Laser vs. Flashlight: Which One Should You Get for Your Firearm?
Should you mount a laser or a flashlight on your firearm?
The short answer: it depends on use. For example, most novice shooters prefer flashlights over lasers because of ease of use. On the other hand, folks with aging eyes may prefer lasers since it’s easier to get on target.
Let's break out both and see how they fare against each other.
Starting with... lasers!
- Extremely lightweight
- Can zero on your target to a precise region
- Different colors (red and green) available for safety
- Won't illuminate and scare off prey if you're hunting
- Doesn't illuminate a large area
- If you try and adjust it, it could shake loose its zero/stability
- The battery may die quickly depending on the usage and quality of the laser and battery
- You may become dependent on the laser for accuracy and lose the ability to shoot well without it
That's a pretty thorough pro and con list for lasers. Let's move on to flashlights and see what we're working with.
- Bright beam for low light situations
- Greater diversity for the illuminated field of view, with the ability to widen and narrow
- You may be able to adjust the beam to account for weather/time of day/target distance
- Generally more expensive than lasers
- Larger and heavier than a laser, which can lead to trouble finding a holster to fit your gun
- Rechargeable batteries can fail or need replacing, and result in a failure to deliver power as needed
Now that we've had a chance to look at the individual perks and pitfalls of both lasers and flashlights, how can we decide which one to purchase?
If you use an AR-15 and you already decided you want to get a flashlight, here is a great guide on the best flashlights for AR-15s.
If you don’t have an AR, or even if you do and you are just still undecided, then keep reading!
Which one should you choose: A laser or a flashlight?
If you're a novice shooter and you're price-conscious because of that, then go with the laser. Not only will it be less expensive than the flashlight, but it will also give you great practice at aiming at your target.
If I'm being truly honest though, I think it behooves most people to just get both if they can.
Just the same as you might keep some extra reloading supplies, a cleaning kit, or a holster repair kit handy for unexpected circumstances, purchase both the flashlight and the laser and keep them handy in case you need to use either.
It is important to consider that a laser or a flashlight might not be necessary for everyday use, like if you’re a concealed carrier. That being said, there’s no doubt you will find yourself in situations where they are of use. And when those situations arise, one may be more advantageous than the other due to weather conditions, light conditions, shooting activity, target range, etc.
While they are both technically illumination devices, they're just too unique for me to say that one device is superior to the other. They both have individual integrity and shortcomings; it just depends on what you need them for. If you do decide to get a flashlight and laser combo, be sure to get a holster that supports them.