need info, have fixed sight handgun that is shooting low


December 25, 2004, 06:26 PM
excuse the length if excessive thought i should give the background first

Back around the start of November the wife and I decided to buy a Bersa Thunder 380 to use as a possible CCW gun (or to take the class with at least since the sights my SA 1911A1 WW2 GI ain't exactly easy to use when you've less than 20/20 vision) and therefore start shooting it to get used to it.

well the first two sessions with the gun were slightly rushed and were more along the lines of "yep it shoots, no real major, obvious mechanical hangups, etc" (first time shot, me as the only shooter, and this one was done at dusk with just enough light to see the shape of the targets btw) and to let the wife see how it fit her hand(s) and feel how it recoiled (second short session) neither time did we do any real worrying about groups or POI, since the focus of the session was elsewhere, the time slightly short, and the ammo used was NOT suitable for carry use. well that second time my wife DID notice that unlike with the 1911 (which untill the bersa showed up had had it's sights painted bright yellow to be easier to see) she was NOT hitting near where she aimed at all.

so about two weeks ago i went out and shot the pistol to see where it WAS hitting. results were that using 92gr S&B FMJs (cannot find FPS muzzle velocity info) from a distance of aprox. 15yards POI was over 6" below POA.. I do not know if this is the normal trajectory for a .380 (i am doubtful), and i can not remember what i should be looking for in the way of "ammo more suited for MY pistol"

so what is it ligther bullets, heavier ones, faster?? i want to do as much as i can to bring the POI and POA together through buying appropriate ammo, before i start thinking about tinkering with new sights.
in fact to be quite frank about it if it looks like i'll have to sink more than $70-80 in the thing to make it usable for the intended pourpose, i'll use it as a trade in on a SA loaded or similar 3-dot equipped 1911A1.

as always is so with my posts any and all input and advice is welcome and appreicated.

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December 25, 2004, 06:33 PM
I am not sure if you have any heavier bullet options. Using a 38 snub tho as an example ... 125's for instance often shoot low - whereas 158's .. a tad slower of course - will be closer to POA ... pretty much what the gun was designed for. The effect is due to amount of muzzle lift pre-bullet exit ... slower and heavier bullet will mean muzzle rises a tad more. - so POA closer to what is wanted.

With this .380 - not sure whether a heavier bullet available .. certainly can't remember one, and I only use your ammo in my Bersa. I forget exactly where it shoots, possibly tends low but - did not bother me as, thinking ''up close and personal'' ... it would not be a major problem.

Anyone else? heavier bullet ammo available?

Bill B.
December 26, 2004, 09:03 AM
This is just from personal experience and not with a .380 so keep that in mind .....

I don't think you will be able to raise the point of impact 6" by going to a heavier bullet. The Bersa has a rather small front sight so it going to be difficult to get it any lower which is what you need. On SA's it is quite common to have to cut off a 1/4 inch of a sight and then re-file for contour to get them to hit POA. When you don't have a 1/4 in. sight to begin with you are pretty much out of luck. A while back I traded a very nice M64 S&W 4" that shot perfect to POA to a mint very old M10 S&W 2" that I wanted because of the shorter barrel. I had the same issue you are having now. Even though I could go from 110 grain to 158 grain loads I simply could not correct the POA enough to keep the gun. I traded it and moved on .......... :( .

Mal H
December 26, 2004, 09:38 AM
Detritus - you don't mention what form of sighting in you did. Did you fire off-hand? use a hand rest? a pistol perch?

Honestly, if the pistol is shooting around 6" low at 15 yds (benched) and the pistol is going to be used solely as a CCW, I wouldn't worry about it in the least. Try it out at 5 to 7 yds and see what it does.

Old Fuff
December 26, 2004, 09:41 AM
If the gun is shooting low you can correct the POA/POI issue by either lowering the front sight or having a gunsmith install a higher rear one. In your case the front sight is too low to be cut down, but since the slide is dovetailed at the back it should not be difficult to install a higher sight at the back. You can also paint the sights if you want to.

If you deside to have a new, higher rear sight installed be sure to first determine the POA/POI of whatever ammunition you chose to use as your carry load. Also have your wife shoot the pistol to see if her results are the same as yours.

Numrich/The Parts Corporation ( offer an extensive line of relatively inexpensive sights that can be adapted to many guns.

I have "corrected" many pocket pistols using the above method and it isn't difficult at all. If you otherwise like the pistol I would have it fixed rather then sell or trade it off.

December 26, 2004, 05:54 PM
Why is everyone so sure that his front sight is too short to be filed down? It only needs to be filed down one ninetieth (1/90) of the sight radius, probably not even 1/16 of an inch, maybe less. I'd be measuring a bit before dumping the gun or getting into expensive solutions. I would also have a few people fire the gun before being sure that it is not a consistent operator error, as such things do occasionally occur.

December 26, 2004, 08:53 PM
Yes some more tinkering will be done before i do squat to this gun.

first two sessions were completely offhand, third (one where i checked POA against POI) first two mags were offhand and off the paper completely, rest of the session was done with my wrists/forarms rested on a 4x4 topped with a sandbag. this last position is where i was able to measure the difference in POI/POA.

don't know if my technique is worth warm spit, but this is the first pistol i've ever had that showed this particular symptom. ~shrug~

like i said i'll be shooting this gun a bit more before i make a call on it, but at this point if it requires very much to make it "acceptable" (a reduction to 3" low would work) it'll be traded in on something else (a 9mm 1911 or ruger P95 top that list)

keep it coming guys, i'm pretty much lost.

December 26, 2004, 09:44 PM
i tend to agree with old Fuff that you may be better off fixing the gun than trading it. You will ordinarily lose in a trade, because the dealer has to make money every time the gun changes hands, if he wants to be there next year. I assume you both must like something about the gun, since you had your hands on it, then bought it.

Your technique of resting your hands on a sandbag is probably approximately the best way to test the gun, at least initially. 15 yards at a NRA 50 foot bullseye target is a ways off. 6" isn't all that far off at that distance. You might want to try seven yards and see what you see. Also, if I understood correctly, this was intended to be your wife's only gun. If you paint a red or yellow dot on that front sight and remember that (with sights aligned) whatever that dot covers your gun hits, you may even find that the sights are already correct. Just a thought, and if your wife doesn't like it, forget it.

Shoot some more, make sure you like the group, THEN ponder sight adjustment. Feel free to check back here or e-mail before taking too many more steps.

Good luck!

December 26, 2004, 10:40 PM
15 yards at a NRA 50 foot bullseye target is a ways off. 6" isn't all that far off at that distance. You might want to try seven yards and see what you see.
have plans to do so this comming saturday if weather does not interfere.

Also, if I understood correctly, this was intended to be your wife's only gun.

not really, the thought was to get a smaller, lighter, pistol chambered in a round with milder recoil, with better sights than my "GI basic" style 1911. we both thought such a critter would be better suited for use in taking the CCW course.

she LIKES the .45 overall the only REAL objections she has are that the sights are two "minimal" for her to use effectively, unless I paint them and even then the improvement is marginal, and that right now she's still regaining strength in her arms, in the wake of orthoscopic surgery on her right shoulder and tripping in a parking lot and fracturing her left elbow. the strength is returning but I thought that a less "physically demanding" pistol (less weight and recoil) would improve her enjoyment of shooting. plus i'll be honest the Bersa reminds me of a PPK somewhat and at the price i couldn't resist the urge to try one. :D

so at this point i don't know where this is going to go really, the wife is reserving judgement till we find out what is needed to make this pistol, or if it's able TO be made, acceptable as a carry piece for her as well as a fun gun.
I'll fool with it some and do some more research, i.e. gonna see if i can have a chat with the lady that first set me to looking at a Bersa for this use and see what the maximum distance for the TX CCW course of fire is. see what Jane says HER bersa shoots like and in my mind at the max distance used "for score" or whatever it's called i want to be able to NOT have to aim WAY high to hit COM.

am i making sense or at least clarifying this a little bit, or simply muddying things up even more??

thanks for the input keep it coming..

December 29, 2004, 12:35 PM

December 29, 2004, 04:11 PM
All other things being equal, you have 3 choices to raise the point of impact of a bullet:

1. File down the front sight. This has been suggested but there isn't much to work with.

2. Use a heavier bullet. Light bullets shoot low. Heavy shoot high. The opposite of what you would think until you understand the physics. The only heavier bullet than the 92 gr. you've been shooting that I'm aware of is the Remington Golden Saber at 102 grs. Get some of these and see what happens. They are very good self defense rounds anyway, far superior to those S&B rounds. These may bring up your point of impact somewhat.

3. What you're left with is changing your sight picture to achieve the desired POI. This is easy to do, especially at an indoor range. Start real close, 10', focusing mainly on the front sight, shoot until you hit where you want to every time. Then move the target out to 15', repeat, then 20', and shoot until perfect. This is your desired range anyway. Practice will make you perfect. No need to practice beyond 20' or so with that gun.

December 29, 2004, 08:06 PM
Jeez-what is the big deal here? You need a taller rear sight not a new gun.Does the rest of the gun suit you? Then fix the sight.This should be treated as a fun to do- new gun - got to make it shoot for me- project.This is NOT a-it won't feed-or -it won't eject-or-the slide won't cycle-or-this could get me killed- problem.Stack up a number of thin strips of electrical tape over each side of the rear sight to find out how much taller it needs to be.Hey this is a good reason to shoot more.Good luck

January 6, 2005, 11:35 PM
Ok just to let folks you guys know how things went, past weekend i went a bought 100 rounds of readily available JHP ammo turned out to be 88gr (had a brain fart and thought i heard 98.. but that's for another story, since i found a half case of Portugese 174gr .303 on the same table :D ) , and a few silhouette targets to re-evaluate the Bersa.

after both I and more importantly my wife tried the gun at the specified distances (7,21 and 45 ft), as related by the CHL instructor we plan to use, the conclusion on both our parts is that i may have jumped the gun a bit. (happens, i'm a bit of a worrier :rolleyes: ) gun shoots well enough for use as a CCW. we just need more practice in where to aim for the various distances.

which i am seeing as a good ting since at the show where i found the ammo my lovely wife found herself a rather nice concealment purse! :D i'm so pround of her.

Old Fuff
January 7, 2005, 12:00 AM
Ya should know better then to take your wife to a gunshow ... :uhoh:

Who knows what might come of it ???? :evil: :D

January 7, 2005, 12:51 AM
Just play with the Bersa a few times and it will be alright Get some of the Rem 102GS for carry mine likes them real well.

Al Thompson
January 7, 2005, 09:14 AM
Sounds like things have changed for the better. Couple of things - try different brands/type of bullets before you make a final decision on the sights. I've witnessed some strange things with handguns and ammo they didn't like. Also - worry about POI/POA for your carry/duty ammo. Practice ammo is just for practice (and diiffernt bullets hit different places). ;)

January 7, 2005, 11:24 PM
Just a comment about ammo: I have carried a .380 PPK for almost ten
years. The two best factory loads I have used in it are Winchester Super X
85 gr. Silvertip hollowpoint, and Federal Premium 90 gr. Hydra-Shok JHP.

Both cartridges have performed flawlessly in my gun. I have never had a
failure to feed, extract or eject with either of those cartridges, and they are
both consistently accurate. And at 7 yards, POI is just about the same for

I guess my point is that if it were me, I would try a few more, and different
brands and types of ammunition before I started tinkering with the sights on
my pistol.

And that's my 2cents. Good Luck. :)

January 8, 2005, 09:49 AM
My Bersa shot point of aim out to 25 yards with anything we fed it.

Put another 200 rounds through it and let it break in.

Every woman that shot my Bersa tried to go home with it. :)

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