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:
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.
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!