August 19, 2016
By Fred Mastison
It's 3 a.m., and you are startled awake by the sound of breaking glass. You sit straight up and realize you are not even breathing as you listen for sound, hoping it was the cat knocking over a glass. Then you hear it; heavy footsteps in the hall. The day you hoped would never come has now arrived and you struggle to control your breathing.
You quietly grab your phone and reach into your gun safe. A quick call to 911 does little to calm the terror building inside as you are now positioned with a large chair between you and the doorway into your bedroom. "Please stay on the line," rings out from the 911 dispatcher. "Police are on their way." While they are only minutes away, it is only a 15-second walk from the hall to your bedroom.
It seems to be the darkest night in memory as you scan out the door looking for shapes and the intruder. You have trained for this event, however, and you have your pistol prepped and ready to go. A human silhouette appears in the doorway. It is undeniably a person and your heart seems to stop as the tension builds.
In a conditioned and practiced fashion, you turn on the light you have dutifully attached to your handgun and completely illuminate the potential threat. In the center of the now illuminated form is a single red dot being projected from the laser that is built into your light. The armed intruder is now clearly identifiable by you and reels back from the light. The target is in your sights as the world goes into slow motion.
In the Beginning
This scenario has been played out thousands of times over the years and the ending is a diverse collection of events. These range from cases that have the intruder shot to end the threat to ones that have them running once they find an armed homeowner.
One thing remains the same though, and that is the absolute need to identify the target before you begin pressing the trigger. While tactics range widely for the use of a weapon-mounted light, the boiled-down truth is that you need to see what you are shooting at.
As the gun market has grown, so has the world of gun lights and lasers. From the early days of flashlights essentially strapped to guns to the current day world of lightweight compact laser/light combos, the evolution has been astounding.
A Professional Point of View
As a professional instructor, good equipment is near and dear to my heart. There is no room in life or death situations for inferior products or cheap knock-offs. LaserMax has been at it since 1989 and has become a global leader in miniaturized laser systems.
The company's products can be found on the weapons of some of the most elite military and police units in the world as well as first-time gun owners. It has shipped over one million lasers and are well into their second million. With this history, LaserMax has become a go-to product in all of my classes.
One of the newest items to emerge from the development section is its newest installment in the LaserMax Spartan Series.
Break It Down
The LaserMax Spartan Light & Laser combo unit fits any compact or full-size pistol with a rail. This unit features LaserMax's latest mounting technology called "Rail Vise."
This design allows the shooter to adjust the position of the light perfectly to fit their hand size. This is a major break from the "one-size-fits-all" light positions from most companies.
The operation paddles for the unit are ambidextrous and are run with only a light press. Even the position of the paddles has been well thought out, as they are very easy to index and operate. The light on the LaserMax Spartan is a 120 lumen mint-green LED that allows rapid target identification without the harsh washout seen in standard white lights.
The unique mint green light is also the most visible wavelength in the color spectrum, which allows it to provide unmatched illumination. The laser on the unit I was testing was a vivid red but also comes in green as well. The dot was very clean and bright, even at long distances.
The individual parts of the unit can be run individually or simultaneously. This is where the mint green light shows its superiority. While filling the area with great light, the laser was in no way diminished or washed out. They make a great pair to say the least.
There are a few other important points that need to be made about the new LaserMax Spartan. First up is weight. The LaserMax Spartan is so light it barely feels like anything has been added to the gun. This is important as we do not want any extra weight to affect our shots, especially if it is a two-legged target bent on causing us harm.
The second point is the battery. The LaserMax Spartan uses a single AAA battery which deserves a round of applause. The days of using special batteries are numbered, and LaserMax has done us all a favor by leading the charge. Not only does this allow the user to inexpensively and quickly change batteries, it makes it easier to travel with the light.
As airlines have forbidden the packing of some battery types in checked baggage, it becomes an annoying ritual of taking batteries out of gun accessories and then spending time putting them back into the lights once you have arrived at your destination. Rinse and repeat for the trip home as well.
Gear with Benefits
There are many benefits to a firearm-mounted light and laser. In regards to the light, the most important one is that it allows shooters to use a strong two-handed grip. While there are countless techniques taught that cover shooting with one hand while using a flashlight, it will always be easier to shoot with two hands.
The average gun owner does not spend a significant amount of time shooting one-handed, and the ability to get the best grip possible is important. Another important aspect of light is the critical need to identify a target. The use of ambient light is hard to rely on, and Murphy 's Law will make certain there is no light in a bad situation.
The use of lasers is also a solid help for shooters. Sights for guns are not designed for dark situations. "Night sights" are more specifically "low-light" sights and must still be acquired before the trigger should be pulled. The use of light helps shooters see their low-light sights even better.
There are many sights out there, however, that simply wash out and become a white blur once light is emitted from the gun. This is where a laser really masters the challenge. The red or green dot emitted from the LaserMax Spartan is easy to see and use as an aiming point.
The use of lasers has grown from a time when our primary exposure was Hollywood. As with anything linked to Hollywood, there are some myths that are linked to them. The first is that lasers give away your position.
In home defense or general personal defense, there is very little creeping around, and even in moving through your home, speed is your friend. A second myth is that the use of lasers ruins your ability to shoot utilizing standard sights; basically, you will become dependent on the laser.
While this argument may look good on paper, I have yet to see a serious manifestation of "red-dot" addiction. The benefits of a laser in dark settings outweighs any manufactured argument against it. In addition, a laser can be one of the best training aids for proper use of iron sights.
The last argument is the classic one: What are you going to do when the batteries die? Well, we are going to methodically keep fresh batteries in our light. The chance of equipment failure exists in everything including your gun, magazine and ammunition. Nothing is 100 percent. If we choose well-made items, like the LaserMax Spartan, then the chance of failure goes down dramatically.
Testing the LaserMax Spartan Light & Laser
I was fortunate to receive one of the new LaserMax Spartan Light & Laser units and quickly mounted it on a GLOCK 19 Gen4 pistol. The LaserMax Spartan Light & Laser unit was described as the smallest housing in the industry, and they were not joking. Gone are the days of us accepting that combo units must be large and bulky while we pretend they "aren't that bad."
Mounting of the unit was simple and brought to light the custom fit these units provide. Using the company's proprietary "Rail Vise," I was able to move the unit forward and backward until I found the perfect fit for my hands. Rarely do we ever come across a light or any accessory that actually fits us perfectly, and we end up working around it. This is not the case with the LaserMax Spartan.
Activating the unit was easy and the use of light touch ambidextrous paddle switches make it even easier. No digging around trying to flip a switch. Just lightly press and the unit comes to life. Turning it off works the same way.
The "mint green" light was new to me and definitely caught my eye. In fact, it was very easy on my eyes while still lighting up the entire shooting zone. No over-glare or washout, and targets were easily identifiable. The laser was very crisp and clean. It was easy to pick up and once again proved the advantages of an assisted aiming device in extreme low-light situations.
Running both together proved to be my favorite setup. I had great light as well as the benefit of a laser dot. It made for some fast shooting in a situation where the clock tends to run a bit as we search and assess. The laser held its zero the entire session as expected, and the entire unit barely got dusty as it is obviously built for serious use.
While directed at the civilian market, the LaserMax Spartan would serve law enforcement and the military just as well. The performance of this design screams for advanced application use.
In addition, the LaserMax Spartan mounted on a GLOCK 17 or 22 fits perfectly into LE holsters designed for lights from two other large light manufacturers. This would keep officers from having to buy new rigs.
Light It Up
Running the LaserMax Spartan was enlightening. It is a unique and innovative product. This is a situation where you did not know what you were missing until a better product comes along. The LaserMax Spartan is that better product. The unit is worthy of a serious look and would serve any shooter well. It has an application for everyone.
From range practice to personal defense, the LaserMax Spartan will dramatically improve your shooting confidence, accuracy and speed. The Spartan will help you own the night.