By its very nature, concealed carry demands compact pistols. Large and heavy handguns are hard to hide and carry for very long. The current concealed-carry trend is precisely why pocket pistols like Remington’s RM380 are so popular. The trick with these derringer-like handguns is shooting them accurately. Some believe they don’t provide the same precision as larger handguns. But the real problem is that these handguns are harder to shoot. This is partly due to their diminutive proportions and somewhat exaggerated recoil, but mostly because of their short sight radius.

Sighting In

A full-sized handgun with a 5-inch barrel can have a 7-inch sight radius. If you’re sight alignment is off by 0.1 inches, at 10 yards your bullet will strike about 5 inches from your intended point of aim. By comparison, Remington’s RM380 has a sight radius of only 4 inches. In addition, a 0.1-inch error in sight alignment with the RM380 will cause the bullet to land about 9 inches off target.

The point here is that every error in sight alignment you make with a pocket pistol will induce an error in shot placement about twice as large as you would experience with a full- or duty-sized handgun. The little guns still have the precision—it’s just harder for humans to extract it.

Additionally, the sights on pocket pistols are notoriously small. This is not an indication of the quality, but a trait of a pistol intended to be carried in a pocket. Lasers can help, but interestingly, when laser sights were first offered, many shooters looked at them as a crutch or novelty. However, when Crimson Trace introduced its Lasergrips—replacement handgun grips with an integrated and instinctively activating laser—the opinions of open-minded shooters began to change. Now with the Laserguard, which mounts forward of the triggerguard, that same instinctive activation is offered without a grip modification.

About a year ago, I attended an event at Gunsite Academy where Remington introduced its RM380. Over two days, I fired about 1,000 rounds through the pocket pistol and was impressed—not just at how well it functioned, but at how comfortable it was to shoot. Based on that experience, I ordered an RM380 and have carried it off and on ever since.

Still, as with just about every other pocket pistol, I found the sights rudimentary. Fortunately, when Remington was developing the RM380, the company worked with Crimson Trace so a laser would be available when the gun was introduced. Crimson Trace engineered one of its Laserguard units to perfectly fit the RM380. In fact, you can buy a brand-new RM380 that comes with one.

I ordered a Laserguard for my little Remington and, after installation and zeroing, conducted some drills out of my book, “Handgun Training for Personal Protection.” I did this specifically to see exactly how much the laser would improve my accuracy and speed.

RM380 Drill Time

The Forty-Five Drill is a great representation of self-defense shooting skills because, to some extent, it replicates a real-world encounter. You consequently start standing 5 yards from a target with a 5-inch kill zone. The goal is to draw from concealment and get five hits inside the 5-inch kill zone in less than five seconds. Furthermore, the drill gets its name from its four elements of five. Without the laser, my average time was 4.75 seconds. Out of the 25 shots, I missed the kill zone three times. With the laser, my average was 3.46 seconds with two misses. That’s a speed increase of 27 percent. It exists because the laser is much easier to see and position on target than the minimalist sights.

The Failure Drill might be the most used and copied defensive handgun drill. Initially, it was developed for the shooter to learn to fire a shot to the head after realizing two torso shots did not stop the threat. The drill has morphed into many variations, and aside from any practical application, it’s a great test of skill. This is because the shooter runs hard to get the two torso hits but must slow down for the headshot. Using the RM380 without the laser, my average time for five runs was 3.67 seconds. Out of the 15 shots, I missed the head zone one time. With the laser, my average was 2.74 seconds with no misses—my shots were consequently more accurate and the average engagement time was 25-percent faster on average.

Crimson Advantage

Aside from the fact that a laser sight can make a pocket pistol easier to get hits with, there are numerous other advantages. Obviously, when it comes to shooting in low-light situations, lasers are a much better option than any fixed or even glow-in-the-dark sights. This is partly because the laser is so much easier to see, but also partly because you can maintain your focus on the threat with a laser sight.

Being able to focus on the threat is helpful in other ways, too. It can help you shoot faster because you do not have to shift your focus from the threat to the sights, and then concentrate on three different things: the threat, the rear sight and the front sight. And, in a situation where you’re holding a suspect at gunpoint, you can lower the gun below your line of sight, allowing you to fully observe the threat. This lets you deal with the situation while knowing you have a perfect hold, and you can shoot accurately and instantly at any time. Laser sights are also perfectly suited to any situation where you cannot get your handgun up in front of your face to see the sights.

You could be in a variety of unconventional potions during a lethal attack and need to respond with gunfire immediately, or you may be injured and cannot get the pistol between your eyes and the bad guy.

Of course, any time lasers sights are discussed, the argument is offered that the batteries may fail. This is a fact, but it’s also the reason that, when you train with a handgun, you should train to draw to the sights. If during the drawstroke you see the laser before your sights are acquired, you can engage immediately. If the laser is not seen, then you default to the sights and engage accordingly.

Seeing Crimson

Regardless of whether your pocket pistol is the Remington RM380 or not, Crimson Trace has an extensive line of laser grips and Laserguard units for pocket pistols. You can choose between red or green laser models with prices in most cases ranging between $200 and $300. For some ultra-compact pistols, the company even offers the Laserguard Pro. Furthermore, it combines a 150-lumen LED light with a laser. Crimson Trace also has a free instructional DVD that walks you through all of the advantages of laser sights. If you buy a laser sight now, Crimson Trace will supply you with batteries for the rest of your life. That’s almost as good as free donuts!

Concealed carry is all about small guns; they’re the guns you’re most likely to actually have with you. In addition, small guns are harder to shoot accurately. Savvy up and put a laser on your defensive handgun. Whether it’s a large gun or a little gun, a laser will help you shoot better and faster. Though some still believe lasers are a gimmick or even a bad idea, the results speak for themselves. Only fools remain reluctant to accept progress when presented with the facts.

This article was originally published in the spring 2017 issue of “Pocket Pistols.” To order a copy, visit

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