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Old January 7, 2017, 11:10 PM   #1
Driftwood Johnson
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Do you adjust your rear sight?

Howdy

I am asking this question in response to the recent post where somebody was asking for advice about cowboy action revolvers.

The answers were the normal answers where some guys prefer the more traditional fixed sight type single actions, and others were in favor of single actions such as the Ruger Blackhawk because of the adjustable sights.

And that got me to thinking............

I have revolvers of every type you can think of. Antiques, modern, single action, double action, Top Breaks, Tip Ups, everything under the sun. I probably have more revolvers with fixed sights than adjustable, but I have a slew of Blackhawks and S&W and even a few Colts with adjustable rear sights.

But when I stopped to think about it, I realized I never actually adjust the rear sight on an adjustable sighted revolver. Maybe once when I take it to the range for the first time, but after that I never bother to adjust the rear sight.

I shoot both commercial and handloads in all my revolvers (well, maybe not in the Tip Ups). With my handloads I am most definitely not forever searching for the perfect load, or making up different loads for different applications. I usually settle on one load, and then turn out a bazillion of them. Even so, shooting both commercial and handloads I never adjust the rear sight on a revolver. I don't even bring a screwdriver with me to the range unless it is the first outing for a recently acquired adjustable sighted revolver. I will confess that most of my adjustable sighted revolvers have the sight pushed over a little bit to the right, because I tend to push my shots to the left, and adjusting the rear sight is easier than perfecting my trigger technique. But once it's set, I never touch it again.

I am a great believer in Kentucky Windage, and whatever the equivalent is for elevation. If I am plinking at tin cans at the 25 yard berm, I just adjust my hold so I can hit the cans, rather than adjusting the sights.

So fess up.

Do you really take advantage of that adjustable rear sight, or are you like me and never actually adjust it. Yeah, it's a nice option, but I am so used to shooting fixed sights that I don't even consider an adjustable sighted revolver to be have an advantage.

Thanks for thinking about it.
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Old January 7, 2017, 11:43 PM   #2
ratshooter
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What a good question. And no, I do not make many adjustments to my adjustable sighted handguns. Once I have a generic setting made I pretty much leave it alone. I do the same thing with open sights on my rifles. I set them for one load and unless they are just way off on the point of impact they are not adjusted.

Using loads that are very close in range of standard loads in each caliber helps. Sticking with 140 to 158gr bullets in 38 and 357 for example and 170gr bullets in a 30-30 will shoot close enough for my uses. With a 22 rifle of handgun there is so little recoil that the sights don't have to be touched. As long as you aren't all over the map on bullet weights this works.
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Old January 8, 2017, 01:25 AM   #3
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If I have an adjustable rear sight, I'll use it. I can do Kentucky windage, but that varies for every gun. My intention is to hit what I'm aiming at, and that's always easier when you can aim AT what you want to hit.
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Old January 8, 2017, 03:57 AM   #4
shootniron
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Quote:
Do you really take advantage of that adjustable rear sight,
Yes, I do, I get it hitting where I want it to...and leave it alone. Take advantage of the gun having had that feature, every subsequent shot that I fire with it.
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Old January 8, 2017, 06:20 AM   #5
PzGren
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Most every used handgun I have ever bought - and I have bought a lot! - that had adjustable sights was way off and had to be sighted in properly. After that I barely ever have to adjust anything.

I recently sighted in an Arminíus / Weihrauch revolver for a friend at 25 yards. It was shooting way left and the rear sight was over on the left side. In general when I get a gun to sight in I adjust the sights to the middle before I even shoot it and waste ammo.
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Old January 8, 2017, 06:35 AM   #6
Pathfinder45
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I started with a convertible 45 Blackhawk about 40 years ago. Once the rear sight is adjusted, you shouldn't have to readjust unless changing ammo to a significantly different weight bullet. Shortly afterwards, I aquired a bag full of rusty revolver parts that happened to be a dismantled Colt SAA 45 Colt with standard fixed sights and 4-5/8" barrel, 1902 vintage. I paid a gunsmith to put it in working condition and I got hooked on fixed sights for single action revolvers. Driftwood, you have far more revolver experience than I do. I have a lot of experience with 45 Colt over the years in a grand total of only 4 firearms in that caliber. My experiences are valid, but very limited. I like the rear sight-notch of the Vaquero just the way it is and made all my adjustments to the front sight only. For the folks that want to switch back and forth between 200 grain and 300 grain bullets, adjustable sights are virtually mandatory. if you keep all bullet weights the same, fixed sights can work very well. If you occasional switch weights within a narrower range, say 225 to 255 grains, you can file that front sight to a pretty happy medium that won't be too far off for some but be just right for the favored weight. The front sight on a typical fixed sight revolver is usually difficult to make out consistently in varying light angles unless the sight is filed for shape and height and then painted. I favor flourescent paint with a topcoat of clear nail-polish for good wear resistance. I'm not sure if that's allowed in the cowboy shooting games, but it works for me. Others may have experiences that are contrary to mine, yet possibly just as valid. I have no idea, for instance, if my findings would hold true if I were to switch to a 357 magnum.
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Old January 8, 2017, 07:07 AM   #7
darkgael
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sights

Yes, I do adjust sights when it is necessary and possible. I shoot a lot of Bullseye matches both indoor and outdoor. Indoor matches are at 50 feet with a ten ring about the size of a dime and outdoor slow fire is at 50 yards with a 10 ring three inches wide. Same guns used at both - a 1911 and a .22.
Kentucky windage ain't gonna give me good scores.
I have a Roger Vaquero in 45 Colt. Can't adjust the sights on that one. I adjusted the load. Found a load that shoots dead on the sights at 25 yards. The same thing is true of my S&W Model 10.
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:12 AM   #8
treg
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I do. I want each pistol in my rotation to utilize a comfortable, natural grip and hit POA.
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:25 AM   #9
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I use the adjustables for windage. The elevation is the real question, I think. I would rather adjust the sights than search around, using up bullets, trying to find just the right weight. On the open sight guns, I can usually adjust my target hold pretty quickly. I don't look for absolute precision, since I always shoot free standing at 50 feet with that unsteadiness of advancing age.
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:36 AM   #10
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Maybe it's just good luck, but my handguns that have adjustable sights only needed a centering on the slide.
After that they shoot straight enough for my needs.
But then I've also worked at having good trigger technique.
For the guns without adjustable sights, center the sight and a slight change in hold for elevation for ammo if needbe seems good enough.
But then I'm not shooting for precision and wouldn't win any Bullseye competitions.
More interest in the action games and self defense practice.
Less need for trying to put all the holes in the exact same place.
Different strokes for different folks.
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:44 AM   #11
chuckscap
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Adjust them once for the load I chose, then leave them be. I recently changed from 230g Golden Saber 45 Super handloads up to Buffalo Bore 255 hardcast for my V16. They were almost dead on, adjusted them, don't plan to touch them again for along time.
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:46 AM   #12
chuckscap
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I adjust them once for the load I choose, then leave them be. I recently changed from 230g Golden Saber 45 Super handloads(which I've been shooting for many years) to Buffalo Bore 255 hardcast 45 Super ammo for my V16. They were almost dead on, adjusted them, don't plan to touch them again for along time. I do practice with standard 230g 45 ACP hardball, but the point of impact is so close (hardball shoots 1/2" higher) that it's fine for practice.
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:54 AM   #13
Brian48
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If my gun has an adjustable sight, I use it.
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Old January 8, 2017, 10:48 AM   #14
buck460XVR
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Quote:
Do you really take advantage of that adjustable rear sight,
Kinda the whole idea behind an adjustable sight is to(wait for it)........ adjust it.

I don't view my adjustable sighted handguns any differently than my long guns with adjustable sights or scopes. Once I find ammo, or a particular load I like for a firearm, I adjust the sights till the POI matches the POA at the distance I desire and then forget it until or unless I drastically change my ammo or load choice. I've yet to ever buy any adjustable sight firearm(handgun or longgun) that shot to POA right out of the box. My fixed sighted handguns are viewed similar to my shotguns. Point and shoot or look down the barrel and use Kentucky windage. IMHO, I see no legitimate reason not to adjust the rear sight so POI matches POA, if the firearm has that option.
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Old January 8, 2017, 11:39 AM   #15
Driftwood Johnson
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Howdy Again

I guess I should have been a little bit more precise in my original question.

Do you adjust the rear sight, after an initial sighting in?

Thanks
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Old January 8, 2017, 01:29 PM   #16
MrBorland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driftwood Johnson
Do you adjust the rear sight, after an initial sighting in?
Rarely (after the initial sight-in, I may tweak it a click or 2 on occasion).

I do, however, have different guns (and sight settings) for different purposes: My runNgun revolvers, for instance, are set for a center-hold, whereas my 6" target revolvers are set for a 6 o'clock hold.

When I "target shoot" with a runNgun wheel gun, I'll use a formal target, but since I'm mainly interesting in working on trigger control here, I'm more interested in group size, and less about where on the target the group lands.
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Old January 8, 2017, 01:51 PM   #17
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I seem to be in the minority here. I have gone so far as to make sights adjustable so I can get the gun on target without having to hold to a different point. I fire a load I have found to be the most accurate load for me in my gun. If I need to change any part of that load then i have to adjust the sights to keep it on target. I don't change the sights for different distances. I sight my guns at a point blank rang where there is never more than one inch variation from point of aim. For my 357 that is 75 yards and my 3006 that is 174 yards. That allows me to shoot within my point blank range without thinking about where I should hold.
Once set, the sights do not need to be changed until I need to change the load. I only use my reloaded ammo in my guns no matter what the use is.
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:42 PM   #18
rodfac
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Damned good question....

My response varies by caliber: in .357 I do use the knobs since I shoot every thing from 125 JHP's at 1300 fps to 170 gr LSWCs at 750. It's not the elevation I object to, it's the windage...I hate holding off one side or the other.
In .45 Colt I have two fixed sighted guns, a '72 vintage Colt SAA with a 7-1/2" bbl that throws 255 gr RNFP's dead on for windage but about 4" high at 25 yds. I'm ok with that; but found that when I fitted a .45 ACP cylinder to it, that it shot to point of aim with home cast 230 gr RN's. Hallelujah! I tend to use the .45 Colt cylinder the most and just hold low depending on the range.

The other . 45 Colt is a Ruger New Vaquero and initially it shot 2" low and left. After I got the cylinder throats reamed, it was still the same with my standard load so I opened the rear sight notch by 0.015" on the right side and that cured the windage problem. I also filed the front sight down a bit to get POA/POI coincidence at 25 yds. A dab of cold blue and most people can't tell the sight was opened up. Too, it gave me a bit more daylight on either side of the front sight and made it easier to use.

.44 Magnum, 2 Rugers and a pair of Smith's, adj. and constantly tinkering with the sights for various loads.
.44 Special, 3 Ruger Flat Tops, all zeroed for one load and left alone. One Smith M24, adj. but I do adjust for various loads as I like to experiment with Jacketed and a variety of cast bullets.
.41 Magnum, Smith M57, adj. zeroed for one load and left alone.
.32-20, fixed sights with good windage..no worries.
.32 H&R Smith M16, adj. and zeroed with one load, never touched again.
.22 LR, Smith and Ruger, adj. zeroed and left alone.

HTH's Rod
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Old January 8, 2017, 09:59 PM   #19
Bob Wright
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For whatever its worth: About fifteen years ago I had cataract surgery. After recovering and getting new glasses, I had to re-adjust the sights on all of my guns.

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Old January 8, 2017, 10:01 PM   #20
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Interesting post Bob...I'm due to get mine done in a year or two...Rod
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Old January 8, 2017, 10:05 PM   #21
Bob Wright
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And, four clicks windage change:



Now, I don't have to remember, when shooting this gun, to hold 1 1/2" left of center. Now matter which gun I'm shooting, all have the same aiming point.

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Old January 9, 2017, 09:16 AM   #22
Real Gun
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Quote:
OP: I am so used to shooting fixed sights that I don't even consider an adjustable sighted revolver to be have an advantage.
Quote:
I guess I should have been a little bit more precise in my original question.

Do you adjust the rear sight, after an initial sighting in?
You moved the goal posts, because your original premise seemed to ask whether one would buy adjustable sights. I cannot personalize a gun without adjustable sights, and barring a change in load, no...I don't have to revisit the setting once dialed in.

The thing with fixed sights is that extreme precision is not intended, although becoming very familiar with a gun's peculiarities makes it possible to fire it with great accuracy.
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Old January 9, 2017, 09:31 AM   #23
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Windage should never change, so that's a one-time deal unless you are going to shoot all day in a constant wind.
I don't have many handguns with screw-adjustable sights, but I rarely change the adjustment after getting them to place the bullets right on top of the front sight at ten yards.
My targets are almost always large, 6"-8", and I rarely shoot at distances of more than 25 yards, so I rarely have to worry about elevation.
If I changed to a radically different load, then an adjustment might be necessary, but I've left sights alone for years and ten thousand or more rounds.
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Old January 9, 2017, 09:59 AM   #24
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Now that you mention it, I have never adjusted a handgun sight. Half of my handguns are not adjustable and the other half always have the poi right at the poa.

I did have one gun that I couldn't adjust that I would have liked to.
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Old January 9, 2017, 11:18 AM   #25
Driftwood Johnson
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Quote:
You moved the goal posts, because your original premise seemed to ask whether one would buy adjustable sights. I cannot personalize a gun without adjustable sights, and barring a change in load, no...I don't have to revisit the setting once dialed in.
Not really. I buy revolvers with adjustable sights as well as fixed sights. I just happen to own more that have fixed sights. But if I find a real classic Smith or Colt with adjustable sights, I will buy it.

Here is an example. A .22 Colt Officer's Model Target made in 1935. This revolver has a relatively unusual arrangement for adjusting the sights. The rear sight is only adjustable for windage by turning the screw either direction.






For elevation there is a screw in the base of the front sight that raises or lowers the blade.





What I was really trying to get at was whether folks take advantage of the adjustable sights and actually adjust them. I fine tuned the question because I realized that I will often adjust the rear sight for me the first time I take a revolver to the range. I mentioned that in the first post.

What it seems from the answers I have gotten is a few shooters readjust the sights regularly, to optimize performance with various loads, but most shooters seem to be like me. Adjust the sights once for the load they usually shoot, and then they don't touch the sights again.

For what it's worth, when I took that Colt to the range for the first time I did bring along a tiny screw driver to adjust the sights, but it turned out it shot right to point of aim for me, so I did not adjust the sights.




While we're on the subject. The standard adjustable sights on a Smith & Wesson revolver have been the way they are for a pretty long time. Since shortly before WWII IIRC. But if you have a really old one, you need to bring along a really tiny screw driver if you want to adjust the sights.

This M&P Target Model (the precurser to both the K-38 and the Model 14) was made around 1917. There are two adjustment screws for windage, you loosen the one on the side you want the sight to move to, then you tighten the other one, shoving the sight over. Then you snug up the first screw.





This K-38 from 1950 has the modern 'click adjustable' rear sight we are all familiar with. This style of rear sight has always come with a nice big, easy to adjust screw.

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