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Old September 10, 2012, 11:32 PM   #1
SerenityNetworks
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Kahr CW40 Shooting Low

I have a new CW40 that I took to the range for the first time today. It shoots VERY low, as in a good six inches at 15 yards. The shots are consistently grouped straight at six o'clock. I don't think I'm relaxing or breaking/dropping my wrist. I don't have the same issue with my .25 or .22. I didn't have the opportunity to have a more experienced shooter give it a try.

Assuming the sights are the issue, how can I adjust for elevation? Do I pull the front sight and trim a little at a time off the bottom? (New sights are not a option for a little while yet.)

BTW, other than the sights, I have no significant issue with the pistol. The trigger pull is very long, but also very consistent. I wish it broke a little sooner, but its no big issue. I've read about reliability issues with Kahrs in the first 200 rounds, but I went 40 for 40 without a hiccup.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew

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Old September 10, 2012, 11:38 PM   #2
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It shoots VERY low, as in a good six inches at 15 yards
What size groups are you getting at that distance?

If you are certain it's the sights, then you'd need to shorten the front sight by about 1.4mm to raise the point of impact 6" at 15 yards. Taking it off the bottom of the sight would be difficult, in my opinion--it would need to come off the top.
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Old September 11, 2012, 12:28 AM   #3
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Shoot it off bags first before you file anything. Might be recoil anticipation.
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Old September 11, 2012, 02:48 AM   #4
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I agree with trying to shoot off bags first. Also, if you can, have someone else shoot the pistol and see if they have the same result.
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Old September 11, 2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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Yes, certainly I will verify this by using bags, having a more experienced shooter try it, or both. I had intended to test using bags, but I accidentally left them at home.

I'm shooting ~3" groups, not counting known strays (which are usually down and to the right). I'm still a beginner. I'll usually booger 1 shot (and sometimes 2) in each 6 shot group. But I am getting awareness, as I know as soon as the gun fires that the shot will be off and usually where it will land.

Thanks guys. Rather than mess with trying to modify the front sight, I'll just aim high until I can afford new sights.

Thanks again,
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Old September 11, 2012, 10:34 PM   #6
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With that gun, at 15 yards, honest 3" groups would be decent enough that I would suspect the sights more than the shooter. The comment about fliers is troublesome though, especially since they're low. That suggests anticipation of recoil which often results in low shots.

If you get to the point that you're shooting 5 shot groups that are 2-3" at 15 yards with no fliers and the groups are still low that would be pretty definitive evidence against the sights. Even in that case, I'd still shoot it from a rest before messing with the sights.
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Old September 11, 2012, 11:57 PM   #7
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Well, I was speaking to my gunsmith today about the issue and the cost of after-market sights. After some discussion he asked about my "sighting method". After some additional discussion to understand what he was asking, I could reply "pumpkin on a post" (at least that's what they called it in Boy Scouts many years ago). He knew exactly what I meant (see illustration) and said that is why I was shooting low; that the sights on this particular pistol were designed to be "on the target" (versus a rifle with iron sights at 100 yards.) Yes, I can visualize where placing the front sight 'on' the target would raise my barrel just a little bit - perhaps even ~4 inches at 15 yards. Anyway, that will be my next test and we'll see what happens. I'll be sure to post back. (And for sure I'll still try it with bags if for no other reason than to get a better idea of what the pistol is capable of doing.)

He also said a three inch group "wasn't bad" for this pistol at 15 yards. I was pleased to hear that. I really don't know what's good, bad, or indifferent.

The Caswell chart at the range shows five o'clock fliers as "squeezing whole hand with trigger pull", which I can certainly see myself doing in anticipation of recoil. I've only shot the 40 rounds and am still trying to find a 'comfortable' grip on this skinny little thing. The only 40+ pistols I've shot are a Thompson single shot .44 mag, a Ruger .44 mag revolver, a Glock 10mm, and an unknown make 1911 .45. All had much bigger grips and were very comfortable to shoot. I have small bony hands and this little thing really jabs (versus the comfortable 'push' with the bigger grips). It doesn't 'hurt', but it's not comfortable either. I'm hoping some trigger time will have me finding a grip that is both consistent and reasonably comfortable.

Anyway, thanks again for all the great input,
Andrew

PS. The Caswell chart seems to be a great diagnostic tool, showing the common causes of fliers for both right and left hand shooters. They have at the bottom of the chart to get permission (and pay $1) to reproduce the chart. As I haven't done that (yet), I didn't want to post it here. But if anyone is interested in a copy, they give their phone number as 612-379-2000.


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Old September 12, 2012, 12:15 AM   #8
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He knew exactly what I meant (see illustration) and said that is why I was shooting low; that the sights on this particular pistol were designed to be "on the target" (versus a rifle with iron sights at 100 yards.)
Yeah, I've heard this before about different brands, however it does not match with my experience shooting various autopistols.

In my experience, most fixed sighted autopistols are set up for a combat hold (bullet impacts right on top of the front sight) at about 5 yards which roughly equates to putting the bullets in the middle of a 3" bull at 15 yards with a 6 O'Clock hold and in the middle of a 6" bull with a 6 O'Clock hold at 25 yards.

The same setup will put the bullets behind the front sight (below the top of the front sight) at closer ranges than 5 yards due to the fact that the bore is lower than the sights.

The sights are aligned such that the bullet is aimed slightly upward so that it intersects the line of the sights at about 5 yards.

My Kahr CW9 centers its groups on a 3" bull at 15 yards using a 6 O'Clock hold and puts them about an inch and a half high of center on an 8" bull at 25 yards using a 6 O'Clock hold.
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Old September 12, 2012, 10:07 AM   #9
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John, I had to read your post a couple of times to let the geometry sink into my brain. I may read it another time or two :-) Thank you for the education. Still a question from this pistol noob, just to make sure I'm understanding correctly: Is the "6 o'clock hold" what I'm calling "pumpkin on a post"?

This pistol does provide a 'combat' / quick-acquisition mechanism on the sights. It is in the form of two bright white dots. One is on the rear site and one is on the front site. You put the front sight dot on top of the rear sight dot and fire. This also shoots low, but I'm wondering if this might be by design. Understanding that in most SD situations it has been found that most people shoot high, which is why targets and advice is now to shoot 'center-of-mass' and not 'heart', the 4" high might be deliberate. Of course, this is total speculation. Maybe I should write Kahr.

But how I'm shooting in this circumstance is more 'precision'. That is, I'm taking time to get a good sight picture for the first shot and then taking 3 to 5 seconds (or more if needed) between shots. I'm not using the 'white dots' to sight (which are quite obviously not exactly centered), but instead aligning the sight posts.

Anyway, tonight when I get home, I'll try to take a picture of the sights and post the image here. That might help the analysis.

Thanks again,
Andrew
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Old September 12, 2012, 01:52 PM   #10
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Might also be the load. Light rounds 150 gr .40 will strike lower than the 180 gn loads in a short barrel. Have you tried different weight rounds?
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Old September 12, 2012, 01:54 PM   #11
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Right, 6 O'Clock hold is sometimes called target hold and can accurately be described as the "pumpkin on a post" hold. At the range for which the gun is sighted, bullets will land half the diameter of the appropriate bullseye above the front sight. It's called the 6 O'Clock hold because the sights are aligned on the bullseye as if it were a clock with the top of the front sight on the 6 O'Clock position.

"Combat Hold" sometimes called the point of impact hold or hunting hold will place the bullets on target as if they are resting on the top of the front sight at the trigger break at the range for which the gun is sighted. However, you can find other definitions of "combat hold".

Clearly, it's possible for a single gun to shoot as if it's sighted for a bullseye/6 O'Clock hold at longer distances, as if it's sighted for a combat hold/point of impact hold at medium distances and for it to place the bullets behind the front sight at very close distances. This causes a lot of confusion. I've gotten in arguments on other forums with people who are adamant that their Brand X pistol is designed to put the bullets behind the front sight when the sights are aligned--only to find that they're shooting their groups at very close ranges, and/or yanking the trigger when they shoot.

However, 6" below the top of the front sight at 15 yards with the sights properly aligned is certainly shooting low, by any definition. If it's truly an issue with the sights, it will be much worse at longer distances and the gun will be closest to being on target right at the muzzle with the bullet traveling in a line that's misaligned downward from the line of sight from that point onward.

Normally pistol sights are aligned to aim the bore very slightly upwards. The bullet starts out below the line of sight (since the bore is below the sights) rises to the line of the sights at about 5 yards, is an inch or two over the sights at 15 yards, and 3 or 4 inches over the sights at 25 yards. If we continued to longer distances, the bullet would continue to impact higher and higher above front sight until gravity took over (this would happen beyond typical pistol ranges) and started to pull it back down.

As you point out, the white dots are not perfectly aligned when the sights are properly aligned. This is fairly common in pistols with 3 dot sights and is, in my opinion, a reflection of the fact that the white dots are generally thought of as providing low light capability, or are to be used for very close or very fast shooting. The 3 dot sighting arrangement, when using only the dots, isn't ideal for precision shooting anyway, for a number of reasons, so I think there's no significant effort made to insure that when the dots are aligned precisely the sights are also properly and precisely aligned.

There's one other little wrinkle, and that is that different loads can shoot to differing point of aim. That shouldn't be a major factor, but it could be that a number of issues are aligning to put the bullets lower on the target than you expect. However, load differences should not make a 6" difference in point of impact at 15 yards with an autopistol.
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...aligning the sight posts.
That's the way to do it.
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Old September 12, 2012, 02:56 PM   #12
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Wow! Thank you for all the great information! I can't wait to get back to the range and try out these scenarios.

I'll post back as soon as I do, but unfortunately I may not get to shoot again until next week.

Thanks again,
Andrew

PS. BTW, all I've shot through this pistol are the 40 bullets. I will need to look. I don't recall if they are 165 or 180 grain. I think they are 165, but I'm having a brain cramp right now and I wouldn't bet on it.
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Old September 14, 2012, 11:55 AM   #13
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Well shoot; it is me - at least the most of the issue.

The sights DO seem to be configured to place the sight over the target. If I have the target sitting on top of the sight then the POI will be low. When I place the pistol on a bag and place the sight over the target then it shoots about 1" low at 15 yards. If I don't use the bag then it shoots about 6" low and to the right (about 5 o'clock). So the problem is definitely me.

But I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I have a clear sight picture right up until the bang. When I have a stray, which is still usually 1 or 2 in 6 shots, then I know it will be a stray, because I see it in my sight picture when it goes bang - I know I triggered badly, flinched, or simply moved off target.

Not knowing what I'm doing wrong, I have no idea how to go about fixing it. I don't have any experienced pistol buddies from whom I can solicit advice. The pistol range here is very commercially oriented and I'd have to pay for training. That is not in the budget right now. I'd appreciate any direction on how to diagnose the problem and fix it on my own.

Thanks again,
Andrew

PS. Just FYI, I don't have this problem with my Ruger 22/45 Mark III. Nor do I have the problem with large caliber pistols in full size. The issue seems to be specific to this pistol
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Old September 14, 2012, 07:57 PM   #14
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If it's going low when you shoot offhand but more or less on target when you shoot from the rest, what's happening is that you're anticipating recoil/flinching. It can be surprising to see how consistent a flinch can be.

Flinching can be the result of recoil/muzzle blast, or it can simply mean that you're having trouble getting use to a particular trigger design/style.

One good test for flinching is to ask yourself whether or not you're actually seeing the flash from the muzzle for every shot when the gun fires. If you're not seeing it consistently then you're blinking BEFORE the gun goes off, and you're almost certainly flinching too--even if only slightly.

The solution is to dryfire the gun so you can watch to see how the gun is moving as you pull the trigger. Then dryfire some more until you can pull the trigger consistently without moving the sights at all.

Get some dummy cartridges/snapcaps and load them into your magazines randomly before you go to the range and then shuffle your magazines. Occasionally, at the range, you'll get a misfire due to having a dummy/snapcap chambered instead of a live round and that will let you see how the gun is moving when you pull the trigger.

I don't think anyone ever completely beats the flinch and never has to worry about it again. I know after decades of shooting, I still occasionally find myself missing and realize I'm yanking the trigger.

It's possible that the same basic things are happening with the larger guns but that the effect is not as pronounced. Small guns have a way of amplifying any existing issues.
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Old September 14, 2012, 09:59 PM   #15
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Thank you John! Excellent suggestions!

I certainly had never thought of that use for snap caps. I'm going to start doing that will all my guns; even with my rifles. If it is a small clip then I'll just ask someone else to load it for me.

I can't say about the muzzle blast. I don't know that I notice it because it's like a grandfather clock that you just don't hear any more or if I'm blinking. I've been more concentrated on moving my focus from the front sight to the target; to see if I hit where I thought I would. I will certainly watch for the flash next time I shoot.

And yes, I do dry fire a fair amount (two or three times a week). I can't get to the range as much as I would like, but I can dry fire. I invested in a LaserLyte and use it often. I like it for several reasons. One is that the flash lasts just long enough that if I don't hold the gun steady after the trigger pull then I see the wiggle in the beam.

Thanks again,
Andrew
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Old September 17, 2012, 10:52 PM   #16
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Thank you John for the suggestion of watching for the muzzle blast. Today, I went to qualify for my CHL. From my experiences earlier, I figured I could pass even if I had to make adjustments while qualifying.

On my first shot I aimed high and to the left, splitting the difference between what I had been shooting and where I wanted to be. I concentrated on watching for the muzzle flash. I saw it. I immediately realized that I had not been seeing it before. The shot also landed where it was supposed to land. (Whoohoo!). After that, I aimed where I wanted to hit and concentrated on looking for the muzzle flash. There were just a few times that I didn't see it and (as best as I could tell) the POI was low and to the right just as before (I was flinching).

It was interesting that by concentrating on looking for the flash, I was less conscious of my trigger pull and when it would break. I suppose that is what reduced my frequency of flinching. I also had fewer fliers as a result. I did note that although I kept my visual focus on the front sight, my concentration on it was reduced and my group spread out a bit. But it wasn't bad and I will certainly improve now that I know what's going on.

I've never considered myself as recoil sensitive and had no idea I was flinching, especially since I was shooting very consistent groups. I would never have guessed that flinched shots could be consistent. Thank you so much for the suggestions. I would never have figured it out myself.

Thanks again,
Andrew

PS. I did qualify. I didn't realize I wouldn't be seeing my target again, so I didn't look really close. But I believe I had five fliers just outside the 5 point area and I don't believe I had any miss the body area. That's good enough for me, especially since I was learning as I was shooting. Now it's just finish up my application and practice, practice, practice.
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Old September 19, 2012, 12:22 AM   #17
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Glad I could help!

You don't have to be recoil sensitive to flinch. I've seen shooters at the range flinching like crazy while shooting rimfire pistols.

The human reflex system really, really hates the idea of something making a loud noise, bright flash and jumping around right in front of the face. It tries to protect the face and eyes by blinking and flinching. It can be very difficult to convince those reflexes to calm down and let you shoot. One method is by concentrating on the various aspects of recoil as if they are actually of interest. Watching for the flash is one technique, trying to track the front sight as it moves in recoil is another approach.

I still have to work on it after decades of shooting pistols.
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:49 AM   #18
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It can be very difficult to convince those reflexes to calm down.. One method is by concentrating on the various aspects of recoil as if they are actually of interest. ...trying to track the front sight as it moves in recoil...
Thanks yet again. As I mentioned, my groups widened as I concentrated on looking for the muzzle flash. I'll try tracking the front sight instead. In that way my sighting will keep proper focus on the front sight. It might bring my groups back together.

Thanks again,
Andrew
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