About Green Lasers

What is the difference?

It is important to understand something as we begin: a green laser is not actually, measurably brighter than a red laser. We simply perceive it as brighter - which is functionally the same thing. As such they are almost always going to be superior to red lasers in bright conditions, both for "picking up" the laser with your eye and shooting with it effectively at a greater distance.

The human eye has evolved to see the color green better than any other color in the light spectrum, which is why a green laser appears brighter in ambient light (such as bright sunlight) conditions than a red laser  - even those that operating at equal strength. Yellow and blue follow. This may account for the assertion by some professional users that is faster to acquire a green laser than a red one when shooting.

As you can see in the chart below, the color green lands in the center of the Relative Sensitivity/Wavelength spectrum. Generally speaking, that results in about a 400% to 600%, or 4x-6x, greater perception sensitivity for a visible green laser vs. its red counterpart. (Specificity is difficult in such a comparison because so many elements are subjective.)

Color Sensitivity

Crimson Trace's green laser sights operate between 515nm and 532nm, and red laser sights operate at 620-670nm. Both green and red lasers are Class 3R lasers and emit at the same peak power output - 5wW - which is the maximum allowed by federal law. Both laser colors produce a beam size of an approximately 0.5" circle at 50'. All Crimson Trace laser sights comply with 21 CFR 1040.10 (the Federal law regulating laser devices).


Crimson Trace LG-422G

The Crimson Trace LG-422G Laserguard for SIG SAUER's P365. Green laser sights like the 422G are a superb force multiplier in virtually any lighting condition.

What about low light?

Red and green lasers are both highly visible in low light conditions when armed encounters are most likely to occur. In fact it is in these conditions that many users find a laser sight to be most beneficial. It is important to remember, however, that a laser sight does not help you positively identify (PID) a target in the first place. A laser's function is to help you place effective hits once an appropriate target has been determined. One should also keep in mind that while a visible laser does work in both directions, it does not do so even remotely to the extent popularized by Hollywood - but regardless should not be used to sweep or search. (Laser discipline, like light discipline, is important.) These considerations are two important reasons why many gun owners opt to use laser-light combination devices like the Rail Master Pro CMR-204 or -205. Those are a green and red laser sight, respectively, and also feature a brilliant 100-lumen weapon light. 


Green Lasers What About Low Light?

The Rail Master® Pro is a versatile and powerful universal laser sighting and tactical lighting solution for rail-equipped pistols, rifles and shotguns.

Why are they more expensive?

The diodes used to generate a green laser are more complicated to build and employ than those of a red laser (which are relatively easy to make and assemble). This also makes the manufacturing process more time-consuming. As technology and material design improves, however, the gap between red and green can be expected to narrow.

As CT's Senior Product Design Engineer Jon Rievley explains, "A green laser basically starts out like a red laser, except it starts with an infrared, invisible laser at with a wavelength of 808 nanometers (nm). That light is then shined into a secondary crystal laser yielding a wavelength of 1,066 nm. Finally, that laser is shined through a frequency doubler, which changes it back down to roughly 532 nm. That wavelength is easier to see, but harder to achieve. Instead of a single process to get a single laser, it takes three steps, more space and 10-times more energy to produce."


Why Are Green Lasers More Expensive?

What about battery life?

Green and red laser sights differ in power requirements. The high electrical current required by green diodes depletes batteries more rapidly than that of red diodes, resulting in a battery life disparity of approximately 2:1, i.e. all things being equal a battery that last four hours in a red laser sight will last for two hours in a green one. As with the cost difference between green and red lasers, the gap is narrowing.


Green Laser Sight Battery Life
The LG-362G Laserguard in use with a Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0. The LG-362G and its red laser counterpart, the LG-362, features Instinctive Activation™ which allows the laser to be activated when the pistol is held in a normal firing grip.

Can I swap laser colors?

No. Both laser diodes, circuit boards and other internal components are unique to that laser color.


Red or Green Laser Color?
Crimson Trace Laser Guard Pro (green) in a demonstration by Karl of Tactical Rifleman as part of a discussion of the Glock-43. Sgt. Major (Ret.) Karl Erickson has over 25 years of military experience, including nearly two decades of service in US Army Special Forces.

Does this mean red lasers are obsolete?

Not by any means. The red laser remains a perfectly viable option for defensive carry weapons. They too improve with advancing technology and remain an excellent weapon accessory choice for "older" eyes, someone who might need to shoot from an unorthodox position, or with mechanical/visual impairments like HAZMAT or MOPP gear. None of that has changed. 


Are Red Lasers Obsolete?
Chris Cerino of GunTalk Media discusses defensive scenarios when lasers (in this case a red laser Crimson Trace grip) can be of benefit.


Red is still an excellent color for use as an aiming reference point (green obviously being the other). Delving into the technical explanation for this, one will find that the cones in human eyes "overlap", making these two colors the most viable for visible laser use. As Prof. James Higham explains, "This means we prioritize distinguishing a few types of colours really well - specifically, red and green - at the expense of being able to see as many colours as we possibly might."

Do you zero a green laser differently than red?

No. Zeroing, or "sighting in" your green laser is done in exactly the same fashion as a red one. You will adjust it to your desired  point of aim/point of impact at the desired range, using your choice of converging or parallel zero.


Zeroing a Green Laser
Crimson Trace Lasersaddle™ for the pistol-grip shotguns, seen here in its green Mossberg Shockwave iteration.

The Crimson Trace green laser

To learn more about Crimson Trace green laser sight options, shop our website HERE.

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