What do I use to sight in my rifles and pistols?


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Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 04:27 PM
I have several guns that I need to sight in.

What kind of rest or clamping doohickey should I get to put my guns in, to keep them totally stable while doing this operation?

Also, what can I use for a pistol? (an autoloader). This seems like it would be more tricky than a rifle.

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Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 04:35 PM
Don't use any clamp. While there are various devices for testing accuracy, they are not suitable for sighting in, because the point of impact changes when you go from a clamp, Ransome Rest or machine rest to hand held.

Use sandbags. For MOST rifles, you can rest the forearm of the rifle on the sandbag, and put a smaller, squishier sandbag under the butt. With your left hand (assuming you're right handed) squeeze or relax the butt bag to raise and lower the rilfe. For SOME rifles, such as the Winchester 94, you might get better results with the receiver resting on the sandbags.

For pistols, rest the WRISTS, not the gun on the sandbags. Once you have a nice group, BEFORE you touch the sights with a file, stand up and shoot from a strong weaver or isoceles position to confirm.

Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 04:37 PM
Where do you get sandbags?

Can I just pay a pro to do this stuff and sight in my guns for me? :evil:

longrifleman
March 21, 2005, 04:48 PM
Where do you get sandbags?

Most all larger sporting goods stores/catalog dealers sell some type of sandbag rests. If you are cheap like me, sweet talk your wife (or whatever) to sew up the legs from old jeans and fill them with plain old sand. I got mine from the local creek, but a small bucketfull from the lumber yard will do more rests than you will ever need. Did I mention I'm cheap?

Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 04:48 PM
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Where do you get sandbags?
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I cut the legs off old jeans when the knees wear out, and fill them with kitty litter, rice, tumbling media, sand or shot -- whatever's handy -- and stitch them closed. I like to put the "sand" in a plastic bag before sewing the jeans up, to prevent leakage.

Yes, you can pay someone to do it for you -- but what's the fun in that?

And, if you can't shoot well enough to zero your rifles and pistols, how can you shoot well enough to use them after they're zeroed? Use your ammo for double-duty, zeroing and learning to shoot.

Winters
March 21, 2005, 04:51 PM
For sand bags cut off the leg of a pair of jeans 18". Sew one end shut. Fill with sand or foam beads or used midea and wire the other end shut like the wire tie on a loaf of bread.

Winters

Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 04:51 PM
Maybe I'm a sucky shooter and a noob and just an all-around dumbass mkway? :neener:

I just don't want to amplify my already-crappy aim by having the sights be off, i.e. if I am aiming 1 inch high and my sights are 1 inch high, now I'm 2 inches off instead of 1... It helps to have the gun correctly sighted in whether you are a good shooter or not.

Also I'd rather buy stuff than make it, because I don't have much time as it is, and what little free time I do get, I'd rather spend shooting than sewing up old pairs of jeans or trying to find a source of sand in the city (maybe at the local playground? lol...)

Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 04:57 PM
You can buy sandbags from places like Midway -- but they're $$$$ and you still have to fill them (rice is fine.)

Don't worry about your sights at this stage of the game -- just shoot. As long as you're on the paper, you can see the quality of your shooting by the size of the group. Now, I may be a heretic, but I prefer to sight in a handgun without using sandbags. Just shoot a lot, and pretty soon it's obvious where the gun is hitting, and you can adjust from there.

GigaBuist
March 21, 2005, 05:07 PM
Can I just pay a pro to do this stuff and sight in my guns for me?

Heh... no, that won't work. Seems that everybody I shoot with lately (rifles) has a different take on how they look at the sights. Both guys were grouping just fine (both AK's designs actually) but they were just off center. When I picked 'em up, using my typical hold, I was putting 'em right down the middle of the target. Neither had been sighted in by the shooter... they were both new to them rifles... just so happens that they were dead on for me. Not for them though.

Odd.

bogie
March 21, 2005, 05:08 PM
Here's how to do it...

You may need a dental mirror to bore sight an automatic or a lever gun...

Remove the bolt (or whatever - you're an adult; figure it out), and look down the bore. No, from the REAR! You should see target centered in the bore. Now look through the scope. Dial the scope until the crosshairs are centered on the target, while ensuring that the target remains centered in the bore.

Okay. Quit looking down the bore, especially from the business end.

Put the bolt back in, or whatever.

Fire one shot at the center of the target. It helps to use a nice big target - say a small target on a large sheet of butcher paper.

Do you see a hole? If not, you screwed up bore sighting. You either need a larger piece of paper, to move closer to the target, or to pay more attention while boresighting.

Now for the hard part. Center the crosshairs on the bullseye, and now without letting the rifle move around a lot, dial on the scope until you move the crosshairs to the bullet hole.

Now, since you probably moved the rifle, fire another shot, hold it steady, and repeat the dial process. DO NOT MOVE THE RIFLE - MOVE THE CROSSHAIRS.

At best, you're on with one confirming shot (the one shot zero). Sometimes it takes a few.

Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 05:19 PM
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Heh... no, that won't work. Seems that everybody I shoot with lately (rifles) has a different take on how they look at the sights. Both guys were grouping just fine (both AK's designs actually) but they were just off center. When I picked 'em up, using my typical hold, I was putting 'em right down the middle of the target. Neither had been sighted in by the shooter... they were both new to them rifles... just so happens that they were dead on for me. Not for them though.

Odd.
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Not odd at all. Every few years some bean counter comes with the brilliant idea that Army rifles should be zeroed "by an expert at the factory" so that soldiers wouldn't have to zero their own rifles.

And someone shuts him up and restores sanity. YOU have to zero your own rifle -- someone else's zero won't necessarily work for you.

Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 05:22 PM
I can understand this kind of thing if you are talking about scopes, with their parallax adjustments for different people's eyes and stuff, but with iron sights? It seems to me like if everyone is trained to use the sights the same, a zero for one person SHOULD work for another person...

Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 05:42 PM
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I can understand this kind of thing if you are talking about scopes, with their parallax adjustments for different people's eyes and stuff, but with iron sights? It seems to me like if everyone is trained to use the sights the same, a zero for one person SHOULD work for another person...
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Parallax has nothing to do with the difference in eyes, it has to do with the focal distance at which the reticle is projected. Iron sights are MORE, not less likely, to vary with individual zeroes.

Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 05:45 PM
Parallax has nothing to do with the difference in eyes, it has to do with the focal distance at which the reticle is projected.

I think you are mistaken. I'm a noob to firearms but I have shot airguns quite a bit, and the parallax has to be adjusted for different shooters in my experience... People with contacts or eyeglasses just plain don't have success unless you adjust the scope for them. I could be wrong but I just know from shooting with a scope set up for someone else, there was parallax error for me wearing my glasses at the same distance where there was none for the owner of the gun for whom the scope had been set up.

I never had to use sandbags to sight in airguns because I shoot CO2-powered airguns, which have almost no recoil and you can just clamp them to a bench or other stationary object to sight them in.

Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 05:54 PM
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I think you are mistaken. I'm a noob to firearms but I have shot airguns quite a bit, and the parallax has to be adjusted for different shooters in my experience... People with contacts or eyeglasses just plain don't have success unless you adjust the scope for them. I could be wrong but I just know from shooting with a scope set up for someone else, there was parallax error for me wearing my glasses at the same distance where there was none for the owner of the gun for whom the scope had been set up.
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Airguns are an extreme case -- they are shot at very short distances, and in competition at very small targets. The parallax angle is therefore extreme. Simply shifting your head on the stock (sometimes called "spot weld") can make a difference.

However with firearms, parallax is not much of a problem and when it is, it's more a function of the range than of the individual shooter. Actual range experience shows that iron sights are much more variable than scopes from shooter to shooter.

Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 05:56 PM
Well I'll be damned.

I actually would rather use iron sights but some of my guns have CRAPPY ones. For example I wish I could put better iron sights on my Savage MKII .22LR rifle. The rear sight notch is WAY too wide and the front sight blade doesn't fill it up. Any ideas there?

Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 06:00 PM
Midway USA (www.midwayusa.com) sells replacement iron sights of all kinds. I personally would go with an aperture (peep) sight on a .22 if I wasn't going to scope it, but that's just me.

Standing Wolf
March 21, 2005, 07:18 PM
Can I just pay a pro to do this stuff and sight in my guns for me?

Sounds like you might be happier taking up television watching.

Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 07:23 PM
Sounds like you might be happier taking up television watching.

I already do watch TV, don't you? You should check it out, they have it in COLOR now! :rolleyes:

I guess if I don't do everything myself I'm not allowed to be a shooter. I better start learning how to smelt my own ore so I can make steel to build my guns... so I can get some respect around here... :cuss:

Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 07:31 PM
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I guess if I don't do everything myself I'm not allowed to be a shooter. I better start learning how to smelt my own ore so I can make steel to build my guns... so I can get some respect around here...
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I apologize for any offense anyone has given you. But you WOULD be better off to zero your guns yourself.

You can probably go to any range and ask someone else shooting to help you -- most shooters would be glad to assist.

Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 07:38 PM
Don't apologize, it's no big deal, if I can't take a little flack I shouldn't be here... You guys are very helpful and I gotta ask questions even if they are stupid sometimes. If that's the worst I have to put up with to get expert advice, it's a fair deal!

longrifleman
March 21, 2005, 07:46 PM
You guys are very helpful and I gotta ask questions even if they are stupid sometimes

Much better to ask a question than to actually DO something stupid and get someone hurt. Besides, there are probably other folks who are wondering the same thing and you saved them the embarassment of asking the question. :neener: I consider stupid questions a form of public service. :D

Vern Humphrey
March 21, 2005, 07:46 PM
In the Infantry School we had a saying, "The only stupid question is the one you don't ask."

Infidel
March 21, 2005, 07:48 PM
A person really should sight in his rifle(s) himself. As was mentioned, different people shooting the same rifle will have different impact points just because of the difference in the way they hold the gun, and differences in how the gun moves in the first fractions of a second after the hammer falls. It has nothing to do with sights or sight picture, but with the way the gun is constrained.

If you are testing the accuracy of the gun and/or load, then it's important to remove as much as possible of the shooter's influence with bench rests, rear bags, etc., just as Vern Humphrey described.

However, in sighting in a hunting rifle, I prefer to use a different technique. Sandbags aren't even necessary. I tend to use a firmly packed stuff sack or two, packed with clothing or sleeping bag or such. Knapsacks work, too. Anything that will provide a stable firm rest. I hold the forearm of the rifle with my left hand, which in turn is resting on the firm rest, and have the butt in my shoulder as if in the field.

This does not produce as good groups as the proper bench-rest technique, but it does come close, and it shows me where the gun will shoot with me driving it in field conditions.

With pistols, I do the same, but rest my wrists on the bag. And don't use expensive sleeping bags in their stuff sacks, especially if sighting in a revolver and tending to get it a little too far back....

Hellbore
March 21, 2005, 07:50 PM
Well I checked with the local hardware store and they have "sandbox sand" for pretty cheap, is this suitable, or is rice better?

I think I also have some jeans I can use. I think I'll make sand bags as suggested. The only problem now is where to do my shooting. I think there is a local gun club called the Rio Salado sporting club or something, here in Mesa Arizona. I'm gonna have to see if they will let me sight in my guns there. I've never been to a shooting range so I don't really know what it's like. Past shooting has always been done out in the desert.

Ky Larry
March 21, 2005, 08:11 PM
I scrounged some empty shot bags from a friend who is a shot shell reloader.
I always carry a few bags of sand in the back of my truck for added traction on icy roads. I paid $2.00 per bag of sand at Home Depot so my total cost was about $0.50 cents for 4 sand bags. I'm pretty cheap, too.

LHB1
March 21, 2005, 08:29 PM
The shooting range I go to provides free wooden blocks, sand bags, and scopes (all loaners) for use by shooters.

Good shooting and be safe.
LB

AZ Jeff
March 22, 2005, 11:34 AM
Hellbore---I am a member at Rio Salado, and they have fixed shooting benches, sandbags, and mechanical rests to help in getting your rifle or pistol sighted in. They also have loaner spotting scopes for the longer ranges.

Go on out to Rio, pay your non-member fee, and ask one of the safety officers (or someone like me who goes there a lot) to help you get it sighted in.

Someone else can do some coarse adjustment for you, but the final "tweaking" of the zero must be done by the shooter himself.

EghtySx
March 22, 2005, 11:38 AM
Can I just pay a pro to do this stuff and sight in my guns for me?

I think you can if yer a woman.

Hellbore
March 22, 2005, 11:59 AM
Hellbore---I am a member at Rio Salado, and they have fixed shooting benches, sandbags, and mechanical rests to help in getting your rifle or pistol sighted in. They also have loaner spotting scopes for the longer ranges.

Ah, this is good news! Actually I am thinking of buying a membership. If I go more than 16 times a year it is cheaper that way ($75 a year + $25 initiation fee = 100... non-member fee = $6 so 100/6 = 16.6 )

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