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Old October 12, 2012, 04:12 PM   #1
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Confused about sight alignment.

So Ive had my new smith and wesson 1911 9mm with adjustables sights for a while and no matter what Im just not entirley sure where to hold. How do I know where to hold and how to adjust it to what I want.

Which image does the factory set up for you out of the box.Conformation and Correction thanks.
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Old October 12, 2012, 04:25 PM   #2
Bob Wright
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I've always preferred the six o'clock hold as the sights don't obscure my target.

I sight in at twenty five yards, using a six inch (+/-) diameter bullseye which puts me center in the bull. Works good enough for me out to a hundred yards or so.

And before I start catching any flak, worked for my Gold Cup .45 ACP. Yeah, I did own an autoloader.

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Old October 12, 2012, 05:12 PM   #3
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With an adjustable sight... pick the style sight picture you want to use and adjust the sights to hit when holding that sight picture.

I prefer center hold. (the one in the center)

6 o'clock hold is popular for some, depending on their shooting technique. (first picture)

Never known anyone to use the last style though.

Use a gun rest, or rest your forearms and hands on the shooting bench when aiming to help steady your aim when working on adjusting your sights.
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Old October 12, 2012, 06:08 PM   #4
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The problem with 6 o'clock hold is that point of impact, by intent, is not point of aim. So if you set your sights to hit the center of a 6" bullseye at 25 yards, if you switch to a 4" or 8" bullseye your sights will be off. Switch to a 2" bullseye and if you aim perfectly, your point of impact will be 1 inch above the bullseye.

6 o'clock hold is what I was taught, and what generations of shooters were taught. But we were taught when most recreational shooting was target shooting, using targets of constant size at known distances. Hunters didn't zero their deer rifles to aim 3 inches below the intended point of impact -- scoped or open sights, hunting rifles have always been zeroed for POA=POI.

What changed for handguns is the increased freedom to carry for self-defense, and the rise of "practical" shooting competition. We may not be shooting at a target with a constant-size bullseye at exactly 25 yards, so the traditional 6 o'clock hold doesn't work as well. So more and more people are switching (or have never known anything except) center hold.

In fact, from what I've been told by manufacturers, both picture 2 (the one in the center) and picture 3 (on the right) are the same. Supposedly, white dot sights are set up so that aligning the tops of the front and rear sights and placing on the intended point of impact is the same as aligning the three dots and covering the intended point of impact with the front dot.
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Old October 12, 2012, 07:05 PM   #5
Frank Ettin
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I prefer center hold as well. And when I had some sight work done on a number of my 1911s (in .45 ACP), I had the gunsmith, John Harrison, regulate the sights for POA = POI at 25 yards with standard pressure, 230 grain ammunition.

With that zero for self defense applications I can shoot point blank from contact to about 35 yards (with POI within an inch or two of POA for that entire distance).
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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Old October 12, 2012, 07:07 PM   #6
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One Question

Is this pistol for personal defense or target work?
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Old October 12, 2012, 07:28 PM   #7
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With an adjustable sight... pick the style sight picture you want to use and adjust the sights to hit when holding that sight picture.
This. Consistancy WINS.

Is this pistol for personal defense or target work?
Does not matter. Use one sight picture, always. He who hesitates is lost.

I'm an old school rifle guy, and learned to line up the sights like in the second pic, "center hold". Back in nineteenseventywhatever, in hunter ed, I remember the first pic being called "punkin' on a post"... nad was supposed to be faster for pistol shooting.... but when I tried it when I started shooting pistols, I consistantly shot low, and slower..... I got center hits quicker by using the same instincts I had long cultivated shooting rifles.

The third pic, with the dots (night sights) .... tritium night sights are a relatively new thing, and "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" without a lot of RTR.... if it's that dark, I'll be good to even SEE my target, let alone be worried about fine accuracy.
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Old October 12, 2012, 10:42 PM   #8
James K
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AFAIK, S&W sights their guns for a center hold at 25 yards with standard ammo (for .45 ACP that is 230 gr FMJ). In other words at 25 yards, the bullet will strike right on top of the front sight when the top of the front sight is even with the top of the rear sight. The "6 o'clock" hold is for bullseye target shooting, not for a defense gun.

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Old October 13, 2012, 03:23 AM   #9
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For several generations both S&W and Colt regulated their fixed sight guns for a 6 o'clock hold at 25 yards with standard weight loads. Meaning a 158 gr. bullet for the 38/357, 246 gr. for the 44, 230 for the 45 acp and 255 or so for the 45 Colt. That may have changed some in the last decade or so but in general it holds true.

The reason for this is that this was the standard hold for military and police bullseye shooting and practice for decades. The revolvers and semis used for generations of service were sighted in at these distances and for the six o'clock hold. This meant that for a well trained shooter taking a deliberate aim with known and select ammo the gun shot 2-3 inches above the point of aim at 25 yards.

Both the military and law enforcement found that this also worked in combat situations. It worked, and still does, because in a fight we are trained to shoot at center of mass and not to produce a 2" group at 15 or 25 yards. Also because if the trained shooter has the opportunity and time to take a well aimed sight on a target in a fight they can surely compensate for the difference in point of impact if it matters.

With adjustable sights set it to your preference. Most shooters won't much know the difference. Load to load may make more of a difference at 15 or 20 yards. It won't matter at all at 7.

Also it's been my experience that with hunting rifles I surely do set my sights from 2-3 inches high at 100 yards. This usually means that at 200 or 300 yards I'll be shooting point of aim point of impact. But due to bullet rise at 100 yards the bullet will hit high. But the shooter knows this and can adjust the bullet placement on closer game.

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Old October 13, 2012, 06:46 AM   #10
Misssissippi Dave
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The first one is a 6 o'clock hold on the black of a bullseye target. The second one is point of aim and the last is considered a combact sight.
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Old October 13, 2012, 07:24 AM   #11
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I prefer the center hold of the middle one. I've tried both a 6 o'clock hold and the center hold and the center hold seems more consistent to me. I suggest you try both methods and see which works best for you.

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Old October 13, 2012, 01:33 PM   #12
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I want to hit what I am aiming at, ergo the center hold.

I don't care what they say about the combat sight thing (or the 6 hold).

The combat hold covers up what you want to shoot and that is not good.

I think its like all things. If you train one way you think its normal, but it may not be what really works best.
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Old October 14, 2012, 12:25 AM   #13
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I think of the last one as a night sight hold.

In the dark, all you can see is the dots... so you hold the dot on top of the target area.
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Old October 15, 2012, 02:59 PM   #14
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For several generations both S&W and Colt regulated their fixed sight guns for a 6 o'clock hold at 25 yards with standard weight loads
6:00 hold on what size target? 6:00 doesn't work unless the load, distance, and target size are known in advance; that is, you can't use it as a general method of sight-in or aligment, as 6:00 will differ with distance and target size.
You can come up with a reasonable point-blank range, but that again depends on the size of your target. If you are shooting at a paper plate, you can probably adjust your sights to that you can hit the plate by aiming at the center of it, from any distance out to 100 yards. If your target is a match box, then your point blank range, with a center hold, might be no more than twenty yards (if you can clearly see a match box at twenty yards!).
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