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Sighting in a pistol

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by kregg, Feb 15, 2010.

  1. kregg

    kregg G&G Newbie

    This may sound like a real stupid question, but what is the best way to sight in a pistol using the sights the pistol came with?

  2. DocAitch

    DocAitch G&G Enthusiast

    sighting in pistol

    This actually an incomplete question.
    What type of handgun, what kind of sights (fixed,adjustable,machined into the frame?)? At what range do you expect to do your shooting? Hunting, Bulls eye,
    plinking, self defense?
  3. kregg

    kregg G&G Newbie


    I have a Smith&Wesson Sigma in .40cal. The rear sight is adjustable for windage. Main use will be target shooting. Thanks
  4. jrswanson1

    jrswanson1 G&G Newbie

    Fixed sights like on the Sigma are not really meant to be adjusted. Of the five semi-autos I've run that have sights like this, they generally shoot to the sights, just up or down depending on the load. Unless something weird happens. Then you avoid that kind of ammo :D Personally, I've tried 155gr and 180gr FMJs from American Eagle and apparently my Taurus 840 prefers the 180s. Pick a load and run with it.

  5. DaTeacha

    DaTeacha Things are not what they seem. Forum Contributor

    Sights that are drift adjustable are usually considered fixed for all practical purposes. If you mean actual target shooting as opposed to casual plinking, you might want to invest in a truly adjustable rear sight that will work with your front. A gunsmith can probably set you up with one that will give you maximum range of adjustment. He may also recommend changing out the front sight.

    If you decide to go with an adjustable sight, the method is much like sighting in a rifle with irons. Set up on a rest, fire a group, see where it prints. Remember to move the rear sight in the opposite direction of where you want the group to move. Also remember that changing your load will change where your gun shoots, much more so than on a rifle.
  6. wunhunglo

    wunhunglo G&G Newbie

    Dateacha................Wrong way round.

    The rear sight moves in the direction you want the shots to go. Fore sight is the opposite.
    Gun shooting to the left of target, move rear sight to the right. (Foresight to the left)
    Gun shooting low, raise the rear sight (or lower the foresight).
  7. Deep13

    Deep13 G&G Evangelist

    Use a pistol rest to eliminate or at least minimize human error. To the degree the sights are adjustable, adjust them until the pistol prints where you are aiming.
  8. DaTeacha

    DaTeacha Things are not what they seem. Forum Contributor

    Dang Wun, you got me again! You're right of course. The line of sight pivots around the front sight, so if the group is to the right, the rear sight needs to move left. I must be getting cabin fever. We haven't had school since a half day on Monday of last week.
  9. DocAitch

    DocAitch G&G Enthusiast

    sighting in pistol

    I think we have gotten a little too esoteric here.
    With a drift adjustable rear sight, the side is "drifted" i.e. moved sideways with a brass punch and hammer or pushed with a sight "pusher" that uses a screw/bolt to apply pressure to one side of the sight. These pushers can be pricey and the brass punch with proper support for your slide works OK.
    This covers a windage adjustment.
    The elevation adjustment is by selecting ammunition that prints at the point of aim for your selected range.
    It may seem counter intuitive but lighter faster projectiles hit the paper lower at a given range and heavier bullets hit higher. This is because the heavier projectiles are in the barrel longer and impart more momentum (recoil) while they are still in the barrel, causing the muzzle to raise higher before exiting.
    The short summary is drift your sight to change windage and change your load to change elevation.
  10. reverenddan

    reverenddan G&G Newbie

    Perhaps I'm nosing in here and missing the point but I believe the actual question was pertaining to what sight picture to use?

    If this is the true question the for handgun the sight picture is generally used as lined up flush on top, equal spacing on either side with the target at an appropriate distance sitting on top of the sights as lined up.

    Small amounts of windage adjustment is accomplished by moving the front sight left or right within the space provided by the rear sight. Elevation is again as simple as moving the front sight up within the sight picture.

    The advice to use a rest is valid but you should become familiar with the handgun and get comfortable shooting it that way first. Using a rest to shoot a handgun is much trickier than with a rifle. It takes a lot of practice to get a good grip and have the gun placed correctly on the rest so that the shot isn't influenced.

    Hope this helps.
  11. oldjarhead

    oldjarhead G&G Evangelist

    Since you have adjustable rear sights, windage is simple. Use a bench rest and fire your shots in three round groups. Move the rear sight in the direction you want thhe group to move. Do this in one or two click adjustments until the group is centered.
    If the group is center target but low from the bulls, the front sight needs adjustment and can be done by filing the top pf the front sight. This is a very tedious and fragile thing to do. If you need to attempt it do it ever so lightly and it one light stroke at a time to prevent cutting the front sight too low. Do this only if your group is two or more inches low.
    It may be best to merely adjust your sight picture slightly higher into the black.
    If the group is shooting high center you need to install a higher front post and do the file thing.
    To make it all real easy just change your sight picture up and down as needed. You can leave your windage screw on the rear sight alone and adjust your sight picture right or left as needed.
    I don't recommend you doing anything physical to the sights until you have a good feel for what you're doing.
    Take her out and practice, practice, practice the sight picture way.

    BTW, Kregg...the only stupid question is the one not asked...after all, we've all been there before.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2010
  12. nathangdad

    nathangdad G&G Newbie


    there are no stupid questions from someone honestly seeking to learn.
    We all started at point zero.

    If you have adjustable sights your best friends are sandbags. Anchor yourself as firmly as possible and begin with a target perhaps ten ft. away. Adjust till you get on target.

    Then slowly increase the distance. 'Work until you are on target at the distance you plan to seek.
  13. kregg

    kregg G&G Newbie

    Thanks for all the info! Every shot seems to be low about 3 inches and to the right about 2 inches
  14. Sooner Shooter

    Sooner Shooter G&G Newbie Forum Contributor

    Wun mentioned that you've got this backwards but I keep thinking this is correct. What Wun said is correct but I read this as correct also. I try to remember guns being just opposite of archery because archers always adjust the front sight. In archery if your arrow is shooting to the right you move the sight to the right. So in guns if your shot moves to the right move the rear sight to the left. What am I missing?
  15. oldjarhead

    oldjarhead G&G Evangelist

    The rear sight is moved in the same direction you want the shot group to move. If your group is to the right of the black and you want the group to move left, the rear sight is moved left. In essence this action will move the front sight to the right.
  16. podrav

    podrav G&G Newbie

    This sounded wrong when I read this (several times?), so maybe it's the wording?

    If your group is to the right, you move the rear sight left.
    This action will move your point of aim to the right so it matches your groupiing.

    (hoping the different description will help other's visualize it)
  17. DaTeacha

    DaTeacha Things are not what they seem. Forum Contributor

    Getting back to the sights themselves, I have mmc sights on my 1911. The front has a vertical white line with a crossbar about 1/3 of the way up. The rear sight is a white outline square notch. You can make some vertical height changes by using the top of the front or the crossbar and lining that feature up with either the bottom of the rear notch or the top of it. I use a 6:00 hold with handgun sights. It doesn't matter if it's AM or PM. :)
  18. Pothole

    Pothole G&G Regular


    as far as sighting in how new is the weapon, because it will take about 500 rounds before the gun is broken in and in its happy place, when I tried to sight in my GLOCK I was chasing the point of impact around the target for a couple of range trips until it was worked in
  19. Sooner Shooter

    Sooner Shooter G&G Newbie Forum Contributor

    This is the way I always remember it. This sighting in formula can be said in many different ways! To me this is the simplest.
  20. G. Green

    G. Green G&G Newbie

    Rear sights go the direction you want your group to move to. Front sights go oppo. One thing on drifting sights. If you have quality night sights they probably glow because there's a glass bead in there filled with tritium gas, and you should really use a sight pusher. If you use a hammer and drift you chance fracturing a bead and losing your gas, and turning your high dollar night sights into sights.
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