REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser Combo

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Think back to the first time you saw a weapon-mounted laser in a movie. For me, it was Terminator, when Arnold Schwarzenegger cut through a smokey room with a red beam of death. That massive device shined dimly even at short distances and probably had a sub 10 minute battery-life. Thrity years later we have the LaserMax Spartan which is the size of a match box car, includes both a green laser and a 120 lumen LED light, all with an impressive battery life.

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Terminator – 1984

My thoughts on weapon-mounted visible lasers used to be pretty simple: novelty.  Concerns, often drilled home by past firearms instructors, centered on the shooter’s over-reliance on a laser, hesitation searching for the dot, zero distance and offset, shooting through glass and mechanical failures. And while some of those issues have been addressed with technological advances, the remaining downsides for a weapon mounted laser are shooter dependent. Meaning, in most cases a poor shooter without a laser will be a poor shooter with a laser.

TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan

TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan

Standard Warnings: You must follow all of the weapon safety rules, which includes, but is not limited to making sure your firearm is unloaded prior to attempting to mount a light. Also, once your light/laser is mounted on a gun it becomes a weapon light – not a general flashlight to look for Oreos in the cupboard or to make your cat dance like it’s high on PCP.

I. Introduction – Lasermax Spartan:

The Spartan is a rail-mounted combination LED and laser that runs on a single AAA battery. It’s outer shell is made from light-weight black injection-molded plastic. The LED throws a dimable “mint green” light in wide pattern and the laser (my test unit was the green model) is adjustable for both windage and elevation. Two separate upper and lower paddle-type switches control the laser and light respectively as well as program the beam patterns and light output when the correct pattern of clicks are issued.

TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan

TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan

The Spartan is very light. Almost too light: my first thought was ‘is this going to withstand repeated punishment’? The LED sits on the right hand side, the laser in the middle (and slightly above), in line with the bore axis and the battery compartment on the left.

II. Installation & Specifications:

Installation is straight forward:

  1. Remove the hex screws with the included hex wrench.
  2. Install a fresh battery (not included).
  3. Line up the Spartan on the rail section closest to the position to where your trigger finger can easily manipulate the paddle switches.
  4. Make sure the internal alignment plate locks into a rail groove.
  5. Close the battery door/left side mount and insert the hex screws.
  6. Tighten (not over tighten) until the Spartan is securely mounted on the rail.

SPS-C-R (Red Laser)

  • Class 3R Visible Laser
  • Output Power: <5mW
  • Wavelength: 650nm
  • Light: 120+ Lumen Mint Green LED

SPS-C-G (Green Laser)

  • Class 3R Visible Laser
  • Output Power: <5mW
  • Wavelength: 510-535nm
  • Light: 120+ Lumen Mint Green LED

Two screws double to both mount the Spartan as well as secure the battery compartment:

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan

Rail alignment plate:

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan

The Spartan’s electronics can’t handle lithium batteries. Stick to Alkaline or NiMh.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan

III. Features/Controls:

Although the paddle switches make a soft rattle when the unit shakes, they are firm and decisive when activated. The buttons are laid out efficiently, allowing the user to either turn on/off the light and laser individually or activate both with a single push to the recessed portion of both paddles.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser

Zeroing the laser took about two minutes. Stand your desired zeroing distance (20 yards for me) from a wall. Using the supplied hex wrench, adjust both the elevation and windage settings until the green dot is just above and centered perfect sight picture. Then, using the elevation adjustment, drop the dot down so the dot is no longer visible with the front and rear sights aligned. It shouldn’t take more than half a turn with the wrench to get the dot close to alignment.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan – Windage Adjustment

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan – Elevation Adjustment

Controls and Programming:

  • To activate the laser, press and release the top paddle switch. Press and release again to turn the laser off.
  • To activate the light, press and release the bottom paddle switch. Press and release again to turn the laser off.
  • To activate the light and laser simultaneously, press and release both paddle switches using the recessed channel. Press and release again to turn the laser off.
  • To change either the light/laser to pulse or steady mode, press and release the appropriate paddle switch, wait one second, then press and release the the same paddle switch for two seconds. Release the paddle switch when the mode changes.
  • To dim the light, start with the light in the off position. Then double tap the light paddle switch and hold on the second tap. While pressing the light paddle switch, press and hold the laser switch until the desired brightness level is achieved.

IV. Testing

The ‘mint green’ LED is surprisingly bright for its size and power source. Identifying items and objects in otherwise complete darkness out to ten yards is not a problem. I’m fairly confident that in the longest open part of my house, maybe 15 yards, I could detect if an unknown individual was carrying a weapon or a cell phone. That’s the most practical test as you are going to get for a defensive weapon light. At lower brightness settings the LED acts more as a navigational light than a primary weapon light.

The green laser pops at any ambient light level, including broad daylight. I easily painted trees that were 75 yards away with the sun shining. And even at that distance the dot stayed relatively the same size. In darkness, the green laser is equally impressive, illuminating targets out to about 100 yards. Sweet.

Two yards. Indoors.

Eye-level, suppressed.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser – Inside Illumination.

Two yards. Indoors.

Chest level, suppressed.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser – Inside Illumination.

Twelve yards with the light and laser. Outdoors.

The steel turkey target is approximately 10″X10″.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser – Outside Illumination.

Twelve yards with only the light. Outdoors.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser – Outside Illumination.

Twelve yards with only the laser. Outdoors.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser – Outside Illumination.

Twenty five yards with only the light. Outdoors.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser – Outside Illumination.

Twenty five yards with the light and laser. Outdoors.

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TFB REVIEW: LaserMax Spartan Light/Laser – Outside Illumination.

V. Conclusions

Overall, the Spartan is a complete, useable light/laser package for defensive applications and general shooting sports. In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical of the advertised performance – when I think of a weaponlight that includes a green laser, my mind immediately applies a $400 price tag. So I figured that LaserMax had to cut corners somewhere.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the light is bright and useable, the laser is strong and accurate and the programmable settings work as advertised.

As I like to remind all our readers, managing expectations is the key to buying the right gear. Whereas the Spartan is perfectly capable of living on your nightstand gun, expecting to use it for long range applications like whomping ISIS leaders at range is beyond the scope of it’s design.

My one request: I’d like to see LaserMax improve on the Spartan by changing the battery compartment to a sealed screw cap on the front that doesn’t require unmounting the whole device from the gun to change the battery. (Safely and completely breaking down the pistol first, of course.)

Anyway, let’s break it down.

Not so good:

  • Battery – Only accessible by unmounting the light from the rail, requiring a re-zero check.

Neutral:

  • Paddle Switches: There is a slight rattle/play when the light is moved. It’s less noticeable when mounted on a rail.
  • Finishing – Visible seams, mold marks and indentations that could be easily addressed with tighter tolerances and a little buffing.

Good:

  • Light – Bright greenish light for a small LED.
  • Laser – Daylight visible out to 50-100 yards
  • Programmable – Different modes, light levels and an auto-shutoff feature.
  • Accurate – Rounds hit where you aim. Holds zero under heavy recoil.

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VI. Final Thoughts

There is little doubt in my mind that the future of weapon light and laser combinations will be an evolution of products similar to the Spartan – small, lightweight, powerful, great battery life and programmable settings. LaserMax did a really good job at producing a well thought out piece of gear at an impressive price point.

Even with its minor deficiencies, if you are in the market for a weapon light/laser combo, I can recommend the LaserMax Spartan. I suggest opting for the green laser model – the price difference is minimal and a green aiming dot trumps a red aiming dot every time, especially in daylight situations.

From the LaserMax website:

Capitalizing on the most visible wavelength in the color spectrum, Spartan Light & Laser delivers 120 Lumens of groundbreaking Mint Green™ LED light and quickly adapts to a multitude of rail platforms with exclusive Rail Vise Technology. Lasers come in red or daytime green. This is LaserMax’s first offering that uses a readily available AAA battery. Spartan Light & Laser packs vital target identification and illumination capabilities into the smallest housing available today. Protected by a 5-year warranty, Spartan™ Light & Laser are priced for every shooter’s budget at just $175 for red (SPS-C-R) and $215 for green (SPS-C-G). LaserMax is now accepting pre-orders for the next production run.


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LASERMAX – https://www.lasermax.com/

3495 WINTON PLACE
ROCHESTER, NY 14623
800-527-3703

CUSTOMERSERVICE@LASERMAX.COM



Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • wartzilla

    The Terminator laser was actually wired to a battery concealed in his clothes, with a wire running up his sleeve. The entire tube on the gun is all laser hardware.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Ha. Awesome. Thanks.

    • A bearded being from beyond ti

      It was also made specifically for the movie by a company that would eventually become surefire.

      • Bill

        They were know as Laser Products, IIRC, and I got my first lithium fighting light from them, a searing 65 lumens.

        • K-Gunner

          I still have my Laser Products, Fountain Valley, CA marked 6P. I swapped out the lamp for an LED and even with that, every time I try it I feel like it’s low on batteries because it’s so dim. But damn was it the cat’s ass back in 1993.

          • Core

            lol Cool history. I got my hands on one of their earliest lasers, designed for pistols, mostly revolver mounts I suppose. It was really stupid looking but it worked. I think eventually the laser took a dirt nap, and I probably threw it in the trash.. They probably have vintage value now. Like my Aimpoint Electrnice new in box with supeeer long 3x magnifier!

    • Bill

      The revolver version had the identical over-gun mount, with a battery pack fit to the butt.

  • RSG

    On lasers in general for a handgun: With the laser being so close to the bore, almost all off set issues are solved- with that being said, I can’t think of a single reason not to have a laser on a gun outside of having the beam give away your location. But this won’t be used at battlefield distances, but rather within 20 yards (inside a home/building primarily). In no/low light conditions, identifying your target is of extreme importance and the use of a light is more likely to give away your location anyway. The laser will allow for unconventional aiming/sighting positions in extreme/unusual circumstances, though. And that’s the only system that can allow for that. Fwiw.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Indeed. It mostly comes back to proper training and repetition/use.

      The real downsides are finding quality holsters to fit your light/laser combo.

      • Chris g

        Actually any pistol holster that will fit a x300 or a streamlight TRl-1 will fit the Spartan laser light combo.

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          Thanks for the clarification, Chris.

  • DanGoodShot

    As usual Pete, great review. The rail on my pistol has been naked since the day I bought it 3 years ago. Nothing on the market peaked my interest. Most of the lights are just too big for my taste, especially the price tags on some of this crap. The surefire xc1(?) is perfect in size but HUGE in price. $260 for just a light!? Not for me. I really like this unit. Looks like I have to start saving my pennies. I found my next purchase.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Appreciate that. Thanks.

      • DanGoodShot

        My pleasure sir. You seem to have a knack for finding items that will separating me from my money.

      • Kathy

        It was a good review! I have a Spartan myself and am also pleasantly impressed at its performance considering the light weight and “cheap” feel. It has held up perfectly over more than 500 rounds fired now.

        BTW not to be a biotch, but see where I typed “its” performance? That’s because “it’s” is a conjunction for “it is” and “its” is the possessive form meaning what you wanted it to mean, Pete, in most instances in your review. Got it wrong most of the time, correct once, correct use of “it’s” once, AND incorrect use of “its” once (in the “standard warning” section). I realize this is rather pedantic, but “it’s” and “its” are not interchangeable 😉

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          Thanks. I’ve been working on it. Its though though. 😉

    • Ebby123

      Try the Streamlight TLR-4. Very compact light/laser combo at a reasonable price – around $100 IIRC.

  • thedonn007

    Good review. I am planning on buying one of these when I get my pistol barrel threaded for suppressed shooting, instead of buying suppressor height sights.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Thanks! I’m always aware of the tough crowds that reviews can bring. Fair and accurate is the key.

    • Joe Gamer

      I find that any front sight with a dot, or that basically isn’t black on black against the back of the suppressor still works pretty well. When you focus on the front sight the target is blurred a bit anyway. I don’t bother spending money on suppressor height sights.

  • Chris g

    Actually comes with 2 AAA alkaline batteries. Why alkaline over lithium? Lithium AAAs cannot handle weapons shock very well. While alkaline batteries do just fine.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Thanks for stopping by, Chris. Maybe I got an early test unit without batteries.

      • Chris T

        Yes, the AAA lithium batteries have soft cores. Any product recoil shock over a 9MM on any device using lithium will fail. The soft innards of the battery compact and it goes dark.

  • noamsaying

    Viridian makes a green lase light combo that has a feature where you can place the laser in a holster with a magnet and the laser is instantly on when you draw the weapon. No need to hit the switch.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      I’ve got I love/hate thing going with that feature. Love not having to hit the switch. Hate that’s it’s on no matter what and the proprietary holster setup.

  • Ron

    I use to not believe in weapons mounted visible lasers until I did a force on force with sim-munitions and visible lasers on the guns and saw how much easier they made hitting the moving targets

  • DaveP.

    Other than Terminator, I remember seeing an episode of McGuyver where the ultracool paramilitary types were using (IIRC) AR’s with old industrial/scientific lasers on top: bright-stainless oblong boxes about 10″ by 3″ by 4″, complete with big ol’ switches in the back panel and a keylock (with the spare key dangling off the one on the lock!).

  • Edeco

    This is good, I’m basically a AAA household, try to avoid stuff that needs other kinds.

    I wish somoene other’n Surefire made frame specific switches like their DG switch. FNX I can barely reach the front of the trigger guard if giving it a good one-handed grip. Not that I begrudge Surefire, just doesn’t fit my priorities.

  • A bearded being from beyond ti

    Does it give +4 stability?

    • AndyHasky

      It did before the last parch, it’s been nerfed now though to just +2

      • A bearded being from beyond ti

        Damn it

  • Landiss

    What kind of battery life do you get out of a AAA?

  • Frank Grimes

    So you’ve got to unmount it to change the battery?

    Junk.

  • 🐒👊

    Lithi-dumb ☠