Help with shooting my S&W 386NG


March 13, 2010, 02:06 PM
I've gotten a ton of great info from here over the last few years and I need some help.

I went to the range on Thursday and was shooting my ruger .22 as well as my 386. It was one of "those" days all together but I wasn't having a huge problem with the ruger, keeping the groups to within 1 or 2 inches at 10 yards with the iron sites.

I grabbed the 386 and fired off the first cyl of 7 rounds at 7 yards. The shots were all low and the groups were upwards of 6 inches or more. Again and again I tried, concentrating on my grip, trigger control, front site focus, sie placement, and I even tried kneeling down and using the "table" as a rest. I did manage to get the groups down to 4ish inches but I couldn't get the gun to hit POA to save my life. The shots were consistantly 4-5 inches low no matter what I did. Granted yes, if i had to defend myself those shots would still probably stop anyone hit with a .357 round but I don't want to be shooting low.

I was shooting Winchester white box, 110gr JHP (could this be the problem right here? I thought I heard that the lighterbullts actually hit low?) and I really have never had this problem before. I typically shot either heavier .38+P or 158gr .357 from the gun. It's a relatively new gun so I've really only had the gun to the range 4 times.

just for some background on myself, I'm 40 and I've been shooting rifles since they were taller than me. :) I have been shooting handguns for about 7 or 8 years so feel free to talk technical to me. I'm open to trying just about anything. this is also not the first revolver I've shot. I also have a S&W 500 that I'm "ok" with but my other guns are the Ruger, S&W 22a (.22LR autoloader) and a Beretta PX4. The one difference between the 500 and the 386 (other than the obvious) is that my big hands do fit the 500 much better. I sometimes find myself having to adjust and readjust my grip on the 386. I'm pretty accurate with all the autos but I still think it's something I'm doing wrong. Or could this be the ammo i'm using? The shot 2.5" barrel?

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March 13, 2010, 04:42 PM
Lighter bullets are a big part of the problem, also the nightguard sights are regulated for a "combat hold" where the front sight covers the area you want to hit instead of lining them up right below it.
Where you firing single or double action?

March 13, 2010, 04:52 PM
I was firing single action and I was covering the target.

I forget where I was just reading that the lighter bullets could impact lower but I can't find the thread now. haha

March 13, 2010, 08:54 PM
The lighter bullets will not change the point of impact an appreciable amount at 10yds. My guess is that you're anticipating the recoil and jerking the gun downwards as the hammer falls. Get some standard velocity .38 ammo to practice with, it'll have a lot less recoil and you'll be less apt to flinch. After you get comfortable with it mix in the .357mag and there will be less chance of you flinching, over time you can build up to being on target with just .357mag.

David E
March 13, 2010, 09:00 PM
Put 2-3 fired cases in the cylinder and load up the rest of the chambers with live ammo. Turn the cylinder in hand without looking and close it. (don't spin and snap it shut !!)

NOW do the same thing you were doing. If you did it right, you won't know which chamber has a loaded round or spent case.

When it goes "click" see if you jerked the gun at all, or if the sights stayed rock steady. If they jerked, then it's the nut behind the trigger that needs adjustment......

March 13, 2010, 09:03 PM
My guess is that you're anticipating the recoil and jerking the gun downwards as the hammer falls.

This was what I was thinking as well.

And I find for me that shooting SA actually increases the chances of anticipating recoil and pushing the muzzle downward just as the trigger breaks. Try shooting DA and see what that does for you. Don't try to stage the trigger. Just apply increasing pressure until the shot breaks. No stopping or starting.

March 13, 2010, 09:24 PM
I suspect the tentative diagnosis in the posts above is good. "Why so?" is the question--and I suspect the answer may well be in the "muscle memory" your hand has from shooting your other handguns. As a simple explanation--the grip on you put on a 500 (about twice as heavy) with its related recoil--what, 2x to 4x stronger?) is NOT the one that will work well with your NG 386.

Try "thinking about" your grip when shooting the different revolvers again--i.e., what muscles are tighter than others with which gun? Then, try correcting for that--both during the squeeze and during the recoil. If you find you may be gripping the NG 386 wrong, you probably know enough of the fundamentals to start to fix it.

I have a similar problem in not being able to shoot my NG386 well--but I've traced my problems to that deep U rear sight slot: My (aging) eyes do NOT work well with it, period.

Jim H.

March 13, 2010, 09:37 PM
When you want to try Magnum loads again, stay away from the lighter stuff, for now. 110s and 125s are "torquier" in my guns and much more uncomfortable to shoot.

Find something kinda mild - believe it or not, I like CCI Blazer for range work in my 6" GP100, and find it acceptable when I don't feel like rolling my own.


March 13, 2010, 09:48 PM
We will need to see a video of you shooting in order to diagnose the problem.

Check out Jerry Miculek's videos on shooting revolvers (just google around).

Pay particular attention to your hand balance. Your support hand should be quite a bit tighter than the primary hand. This will assist in resisting movement. Play with different levels of "squeeze" and you will find the correct level.

Obviously, trigger control is first priority. Miculek's videos have some good tips.

March 13, 2010, 11:48 PM
I don't think it's anticipating the recoil for one reason. I fired a few times an 8th time (mis counted the 7 shots) and I didn't note any flintching or jerking of the gun. Honestly, I don't think the recoil is all that much either so that's why I was not leaning that way.

I do still think it's something with my technique and jfh brought up an idea I hadn't though of until now. I'm wondering if I had the front dot too low in that "U" on the rear site. I know the way it looks you can actually have it so low that the tops of the sights don't line up and with the front dot lower in the U that would make it shoot low.

230, I'll check out google or youtube. that could be very helpful. I've been reading some about grip but most of the articles I've found were more for pistol's than they were for revolvers. I have some blazer 158gr and a box of Federal match (only thing they had) .38 148gr and I plan to head back to the range on Monday.

March 15, 2010, 09:40 PM
well just to update, I shot again today.

The 158gr .357 and .38 rounds were shooting MUCH better than the 110gr. The 158's actually shot a bit high at first because of my sight adjusting but once I put them back in proper alignment the shots were much better. not as good as my other guns but I guess I have to finally accept that this gun is not a target gun like everyone says.

As I do not carry (not allowed to carry at work so why bother), I may sell the NG at the next gun show, see what I can get for it and then move on to a 686 in 4" or 6" barrel or what I'd really like is the 386XL. But those are not that common so I probably won't find one at the show.

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