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7 Best AR-15 Lasers [Hands-On]: Budget to Pro

Want the quickest target acquisition in low light?

You need an AR-15 mounted laser.

PWS Diablo with Lots of Lasers
PWS Diablo with Lots of Lasers

We tested the most popular green and red lasers for brightness, zero hold, overall build, worth-it-ness, and more.

Some Tested AR-15 Lasers
Some Tested AR-15 Lasers

By the end of this post you’ll know the best laser for your budget and purpose…from range plinking to professional night-time activities.

Steiner DBAL
Steiner DBAL

Best AR-15 Lasers

1. Ade Advanced Red Laser

Let’s start off with something affordable like the Ade Advanced ($34) that can double for use on both pistols and AR-15s.

Ade Advanced Laser
Ade Advanced Laser

It’s tiny and doesn’t add much weight for a rifle.

Mounted Ade Advanced on AR-15
Mounted Ade Advanced on AR-15

Plus makes its home on a custom Glock.

Pistol Mounted Ade Advanced
Pistol Mounted Ade Advanced

The side button takes some thought to activate…so you’re not going to inadvertently activate it.

Not that you can really go on and off quickly with this model.  The first click turns on a constant laser while a second click makes it strobe.

Something I wish it didn’t do since it takes another click to turn it off…and a strobing laser is pretty useless to me.

How’s it hold under shooting?

I attached five of the lasers to my 7″ piston AR pistol, zeroed it to my holographic sight at 15 yards, and brought it to the range.

PWS Diablo and Lasers at Range
PWS Diablo and Lasers at Range

I chose my super short piston upper for its increased recoil that will test the zero holds of the lasers.  I shot 100 full power rounds.

Then brought it back to see the deviation from the center dot..

Ade Advanced Zero Shift
Ade Advanced Zero Shift

It’s hard to see…but the Ade Advanced red laser is very slightly lower than the center reticle.

Great zero hold in my book.

Brightness is decent too in this picture before all the lasers were zeroed to one dot at 15 yards.

Laser Intensities
Laser Intensities

I thought this little optic would suck…but besides the button strobe “feature”…it’s pretty good for a start rifle or pistol laser.

34
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

There’s also the green laser version ($45) too for a little more.

2. Pinty Green Laser

Now what’s this fascination with green lasers?

The color green is supposedly 6x easier to pick up for the human eye.  And for lasers they are easier to see in both day and night.

I chose the Pinty Green Laser ($27) since it was the most affordable one with great reviews…even though I’ve never heard of the name.

Pinty Green Laser
Pinty Green Laser

The size and mounting style leave something to be desired…but I’m going to let the results speak for themselves.

Pinty Laser on AR-15
Pinty Laser on AR-15

It’s large, has knobs for windage and elevation adjustment, and has either a button endcap or pressure pad.

Pinty Laser Accessories
Pinty Laser Accessories

The adjustment knobs are marked and actually have a nice audible click with a “correct” amount of resistance I’d expected in something more expensive.

Still…everything made me think that it would unzero after some shots.

Pinty Laser Zero Shift
Pinty Laser Zero Shift

However I was pleasantly surprised that it was only slightly more of a shift (upwards this time) compared to the Ade.

Plus…it was the brightest of all and more visible than its more well-known competitor…the Ozark Armament.

Laser Intensities
Laser Intensities

A decent pick at around $25 if you want something that actually seems more expensive and holds zero.

I reached out to Pinty after testing and secured you guys a 15% off couponPEWPEW” to use at their site.

27
at Pinty (Direct)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Ozark Armament Green Laser

I had high hopes for the Ozark Armament ($40) since I liked their budget option in my Best AR-15 Lights.

Pinty vs Ozark Armament Green Laser
Pinty (L) vs Ozark Armament Green Laser (R)

You can see that it’s quite a bit chunkier than the Pinty…but along the same lines in design.

Mounted Ozark Armament Laser
Mounted Ozark Armament Laser

It also comes with the same accessories as the Pinty that seem to be made from the same place.

Ozark Armament Accessories
Ozark Armament Accessories

However…the windage and elevation adjustments were not marked and felt really spongy.  If they were on the Pinty at a $20 price point I wouldn’t complain.

Brightness we’ve already seen as slightly less bright than the Pinty…but overall much more visible than the red lasers.

Laser Intensities
Laser Intensities

How about zero?

Ozark Armament Zero Shift
Ozark Armament Zero Shift

Not that great…you can see it shifted to the 10 o’clock position a good deal away from the center dot.

If you’re ok with this form factor of laser…avoid the Ozark and go with the Pinty.

40
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. Streamlight TLR-8

My go-to brand for handgun lights…we tested the TLR-8 ($197) light/laser combo out in Best Handgun Lights.

Streamlight TLR-8 Light and Laser Combo
Streamlight TLR-8 Light and Laser Combo

It’s small enough for handguns (even compacts)…

Streamlight TLR-8 on Glock
Streamlight TLR-8 on Glock 17 P80

And hides away on an AR-15.

Streamlight TLR-8 on AR-15
Streamlight TLR-8 on AR-15

It’s easier to use than the larger TLR-2 where you can switch between laser only, light only, or combo…since you can only combo here.

The 500 lumen light is very usable but a little yellow.

TLR-8, 25 Yards Outdoors
TLR-8, 25 Yards Outdoors

While the red laser is very visible.

Laser Intensities
Laser Intensities

Its zero hold was the best out of everything.

Streamlight TLR-8 Zero Shift
Streamlight TLR-8 Zero Shift

You can’t even see a difference since the dot still matches up exactly with the reticle.

My recommendation if you don’t want to run an additional light and want something that stays zeroed.

270
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

And if you want something with a little more brightness at a size increase…check out Streamlight’s TLR-2 that comes in 800 lumens and with a red laser or green laser variety.

TLR-2s on Glock 17
TLR-2s on Glock 17

5. Crimson Trace CMR-206

My favorite pick out of the more affordable batch of pure lasers is the CMR-206 ($139) from Crimson Trace which is known for their laser products.

Crimson Trace CMR-206 Green Laser
Crimson Trace CMR-206 Green Laser

It’s tiny and well-built…and lives on my night competition PCC (pistol caliber carbine).

Crimson Trace CMR-206 on Night Competition PCC
Crimson Trace CMR-206 on Night Competition PCC

Otherwise it works great on a handgun…

Crimson Trace CMR-206 on Pistol
Crimson Trace CMR-206 on Pistol

Or an AR-15 on the bottom rail.

Crimson Trace CMR-206 on AR-15
Crimson Trace CMR-206 on AR-15

Check it out in action during one of my recent night matches:

Brightness isn’t as bright as the Pinty and it has a slightly more cyan tinge to it.  But can reach out to 30+ yards for metal target hits fine.

Laser Intensities
Laser Intensities

Plus zero is good at moving a smidge upwards.

Crimson Trace CMR-206 Zero Shift
Crimson Trace CMR-206 Zero Shift

For its size…it’s my favorite and will continue to live on my competition PCC gun.

139
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

6. Holosun

One laser sight I hope to try out soon is the Holosun LS117 ($220) series which bridges the gap between consumer and professional use products.

I’ve always liked Holosun products…they won our Best Red Dots Under $200.

Crisp Red Dot (Holosun)
Crisp Red Dot (Holosun)

Their laser sight comes in IR (infrared for night vision, red, or green) and has a nice small profile to fit on the front of your rifle.

It also has a QD (quick-disconnect) attachment and can take a standard pressure pad…so you can control your lights and lasers without shifting your grip.

220
at Opticsplanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. Steiner DBAL

Ok…here we go pro with a Steiner.

SureFire M600 Scout
SureFire M600 Scout with Steiner DBAL

This bad boy combines a green laser with an IR laser and IR illuminator.  Essential when combined with night vision.

NVM14-3 with Steiner DBAL-A3
NVM14-3 with Steiner DBAL

The essential windage adjustments (IR and laser are slaved together) plus fire and different power modes.

Steiner DBAL, Top View
Steiner DBAL, Top View

But check out the power on their green laser…

DBAL Green Laser
DBAL Green Laser

Plus, it never shifted zero over the hundreds of rounds we put through it in the desert.

The front end of business…

Steiner DBAL, Front View
Steiner DBAL, Front View

It’s not for everyone…but it’s my pick if you go the night vision route but still want a (very) visible laser.

900
at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Learn more about it in our Best Night Vision Goggles overview.

Steiner DBAL
Steiner DBAL One More Time

Conclusion

If you want to have quick target acquisition in the dark…go with a laser sight (maybe not 5 at a time).

PWS Diablo with Lasers and EOTechPWS Diablo with Lasers and EOTech
PWS Diablo with Lasers and EOTech

To get into the game for either a handgun or rifle, I recommend Ade to start.

34
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you want a super bright green laser for your rifle, get the randomly named but surprisingly decent Pinty.

27
at Pinty (Direct)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

And if you want a great light and laser combo that stays dead nuts zero…get the Streamlight.

270
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Or if a pure green laser in a small format is more your thing…my favorite competition laser is the Crimson Trace.

139
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Lastly…if you’re balling out with night vision goggles…you can’t go wrong with Steiner.

900
at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

How did we do?  Are you getting your first laser for your AR-15 or handgun?  Once you do…check out our Best Pistol Lights and Best AR-15 Lights to complete your night time dominance.

Tested AR-15 Flashlights
Tested AR-15 Flashlights

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20 Leave a Reply

  • John

    The Ade advanced laser is a piece of junk. It is not something to rely on.

    May 13, 2021 1:05 pm
    • Victoria

      100% agree. It is pure junk. I've also seen a review about one of their red dot optics breaking when it was tested on a Girsan 1911. None of that China stuff is worth a darn.

      June 17, 2021 7:59 am
  • KonaGolden

    Eric, You've written better articles than this one. The Streamlight TLR-8 does cycle between light, laser, or combo. The Pinty doesn't have longevity. There are newer lights and prices have changed substantially on these. The TLR-8 can be had for under $200. Maybe it's time to do an update and add the Holosun & Olight.

    May 1, 2021 6:06 pm
  • ODGumby

    Pinty is GARBAGE! I have this same laser and 2 of their red dots and all 3 are straight up trash.
    The laser at max adjustment, only gets close to zero but doesn't quite make it. Then it doesn't hold it's almost zero after a few shots...

    April 19, 2021 3:56 pm
  • John

    I have two Crimson Trace CMR-206's on two different rifles. I liked the size and weight which is what originally attracted me to it. But when I put two more rifles in play I was once again shopping for lasers and decided on the LaserMax Spartan green lasers this time because I could get them for less than the CMR-206 and I had gotten first hand reports from a few others of their reliability to hold zero and keep on working and they were overall comparable in weight and size (+/- some minor amount) for my purpose/desires. The LaserMax - after a few thousand rounds on each of those rifles I found the LaserMax zero still exactly where I put it the day I zeroed them and have not budged one little bit and has never quit on me.

    I've tried some of the lasers in your article.

    Ade Advanced Red Laser: - Ughhhh... tried one of these. In fact tried three of them because they kept failing on me and the company kept sending replacements. The first one would not hold zero no matter what was done - the second just stopped working after several rounds - the third one was DOA and this was actually a reboxed used one that was scratched and banged up a lot. I also previously had a chance to try one of their red dot reflex sights on one of my Glocks - it was not a fun time. I found them difficult to deal with for correction of defective products, they tend towards wanting to hand out "fixes" and replacements rather than just give a refund for an obviously defective product. Others have related to me things they ordered from them were not new but were used and had been re-boxed and were missing things that should have been in the box. They are sort of deceptive in their advertisement, for example, they advertise for some of their hand gun red dots "1 MOA click adjustment with audible clicks" when in reality that's not true and its juts a screw adjustment that needs an additional locking screw tightening that does not hold long at all - when this is pointed out to them all they do is admit it but do not provide a refund and will not correct their deceptive advertising. If you are looking to purchase an ADE item, don't.

    Pinty: Contrary to what I had initially thought and oddly enough it was kind of OK for a while and I actually kind of liked it. Someone had given me one that he got as a door prize at a gun show, so mounted it up and out to the range. Although it pretty much held an acceptable zero for a while it is not a long term reliability laser and not one I would trust my life to. It is bigger and weights more than it needs to be, and gives me the impression that this product idea and design started life as a really good solid (if heavy and large comparatively) product design but then corners started to be cut and with that what makes a good stable and tough laser sight went away. But if one wants to try out a laser to decide if they actually like the idea or not and not spend a lot then this is the one to get.

    Ozark: Along the lines of the Pinty, but found it to have difficulty holding zero as close as the Pinty did. This is also not a long term reliability laser.

    Streamlight: Have not used another StreamLight product since one of their products, brand new, failed on me when I needed it most. That aside though, I think their products are overall overrated and over priced.

    For visible lasers, my personal picks/favorites are the Crimson Trace CMR-206 and the LaserMax Spartan. The lesser size and weight, the surprising durability for rifle use, the operation and function, are more than suitable. Based upon longer term personal experience, if I had to choose between those two I'd go with the LaserMax Spartan because although the CMR-206 is good I've not had it hold rock steady zero as long as the LaserMax has. If I had to choose a first timers "introductory" budget laser to learn with I'd choose the Pitny.

    March 2, 2021 3:46 am
  • Sir_Lawrence

    Hi. If you go with the pressure pad on the Pinty green laser, how to you attach the pad to the firearm?

    February 14, 2021 5:14 pm
    • Shitty-kitty

      Ummh, there are some grips you can buy that are set up for you mounting a pad, check out strike industries, they have a few of those. A good portion of people, my self included use goon tape, electrical tape, or ranger bands.

      March 21, 2021 9:46 am
  • DAVID PARRISH

    Do any produce a visible Lazer at 100 yards?

    October 1, 2020 4:57 am
  • Mario Harris

    Man, all this time I've had a Tlr-8 in the safe going unused because I had to switch over to a tlr-7 for holster purposes. It never once occurred to me that I could put it on my rifle. Thanks for all the testing you guys do. This might be my first post on here but you guys were my introduction to guns and continue to provide useful info even after a lot of exposure.

    August 21, 2020 1:00 am
  • Mike G

    Hey just fyi, the stream light tlr-8 does switch between light only, laser only and combo. Press both left and right switches at once to cycle through.

    July 23, 2020 8:58 pm
  • Justin Lu

    Thanks for a great intro article for AR lasers. Just got the Crimson Trace CMR-206 based on your recommendation. However, now I got the Steiner CQBL-1 cause I knew I would go the "Pro" route sooner or later. FYI, the Steiner DBAL link you provided is for the DBAL-I2. This was a tad confusing to me since I only found out later there are two versions, visible laser/IR and IR/IR illuminator. The former is not slaved. However, the version you recommended seems like the DBAL-A3, which has all 3, IR laser, IR illuminator, and visible laser, but at a substantially higher price point. I still got a Steiner based on your rec though!

    June 30, 2020 1:21 pm
  • orlando gomez

    Not understanding how the Olight Baldr series isn't at least considered. I have no affiliation, just have the Baldr red laser and PL-mini and am impressed with their performance. For the price and quality they are hard to beat

    May 2, 2020 2:11 pm
  • jimmy norville

    HEY IM BUYING ONE OF THESE THINGS AS WE SPEAK NO JOKE CREDIT CARD IN HAND MY QUESTION HOW BRIGHT IS THE HOLOSUN GREEN LASER COMPAIRED TO THE STEINER CAN U SEE THAT GREEN BEAM IF SOMEONE COULD GET BACK WITH ME ASAP THAT BE GREAT .

    February 27, 2020 4:09 pm
    • AW

      The Stiener products are military grade and some of the best. Especially when you are looking at the IR lasers and illuminstors. I have been using one for several years now on my nuisance animal set up with an old AtN night optic.
      I have had no issues with the illuminator or laser with the night optic. In fact I got the Stiener unit because the IR illuminator that came with the ATN optic was good but could be better. The optic is a 2012 I think and works great for my needs. But the Illuminator is not so good past maybe 50 yards . So I figured in 2016 that I would get an additional IR Illuminator and a IR laser but from a cost point I would be better off going with an all in one unit that I was familiar with and picked up a Stiener that was a day and night compatible unit. Now the laser and illuminator is more powerful than my night optic but thats not a big deal since I am just shooting at a max range of 100 to 200 yards and its just fine for taking some pigs , coyotes, and any other trouble makers causing problems at night around the cabin . Also the night optic is only a first generation optic that cost around $400 when new. I didnt want to spend a pile of money on a better generation for an optic that is only used a few times a year when I am at the cabin. When I see some pig damage or coyote tracks and or I hear them yipping to their friends. But I would definitely say that if you can afford the Stiener go for it and it will probably be strong enough for anything that you are doing as a civilian or even in a law enforcement application.

      March 25, 2020 5:30 pm
  • Core

    I feel like this needed some more substance. I would need to know how these hold up after repeated use. Ya know in and out of the trunk in a bag, and several shooting sessions. I am not surprised the Streamlight held a solid zero. I love all of my Streamlight stuff. I have a number of SureFire and I feel they sometimes get lost in complexity: lots of small parts that can potentially fail. Streamlight keeps it simple, and my original Streamlight weaponlight is going strong after all these years.

    February 9, 2020 10:07 am
  • MIchael

    Great review. Really helps in deciding which one to use.
    Thanks

    November 14, 2019 4:05 pm
  • Jason

    Oh thanks! That was a good report.
    Geez I wonder how much Uncle Sam pays for the military grade type.
    Actually I just stop wondering.....

    July 30, 2019 8:46 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks Jason! You probably don't want to know...

      August 1, 2019 9:59 pm
    • Core

      $450-$650 for an M4 depending on type. Like $250 for a SIG P320 includes maintenance followup. So they pay less for large contracts than us civvies. I would guess a big contract buy for a infrared laser is around $400-700 depending on the model. Unit purchase is usually retail maybe 10-20% discount if it's from manufacturer. But like $50G for a .50cal infrared FEMA toilet seat.. JK :P

      February 9, 2020 10:19 am
  • J AB

    Thanks for the info on the laser equipment .

    February 6, 2019 10:57 am