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Old March 23, 2013, 09:40 PM   #1
ZRTaylor
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What Should I Expect From Handgun Sights?

Friendly greetings denizens of the Firing Line. It is I, again, with yet another question.

When you're dealing with sights on a handgun, especially a model with changeable front sights and a bead (for instance classic three dot sight) how much of the accuracy is the sight and how much of it is the shooter? For instance I was firing a weapon today where the front post was too tall, resulting in a lot of off shots in terms of elevation. When the front sight was swapped for a shorter one the shots were still off, but in the opposite direction.

Is this a lesser of two evils situation? Is it better to knuckle down and learn to compensate and/or work with your weapon, or is this to be considered an issue with the weapon itself?
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Old March 23, 2013, 09:55 PM   #2
Wreck-n-Crew
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The rear sights were not adjustable?

To me if the rear sights were adjustable and it has changeable front sights, there should be no reason that it wouldn't sight in from an elevation adjustment on the rear.

What would make less since is that it would have removable, different sized front sights with no adjustable rear sights.

That would cream design flaw
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:11 PM   #3
JohnKSa
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Fixed sight handguns are typically sighted in pretty well at the factory, in my experience.

I have done some sight adjustments out past 15 yards to get a gun shooting a little closer to point of aim, but have only very rarely had to mess with fixed sights to get adequate point-of-aim/point-of-impact alignment at 15 yards or closer.

Fixed sighted guns can typically be adjusted for elevation by changing the front or rear sights for higher/lower versions. Usually windage is taken care of by drifting the front or rear sight to adjust. However, again, I've found that's rarely necessary.

If the front post is too tall, once the shooter has found a load or range of loads that work well in the gun, the sight can be slowly filed down until the gun is shooting to point of aim. A too-short front post needs to be built up or replaced.

Adjustable sight guns, in my experience, usually aren't sighted in as carefully. I guess the factory figures that since the sights are easily adjusted the buyer can take care of it after the purchase.
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Is it better to knuckle down and learn to compensate and/or work with your weapon, or is this to be considered an issue with the weapon itself?
Most handgun sights come fairly well regulated, to the point that usually the shooter is the limiting factor --many cannot put their rounds in one consistent spot (no matter where that spot is).

Is this your only pistol, and are you unable/unwilling to spend the money on replacement sights? If so, then make an allowance for that sight, and you are done.

If you are shooting something like a 1911 or an S&W revolver, a number of different-height front sights are available...otherwise, a file is a less refined but effective approach.

All of my pistols shoot approximately POI=POA (and by that I mean an inch or so) up to 25 yards, and that point, I am the limiting factor.
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Old March 24, 2013, 12:30 AM   #5
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Wreck: The weapon is a Sig 1911-22. It only has windage adjustment in the rear as far as I know.

John: What about a tri-dot style sight? I don't imagine filing down would do much good. I might just have to wait on sighting period because the recent rush on .22lr has made it nearly impossible for me to find a reliable source of any particular type.

orion: At 10 yards this weapon seemed to be shooting 2 inches low of center. After swapping the sights I was about .5 inches high at 10 yards. The problem is that one set of front sights puts me 2 inches low, the other .5 inches high. Ou to 25 yards is where I want to be, eventually.

roberg: Within 1 inch at 5 yards, within 2.5 inches at 10. Haven't tried anything out to 15 yet with this particular firearm. The weapon is a training tool for marksmanship and later for basic defensive handling, nothing more or less than that. As for skills and tools, depends on what you mean by fix. Right now I just want to troubleshoot. I'm trying to use CCI mini-mags in, as I mentioned before, a Sig 1911-22, and I was aware that grain and velocity were a factor, but not that big of one. I'm not out past 10 yards yet because I'm not confidant that there's anything to be gained by putting myself out to 25 when I can't yet get within 4" at 15. I'm simply trying to troubleshoot problems before they end up making my efforts to improve less effective.
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Old March 24, 2013, 01:12 PM   #6
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First try different bullet weights, assuming you are shooting 230 gr ball ammo and I could be way off on that but bear with me. Try a box of 200 gr and a box of 180 grain. Put the tall post on and if need be grind it off to make your chosen ammo shoot to point of aim at 25 yards. One of those three bullet weights will be closer to where you want to be and your gun will undoubtedly shoot each of them well but one of them will be a bit tighter than the rest. If it is reliable in your gun that is your ammo from now on for that gun.

Standard square notch and post is the most accurate sight, the 3 dot sight loses a wee bit on fine accuracy but is quicker to acquire for most people and for self defense and fast shooting exercises could be your chosen preference.

I prefer the target sights for hunting and make do with them for speed shooting but that is me.
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Old March 24, 2013, 01:32 PM   #7
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speed reading again, I saw 1911 and my mind said 45. Scratch 45 related content, the advice stays the same, standard vs high velocity bullets, under 36 gr bullets vs 40 and 60 grain bullets. The gun is going to like one of them better and you can make a tall sight shorter but you cannot stretch a short sight without messing around with a torch and a brazing rod.
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Old March 24, 2013, 08:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
What about a tri-dot style sight?
If the sights have markings on them, you're limited in how much you can modify them without ruining the markings.
Quote:
At 10 yards this weapon seemed to be shooting 2 inches low of center. After swapping the sights I was about .5 inches high at 10 yards. The problem is that one set of front sights puts me 2 inches low, the other .5 inches high. Ou to 25 yards is where I want to be, eventually.
Half an inch high at 10 yards is actually not bad at all. I would be happy with that kind of sight setup.

You have to understand that you won't be exactly on point of aim at all ranges, only for the specific range where you adjust the sights.

The sights are above the bore, and that means that the sight line and the bore line can't be aligned perfectly. For normal handgun ranges (out to 25 yards or so), the point of impact variance due to range is generally considered negligible.

Here's a post on the topic.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show....php?p=5250332
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Old March 26, 2013, 12:36 AM   #9
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Had this discussion a while back - still kinda unresolved

The weapon is always a lot more accurate than the shooter until proven otherwise.




These are your only variable - if the gun is benched and accurate then your job or your coaches job is to bring you the shooter up to speed on accuracy.

If you look at point B on the diagram B is an endpoint not a corner. If its a fixed sight gun or a sight adjusted gun and a good shooter can hit x s using a PROPER sight picture than you need to be able to do the same thing.

it's like fingernails on a chalkboard when i hear of people taking files to gun sights to compensate for their poor techniques. If your consistantly shooting one way or the other using different guns it you - change your technique.
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Old March 26, 2013, 11:48 AM   #10
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.357 took an ammo change and a touch of file to the left side of the rear sight to bring it to point of aim at 25 yards.

Took a lot of filing on the left notch of my 41 magnum to get the point of aim and point of impact at 25 yards to match. No such problem with 44 mag, 22 revolver or 45.

Took a touch of filing on my H&R 922 revolver to get the sights up and on target at 25 yards.

Nothing wrong with judicious use of a file to make your tool function properly for you. I can Kentucky windage with the best of them but when I am hunting and/or shooting for serious in a life and death situation I don't want to be mentally calculating range, '35 yards, point of aim for a heart shot should be 10" down and 12" right.' I want the bullet to go where the front sight is and I want my front sight on what I intend to shoot. Been doing it this way since 1964 when I bought my first gun and I don't think I will be changing my ways before I achieve room temperature.
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Old March 27, 2013, 03:02 PM   #11
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I'm curious..what do you guys think about the XS Big Dot?
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Old March 28, 2013, 12:56 AM   #12
ZRTaylor
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Grump: In a year or so I might be stepping up to a full caliber 1911. I'll write down your advice and keep it well in hand, thank you. My weapon is optimized for high velocity rounds, so that narrows it down. Once .22lr supplies return to normal I'll start experimenting with different grains. Thank you.

John: I was curious about the effect distance would have on sighting with a handgun versus a rifle, thank you for addressing that. I'll be a little less paranoid now.

sfmedic: After some thinking time I came to the same conclusion regarding, "the weapon is more accurate to the shooter until proven otherwise." It's good to hear it verified by someone else's experience. I'm in the process of finding both a good bench, and an instructor before I go too much further. Especially before I start jumping for modified or replacement sights. Thank you for the diagram. I learn visually, so having something to look at in regards to how sights work helps me get another angle on the concept.

Grump: I have a revolver that I've had to do some finagling with as well. With fixed sight firearms a little monkeying makes sense to me.
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Old April 1, 2013, 02:24 PM   #13
c.j.
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Wherever the sights are pointing, you should at least have a group somewhere, otherwise it's the shooter and not the sights.

This gets you to 'accuracy' and 'consistency'.

Usually, in my experience, firearms are consistent (i.e. if they aren't moved, they'll put repeated holes in just about the same spot), with some exceptions I've run into (primarily loose sights, and in one case, a bolt that had worked itself out and loosened the barrel).

If it can group a bunch of holes off to one side (or in your case, high/low), the shooter is doing their part and the sights need adjusting. If you have 20 shots all over the target but 4 or 5 seem to be a bit high/low, I'd suspect the shooter.
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Old April 1, 2013, 07:44 PM   #14
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In cases like this it's a good idea to either machine rest test the handgun, or if that isn't possible, at least bench rest it, or have it fired by a shooter of known skill.
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Old April 1, 2013, 08:15 PM   #15
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Sigshr is right!

I brought my new 1911 to the range. I had owned a 1911 before but this one was different than my last. My gun had a very crisp heavier trigger than the last one. It was shooting very low and left. I tried withy darndest to get proper squeeze, but to no avail. I took it home. Did some reading and asking around on these forums. And when I went back to the range, I had given myself plenty of dry fire practice and did my best not to flinch

Here check this out. It helped me a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKgAk...e_gdata_player

Cooper's the man. Using this advice and practicing very simple dry firing to checking down the sights when it went "click" I ended up with much more accurate landings and much tighter groupings.
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Old April 1, 2013, 09:01 PM   #16
Bob Wright
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sfmedic said: it's like fingernails on a chalkboard when i hear of people taking files to gun sights to compensate for their poor techniques. If your consistantly shooting one way or the other using different guns it you - change your technique.
I think I've been involved in a similar discussion before with you on this point. I routinely file my front sight if needed on all of my guns. I sight in usually at twenty five yards using my favorite load. I set my rear sight at about mid elevation then file the front blade until I'm centered. Touch up with cold blue and I'm set for the woods.

Different bullet weights impact at different points, usually lighter bullets, at higher velocities, impact lower. Heavier bullets, running a little slower, will strike higher on the target. Having my rear sight at about mid point alows me to raise or lower the rear sight as required.

You might recall that most Uberti single actions have a front sight that is too tall for most off-the-shelf ammunition, to allow filing down for the selected ammunition.

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Old April 1, 2013, 09:09 PM   #17
Bob Wright
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SIGSHR said: In cases like this it's a good idea to either machine rest test the handgun, or if that isn't possible, at least bench rest it, or have it fired by a shooter of known skill.
After any machine rest or bench rest shooting, sight in again using your own hold/stance. Recoil affects your point of impact, and rests often differ from hand-held shooting, as these rests restrain recoil.

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Old April 2, 2013, 10:04 PM   #18
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In bulls eye shooting we use a six o clock hold. This means that the bullet strike a 25 yards is actually in side the X ring (if I did everything right) at not at the point of aim.

Is it possible that your pistol was set up for this type of hold? I have found that some models of European manufacture come configured for this hold.
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