Emerald Trace? - CTC introduces new green lasers

Known as a leader in the laser aiming devices for the self defense market, Crimson Trace (CTC) built their reputation with products like the Lasergrips, Laserguard and Rail Master.  Regardless of the platform, model or price, all of the Crimson Trace lasers shared one common trait:  they were red.  That’s all changed.

Crimson Trace announced new green lasers for a variety of handguns.  Specially designed new green lasers will mount to the various Glock pistols, the Springfield XD and XD(M) handguns and 1911 pistols from Kimber and Smith & Wesson.  Additionally, the company is making a green laser in the Rail Master line, allowing a shooter to mount a generic green laser aiming device to any pistol with a Picatinny-type rail.

Truth be known, these are not the first green lasers on the market, nor even the first from Crimson Trace.  They are however, the first from Crimson Trace that are aimed at the general public and priced competitively with their red laser line.  Previously, the only green laser offered by CTC was part of a vertical grip made for AR-platform rifles and retailing for about $650.

The new lasers are designed for handguns commonly carried for self defense, and MSRP on them is $299 for the model specific lasers.  The Rail Master is even cheaper with a $269 price tag.  For comparison, the red laser Laserguard for the Glock compact pistols retails for $279 while the plain Rail Master with red laser retails for $149.

But why green lasers?

Red lasers are useful, but they only work well in reduced lighting conditions.  I recall the first SHOT Show I attended a few years back.  I was on the range checking out all of the new gear when I came to the area reserved for Crimson Trace.

The late morning sun was already pretty high up in the sky, and without a trace of clouds, the  outdoor range was very bright.  Crimson Trace had a makeshift black tarp structure covering the target stands so people could find the red dot.  With the bright light, even that was was barely enough to see the red laser from shooting distances.

It was too bad, really, because the Crimson Trace lasers are good products, but full daylight was not what they were designed for.  For anyone who was skeptical of the laser’s usefulness, the extreme lengths the company took to make the sight system useful on the range was probably all the “proof” they needed to convince them that lasers were a bad idea.

Green is significantly more visible color to the human eye than red.  So, at the same level of power, green will be easier to see than red.  How much easier?  According to some sources, a green laser is between 25 and 50 times more visible to the human eye than a red laser.  I’m not a physicist, but I can testify that in my estimation, the green laser is a lot easier to see than a red laser.

One of the major problems with developing green lasers is they require a lot more power as compared to a red laser.  Whereas a red laser can run for a long time on a small battery, a green laser will drain the same battery in a short amount of time.

Two years ago, I bought an inexpensive (read: cheap import) green laser for one of my AR’s.  I wanted to see if a green laser was a viable sighting tool.  I was impressed:  even in broad daylight, the green dot was very visible at 50+ yards.  However, the laser rapidly drained CR123a batteries, making the toy expensive to keep running.

But like all technology, breakthroughs are made and gadgets become smaller, more efficient and (fortunately) more affordable.

I think that we are on a tipping point with laser aiming devices.  Red lasers have proven to be durable and useful in self defense, but they have the very large drawback of not being useful in bright light conditions.  Green lasers are visible in daylight, but have been too expensive and too much of a power hog in the past.  At sub-$300, green lasers are now well within the reach of most gun owners, and not much more money than comparable-quality red lasers.

I expect to see a rapid move by the entire industry toward green lasers in the coming year.  Much like LEDs now dominate the flashlight industry, I expect green to be the dominant color in lasers going forward.  My only question is will Crimson Trace change names?