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How do you shoot the J frame effectively?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by bernie, Jul 13, 2019 at 7:11 PM.

  1. bernie

    bernie Member

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    For the life of me I have been unable to figure out how to effectively shoot a J frame. I have tried for years and had no success. I would really like to get another 642, but I cannot hit anything past belly gun ranges, and I know that they can be fired effectively at distance. I shoot K frames, L frames, autos, etc. and have no problems. I have been unable to pick up the skill set to shoot these smaller revolvers. What grip, etc. do you utilize to make the J frame perform for you?
     
  2. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    Same problem for me. Fortunately I have only an M63 in this frame size. The fat Pachmayr grips help, but they look like [email protected]#$p.
     
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  3. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    @bernie ,
    With such a short sight picture any small mistake seems to be multified. Additionally, the triggers on J frames are intentionally heavy for safety.

    If you want to improve your J frame accuracy trigger control is imperative. I highly suggest buying a set of snap-caps and dry fire and then dry fire some more. Because of the lack of recoil you will easily identify what you are doing wrong and be able to fix it quickly. Keep dry firing until you see your front sight stop moving off the target when you pull the trigger.

    The added benifit, a smoother trigger from all the trigger pulls!
    Good luck
     
  4. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart Member

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    When I first started shooting the LCR9mm, I was terrible. I just keep practicing over and over. One of the biggest aids was buying a LCR22 cal. After a while, every thing just seems to come together. Learning the trigger and focusing on the target with complete "follow through" seemed to be the key to becoming proficient with this little snubbie. And the fact that I find them extremely fun to shoot helps a lot as well.
     
  5. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 8:16 AM
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  6. Bama59

    Bama59 Member

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    I had an old M36 a few years ago and had a AD down range fumbling with small grip ,sold it back to pawn shop first chance I got. I forgot which model Taurus snub I had but could grip it pretty good, SP101 didn't fit me at all.
     
  7. shafter

    shafter Member

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    Shooting a snubnose revolver isn't fundamentally different than any other revolver. What the small gun does is shows where you need to work on the basics. A larger revolver is more forgiving and can hide flaws in your technique. One of the most effective ways to improve that worked for me is dry fire. Dry fire as much as possible and next time you go to the range I bet you'll see a difference.
     
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  8. Blkhrt13

    Blkhrt13 Member

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    Build up more finger and hand strength . Try different grips ones that fill the whole hand.
     
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  9. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    Sometimes the answer is... Get something different.

    I shoot snubnose guns pretty well. However, I simply don't shoot an aluminum .38 worth a dang. Steel .357, steel 9mm, steel .45, etc. I just don't shoot light .38s well.
     
  10. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

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    Get a Wilson Combat trigger spring kit. I have my 442 at 14# and my 317 at 13#. Makes the triggers smooth and controllable.
     
  11. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Snubbies are the most difficult hand held firearm to shoot accurately that I own. I looked for my CMP 25 yard target with a Taurus snubbie and I must have deleted it out of embarrassment. I was all over the place. Generally speaking I can hold all my shots offhand inside a 12" plate at 25 yards, but at 50 yards, maybe I hit one or two per six rounds. I know there are those who are far better, and I wish I could emulate them. My hit probability goes up dramatically with a four inch or six inch barrel, but a two inch barrel, very, very hard to cluster shots on anything except planet earth.

    When I can control my flinch reflex, which is rarely, I shoot my snubbie much better, but it is hard. Trigger pull is so important. You have to break the trigger straight back, not left, not right, and over travel has to be the same each shot. Shots that go down at 6 O'C are due to breaking the trigger too hard. I have tried such things as loading a couple of chambers empty and seeing how I react when the hammer falls, and usually, I am flinching. Follow through has to be consistent after hammer fall or you will push the revolver unpredictably. Flinching just destroys follow through consistency. How you grasp the pistol is critical for left/right dispersion. Moving the pistol a little left, or a little right in the palm moves the group. You have to hold the pistol the same way, the same tension, and in the same location, each and every shot or each shot will hit a different point of impact.

    All I can suggest is practice, practice, practice, and low recoil, low blast rounds.
     
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  12. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    Find a grip that works (if you think Pachmayrs look ugly, you really won't like the Ergo Delta grips, but they help me) start close and work back little by little. 7yds, then 10 and so forth.
     
  13. AK103K

    AK103K Member

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    Like anything else, its just time effort and practice.

    Bigger grips are sort of self defeating. Might as well just go with a bigger gun if youre going to put bulkier grips on them.

    My favorite grips for carrying my 642 and K frames are the factory Magnas with a T grip. The Airweight J frames arent much fun to shoot with them though. The K frames arent bad at all.

    Houge makes a small but fairly hand filling "Bantam" grip for the J frames that do work well. Still not a whole lot of fun to shoot a lot with.

    And therein lies a lot of the problem getting good with them, they dont exactly encourage the necessary practice needed to get good with them.

    Dry fire is pretty much a necessity, as it is with most things. It also helps measureably if youre used to shooting revolvers DAO, and have the muscle tone for it.

    If you can dry fire the gun without the sights moving while doing so, you shouldnt have to much trouble shooting live ammo out of them. Your hand will probably hate you after youre done, but it will get over it. Mine does. But it does let me know its not happy for a day or so after a box of 50 full power loads. :)
     
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  14. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    It helps to smooth up the action, not lighten it. Practice & practice some more. A steel gun is easier to master than the airweights & you will be amazed at their potential. I shot and carried a 640 for almost 2 decades & hunted with it too, small game. The actions on the newer j frames are way too heavy (I think s & w went to a heavier trigger return spring). I would probably replace that with the next lower one. Sometimes you have to try different grips. Get some snap caps & dry fire the snot out of it. Carry it in your hand when you get up & walk around the house with it to get the feel of it. Pretty soon it will become a part of you. Don't fire anything else but your j frame & pretty soon you will have mastered it.
     
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  15. SteadyD

    SteadyD Member

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    I would practice with low recoiling wadcutters and search for a set of stocks you find comfortable. The recoil can be miserable on the lightweight 38s, so much so that it can cause some very poor technique. The guns themselves are quite accurate, but the small grips, heavy trigger, and painful recoil make them a unique challenge. Good luck to you!
     
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  16. Jonesy814

    Jonesy814 Member

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    PRACTICE! No special grips or magic spells. I reload, so I load reduced power ammo that hits pretty close to point of aim, but has manageable recoil. That way I can shoot 100-150 rounds in a session without beating my hand up. I have shot my 638 so much its like an extension of my hand. I shoot it out to 25 and 35 yards on about every range session. I’ll hit an 11x13 steel plate at 35 yards 9 out of 10 times, and an 8x10 piece 8 out of 10.
    When I first got the 638 back in 2014, I shot it just about every 2 weeks for the first 6 or 7 months, and at least once a month after that for the first 3 years I had it, and those were mostly 100 round sessions, if not more.
    I can draw from my pocket on a buzzer and put 5 shots on 3 targets ranging from 4 to 6 inches in diameter at 15 feet in a hair over 5 seconds, hit an 8 inch diameter plate at 30 feet pretty much at will and even hit moving targets but it takes a lot if practice
    Bought a 442 a few months ago. They were on sale and I wanted a back up J frame so I will always have 1
    Here are mine
    29D91196-614D-47E8-B54A-E913E6D1B717.jpeg
     
  17. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    J frames and their competition suffer from egregious intentional issues. Trigger is factory heavy since they are considered a pocket gun (fires by keys is a problem), the sights are tiny and crap because they are considered to be a super short range gun, and the grips are made ridiculously small since they are considered to be built specifically for hiding them under minimal clothing. What you end up with is a gun that doesn’t shoot worth a darn. A trigger job is a must, and relaxing springs is almost a requirement if the trigger job. Grips need to fit the user, but they need to be at least comfortable to shoot. That means wide enough and grippy enough that the recoil doesn’t pound your hand into submission forcing a subconscious flinch at every trigger pull. Sights are pretty much where your just stuck with what you get. Gutter sights seem to almost universal now but there are a few adjustable sight specimens to be considered.

    Last but certainly not least, caliber selection. Everybody screams 38 or 357 but in my humble opinion it’s one of the silliest things to buy in a j frame, especially a snub. Consider a small car... A gremlin for example. The little AMC was no hot rod, but it did exactly what it was intended to do. It was cheap and somewhat reliable basic transportation. No huge amounts of power and barely room for 4. Stick a v8 in the thing and you suddenly have a wheelie machine that is hard to control and would be easy to wreck, not to mention uncomfortable with all the beating and banging it would have and the terrible suspension holding probably 2 or 3 times the weight of its original tiny motor. That is exactly what the 38 or 357 J frame is... the v8 gremlin. J frames were originally made with 32 long and 38sw in mind along with a bunch of other cartridges that are “weak” by today’s standards. You take a 357 and cram it into the same gun that was made for the 32 or 38sw and you have created a firearm version of the gremlin drag racing beast. 32hrm sure (like a hopped up factory motor maybe). 32sw absolutely. 38sw terrier heck yes! 38 special... they had to redesign the frame to handle that one because it broke... 357... it’s the more powerful 38 special so analogous to taking your v8 gremlin and putting twin turbos and a shot of nitrous on it. And that’s what everybody says to do...
     
  18. Blkhrt13

    Blkhrt13 Member

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    I have seen it reckoned that a laser grip and a handful of snap caps along with a target on a exterior wall make for a good learn. The practice will do many things, smooth out the action by mating the surfaces, build strength in your hand and get you more familiar with the break. Just make sure it’s the snap caps in not live rounds.
     
  19. Jonesy814

    Jonesy814 Member

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    Get a bunch low powered wadcutters and shoot the heck out of the gun. After a couple thousand rounds you should be pretty good. Work on presenting the gun correctly from the holster and shooting at 10 feet. When you cant miss a 6 inch target at 10ft, move to 15ft. Draw & shoot, draw & shoot. If getting poor results, but consistently hitting the same wrong area, try more, or less trigger on the finger. Often using the pad of the finger instead of the crease of the finger ca result in a more straight back trigger pull
     
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  20. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart Member

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    I use some high quality BB/Pellet guns that have nice DAO triggers. I don't really like to use snap caps. Just me, I feel they wear out the springs and put wear on the gun. (OCD).
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 5:04 AM
  21. AZAndy
    • Contributing Member

    AZAndy Contributing Member

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    A laser grip is what helped me the most. I could see exactly where in the trigger-press I was going off target. The finger has to slide across the face of the trigger in order for everything to be steady.
     
  22. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    I just gave up on them and went to a smaller 9mm semi. A Shield in my case, but I shoot most any semi better than I do a small revolver.
     
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  23. AK103K

    AK103K Member

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    I think youll probably wear out long before the gun. :)

    I dry fire "something" every day, and usually multiple guns. I usually use snap caps as well, but more as a safety thing, than a wear thing. You cant have a live round in the chamber if you just put a snap cap in it.


    As far as the trigger complaints go on the J frames, Im not seeing they are really any heavier than anything else I have. I just tried compared my 642 against three random others, a 10, 65, and 686, and really didnt see any noticeable difference in trigger weight. The thing more notiecable was the shorter grip (fore to aft) and where your trigger finger ends up. Maybe its more a perception thing due to leverage.

    Personally, I dont see the need for trigger work, unless there is something mechanically wrong. Unless I happen to pick something up that has been worked on, all my guns have the factory triggers in them, and I have no troubles shooting them.

    I do think that the constant dry fire does help to build and maintain the muscle tone necessary to be able to shoot DAO (and anything else too) well, and should be a regular part of your routine.
     
  24. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart Member

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    Each to his own. I do not dry fire any of my firarms without a snap cap and then only occasionally.

    I shoot both revolvers and semi with DAO. I prefer them. You hear so often that Certain DAO firarms are have long trigger pulls etc. But if you shoot them on a regular basis you learn that on fast action, not target shooting, they just become one deliberate smooth pull.

    Paul Harrell did a good description. You can see at the 4 min. Mark. "It has to be a steady pull but timely"

     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 9:10 AM
  25. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    A decent set of small rubber grips (or the addition of a grip adapter), using wadcutter target ammo to begin with, and lots of practice will go a long way in helping you shoot a J frame.

    poKELn4.jpg

    TyNf0Dv.jpg
     
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