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Friday, July 6, 2012

Crimson Trace Lasergrip for Ruger LCR, as reviewed by my 73 year old mother

My mother owns a Ruger LCR. Through me, she received a Lasergrip for her pistol from Crimson Trace for test and evaluation. My mother is also 73 years old this month and, while she has shot before, is still a novice to shooting. This test is being done to see if Crimson Trace products are so easy to use that an inexperienced grandmother can install and implement them without issue.

Unless otherwise indicated, all of these thoughts and opinions belong to my mother, the reviewer. I am simply reporting them.

Part 1: Unboxing and Installation

The package arrived in the mail. I removed the tape around the box and she removed the product, wrapped in a smaller box. She opened the smaller box and removed the contents.

"Where are the instructions?" she asked. It took her a moment to realize that they were still inside the box, at the bottom. I observed that the manual has approximately the same dimensions as the inside of the box, and therefore presented some slight difficulty in removal.

Suggestion One: Cut the manual to slightly smaller dimensions so that it comes out easily. A tight fit, arthritic hands,  and nothing to grab onto for removal make a frustrating combination.

The instructions stated that the old grip on the revolver was to be removed. This resulted in some momentary confusion as my mother did not immediately know how to do this.

Suggestion Two: Indicate that there is a screw on the bottom of the stock LCR grip, either in the instructions or as an illustration. Either way, err on the side of "more clarity."

Inserting the batteries posed no difficulties. When I informed her of Crimson Trace's "Free Batteries for Life" program, she was pleased and impressed with their dedication to customer service.

Assembling the Lasergrip around the pistol frame also posed no difficulty. However, my mother was annoyed that her default go-to screwdriver would not work in this instance and I was tasked to retrieve the set of precision screws from the toolbox.

Suggestion Three: Include a small screwdriver of the proper size in the box.

The warning labels were met with a "Oh, how cute!" from mom and speculation if it was strictly necessary to put them on and detract from the appearance of her pistol. The general consensus was that they were included for the sake of product liability.

Finding the Master On/Off Switch took more time than expected, but my mother quickly noted, upon re-reading the instructions, that it was "on the map" (the annotated illustration) and that she was at fault in this instance. The laser was activated without further difficulty and the action proved quite natural to her.

The phrase "Confirm that laser and iron sights are in alignment" confused her greatly. She had never heard the term "iron sights" before and could not find reference to them anywhere in the illustration. I eventually had to inform her that the term referred to the fixed sights on the pistol. Similar confusion occurred with the term "front sight post."

Suggestion Four: Replace "iron sights" with "fixed pistol sights" or similar term; label the front sight post as such in the illustration. 

Having now installed her lasergrip, mom was concerned by the remaining pieces (two allen wrenches for adjusting elevation/windage and two swabs for cleaning the lens) and was worried she had somehow skipped a step or performed the task improperly. That the instructions did not mention them at all was a source of anxiety, and was only resolved when I finally stepped in and told her that there was another manual -- the Owner's Handbook -- for her to read.

The mysterious items.

Suggestion Five: Reference these items in the instructions with directions to consult the other pamphlet for information on what they are and how to use them. 

Reading the Owner's Handbook resolved this issue although it raised another concern. The phrase "Remove laser sight before cleaning gun" was met with dismay. She did not like the idea of removing the grips every time, and then cleaning the pistol without a proper grip. I informed her this caution was to prevent solvents from damaging the lens, and that if she covered the lens with a protective barrier, like a Band-Aid, and then cleaned the gun with the Boresnake I had bought her, then it would likely not be an issue.

Suggestion Six: Mention alternate strategies for cleaning that do not involve removing the grip. Old people do not like constant disassembly and reassembly, especially if they have arthritic hands. 

Overall, mother was very happy with this product, despite what she called "lack of clarity" in the instructions. She mentioned that activating the laser was quite natural, and that even though she had not practiced with it, its mere presence gave her confidence and made her feel more competent. She loved the immediate feedback of knowing where she was aiming, and when I demonstrated that it was also useful in overcoming trigger-twitch during dry fire practice she proclaimed that it was even more useful. (The long trigger pull of the LCR has been a minor impediment to her.) She would not hesitate to recommend it to other seniors who are interested in armed self-defense. In short, she loves her Lasergrip and cannot wait to put it to the test.

Granny Rating:
Instructions:  C+ to B-
Ease of installation: B+ to A-
Product: A+
Ease of use: A+

Editor's Note:  When mom removed the old grip, I was reminded of how soft it was, and how good it was at absorbing shock. I'm worried that this new grip, being all plastic, will transmit more of the recoil to my mother's hand and wrist. I'm also not sure how well a sweaty or nervous hand could hold on to it. Would a Hogue Handall work with a Lasergrip? Or would it constantly exert pressure on the laser switch?  Some of these questions may be answered when I take her shooting.

The old grip, made of a squishy, knobby rubber.
The new grip, made of a hard plastic.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Range Use!

Obligatory FTC disclaimer: I was given this product for free and without monetary compensation. I am neither required to return it, nor was I instructed to give a good review in exchange for this item. I have no personal affiliation with the manufacturer, and my professional relationship is purely that of a reviewer and as a customer.


  1. Nice review.   I like that the perspective points out problems I never would have considered.  Like the definitions of various terms and the need of diagrams.

    I'll agree that not including the right little tools can be a real pain.

    The dry fire thing's also a real good point.   And is handy for practice.

  2. Good to see that I was able to use my powers for good, and that the laser arrived.  

    I bet Crimson Trace has never had their products reviewed by a grandmother before, and you raise some valid points they might want to consider in the future.  In general, I would wager the instructions/etc. are geared towards people with more operating knowledge of the firearm, and if you bring this to their attention, they might consider rephrasing it.  

  3. In my experience, the actual grips are just as comfortable to shoot as the original Hogue tamers. Of course, I also shoot the Snubbie from Hell™, so...

    Great review! Link incoming tomorrow morning.

  4. Perceived recoil is one of those bizarre sciences that doesn't always add up the right way.

    Jay got a set of VZ Micarta grips for his Snubbie from Hell, and I assumed the hard composite grips would make the gun feel WORSE on recoil.

    Nope, it felt BETTER.    My best guess is that harder grips allow for a firmer hold of the gun, so less "Bucking" in the hand on recoil.

    Be interesting to see how they compare to your Mom and you.

  5. And this is exactly why I tell the anti-laser bigots they're being idiots. It's a useful tool, for many things. Training, those with physical difficulties, shooting quickly in the dark... Purists be damned. 

  6. Warning labels on weapon-mounted lasers ARE pretty funny.  If that laser beam is getting near somebody's eyes there is a bigger safety issue than the laser beam.

  7. If you Mom can afford it, she might consider buying a .22 LR LCR.  That way she can practice with soft-shooting .22 ammo and not worry about the recoil.

  8. That was pretty much my opinion and why I didn't put the stickers on my pistol. I assume they are there for product liability purposes and nothing else. 

  9. It's not so much a general flinch as it is the long and strong Double Action Only trigger of the LCR. She's been practicing with it, though, and strengthening her hand. The laser will just provide immediate feedback of whether her technique is good or not.

  10. I sent Iain an email, but I don't think he'll see it until Monday.


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