If you run an AR rifle like the Springfield Armory SAINT or any M-Lok equipped gun, there’s a new option from Viridian that adds control and speed to close-range target acquisition: the HS1.
The HS1 is a handstop laser — the world’s first — and it combines Viridian’s laser targeting expertise with the ergonomic benefit of a traditional handstop. Sounds good, but how does it perform? In this Viridian HS1 review, I examine its performance as well as show you what was required to install it on my SAINT.
How Does It Work?
The handstop part of it is pretty straightforward. Wrap your support hand around the forend in any one of a variety of positions, and this handstop will add a tactile reference point that you can pull against to add stability to a rifle. While many polymer handguards have integral handstops built-in, most can be fairly small.
Priced at an MSRP of $179, the HS1 takes this to the next level with an added feature. When you grip it, the pressure activates a green laser that is built into the handstop. The 1/3 n battery that runs the laser is housed in the handstop itself, which keeps the footprint incredibly small. The battery will run for an hour and a half continuously before it will need to be replaced.
The green laser on the HS1 is visible up to 100 yards in daylight — and out to two miles in full darkness. The laser itself is adjustable for windage and elevation and takes just a couple of minutes to sight in (even less if you can strap the rifle down in a rest). There’s an included tiny Allen wrench that you use to dial the laser into the center of your sights, or to a fired round’s point of impact on a target.
The HS1 is built for M-Lok attachment points. If you have an M-Lok handguard, it may be an easy switch to an HS1. If you’re looking for a new gun that would be a good platform for the HS1, Springfield Armory makes four models that are excellent options. The SAINT Victor rifle and the SAINT Edge rifle both have M-Lok free-float aluminum forends. The SAINT rifle has BCM PMCR or B5 Systems handguards. While these have M-Lok compatible attachment points, they also have an integrated handstop. Built-in handstops may pose a slight problem.
The SAINT I had in for this review has B5 Systems furniture. The handguard is made of polymer. It too, has M-Lok attachment points, but it has an integrated handstop. While you can add an extra handstop, the laser may not clear the original one. There’s a quick fix, though, if you’re handy.
Installation Problems and a Quick Fix
As this is polymer we’re talking about, you can grind off the handguard’s original handstop with just about anything that cuts. A belt sander, or even a soldering iron (to melt a hole through) will work. But let me be clear here — this is my idea, and not Springfield Armory’s or Viridian’s. And guns and tools both demand caution and care. Be safe with both.
As the video at the top of the page shows, I used a Foredom grinder. I’ve got a decent shop and had a double-cut file bit that made short work of it. A drill would work fine if you brace the forend well. Also, a Dremel is an option. I actually left material on the sides and just ground out the middle so the laser shines through, but it will still work as a handstop if I ever decide to take off the HS1.
I also took off the sling mount on the front sight post, just as an extra measure to ensure the laser clears. I prefer a one-point sling on my carbines anyhow, so it isn’t a loss and it can’t possibly obstruct the laser.
In the End?
Based on my range time with it, the HS1 lives up to its promise of rapid target acquisition.
At close range, the bright green dot is easy to see. Unlike a red dot where you have to look through the optic to find it, the HS1’s dot is visible even when you don’t have a cheek weld. You can move the rifle freely and watch the dot move, too. It is intuitive, fast, and adds an extra level of control.
If you run a scope on your AR, especially one with high magnification, the HS1 adds close-range versatility that allows you to keep your eye on more immediate targets and still have the long-range potential of the scope. All in all, I think it’s a very nice addition.
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