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Light sights: is it a sight? Is it a laser? The correct answer is both. It's the LaserLyte RSL-1.

The moment I saw it, I had one of those "Duh, why hadn't I thought of that?" epiphanies. The product was the new offering from LaserLyte. The problem with most laser units has been "Where do you put it?" Bolted on to some external part of the handgun, it adds bulk and complexity.

It also adds a little thing known as parallax. "apparent displacement of an object when viewed along two or more different lines of sight." When used, for example, in an artillery rangefinder (before they were made obsolete by lasers) it is useful. When trying to aim when alternating between two different methods, not so much.

In the beginning of laser use, we often had a laser the size of a flashlight bolted onto a firearm at some distance from die bore. Zero the laser at seven yards, and the dot would be way off of the bullet impact at fourteen. And just to complicate matters, off in the opposite direction.

Well, LaserLyte has changed all that. They simply built a rear sight as a laser unit. Yes, it is that compact Dimensionally, it's 0.85 inches long, 0.35 inches high and 1.05 inches wide. The weight is 1.2 ounces. Given the progress in miniaturization, it was simply a matter of time before someone made a unit this small. But, being able to make things compactly is not the same as figuring a way to make compact useful. The LasetLyte RSL-1 takes that additional step.

OK, I can understand your skepticism. After all, how sturdy can something that small be, right? And mounted right to the slide like that? When it comes to electronics, smaller is better. A smaller construct is less affected by the G-forces of a slide cycling. Smaller parts mean less mass to get hammered by the acceleration and deceleration of a slide whipping back and forth.

And to ease your concerns LaserLyte went overboard in die construction. The sight has two tubes, one on either side of the normal sight notch. One holds the switch and battery, the other tube has the laser generator itself, and on its rear surface the indicator light. In-between the two tubes is a rear sight notch that looks exactly like all the other white-outline rear sight notches you've ever used as an aiming aid. So, should your laser ever go kerflooey on you, you'll still have your back up iron sights. BUIS on a rifle, like an AR or M4, is now a commonly-accepted concept. But on a handgun? This may take some getting used to.


The on-off switch is the little white button on the left side. Push it once, and you get a steady beam, and a steady glow of die indicator. Push the button again and you get a pulsing beam and a pulsing indicator. Push once more, and you turn it off. The power comes from four watch batteries, 4x377 size. Run time is one hour at steady and two hours at pulse. (I would not recommend going to your local jewelers to have the batteries changed. Buy replacements and swap them yourself.)

The laser unit has two aiming adjustment screws built in. Clearly, they are top and side for elevation and windage, respectively. Lest you concern yourself about structural durability, the housing and sight are made of 4650 steel, a medium-carbon alloy with nickel content, one with a high endurance limit and shock resistance. In the auto industry it is used for bearing seats and valve stems. In the aerospace sector, it is used for landing gear bushings. You tech-heads will also know it is an oil-hardening steel, and an alloy that can be very difficult to machine. In this application, it means the housing is probably as tough, or tougher, than the slide you're attaching it to.



For now; that slide would be a Glock. Any Glock you want to attach it to, as the RSL-1 uses the standard Glock rear sight dovetail. Now, the RSL-1 comes in one size, one color and one model. You do not have the option of swapping out plus or minus-sized rear sights to change the point of impact. If you have a rare Glock that requires some sight swapping trickery to get zeroed, you may find the RSL-1 iron sights are not perfectly zeroed. Not LaserLytes' fault The misalignment will be vertical, as the LaserLytre RSL-1 can be moved in the dovetail to correct windage. You can, however, correct vertical problems with a replacement front sight, adjusted to the proper height.

Glock rear sights are injection molded plastic, and probably cost the Glock family a hundred bucks a ton to make. They can make rear sights in any and all heights needed. Not so LaserLyte and the RSL-1.

Still, not a big problem. LaserLyte sent me one of the first RSL-ls to leave the factor}', with a Glock G-22 bolted underneath it, one of the new tough texture frame models. Alas, my requests to perform hammer and drop tests, and bury it in mud tests, were denied. I suspect it is less worry about not passing and more worry about "What do we do with this after a gun writer makes it ugly?" There are drawbacks to have a reputation as a serial gun buster.

The clever among you will have figured out that the RSL-1 doesn't solve entirely the parallax issue. After all, the laser is not centered in the bore, and the bullet will still travel in an arc downrange. There, no one can solve the problem. The only way to make a laser truly coaxial would be to install it in the bullet itself. (Now that would be expensive.) And bullets will always travel on a parabolic path. But, by mounting the laser in the rear sight, LaserLyte has made the problem one we have already solved: after all, we are all accustomed to the knowledge that sights and trajectory do not exactly coincide. However, for the distances we're going to be using a laser, this instance of parallax is truly trivial.


How well does it work? As well as you'd expect. As a Class III, 5mw red laser, it shows up exactly as you'd expect a red 5megawatt laser to: not so good on rough textures in bright daylight, and just fine indoors and on smooth objects. The steady or pulse option allows two users to keep track of whose dot is whose. And for the intended use; indoors, subdued light, under stress, the simple switch and ease of use shine.

The sight fits any holster that will accommodate an adjustable rear sight. It also fits in Level I and II security holsters. The tiny indicator is a big bonus: you can tell if me laser is on. If you're carrying concealed, a quick glance down inside your jacket will tell you if the switch got bumped. And there is one more bonus with a slide-mount that many of you might not notice: hands. My firing grip dates back to the pliestocene of IPSC. My fingers can get in the way of grip-mounted lasers. Some are better than others, but I find I have to think about them. With this one, there's no need to worry.

For an MSRP of just under a pair of Ben-jamins, you really ought to get yourself into the 21st century. Carry gun or nightstand gun, lasers can be useful.

LaserLyte RSL-1

Laser: Class III, 5 mw, 650 nm

Batteries: 4, 4X377

Run-time: 1 hr steady, 2 hr pulse

Weight: 1.2 oz.

Length: 0.85 in

Width: 1.05 in

Height: 0.35 in

MSRP: $199.95
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Title Annotation:HANDGUNNING
Author:Sweeney, Patrick
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Sep 1, 2009
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