Review: Holosun LS117R AR-15 Compact Red Laser Sight

Need a compact laser for your AR-15? If so, check out the Holosun LS117R compact red laser. Weapon-mounted lasers used to be a popular attachment for both rifles and pistols. In fact, it used to be cool to mount as much gear on your rifle as possible. A vertical grip, light, laser, flip-up sights, bipod, and a dual mag clamp were just the cool things to add. I mean, that’s how they did it on TV, right? And we all know if it’s on TV, that’s how it’s done.

Holosun LS117 laser.
If you want a pressure pad, the Holosun LS117 laser comes with one. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
But lasers fell out of popularity with the minimalist wave that sent people stripping their guns down to the bare minimum. “Less is more” has become the new cool. However, I’m not sure we will ever get away from needing light and red dots are not going away anytime soon either. Maybe someday they will make night vision contacts, but that probably won’t happen anytime soon. That leaves us searching for compact, lightweight optics and lights to mount on our AR-15, PCC, or other firearm.

Red dot optics are a big part of what pushed lasers out of popularity. It’s easy to glance through a piece of glass and see a red dot. But there is still a need for lasers from time to time, and the Holosun LS117R is a great choice if you plan to add one.

A Closer Look at the LS117R

If you’re going to mount a laser on your rifle, it needs to be powerful enough to serve its purpose. The Holosun LS117R features a 5-milliwatt laser emitter, which is the legal limit for a handheld laser in the United States. Powered by one AA battery, the company says it will operate consistently for up to 5,000 hours on a single battery. Much like the optics I purchase, I like devices that use popular and easy-to-find batteries. If possible, an AA or AAA battery is preferred. When it comes to durability, the LS117R is made of 7075 aluminum with a black anodized finish.

Holosun LS117 laser.
The Holosun LS117 red laser appears to be a solid piece of equipment. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Another feature I like about this compact laser is the mounting system. A quick detach mount allows it to be mounted to a Picatinny rail rather quickly. You get a T10 L key in the case for adjusting the QR mount. The waterproof rating of the LS117R is IP67, which means it can be submerged in 1 meter (3.3 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes. That said, there is a rubber washer under the battery cap that you must keep an eye on. It’s easy to smash it by over-tightening, so be careful when installing the cap.

As with most laser sights, a simple flathead screwdriver is needed for windage and elevation adjustments. The LS117R also has a small rubber cover over the laser head to protect it from bumps and drops. It’s easy to push to the side when using and pull back over when storing the gun.

Better yet, the Holosun LS117R includes a durable external pressure switch for remote activation. That’s a big deal for most of us tactical shooters. Simply plug the cord into the back of the laser and place the pressure switch anywhere you want on your rail.

Presentation is Everything. Sometimes.

I rarely mention the box or presentation case. If you’re going to use a product, who cares about the case, right? And, let’s be real; sometimes, there’s just nothing spectacular about the box.

But I must mention the Holosun’s storage case for this laser. The LS117R comes in a heavy-duty plastic case with solid hinges and latches. A molded insert creates a place for everything, including the laser, pressure switch, T10 key, and several batteries. Because the quick-release mount makes it easy to install and remove the laser from a rifle, I may actually use this case for safe storage when I’m not using the host rifle. If you decide not to use the pressure pad, it’s also a good place to store it until it’s needed.

Holosun LS117 laser.
I loved the hard case the Holosun LS117 laser shipped with. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

Mounting and Using the LS117R

Deciding where to put your laser may take a little thought, as there isn’t one place all lasers must go. If you don’t have a front sight on your rifle, it can go on top of your handguard. It could also be mounted on the bottom of the handguard, or either side, depending on where you have room. This will depend on where your flashlight is mounted. I decided to put my LS117R on my older Bushmaster AR-15 with an extended quad rail.

Holosun LS117 laser.
The Holosun LS117 laser is compact, making it easy to install anywhere you need it. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Some of my rifles have lights with pressure pads, but this one is just a small ProTac light without a pressure pad. I don’t want two different pressure pads on my gun, so this setup works great. Most of the time, I don’t use a vertical grip, but on a quad rail, they come in handy. I mounted the Streamlight ProTac light on the left side of the rail where I can activate it with my thumb. The laser is on the right side out of the way, and I can place the pressure pad on top of the handguard behind the front sight. This way, I can activate it without moving my support hand.

There is a toggle switch on the back of the laser with on, off, and remote momentary. If you don’t want to use the pressure pad, you can use the standard switches on the laser. To use the heavy-duty pressure pad, plug the cord in the back beside the switch and turn it to the remote setting. It’s that simple.

Do you need a laser?

Like I said in the beginning, some people like lasers, and others do not. It really depends on how you want to use it and how much you train with it. They can be great for home defense because you can see where your muzzle is pointing and get on target quickly. I know a few people who hunt with a laser sight because lasers can help deliver a clean shot at closer distances.

But, in the end, looking through a red dot and watching a laser are two different things and require different types of training. There’s nothing wrong with adding a laser to your rig if you think you may need it someday. Just make sure you train with it and zero it in as you would an optic.

Overall, this is a great little laser sight that appears to be extremely durable and powerful. If you prefer green over red, Holosun offers that as well with the LS117G model. The red laser retails for around $275 and the green for a little over $300.

If you want to spend even more, you can purchase a laser sight with an IR illuminator for around $800. But for those who just want a durable laser without all the bells and whistles, this is a great model, and you get the Holosun reputation along with it.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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