357 Magnum shooting help/tips


February 14, 2011, 12:49 AM
I've recently purchased a 6" Gp100 that I love shooting. This is my first centerfire handgun and revolver to boot! My handgun shooting experience has only been with my ruger mkIII up until now. It does have a red dot site but I'm a darn good shot with it.

I've put about 300 or so rounds of 357 through it using 125,140,158 grain bullets.
I can't for the life of me be accurate and bullseye with the thing at 25 yrds. I'm consistently shooting a 4-6" high and 3-6" to the left. I can adjust the sights but 1 or 2 of say 10 shells might hit the 8 or 9 ring. I've tried isosceles stance and weaver stance. I'm aligning the sights even across in the middle of the bullseye the best I can is this correct? I'm also shooting offhand with no rest. I know I can adjust the sights I would just like to make sure its not me that needs to correct my fundamentals before I go adjusting the sights.

I would appreciate any tips or suggestions people have. I have to be doing something wrong somewhere along the line.

Thks for reading!

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David E
February 14, 2011, 01:14 AM
First, get a known good shooter to try it.

If you can't do that, try resting your hands (not the gun) on a bench and fire single action.

I'd also suggest using some .38 Special, preferably the 148 wadcutter load to take away some of this brand new blast and flash you're not used to.

Align the top of the front sight even across the top of the rear notch, NOT the bottom of the front sight insert.

Maybe draw and post a picture of your sight alignment and sight picture to be make sure.

February 14, 2011, 02:31 AM
I have the sights aligned like you say. I don't know anyone who shoots 357 but I suppose I could have one of the guys at the guys working range shoot it. I know there are a couple guys there who have them.

I've shot several rounds of 38 through it as well but it doesnt seem to matter much. The far majority of my shooting with it has been single action. I'd love to take this gun hunting this year but not if I can't be accurate enough to get a clean kill.

Thks for the tip!

Here is a poor paint job of my sight picture just to double check

February 14, 2011, 03:26 AM
Sounds like you aren't used to the recoil. There is just a tad of difference between it and the 22, right? I would shoot 38spl's through it for a while until your groups start improving. Shoot Shoot Shoot.

The 38's will have a different impact point as will the different weight 357 mag loads. Just shoot to develop form and consistancy for a while. Single action is just fine.

I would not adjust the sights yet.

Move your targets closer... maybe 10 yards. Then go to 15 yds and eventually out to 25 yds. You don't need to prove anything to anyone but yourself.

I had trouble shooting a Colt Python when I was younger. Prior to that, all I shot were 22's. I just knew I really sucked shooting that fine revolver.

What did I really do? Stopped shooting it for years. Finally bought a 41 mag revolver and I was dead set on learning to shoot it well because I wanted to use it deer hunting and fulfill that dream. I did. The 357 mag didn't seem to have the same amount of bite after that. I now shoot a 357 mag very comfortably.

It almost has to be recoil related. Keep shooting and you will get better. Try dry firing the GP or load just a few chambers and start shooting. You might be surprised just how much you are flinching in anticipation of the recoil. You need to get past that. Shooting 38spl's will help.

Added: You might also try to shoot off sand bags where you are holding the gun yourself, but resting on the bags. What you are trying to accomplish is taking some of the human part out of the equation for the time being. The gun is probably fine. But you need to convince yourself of that.

February 14, 2011, 12:19 PM
I've got 100 rounds of 38spl that just came in I guess I should order a bit more and go make a day of it.

There is a good range near me that offers 2 handgun classes the first being beginner and the next more of a shooting one I believe. I'm tempted to take the second one because I'm not a beginner to owning handguns I would just like some instruction on technique and shooting the 357.

Has anyone taken a class like this? It's a NRA class.

I don't want to sound like I'm too good for the beginner class but I believe it's mainly on safety and handling but I'm not sure. I've grown up with gun my whole life with safety and care beaten into me like all kids should.

February 14, 2011, 12:29 PM
Hello, I'm far from expert. I have the same GP-100 6", and I bought a "Hi-Viz" front sight from Amazon. Absolutely amazing how simple it is to install, and you can select from several colors for the front bead. I had an awful time discerning the Ruger front sight blade, but now with the glowing dot, it's really easy. I did what 22-Rimfire said to do...Start out pretty close, and slowly move backwards. Now I can hit an 8" circle of 5/8 steel plate every time from 25 yards, although I don't do as well if I try double-action.

February 14, 2011, 12:38 PM
Couple additional thoughts...

Are you trying to shoot double-action or single-action?

If DA, how are you pulling the trigger - one fast, long pull or a slower rearward pull, what is called "stacking" the trigger?

How much finger do you have on the trigger? If you're shooting left, that sounds to me like "pushing" the gun with your trigger finger.

Hitting high on the target could be that your gun is sighted for a 6 o'clock hold (think of putting your bullseye on top of your sight picture) OR you're flinching in anticipation of recoil.

Did you clean the gun before shooting it? A little lube down in the internals helps slick things up a lot.

Try shooting single-action (cock the hammer by hand) for a while with light .38 Special target loads. Focus on front sight, sight picture, and a gentle trigger squeeze.

When you're ready to shoot DA again, press the trigger rearward about 2/3 of the way. The cylinder should turn and you'll hear or feel the cylinder hand "click" into place. At that point, you basically have a single-action trigger let-off for the trigger to break and the shot to fire.

Practice this dry-firing (make sure the gun is empty...then double check...and "fire" the gun). Not only will it help you get used to the trigger pull but it also smooths the internals.

The 6" GP100 is a fine shooter - I have one - and with a little practice you'll get the hang of it. If you can find someone local to help you, your impovement will be faster and less frustrating (and cheaper on ammo savings!).

Good luck,

February 14, 2011, 12:58 PM
I am no expert either. I shoot mostly DA with my revolvers. First I started with 38 specials. Go with standard pressure loads. Walmart usually carries the Remington 130 gr box of 38 specials. Very mild recoil in a big revolver like your GP100. Start your practice at only 7 yrds. Don't change your distance until you can hit six rounds in the X ring or at least the black of a Bulleye target. Sounds like you are only firing single action. You should be able to master shooting out to 15 yrds in time. Your revolver is capable of shooting accurately out to 25 yrds. But right now you are not. It took me a year and a half to shoot accurately to 20 yrds with my GP100 4 inch. I also dry fire a lot. This exercise will help you develope trigger control especially it you start double action shooting.
Good luck,

February 14, 2011, 01:01 PM
The very best thing I can tell you is to watch the Jerry M. videos here: http://www.myoutdoortv.com/search/node/jerry%20miculek

Specifically you should watch the Grip, Trigger Control, and Stance videos to start.

Those will get you on the right track to holding and controlling the gun correctly.

Then I would suggest loading random numbers (less than 6) of rounds at a time when you shoot for a while. When the shot breaks but it goes "click" instead of "BANG" you'll discover exactly what you're doing with that gun when you fire. (Anticipating recoil? Pushing with your trigger finger? Etc?) Ideally, when it goes "click" your sights should remain precisely on target -- not dip to the floor or push off hard to the left.

Practice with a lot of dryfire until your trigger control is not disturbing your sight picture and the shot is breaking with the sights precisely aligned.

Good luck!

February 14, 2011, 02:26 PM
If your gun is GROUPING well high and left adjust your sights. If it's not consistent tight groups in that location then it probably is you. As noted try a six o'clock hold to correct your vertical error (top of the front sight at the bottom of the bull). For your lateral error, relax your support hand a bit, that usually causes things to go left.


February 14, 2011, 06:56 PM
The only real way to tell if it's the gun or you is to shoot from a rest. Get a coupla sandbags, sit down at a bench and shoot SA. Odds are, if you have done no adjusting to your sights yet, it's probably just the sights have not been adjusted for YOU yet. Your statement I'm consistently shooting a 4-6" high and 3-6" to the left. hints at this. But again..... until you rest the gun securely and can shoot a consistent pattern, to see for sure if POA is POI, dry firing, changing your grip and loading a random empty chamber probably ain't gonna help.

BTW......You can adjust your sights to shoot six-o-clock or center, it's your preference.

February 14, 2011, 07:40 PM
I've shot .357 mags for 40 years. I am not an expert by any means, but I have owned and shot many of them. I notice you are using 3 different bullet weights in your sighting in adventure. I have found that I have to stick to one bullet weight to get the best accuracy. IMO the .357 is finicky about that. Probably the best general purpose round for the .357 is the 158 gr. I would move the target closer as suggested earlier and sight the gun in with the 158 gr. load or your load of choice and stick with that load. I have 2 GP100's with 6" barrels and they are very accurate. Good Luck.

February 14, 2011, 08:17 PM
After some dry firing practice to get a clean trigger break with NO sight picture movement, try this skip drill: Load 2 live, one spent, 1 live, 2 spent, then close the cylinder pull the hammer back slightly to free the cylinder and rotate it a bit to scramble the cylinder position. Do this a few times and strive for NO sight movement on the empties. By doing this order you don't know what's coming next. The traditional skip drill of one empty helps a little, but once the gun goes click you can predict the next shot. This order randomizes things enough that for the majority of your loads you will not know what's coming next. And if you don't see the flash, you blinked.

Flint Ridge
February 14, 2011, 08:26 PM
Bullet weight is important factor. Seems odd but the heavy bullets tend to shoot higher the lighter ones lower. So a big heavy bullet takes a while to get moving and basically the gun is recoiling before the bullet leaves the barrel, making it shoot higher. Lighter one probably gone before the muzzel rises hence shooting "lower" - just a thought to reinforce Cemo's comment and apparently must live rather close to me.

February 14, 2011, 08:41 PM
1) .38 Spl. only. Same brand and bullet weight only.

2) A stack of standard targets, all similar.

3) Sight-in the gun from a rest. Sandbags will serve perfectly. 7 yards. Take the Ruger manual and proper screwdrivers (so you know which way to turn the screws for adjustment).

4) Once the gun is sighted-in, practice at 7 yards until your confidence improves. You can do this. You have already done so with your other Ruger.

5) Do not increase the distance until you can consistently hit where you are aiming.

6) Be methodical about everything.

7) Have fun, and save your targets. You will see results.

Best of luck -


February 14, 2011, 09:02 PM
Rest your wrist, not the revolver, on the sandbag.

Be mindful of the blast that comes from the barrel/cylinder gap. It can cut through a sandbag easily.

February 14, 2011, 09:20 PM
1) Double up on the hearing protection! plugs and muffs!

2) Dry fire, dry fire, dry fire...

February 14, 2011, 11:41 PM
Thank you for the suggestions everyone! I think I'm going to stick with 158 grain as much as possible. Im all pumped up to try some of these suggestions. I'm hoping I can make it to the range his weekend.

I found tons of federal 158 grain sjsp on sale. 50 rounds for 20$ didn't seem like a bad deal. I'll pick up 2-3 boxes and try to put these suggestions in use.

Minnesota Wild
February 14, 2011, 11:51 PM
There are some good suggestions here, but the unclear thing is whether this is you or the gun. I agree with the other posters about what to do if your shooting technique needs work. But not enough people have focused on what these groups look like.

I would highly suggest you shoot off a rest. Very few shooters can shoot well enough at 25M to get good sighting groups. Once your groups are good (2" or so), you can start adjusting your sights. If your groups are consistant don't worry about a flyer or two that are on target if the marjority or the shots are good to go. We all miss once in a while, even if it happens to land on target.

February 15, 2011, 12:10 AM
Since you're new to shooting a centerfire revolver I suggest you shoot at much closer targets than 25 yards out. Start at 7 yards or 10 yards and work your way out over the next month or so.

Revolvers are more difficult to shoot well than semi-autos because the triggers are usually longer and heavier. Trigger control is important and can be worked on by dry-firing using snap-caps. I suggest hundreds of trigger pulls but make sure you are concentrating on control, not just pulling the trigger. Since there's no recoil when dry-firing it's very easy to see any mistakes you might be making.

February 15, 2011, 02:16 AM
aim low and to the right and you will be just fine. i would try to back off to just one bullet weight though. different weights tend to shoot at different spots. have fun shootin whatever you decide.


February 15, 2011, 09:18 AM
I have the targets I'll snap. Pic of one when I ge home tomorrow. My groups are in no way 2" groups so I'd lean on the gun being the least of the problems.

February 15, 2011, 09:24 AM
This could be waay off the mark, but it occurred to me:

You need to make sure that you aren't cross dominant -- that is, right handed and left eyed. It'll cause you to hold the revolver with a crook in your right wrist to accommodate lining up sights with left eye. Depending on your hold, that could account for the POI being so far off. Whenever you see a handgun with adjustable sights where they are adjusted way off to the side to achieve a zero, either the gun is bent or the shooter is cross-dominant.... You can tell by aiming as you usually do, holding the revolver fixed, and then closing your eyes in turn to see which one is lined up. Shooting a rimfire you might not have had this issue because recoil is negligible. With a centerfire, it's all about managing the recoil and having it be consistent.

February 15, 2011, 09:40 AM
I'm actually not sure which eye is dominant. I'm ambidextrous with most things but tend to shoot with my right eye. I can shoot just as good with either. I'll pay more attention to this next time to make sure this isn't happening and I'm just nit even noticing it.

February 15, 2011, 09:42 AM
If you are cross dominant, then probably best to shoot with whichever hand matches the dominant eye. It's generally easier to train the weak hand than the weak eye, though with enough practice you can do either. My kid's cross dominant and shoots left.

February 15, 2011, 10:25 AM
It's generally easier to train the weak hand than the weak eyeTrue. However, it is often the case that shooters who are cross-dominant still successfuly shoot handguns off the dominant HAND side, aligned with their dominant eye.

Those same shooters will find more success with rifles and shotguns shouldered on the dominant EYE side.

February 15, 2011, 11:05 AM
The .357 recoil is off the charts compared to a .22LR. This is where your problem lies. For practice/target/plinking/small game use .38 spl target wadcutters. You will become a good shot with the revolver this way.

February 15, 2011, 11:18 AM
I would like to suggest the following link. It has analysis targets that are very good when you are using a new gun.


February 16, 2011, 03:49 AM
As mentioned earlier, the GP100 is set at the factory for a 6 o'clock hold. Rest your gun and use the sight picture shown previously and you'll have a much better idea of where your POI really is. I had to adjust my rear sight to the right a tad, and now she shoots where I aim. Lovely revolver.

February 16, 2011, 08:26 AM
ditto what David E said, some bench rested shooting
(you did say you have been shooting mostly SA so far)
convince your mind beyond doubt that the gun "can do" by resting pistol butt on a small sand bag, SA shooting small targets at just 10 yards (one inch shoot-n-see dots, something like with a very focused targeting spot, not big targets)
no matter what you "think" the gun can do, showing yourself than it "does do" is important part of shooting psychology, i.e., not outguessing yourself, and being consistent with what you do
consistent means one ragged hole at ten yards

ditto what Sam1911 said, one random snap cap per cylinder load
you cannot correct what you do not see, and that simple drill can be a stunning revelation, even for "experienced" shooters who have laid off too long
no such thing as a shooter who doesn't flinch, only shooters who train themselves out of it by knowing that they do it

big transition from rimfire to centerfire in handguns
even moreso if going from pistol to revolver at the same time
same basics, but very different feel
slow fire target shooting is actually more "mental" than physical, odd as that may sound

February 16, 2011, 08:42 PM
I had trouble with flinching when I first started shooting handguns. I had to backtrack and take the (good) advice to start on a .22.
I read about an exercise that helped a lot, maybe it will help you. There are a couple of variations:
1: No target. Bring it up to the shooting position, and focus on the front sight. With no target, there is no temptation to cheat and look at the target. Focus as much as you can on the front sight, and squeeze the trigger, while you watch that front site hold steady. When the shot breaks, you should be still looking at a stable front sight. No worrying about where the shots go. It is about seeing the front sight as the hammer falls. Shoot 50 or even 100 rounds like this. Put up a target, and nail a bullseye :)
2: Do the above exercise with heavy recoiling .357's, without the targets. Then switch to a nice easy shooting .38 when you put up a target. It will be like child's play.
I also agree with practicing with .38 special. .357 has a heavy, fast kick to it. Once you master .38 you can step up again, like you did from the .22.

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