J-Frame Accuracy


August 3, 2003, 03:27 AM
I just bought the J-Frame Model 38 Airweight .38 Spl shrouded-hammer revolver I posted about earlier.

I took it to the range today, and at 7 yards the gun shoots about three inches low, and four-inches left. The gun also has fixed sights.

What can be done, if anything to correct this?


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August 3, 2003, 05:37 AM
I'd suggest first having someone else fire it to be sure the results are the same.
I've found that J frame and model 85's are hard to control without lots and lots of practice. One can become pretty accurate with these 2-inch guns. I've got a S&W model 36 and a Taurus 85 Lightweight and at 7 yds I can keep them all in the red, but the group spreads as the distance gets further.
Another thing I've done is to start at say 3 yards, and when accuracy is achieved there, move the target out a couple of yards and shoot some more...etc.
Practice dry firing with something on the top strap ... when you get to the point it doesn't fall off, you're doing great. Sometimes what you described is caused by unknowingly moving the point of aim in squeezing the trigger pushing left and down rather than keeping it straight.
I know you're not new with revolvers, but 2-inchers are a whole different deal than a 4 or 6 inch barrel.
Good luck. Hope this helps....

Good luck.

August 3, 2003, 07:03 AM
Yeah, that short sight radius and light weight add up to a tough to learn package. It's a great package, still, but it needs some disciplined practice.

I'll bet you were shooting 125 gr. bullets, yes? The fixed sights would most likely be regulated for 158 gr.; that accounts for the 3" low. The 4" left is something else--but I agree, you should (a) try again; (b) bench it--however awkward this may feel with a snub, and assuming you can work out a way to do so safely; and (c) have someone else shoot it. It's possible the fixed sights are just off, horizontally, which S&W could fix for you by turning the barrel; but you wanna eliminate every other possible source of error before you investigate that route.


August 3, 2003, 12:56 PM
Thanks. I also have a Model 36 Smith, and it is very accurate. This isn't the only J-frame I've ever shot. I have owned at least 4 2-inch bbl revolvers.

Also, as far as putting something on top of the revolver and practicing trigger squeeze - I'm an NRA Certified Instructor, so I know how to properly fire a handgun. The GUN is not accurate. It was shot from the benchrest position. I know that even the most experienced shooters can make mistakes, but this problem is indeed caused by the gun.

Thanks for your suggestions anyway, though.


Mike Irwin
August 3, 2003, 04:00 PM
Changing your load will likely help a lot.

Shoot it from a bench, firmly rested on some sand bags, and figure out exactly where the point of aim is for each shot, and then do the same from your normal shooting position with the same ammo.

The sights on most of these guns are factory regulated for the archaic 158-gr. non +P loading.

August 3, 2003, 04:10 PM
Try some 148grain wadcutter ammo from a big factory(not range ammo) and shoot it double action SLOWFIRE from the sand bags set well back on your arms. Or the 'barricade' position. THEN you will know the truth. You could widen the rear sight a touch in the direction to correct windage as the rear notch tends to be narrow on that model. Elevtion or true windage adjustments could be made by somebody like Cylinder&Slide. But make sure first.:D

August 3, 2003, 09:57 PM
Takes some time, a good helping ofpatience, good amount of ammo & lots of practice, but good accuracy w/ j-frames is attainable!

August 3, 2003, 10:14 PM
I agree with ChristopherG & Mike. I always tend to shoot low with the lighter bullets. Notice the biggest difference with .357's in my 2.25" Ruger SP101 (which probably won't be as pronounced as with a lighter S&W J frame). 110's tend to be way low for me (3+ inches), 125's just a bit low (1 or 2 inches) with the 158's just about right at point of aim at about 15 yards. .38's tend to shoot a bit flatter for me (cut the above variances down by about 1/2" for each bullet weight). I expect some of it is due to the slightly oversized grips Hogue grips I favor and very solid two hand grip I like to take so faster .357 follow up shots are possible.

The shooting left thing is probably you though. If you are right handed they tend to go left - left handed tend to go right. Try making a conscience effort to slowly pull straight back on the trigger with a firm two hand hold. Maybe even useing the first pad of your trigger finger rather than the first joint to pull through initially. See if that helps.

Snubby revolvers are a bit of a challenge - but that's part of the fun. At fairly close ranges though (like under 30 feet) they are capable of pretty tight rapidly fired, free hand groups with the right ammo and trigger technique.

Longer barrels, bigger & heavier frames and adjustible sights allow you to compensate for some trigger technique issues and different loadings. But if you can learn to shoot fairly tight groups with a small frame, short barreled iron sight revolver - you can transition to most any handgun quickly & effectivly.

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