shots in the -1 zone. As the light faded, the green laser had less of an edge. I’m not a consistent enough shooter to declare that the .24 second difference in my average score with the red and green lasers at night time is a direct reflection of the lasers’ visibility. Both were very easy to see at night, and definitely beat the pants off using iron sights — even illuminated tritium night sights.

The Verdict

Regarding the brightness of red versus green lasers, the Crimson Trace website claims that “red lasers are most visible in low light conditions… The human eye naturally detects green with great ease, allowing it to appear brighter in conditions and environments with higher ambient or natural light.”

Overall, my experience validated these claims. Red is excellent in low light. Green is also highly visible in low light and pretty good in daylight, too. Based on this test, I plan to continue training primarily with my iron sights in daylight conditions and laser sights in low light conditions. I may begin to incorporate more laser sight training in daylight using one of the green lasers, but the priority will always be irons.

Despite the superior visibility of the green laser, if you’re practicing regularly with your handgun, a laser sight is less of an advantage during the day. They’re still great for firing from unconventional positions when you can’t properly align your sights, but in conditions where your iron sights are clearly visible, lasers aren’t quite the game changer they are in low light. That said, the added brightness of the green laser definitely expands its viability to a broader range of lighting conditions.

Regardless of the color, the laser sight is the best sight enhancement option available for the carry handgun. Reflex/red dot sights suffer the disadvantages of increasing the pistol’s profile and being subject to forces when the slide reciprocates.

Which kind of laser, if any, do our readers use? Let us know in the comments!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • s

    Green is good.

  • Mouldy Squid

    As the article states, the human eye can detect green much easier than any other colour. In fact, it can “see” more shades of green than any other colour. It is not surprising that the green laser is easier to see than the red.

    I swapped in green fibre optic sights on my competition rifle and it made a huge difference in acquiring a sight picture.

    • Charles Darwin

      Probably a natural evolutionary function. Green probably flagged something that was readily edible to our hunter-gatherer fore bearers.

      • Mouldy Squid

        It is the product of evolutionary function, but no one seems to know why exactly it happened that way. What is known is that the colour receptors of the eye peak in sensitivity in the green part of the spectrum.

        • 6.5x55Swedish

          This probably goes a long way back to before Africa was getting brown, when we were more ape than human, possibly even before we were apes.

          I can only speculate but I can see two main reasons to our capability to see green.

          Firstly, if you live in a world where everything is green it is logical that your species will become better at detecting differences in these colors. It will aid you with your depth perception; when you are in the dark you see fewer nuances and have a harder time estimating differences in depth than when you are in a light
          rich environment where you have a lot of nuances.

          Secondly, the nuance of branches and leafs etc. is a good indicator of their age. Younger leafs and branches tend to be in the light green spectrum. The younger leafs and branches are more nutritious and easily consumed than older ones; by selecting the younger ones we could therefore maximize our efficiency at fulfilling our nutritional needs.

      • noguncontrol

        evolution is a hoax, a fairly tale.

        • ProjectThor

          If it smells like a troll…

  • noguncontrol

    Point shooting is still faster than lasers for cqb.

    • Dragonheart

      Point shooting is definitely the fastest, but it requires practice, lots and lots of practice. Most of those with carry permits get out their one box of cartridges they bought a couple of years ago and practice just before they have to re-qualify.

  • zag

    The peak radiation of the sun is at .55 microns, which is green, and the peak sensitivity of the human eye is the same. That is no happy accident whether you are a creationist or evolutionist, take your choice.

  • RaunchyDawg

    “Regardless of the color, the laser sight is the best sight enhancement option
    available for the carry handgun”

    Debatable, dictated by the shooter. Many would say a flashlight is better all around than a laser.

  • E Wolfe

    I have red Crimson Trace grips on my .45 and find them excellent in low light, easily on target at 75 feet. I also own an OpMod green laser bore sight–an excellent piece of equipment. But out the outdoor range, in daylight, I had a real problem seeing it at 50 yards, let alone 100, and it is a very strong beam. Perhaps it’s me, but I found I had to point away from the sunlight & at a black GI can nearby just to find the green dot bring a new scope into general alignment. The windage is spot on for a zero, but it provided no help, at that distance for proper elevation.

    Other than low-light conditions, I’d never rely on civilian strength laser sights for self protection. When time is critical, searching for that elusive spot, green or red, is not a good idea from my point of view.