Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Lasermax internal laser for the Glock 30 (fully updated)


When I purchased a Glock 30SF .45acp for concealed carry, one upgrade I intended to make was a laser aiming device. Amongst the Glock multiverse in the merchant's case, there was one with a Crimson Trace laser mounted on it. Handling the weapon, I rather liked the laser device, but the pistol it was mounted on came in a caliber other than .45acp (the one true caliber). I choose the G-30SF as my carry piece, and planned on purchasing the laser as an add on later.

I have owned weapons with laser's mounted on them, but never a pistol. Just once, I was lucky enough to shoot a very decent little Smith+Wesson .32 with Crimson Trace laser stocks. The fine lady who carries this weapon spoke well of it, and I trust her opinion. Seeing the bright red dot appear on the target was quite reassuring. It provided a sure method of sighting the little pistol, and rapid, accurate hits were almost disgustingly easy. I never forgot that.

My plan on mounting a Crimson Trace laser unit on the solid little G-30SF ran into a snag, I'm sad to say. Looking at the CT laser on Midway USA's site, I was almost ready to punch that 'buy' button when caution bade me look a little deeper. Going to the Crimson Trace website and checking out the unit a little closer, I found a notice regarding the SF model G-30. The CT laser does not fit the Short Frame Glock models... and I was simply out of luck.

Not to give up so easy, I wrote to Crimson Trace and asked if units for the G-30SF were going to be made in the future. The response was not what I might have wished.... not only did CT not make a laser to fit my G-30SF, but they would not even be thinking about it for quite a while to come. It seems Crimson Trace's design team only meets to consider new models quarterly.

That is.... every four months.

I waited the four months, and wrote CT again, only to get the same response. They didn't make one, they were not going to make one, and they were not even going to consider making one for at least another four months.

My choices of a dedicated
laser for the Glock G-30 carry weapon narrowed. While there are some fine units that mount on the built in rail, I dislike the idea of a bulky laser/light there. Add to that the limited choices in concealed carry holsters for pistols with rail mounted lasers, and I was left with only one choice... the Lasermax guide rod laser (the LMS-1191 model).


My final decision came after reading a review of the Lasermax by the great and wonderful JayG over at the MArooned blog. On his recommendation, I purchased the unit. Searching around the internet, I came across a dealer on E-bay who had one in stock (Infinite Pursuits). Exchanging a few E-mails, I found them helpful and friendly. Ordering the Lasermax from Tom Bendixon, the owner of Infinite Pursuits, it was here in just a few days and at a price lower than anyplace else. Tom did not know about this review til after I ordered, so I suspect he treats all his customers this well.


The Lasermax guide rod laser unit replaces the factory guide rod under the barrel of the Glock pistol. The G-30 uses a captive spring, and the Lasermax comes with a standard weight recoil spring already installed on it. Installing the guide rod laser unit is no more complicated than field stripping the weapon, popping off the factory guide rod, and pushing the Lasermax into position.

The activation lever for the internal laser unit is only slightly harder to install. Lasermax designed a new 'take down' lever to replace the standard Glock unit, and also a new spring for the lever as well. In the box with the guide rod laser came a new take down lever, the new flat spring for it, and even a very nice tool to depress the spring and install the lever with. The directions are simple and straightforward, and I had the parts change done in less than five minutes. Depressing the old take-down spring, the old lever simply fell out through it's slot in the frame. Gently prying up on the old spring, it too came out easily. Using the tool supplied by Lasermax, the new spring is seated in place, depressed, and the new take down lever slipped into place. It's that easy, and honestly takes longer to write down than actually do.

Once the new take down lever
slash activation switch is in place, the slide is re-installed on the pistol and the job is finished. The laser itself is permanently aimed by how it mounts, and is non-adjustable. There is nothing else that needs to be done.

In use, the laser is activated by pushing the take down lever sideways till it clicks. It's ambidextrous, and works when pushed from either direction. The laser is deactivated by pushing the lever in the other direction till it clicks into it's center position. The nice thing about this action is the natural way it falls into place. Carried safely with the finger extended along the pistols frame rather than in the trigger guard, the tip of the trigger finger naturally falls on the activation lever. The laser can be activated at any time, left off till just before firing, or left off altogether. This may be an advantage over the Crimson Trace uni
t which typically comes on all the time the pistol is held in normal firing grip. On the other hand, it does require a conscious decision to activate the Lasermax laser.

Another feature of the Lasermax unit is the way the laser acts upon activation. It's not a steady beam, but rather a very rapidly pulsing laser light. This has the effect of
making the laser dot truly stand out from it's background, and also makes it very fast to acquire. Aiming the Lasermax laser at various surfaces, I matched it with a fairly powerful steady laser pointer I use daily. The Lasermax pulsating dot was very easy to see against almost any background, even in bright indoor lighting with indirect sunlight streaming in the windows.

The final review will have to wait till I can do some shooting with my newly lasered carry pistol. The sparkling laser dot certainly seems to fall exactly where the sights point, and the unit is very easy operate. The weapon handles exactly the same, weighs the same, and fits in the same holsters as before. The only difference is... I now have the option of on demand laser aide
d aiming in low light conditions.

Pointing the laser equipped pistol at a mirror, it's quite frankly an intimidating sight to be facing. I wasn't sure how visible the laser would be to someone downrange if it wasn't pointed directly into the eyes, but I now see that is not a worry. There is exactly zero doubt that someone with this weapon pointed at them won't see the laser in operation, and won't know exactly what it means.

My impression of the Lasermax guide rod laser so far? Pretty good. It does exactly what the company advertises, and that's almost a novel thing in today's world. Look for further reviews as I shoot and train with the G-30 mounting the Lasermax unit.


Oh.... the standard FTC disclaimer..... Nobody provided anything to the author for this review. Not one blessed thing, just like with everything else that's ever been reviewed on this site. Anything written about on this site is done so honestly and without commercial bias. That said, the FTC can take a nice long hike off a very short pier.


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Part two...... live fire testing, and an opportunity to experience Lasermax's customer service.



The first range day since installing the Lasermax unit came, and the first opportunity to live-fire function test the G-30 with the guide rod laser installe
d. Sadly, it led to another first..... my first chance at finding out what Lasermax's customer service is like to deal with.

The laser unit aligns well, and is within an inch of the sights at 30 feet. This is more than accurate enough for defensive situations. While the laser was quite difficult to see in full sunlight, the rapid blinking Lasermax unit did help with that. Understand, laser sights are not meant for use in bright light, but rather in low light defensive shooting.

All that said... a very serious problem did turn up during the days
range session. The Lasermax aiming device did not make it through one full magazine without shutting itself off. Not just turned off, but so far off that several times it would not switch back on till the slide was removed and the unit reseated.

It wasn't a matter of the switch moving to
the off position... it didn't. What appeared to be happening is the guide rod laser was slipping out of position on the barrel, and thus losing it's electrical connection. The unit seems to use the barrel as part of the circuit to activate.

When the unit deactivated itself, the take down lever slash laser activation switch felt different in operation. Clearly it wasn't fully engaged with the laser unit, and felt rather looser than normal.


Returning to castle Carteach0, the original Glock guide rod assembly was reinstalled. While doing so, both units were compared side to side, and the Lasermax unit is clearly shorter. This might account for it's slipping out of position with the barrel.

No matter the reason, a sighting laser that shuts down randomly is not something I have much use for, so.....

Bob at Lasermax was called. We discussed the problems, and he agreed the unit should be looked at. A service number was generated, and the unit boxed up for shipping.

A week passed.... and then much of another. A call made to Bob, who related the springs in the unit had been replaced, and it was in the queue for live fire testing at their range.

A day or so later, and this time the call is from Lasermax.... and here is where their customer service goes over the line. Over.... to the good side. Bob just wanted to let me know their repair took a little longer than normal, as their test pistol on this model laser is a Glock 30. My pistol is the short frame version of that, a G-30 SF.... and lasermax wanted to be sure it would work well in mine. So.... they went out and bought a G-30SF to test my laser unit in. That my friends, is above and beyond, and exceptional devotion to customer satisfaction.

The theory was the inner recoil spring was binding slightly, and this may have allowed the laser unit to fall out of contact. Lasermax's answer was to replace every spring in the unit. All in all a minor error in dimensions, but enough to stop reliable function.

The way I see it... anything mechanical can have problems. If not at once, then in the future. To demand perfection is acceptable, within reason. For those times when mechanical nirvana is not in reach, a manufacturers customer service often takes over. Understanding that things with parts sometimes get kerfloozled, it's the customer service that makes or breaks the experience. In my case with Lasermax, their customer service reached a level I have seldom seen.

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Part Three: The unit returns, and is tested in live fire.


The unit arrived within a few days of talking with Bob at Lasermax the final time, packed in the same box I had shipped it in. Included was a letter stating what was done to repair the unit, and a hand written note saying if there were any other problems to let Bob know. Again, pretty darn nice service.

Now, time for a disclaimer..... Lasermax did not provide anything for me to review, in any way. I purchased the guide rod laser from an E-bay dealer with no discount. While Lasermax clearly read the review here on line, and learned of my problems here, I seriously doubt that greatly influenced the service I provided. When I called to deal with it, I certainly did not identify myself as the author of 'Carteach0'. I suspect the excellent service I received is the norm at Lasermax.

Arriving home with time for a range visit, I decided to reinstall the Lasermax guide rod laser and it's special trigger lever in my Glock 30 SF, and run it through it's paces. Sitting down at the kitchen table with the boxed laser unit and my G-30, I had the notion to time myself on the install.

Understand... I had installed the unit once before, and removed both it and it's trigger bar later. I guess you can say I am an 'experienced' installer for a Lasermax unit in the Glock.

With the Lasermax box opened and my pistol laying on the table, I triggered my stop watch. I unloaded the pistol, checked it, field stripped it, removed the stock take down lever and it's spring, installed the Lasermax spring and lever, installed the Lasermax guide rod, reassembled the pistol, and reloaded it. Time.... two minutes and thirty seconds exactly. This included dropping the tiny flat spring twice with my fumble fingers, and checking laser operation before loading the weapon.

Folks.... this is not a difficult unit to install.

Off to the range, I fired a box of warmish handloads through the Glock. There were no blips with the laser unit, and it performed exactly as advertised. I did take note of something that should be mentioned, and is perhaps an omission Lasermax might take care of in their manual. The laser unit does not operate when the pistol is not in battery. In other words, the slide must be forward and fully seated for the unit to function. This shouldn't be an issue during any normal operation, but knowing it might prevent someone from thinking the unit does not operate correctly.

This video, poor as it is, was taken as I fired the last few magazines. While the laser was visible to me as the shooter, in the video it's nearly impossible to see with the sun shining right into the lens.



My thoughts at this point? I will be doing quite a bit more shooting with the Lasermax, and also more than a little draw and point practice in the house under dim lighting. Over the next year I'll be wringing it out in full, and reporting as I go. So far.... it looks good. Understanding the excellent customer service standing behind the Lasermax unit helps my comfort level tremendously.



20 comments:

Practical Gun Review said...

Excellence post thanks. looking forward to getting one for my G30.

Crucis said...

Re the FTC, I prefer they hike off a very high pier at low tide.

I've thought about adding CT grips to my M442. They're expensive though and I'm generally cheap. There's a gun show next week at the airport and a CT dealer is usually there. If I can get a deal, I just might pick up a set of CT grips.

Hmmm, wonder how the Lasermax would work with my M&P9C?

Old NFO said...

I'll wait to see the range report, and see what the 'real' battery life is... Nice write up Carteach0!

Crucis said...

Checked the LaserMax site. Nothing for a M&P9C. Only for the full sized version.

Crud...

Johnnyreb™ said...

Thanks for the info, I was wondering how well those units worked.

Now I'm waiting for the range report!

Anonymous said...

I purchased a Lasermax several years ago when they first hit the shelf. I was using a G-31 for law enforcement. The Lasermax eventually failed. The end cap where the contact for the switch is would not stay closed and I could not operate the unit. This was after several hundred rounds and cleaning removals. I want to point out that my warranty had expired. I contacted the company and without even a question they sent me a new unit and a letter of apology. That alone made me a true loyal customer. The new unit has been a friend and shooting partner ever since.

Also, I purchased a CT for my G-33 (off duty carry firearm). I like it too but I much rather the ability to switch on and off.

Great reviews on your site by the way. Thanks.

Ralph Cramdon said...

I also have a Glock Model 19 9mm with a LaserMax installed. At first I had a problem with it shuting off buy its self while shooting. LaserMax had seen this as a problem and re-called it. If you contact LaserMax (www.lasermax-inc.com)they will send you free of charge the peice to solve the problem. I did, and now it works great.

Cowboy Blob said...

Me likey! I don't have a laser dedicated to any of my pistols yet, but that could change, thanks to this review!

Jay G said...

I'm glad I helped contribute to this decision, carteach0.

I've had a LaserMax in my G30 for three months now; I test it regularly (every time I strap the gun on) and it's still as bright as ever.

An excellent investment, I'll agree...

Tam said...

I've had Lasermaxes in a couple of guns, the last one being a G23 back in... '01? '02?

I gave up on the concept, at least for CCW, because of the need to operate an extra button to get the laser dot running. I'd imagine a real shooting for me would run:

"Holy $#!+!!! BANGBANGBANGBANG! *pant-pant-pant* Oh, wait... *click*" ...and on comes the laser.

Still, a useful training aid, or on a housegun where one would presumably have more warning before use.

Carteach0 said...

Tam... I agree, mostly. The single biggest reason I installed the Lasermax.... CT does not make anything for this model Glock, nor do they plan on doing so.

I hope to overcome the whole 'Remember to turn it on' thing with practice and training. Just like one learns to sweep off the safety while drawing a 1911.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if they have one for a Glock 36? Seems like it might be the same unit??
I'll be interested to see in you later posts, how it actully lines up with the sights. If it does well, it'll be time to go shoppin'.

GreyBeard
http://greybeard.igogg.com

Anonymous said...

Looks like it's the LMS-1181 for the Glock-36, $278.95 at www.nightvisionsales.com

Now I'm really waiting for the shooting report. :-)

GreyBeard

Old NFO said...

Seems like things worked out, so to speak... I'm still leery of them, simply because I don't like relying on ANYTHING that is battery powered...

Greybeard said...

Great report! Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had good service. I didn't. Had three Lasermax lasers for my 1911 fail, then one for my full size Glock. Lasermax won't refund my money, ignores me now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I am only considering the Lasermax or some other internal and gathering data at this point.

FYI - Unless there are 16 months in a year where you live... a quarter is 3 months, not 4.

TowDawg said...

I guess the only thing holding me back on getting one for my G27 is the way you have to switch it on and then switch it back off as well.

I have a Kimber Crimson Ultra Carry II, which has the Crimson trace grips on it from Kimber. The thing I LOVE about it is that, while yes, there is a power on/off switch, I just leave it turned "on" all the time. The actual button to make the laser project is a presusre switch right where my middle finger comes across the front of the grip. With a little practice, I can now easily draw and acuire a target with or without activiating the laser just by how tightly I grip with with my middle finger. I can even fire all day long without squeesing hard enough to tuen the laser on without it effecting accuracy at all. The real advantage is that I can turn the laser on and off without moving anything, which allows me to turn it on to fire and right back off afterwards. That way, there is no worry about giving away my postion.

Anonymous said...

I had one for my glock 27 that just stopped working. I sent it back to lasermax. They told me the unit was dead. They said the diode had failed. They said it was out of warranty and they would not replace it. This unit had only been used to fire a few hundred rounds as an off duty gun.

Anonymous said...

I have this on my glock 30 as well. For ccw, I feel like it's the best option out there. I also agree that I don't like the rail mounted lasers. I like CT but again, I agree with you on the fact that it comes on anytime you grab the pistol. I loved the review and was pleased to hear that Lasermax has great customer service. Thanks for the great review.