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Do You Adjust Your Rear Sight?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Driftwood Johnson, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Sorry, I pressed the print button before I proof read this.

    The topic should say Do You Adjust Your Rear Sight. I can't figure out how to edit the descriptive topic to the thread.

    I am asking this question in response to the recent post on another forum where somebody was asking for advice about cowboy action revolvers.

    The answers were the normal answers where some guys prefer the more traditional fixed sight type single actions, and others were in favor of single actions such as the Ruger Blackhawk because of the adjustable sights.

    And that got me to thinking............

    I have revolvers of every type you can think of. Antiques, modern, single action, double action, Top Breaks, Tip Ups, everything under the sun. I probably have more revolvers with fixed sights than adjustable, but I have a slew of Blackhawks and S&W and even a few Colts with adjustable rear sights.

    But when I stopped to think about it, I realized I never actually adjust the rear sight on an adjustable sighted revolver. Maybe once when I take it to the range for the first time, but after that I never bother to adjust the rear sight.

    I shoot both commercial and handloads in all my revolvers (well, maybe not in the Tip Ups). With my handloads I am most definitely not forever searching for the perfect load, or making up different loads for different applications. I usually settle on one load, and then turn out a bazillion of them. Even so, shooting both commercial and handloads I never adjust the rear sight on a revolver. At least not after an initial sighting in. I don't even bring a screwdriver with me to the range unless it is the first outing for a recently acquired adjustable sighted revolver. I will confess that most of my adjustable sighted revolvers have the sight pushed over a little bit to the right, because I tend to push my shots to the left, and adjusting the rear sight is easier than perfecting my trigger technique. But once it's set, I never touch it again.

    I am a great believer in Kentucky Windage, and whatever the equivalent is for elevation. If I am plinking at tin cans at the 25 yard berm, I just adjust my hold so I can hit the cans, rather than adjusting the sights.

    So fess up.

    Do you really take advantage of that adjustable rear sight, or are you like me and never actually adjust it. At least not after an initial sighting in. Yeah, it's a nice option, but I am so used to shooting fixed sights that I don't even consider an adjustable sighted revolver to have an advantage over a fixed sighted revolver.

    Thanks for thinking about it.
     
  2. chicharrones
    • Contributing Member

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    I always expect to adjust the rear sight on any handgun that is new to me, if that rear sight is indeed adjustable.

    Once sighted in, I usually leave the rear sight alone. Unless, I intend to sight the gun in for another ammo type with large point of impact differences.

    I normally don't use Kentucky windage except for fixed sight guns. Even then, I've filed down front sights or installed taller front sights to sight in fixed sight guns as needed.
     
  3. Glock Doctor

    Glock Doctor Member

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    I've never understood people who adjust the rear sight on their pistols. I've owned a great many pistols; and, over the past 50 years, I've used them for everything from: IDPA, USPSA, and IPSC competitions to police postals, and long range steel target matches. Even when we would fire our 357's, 45 LC's, 41 and 44 Magnums at 200 yard targets none of us ever bothered to adjust the sights. We simply estimated the holdover, and touched-off the round.

    For combat pistol shooting adjusting the rear sight is (in my opinion) a complete waste of time. What's your maximum range? 25 yards? Then there's nothing to adjust in, at least, the vertical plane. The pistol and cartridge combination will, 'hit where it hits'; and once you learn that spot, your hold (and sight picture) is always going to be the same.


    NOTE: Just reread your post. Assuming that you're right-handed: If you tend to throw pistol shots to the left then you're allowing the gun to break towards the weakest part of your hand — Your grasping fingertips! That's easily correctable; and you don't have to move the rear sight, either.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  4. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I zero all my sixguns, fixed or adjustable.


    I don't agree with this at all. IMHO, any firearm should shoot to its sights. If it doesn't, make it so. Doing it your way might be okay if you only have a handful of guns but I have way too many for that to even be feasible. I might switch back and forth between half a dozen guns just for hunting. I don't need to be wondering where they hit relative to the sights. Case in point, we got the old man a new XD .45 with the threaded barrel for Christmas. It shoots about 6" to the right at 30yds. It will definitely have to be zeroed before it is of any use. As far as adjusting them and leaving them be, that doesn't work either. Especially with revolvers, there can be a significant shift in POI between loads. Another example, my Clements custom .44Mag Bisley. It was zeroed for my 240gr plinking/practice load but last summer I had to adjust it for the 355gr load and that took a good bit of adjustment to get it zeroed.
     
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  5. DPris

    DPris Member

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    I use the adjustables on every gun I own that has one, to dial in the load (or comparable load) I expect to shoot in that gun.
    Since I don't switch around a lot with ammunition once I decide on what goes in which gun, I don't tend to change the sight much after that, but I don't think I have a single handgun with adjustable sights that was where I wanted them regulated out of the box.

    In such cases, initial adjustment may or may not be easily done by drifting for windage in a fixed-sight gun, but changing both elevation and windage can be a nuisance, and once changed can't necessarily be easily un-changed if swapping to a different load.

    I prefer adjustables, and I do occasionally change them again later on down the road if I change carry rounds for whatever reason.
    Denis
     
  6. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    The only adjustable sight is on my Blackhawk and yes I adjust.

    What I'd like to know is how many with fixed sighted revolvers bend the barrels to adjust?
     
  7. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    I own a bazzillion revolvers with fixed sights.

    I have never bent a barrel. In the past I would file down the front sight on a Vaquero, but I don't even do that anymore.

    If I am plinking at tin cans, I fire a few shots to see where I am hitting, then I adjust my hold.

    I do not hunt, so a perfectly placed first shot is not a concern with me.

    Same with paper targets. I don't compete in any events where great precision is necessary.

    With a fixed sight double action revolver such as a S&W Model 10, it is usually the elevation that is off, not the windage. I already mentioned that I know I tend to pull my shots to the left. That is me, not the gun.

    In CAS, where pin point accuracy is not needed, I always remember to hold on the right side of the target, so I don't miss off to the left.
     
  8. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    Years ago I read an article in Gun Digest about a SA guy who bent the barrels of his SAA collection with V-blocks and a hydraulic press so they all had similar POI, always been curious how common a practice it was.
     
  9. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I'd say that turning the barrel for windage and filing the front sight for elevation are far more common.
     
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  10. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    I adjust my sights for the load I am shooting. My practice has been to take a new gun to the range and sight it in with the intended load. I usually set the rear sight about half way up for elevation, then file the blade until I am centered on my target. This leaves me some leeway for minor changes in elevation setting.

    I have never used Kentucky windage as its not precise enough for me. I want my bullet to hit precisely where my sights are aiming. But having to aim at some place different from where I want to hit is just not intuitive to me.

    Bob Wright
     
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  11. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    This pretty much sums up what I do with adjustable sight guns. Also, I tend to lean towards obtaining guns that have adjustable sights.

    For fixed sight guns, I do not have many but they for the most part shoot ok to point of aim for the distances that I shoot them.
     
  12. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    I'm fine with adjustable sights, but most of my handguns are bought with carry/defense in mind. I like the idea of not having a sight that can be knocked out of place.

    Once I figure out where my ammo of choice hits, I keep it in mind when I carry it.
     
  13. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    I've been a handgunner for over sixty years, and owned and shot something like sixty five handguns, most of which had adjustable sights. In that time I've only had one gun have its sight knocked out of place, and that was the fixed front sight.

    But if a man keeps his shooting up close- in- your- face type defensive shooting to the twenty five yard span, then sights aren't really that important. But in precision shooting, where the target is a small animal, then good hunting practice dictates a well placed shot. And well placed shots are out of the question without adequate sights, regulated to the ammunition at hand.

    Bob Wright
     
  14. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    Exactly, Mr. Wright:)

    If I were a target shooter beyond keeping 6 rounds on a coffee cup size target at combat ranges, adjustable sights make good sense.

    I certainly wouldn't shoot competitively nor would I hunt with a non zeroed gun.

    At 25 yards, if I can point shoot minute of bad guy, I'm OK with that. I did have a Springfield Loaded 1911 with adjustable sights that would not only snag but wander a bit no matter how much I torqued and fiddled. I'd rather just have a steel groove and a front blade for my handgun purposes.
     
  15. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I've heard that fear reiterated many times but I'm not convinced it's easily justified. I'm not anywhere near as experienced as Mr. Wright but in 30yrs, I've bought well over 100 handguns and currently own about 74. I have only ever even witnessed one issue with an adjustable rear sight and it wasn't even my gun. It was my brother's Ruger 22/45 where he somehow managed to break the blade off the aluminum rear sight. Even Ruger's aluminum rear sights fail very rarely. Steel adjustable rear sights are extremely durable.
     
  16. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    I sight all of my guns in even my SAA style fixed shoot to the sights.
    Sometimes I adjust the load a bit for elevation.

    Certain guns of mine very much need adjustable sights mu 44 mag Redhawk for instance I shoot two very different loads a 240 @ 1000 and a 300 @ 1200, the 240 gr load requires 8 clicks of elevation to have the same 25 POI.
     
  17. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

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    I like for my guns to shoot POA for me. Yes I adjust fixed sights and I have changed front blades, turned barrels, etc to make fixed sight guns shoot right.

    Even my Cowboy action guns need to shoot right, I shoot NCOWS where the targets are small and set back farther and side matches may have us cutting playing cards, driving railroad spikes, or some other challenge. never know what someone will come up with for a fun side match that requires pin point accuracy and if I miss I want to know it was me.

    You can't hold off to one side or six o clock when you're trying to thread the bullet through an axe head or something.
     
  18. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I'd love to have my revolvers shoot where I think I'm pointing them, but frankly differences between ammo and "me" make me leave the rear sight alone except when I first get a new gun. After that, it's KY windage. I have had people pick up my revolver and shoot better than me... so often I figure it is me that is the problem and not the sight adjustment.
     
  19. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    I buy adjustable sighted firearms so that I can make POA=POI. That is the point after all. I will not tolerate a gun that doesn't shoot where the sights are looking. I will not buy a handgun that can't have the sights adjusted by either drifting for windage and making elevation changes on the front sight (most pistols) or that have a fully adjustable rear. Maybe I'm just obsessive about it since I shot competitive bullseye at one point in my life, but guessing or holding for an inaccurate set of sights is infuriating to me.
     
  20. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    Even in the world of up close and personal shooting out to 25 yards serious real world practitioners of gunfighting are pretty serious about having pistols that shoot to the sights. I took a class last fall with Pat McNamara, who retired out of 1st SFOD-D as a Sgt.Maj. in 2005, suffice to say Pat has sent a lot of bad guys to their just rewards and he is obsessive about properly zeroing both long gun and handgun. We devoted a lot of class time to getting a good zero on the carbines, and he stressed that even though we didn't have the facilities to do it that our pistols should also be adjusted if they don't shoot where the sights look. He also regularly shoots out to 50 yards with his side arm, and is fond of adjustable sights even on a service pistol. Fortunately my HK VP9 shoots to the sights out to at least 50 yards for both windage and elevation, because we did quite a bit of work well past 25 yards.

    The latest developments among some unnamed units are running ruggedized miniature reflex sights on handguns because they can be adjusted and increase the odds of making low probability shots. Plus they offer the operator the same sight picture as their carbine for CQB.
     
  21. chicharrones
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    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    Driftwood, I can imagine if I were in your shoes I probably wouldn't try and adjust the sights on the fixed sight guns you have at all. From what I've seen here on THR, you have a very classic collection that I wouldn't want to alter, either. :)
     
  22. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    I prefer adjustable sights whenever possible on mine. I have a Glock 17L, Springfield RO 5" 9mm, Ruger GP-100, & a S&W mod 67 4" that have adjustable sights on them. When possible I work up a nice midrange load that groups well and move the sights to match. I'm not real fond of holdovers at anything under ~75 yards, I expect to hold over past that.
     
  23. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I adjust them when I first get the gun to ensure they hit where I want with a particular bullet weight. If my bullet weight changes on a semi-permanent basis, I will readjust. Typically I just adjust my hold though since I'm a target shooter, and am more concerned with defense.

    If I hunted, and needed extreme accuracy each and every shot at further than defense distances, I would adjust my sights every time I changed loads.
     
  24. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Seriously? That's kind of the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I thought you were kidding at first.

    I can't believe someone actually did this.
     
  25. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I adjust all of mine so they have the same point of aim at 25 yards.
     

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