A Shot in the Dark

Crimson Trace’s Universal “Rail Master”

laser Gun

This compact laser is designed for under-rail pistol work, but will interface with virtually any M1913/Picatinny rails. Photo by Crimson Trace

Lasers have earned a loyal following as tactical aiming solutions, and are now in wide use among Special Forces troops, combat deployed personnel, tactical law enforcement units…and have earned acceptance as dynamic tools for use with self defensive firearms. Many popular duty and mid-size carry pistols have accessory rails milled (or formed) into their dust covers, so shooters can attach tactical lights or lasers, and most modern sport and defensive rifles have at least some M1913/Picatinny rails on their forearms. Taken together, that means that modern shooters have a great opportunity to put functional lasers developed for real-world use, on a wide range of firearms they already own.

So what can you put on your gun?



Crimson Trace is a very well established innovator of firearm lasers, and their Rail Master is a particularly clever little unit. Weighing about as much as two loaded .40 S&W rounds, the entire unit is just over an inch and a half long…and about half an inch thick. Its switches are click-style, meaning there are no transfer bars—just a wing on each side that you can tap with your trigger finger (for use on pistols). You can turn it off from either side, too—not just the side from which you turned it on…which is especially important when your mind and body have better things to do in a use of force situation or during dynamic training.

We tested this laser in the cold of a New England winter, and found that the plastic housing held up well on both an AR15 and a Glock 35 despite the cold and the latter’s somewhat sharp recoil impulse. This isn’t surprising. What is surprising, is how that red dot on our targets took our attention off of the guns, and focused it on our targets…which, had they been moving, would have meant that our focus was on the very source of the threat as it threatened us and the situation evolved. In theory, it’s better to focus on an aggressor than on your sights…and when that red dot shows right where your bullet will hit on that dynamic aggressor, you have your eyes right where they need to be to make a life-altering decision.

No one wants to be in that position…but if you are, it might be good to be there with a Rail Master.


Model: CMR-201

Name: Rail Master

Manufacture: Crimson Trace

Length: 1 5/8 inches

Thickness: 1/2 inch

Width: 1 1/16 inch

Beam: 1/2 inch @ 50 feet

Laser: 5mW red laser

Battery: 1/3n lithium

Switch: Dual click-style

MSRP: $159

Web: www.crimsontrace.com


What it fits:


Competition Handguns

Concealed Carry Handguns


Paintball Guns

Sporting Rifles

Tactical Handguns

Tactical Shotguns

Tactical Rifles


*Virtually any firearm with a standard accessory rail.


Story by Dave Norman


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