Ariete Magnetic Laser Sight Review
Shooting in the Dark with Older 1911s
As just about anyone who lives on Planet Earth and who has even a vague notion of what a “gun” is, the overwhelming trend today is toward “tactical” firearms, devices, and accessories. Being essentially an old-fashioned, back-to-basics type of person, it has been (and continues to be) my personal opinion that a lot of this stuff is just another way for manufacturers to sell things that most people don’t need. As a well-known quotation warns us, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” (Historical note: Although this saying is often attributed to the legendary showman, P.T. Barnum, in fact it was written by an English farmer and poet named Thomas Tusser, who lived from 1524 to 1580. I’ll bet you had no idea the saying was THAT old!)
Nonetheless, some of this “tacticool” gear has practical applications, even for those of us who are not high-speed, low-drag “tactical operators.” One of the practical devices is the laser aiming device, which is sometimes referred to as a laser “sight.” Laser aiming devices have been around for perhaps a decade, give or take a few years, and within that comparatively short time span they have appeared in an array of types and configurations. There are handgun grips with lasers in them; there are laser devices that replace the recoil spring guide in semi-automatic pistols; and … there are laser aiming devices that attach to tactical rails (typically Weaver or Picatinny, but sometimes proprietary) on both handguns and long guns.
Many people don’t trust the lasers that replace the recoil spring guide. It’s buried inside the pistol, and it’s subjected to a severe impact each time the slide retracts and stops against the flange to which the guide rod (and laser) is attached. Further, to zero an internal laser requires field stripping the pistol each and every time you need to make even a minor adjustment.
An objection to the concept of grips with a laser in them is that the laser is offset to one side of the barrel. With any type of sight, it is an accepted reality that the line of the sights must be offset vertically from the barrel axis. Over the years, we have learned to adapt to that. Unfortunately, however, if the laser tube is mounted on one side of the pistol the laser beam will be offset from the barrel axis both vertically and horizontally. Because the line of the sights exactly coincides with the point of impact at one distance, having to mentally and physically adapt to both a vertical and a horizontal offset for each shot is less than ideal. The wider the gun, the worse it gets.
For these reasons, there has been an almost meteoric rise in the popularity of tactical rails on firearms. They are sought after to mount both tactical flashlights, and laser aiming devices (and, often, combination devices that offer both functions in one package). Mounting a laser to the frame of a handgun (such as a 1911) directly beneath the barrel eliminates any issues associated with horizontal offset (or parallax). Further, a laser that attaches to a rail can be easily mounted or removed as needed. All of which is great, IF you have a handgun that incorporates a tactical rail. The 1911 was around for about 90 years before anyone put a rail on one, and even today probably a large majority of 1911s coming out of the doors of the many factories producing 1911s don’t have rails. Until very recently, choices for owners of 1911s were limited to either laser grips or the laser guide rods, with their inherent disadvantages, and with their associated high prices.
Now, there is a new alternative, brought to us by a new company called Ariete, LLC. What Ariete has done isn’t anything earth-shattering in terms of technology, but it shows how products can be developed to fill a void in the marketplace if people are willing to simply think outside of the box.
”Where’s the Beef?”
What the folks at Ariete, LLC, have done is ingenious and elegant in its simplicity. They have created a mount for a laser aiming device that simply snaps onto the underside of the dust cover of a semi-automatic pistol and holds itself in place by a powerful magnet built into the mount. They have several different models to cover a variety of pistols, and the vertical sides of the mount are springy enough to allow them to be pinched or spread slightly to adjust to minor differences in the width of the receiver.
The product arrives in a zip seal plastic baggie, along with an instruction card and a small hex wrench, which is used both to zero the laser and to loosen or tighten the tiny screws holding the lower strap of the mount to the magnetic mounting plate. At the rear of the mounting plate there is a projecting arm that fits inside of and engages the trigger guard, to assure that the mount is correctly positioned.
Like any laser, the Ariete device has to be adjusted to zero it to your pistol. Once adjusted, it can be removed and reinstalled and (within the level of accuracy required for personal defense use, as opposed to bullseye shooting) it retains zero when reinstalled. The rare earth magnet is powerful enough that even under the recoil of a .45 Auto round it holds the comparatively light laser tube securely in position.
The laser itself is contained in a simple tube, with the adjusting screws toward the front end and the switch at the rear. The switch is a horizontal push-through type, that’s shipped with the batteries already installed and a small plastic collar on the long side of the switch plunger to prevent accidental activation of the laser during shipping. A small slip of paper in the zip seal bag cautions the user to remove the rubber collar before use.
The switch operates only one way, it is not ambidextrous. The sight ships with the switch oriented so that the trigger finger of the right hand can push the switch to the ON position. For left-handed shooters or those who might prefer to use the left (support) hand to activate the laser, the four screws holding the lower retainer strap to the magnetic mounting plate can be loosened and the entire laser tube can be rotated 180-degrees to convert it for left-handed operation.
Does it work?
To put the Ariete laser aimer through its paces we took the device to Chris’ Indoor Shooting Range in Guilford, Connecticut, along with a full-size 1911 (an Argentinean Sistema Modelo 1927, to be exact) and a Commander-size pistol (the prototype of the 9mm El Comandante). We wanted to see not only how well the device worked on a standard 1911, we also wanted to see how it might fit and function on the slightly shorter Commander receiver.
Fortuitously, the Ariete laser aimer fit and functioned well on both the full-size pistol and the Commander. As the Commander photo shows, the front of the laser tube is just slightly behind the muzzle of the pistol. Having seen the relationship, we didn’t bother to try it on an Officers ACP or Defender size pistol. It might work, but the laser would extend beyond the muzzle of the pistol and that’s probably not a good configuration.
In use, we were pleased to find that the laser stayed in position, shot after shot. There was no sense that it was moving around, but after what we felt was enough plinking to have turned up any problems if they were going to turn up (there were none), we set up another target for the final test. Using the 9mm El Comandante (because it’s a new pistol and we can’t vouch for the condition of the barrel in the Sistema), we fired a full magazine at the ‘X’ from a standing position at a distance of 25 feet, which is more or less the maximum distance within which most self defense shootings take place. The shots were fired at a rate of perhaps one shot per second—not “rapid fire,” but certainly not carefully-aimed slow fire.
Once the magazine had been emptied, we removed the laser aimer from the pistol while we reloaded the magazine, then we reinstalled the device on the pistol and fired another full magazine. The second magazine was fired at the same pace as the first, and was aimed at the ‘8’ to the left side of the bullseye.
The laser had been zeroed to the Sistema, so the groups fired through the El Comandante were slightly to the right of the point of aim. What is important is that both groups are approximately the same distance to the right of the point of aim, demonstrating that the mount retained its zero after having been removed and reinstalled on the pistol.
The Ariete Magnetic Laser Sight is a useful accessory that makes it easy to have a laser aiming device on any standard 1911 that doesn’t have an accessory rail, and to remove the laser so that the pistol can be carried in a standard holster. The device is light in weight and compact in size, so it doesn’t interfere in any way with normal operation of the pistol. Compared to the option of having a bolt-on tactical rail permanently installed on the pistol, the Ariete Magnetic Laser Sight provides a laser aimer while preserving considerable flexibility in how the pistol can be used and carried.
Ariete, LLC, also offers laser sights for pistols with Picatinny rails, and they now also offer a modified version of the magnetic laser sight for pistols with alloy or polymer receivers. This modified version comes with a thin, magnetic strip that attaches to the underside of the receiver with a powerful adhesive, providing a surface for the magnetic mount to be attracted to.
M1911.ORG is grateful to Chris’ Indoor Shooting Range for making the facilities available to us while we evaluated this product.
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7900 E. Greenway RD, #211
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Web Site: www.arietearms.com
MSRP (as tested): $97.99