June 17, 2016
By Joseph von Benedikt
A laser training device? For AR-15 rifles? Such would surely satiate even Doctor Evil's lust for drama-infused cool tools. Great thing is, everyday folks like you and me can own one.
The LaserLyte AR Trainer is a device that enables AR-15 owners to polish certain techniques, including various shooting positions, sight picture, trigger squeeze, and follow-through — all with immediate visual feedback. When the rifle is triggered, the device sends a brief flash of red laser down the barrel and downrange, instantly showing where the gun is pointed when the trigger breaks. Paired with LaserLyte's laser-reactive targets, it provides both feedback and good fun.
Like most training simulators, it doesn't cover all facets of practice. The laser-emitting "cartridge" is firing-pin activated, so the charging handle must be functioned to reset the hammer each time the trigger is pressed. As a result, rapid-fire training isn't possible with the LaserLyte AR Trainer. Neither are fast target transitions nor other speed-shooting skills.
You'll point out, rightly so, that an AR-15's speed-shooting ability is a major part of its appeal. However, without a good, solid position, consistent sight picture, clean trigger squeeze, and good follow-through, rapid-fire shooting with an AR-15 becomes an exercise in spraying and praying. Master the foundational skills, and accurate, effective rapid-fire shooting becomes much easier.
The LaserLyte AR Trainer comes in kit form, complete with a firing-pin-activated, hearing-aid-battery-powered laser cartridge; a buffer tube charging block that limits bolt/carrier travel to 1.75 inches; an oversized, ambidextrous charging handle colored fire-engine red; and a takedown push rod to remove the laser cartridge after training. Price: $124.
Installation & Operation
To install, pop out the rear takedown pin, pivot the upper away from the lower receiver, and remove the buffer and buffer spring by depressing the buffer catch detent. Drop the charging block inside the buffer spring and reinstall the buffer and spring. Remove the bolt, swap out the charging handle for the oversize red training version, and drop the O-ring-secured laser cartridge into the chamber.
Since the laser cartridge is machined without a rim, the extractor won't engage. When the bolt is worked to cock the hammer, the laser cartridge stays in the chamber. By virtue of the bolt-travel-limiting charging block and the oversize charging handle, whisking the bolt rearward to cock the hammer and ready the gun/laser is simple. Shooting your AR with the LaserLyte AR Trainer installed is like shooting a slick, straight-pull bolt action.
However, there's a potential pitfall: If you get too involved in whipping the charging handle back to cock and shoot again quickly, you can actually ingrain a potentially bad habit — that of unconsciously going for the charging handle every time you shoot. It's worth limiting laser training to deliberate, one-shot-one-hit kind of practice.
The red laser emitted when the firing pin strikes the base of the laser cartridge (which doubles as a snap cap) will show up well on just about any surface as long as ambient light is not overpoweringly bright. However, to get the most fun out of your laser trainer, pair it with a LaserLyte reactive target. There are shoot-to-reset bullseye-type target boxes, response-time training targets, and, my favorites, the Plinking Cans. Battery powered, they are the size of a 10-ounce soda can and sport a reactive spot that, when shot, triggers a pulse to a plunger that stabs out the bottom of the can and causes it to flip over. It's great fun and legal to shoot in your living room.
To successfully direct the laser to any target, you have to be conscious of the fact that the laser exits the barrel some 2.5 to 3.0 inches below your line of sight. At point-blank range — i.e., at the muzzle — the red laser dot will hit 2.5 to 3.0 inches low. As distance increases, the dot will slowly climb until it meets your line of sight; however, that may be farther than you want to train — almost surely it will be farther that you can shoot indoors. So you'll generally have to hold a bit high.
Holding high is not necessarily a bad thing — it teaches you how to hold on real targets at villain-eyebrow-singeing distance. If you shoot 3-Gun or similar action-type competitions, you've seen many shooters hit just below the "A" zone; that's because they forgot to hold a bit high to compensate for the difference between line of sight and line of bore.
However, sometimes you just want to hold precisely on the target and hit it. The optics on my ARs generally have mil-dots or some sort of ballistic-compensating reticle, and I can usually find a dot below the center crosshairs that lines up pretty well with the laser dot. If the optic is variable with a front focal plane reticle, dialing the magnification ring up or down a bit can bring the laser dot and a holdover mark precisely together. Remember, of course, this is distance-dependent: move closer or farther from your target and the relationship will change slightly.
The LaserLyte AR Trainer kit can be purchased directly from www.laserlyte.com or from one of LaserLyte's many dealers. Check the website's dealer locator for one near you. This LaserLyte training tool will help you solidify those critical foundational skills, and best of all, it's a ton of fun.