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  1. #1
    numbertwo's Avatar
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    Checking and correcting sights without firing?

    Is there a way to check to see if my sights are "correct/straight" without having to fire off rounds? Same with correcting the sights if it's needs some adjusting?

  2. #2
    DJ Niner's Avatar
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    Short answer: no.

    Too many variables; manufacturing tolerances between the gun's parts, differences in ammunition, how a person grips the handgun, etc. To verify point-of-impact, you really must shoot it.

    It's also important to shoot it for other reasons, like verifying the weapon/ammo combination is reliable. Some guns don't "like" certain kinds of ammo, and the only way to make sure your gun will work with the ammo you've selected is to shoot it. Some folks are very concerned about reliability, and will not carry a handgun for self-defense until they have fired 100 or more shots of the ammo they intend to carry, with no stoppages of any kind. I've even seen revolvers have problems with some kinds of ammo; they are not immune to jamming, it's just less likely with a revolver's design.

    The last reason may be the most important one: most bullets missing the target (misses) aren't caused by the gun's sights being off-center, or the ammo not matching the sights. Most misses are caused by poor shooting skills, such as "jerking" or "slapping" the trigger, which cause the gun to move off-target at the last moment before the bullet leaves the barrel. Even if your sights are perfect and your ammo matched to the sights, you can still miss if you don't shoot properly, which means if you want to reliably hit a target, you need to practice your shooting skills. Which requires firing the handgun.

    Find a safe place, wear eye and ear protection, and shoot it. End of sermon.
    "Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
    (RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)

  3. #3
    usmcj's Avatar
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    You can bore sight some guns, or use a laser to get "on paper", but for any degree of accuracy, you'll need to shoot it.

  4. #4
    rex
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    Yes,the only way to tell is shoot it.

    If you find the sights are off,and it's not you,there is a correction formula.Everything needs converted to inches:

    Multiply your sight radius times the amount your group is off from POA (point of aim).Then divide that by the distance to your target.That number will turn out in thousandths of an inch so you need a dial caliper to measure,just drift your sights or replace them with the correct heighth if the rear isn't adjustable.

  5. #5
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    I can only parrot what has already been said. With any degree of reliability you must put rounds down range

    RCG

  6. #6
    TOF's Avatar
    TOF
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    Open mechanical sights only:

    Depends on what you consider accurate and what type gun you are talking about.
    I have changed sights on a number of S&W M&P semi autos over the last 6 years. I have been able to set them to usable accuracy by simply centering the blade and slot in the slide. Other brands and models may be better or worse. Usable accuracy for a defensive pistol by my definition is POA/POI within 1 1/2 inch windage and 2 inches elevation at 15 yards.

    To verify POA vs POI you must fire the gun.

    You will not be able to assure MOA accuracy with rifles that way but centered is the best starting point.

    If you determine how much error needs correcting by firing it is certainly possible to return home and adjust the sight, using precision measurements and appropriate math determine how much adjustment to make. Once again, verification requires a bang or two.

    If you tell us more specificaly what you want to set our answers might be more appropriate to your problem.

  7. #7
    numbertwo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Niner View Post
    Short answer: no.

    Too many variables; manufacturing tolerances between the gun's parts, differences in ammunition, how a person grips the handgun, etc. To verify point-of-impact, you really must shoot it.

    It's also important to shoot it for other reasons, like verifying the weapon/ammo combination is reliable. Some guns don't "like" certain kinds of ammo, and the only way to make sure your gun will work with the ammo you've selected is to shoot it. Some folks are very concerned about reliability, and will not carry a handgun for self-defense until they have fired 100 or more shots of the ammo they intend to carry, with no stoppages of any kind. I've even seen revolvers have problems with some kinds of ammo; they are not immune to jamming, it's just less likely with a revolver's design.

    The last reason may be the most important one: most bullets missing the target (misses) aren't caused by the gun's sights being off-center, or the ammo not matching the sights. Most misses are caused by poor shooting skills, such as "jerking" or "slapping" the trigger, which cause the gun to move off-target at the last moment before the bullet leaves the barrel. Even if your sights are perfect and your ammo matched to the sights, you can still miss if you don't shoot properly, which means if you want to reliably hit a target, you need to practice your shooting skills. Which requires firing the handgun.

    Find a safe place, wear eye and ear protection, and shoot it. End of sermon.
    Thanks. It could just be the me factor (grip, stance etc) but I has to ask because while replacing my grip I made the mistake of pounding on the fastener while having my pistol upside down on a wooden table. Now I don't know if it's enough to move the sights over a bit but if it was and there was a way to fix without having to fire of rounds then that's less problems for me lol.

  8. #8
    numbertwo's Avatar
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    It guess doesn't help that my nearest range is 1hr away and the closest we can shoot our targets at is 25yrds.

  9. #9
    rex
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    Quote Originally Posted by numbertwo View Post
    It guess doesn't help that my nearest range is 1hr away and the closest we can shoot our targets at is 25yrds.
    Holy crap,what were they thinking?

    While it is possible,my first guess is your sights didn't move,but tell us what gun we're dealing with.If you have a Kimber forget it,you will destroy the table before moving them.If you can see any of the dovetail base,you will see a light mark most likely where it originally sat.It will either be from partial finish removal/scratch,or where there is an 'odd,dry' looking sliver next to the sight.This can be confused with gun oil not getting right up next to the sight while wiping it down,so if it doesn't look like a perfect edge don't mess with it until you shoot it.Most factory sights don't move easy unless you are concentrating quite a bit of force directly to them with the slide locked in a vice.

  10. #10
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    The range management is foolish, but it's not unusual behavior. Our local gun-club range has the same stupid rules. (I quit years ago.)
    The best way for a beginner or the inexperienced to check sights and technique is at short range, moving further back (or moving the target further away) as progress is made.

    In your case, maybe the best thing to do is one of the following:
    1. At the range, seek out a very experienced pistol shooter. (Ask the Rangemaster for an introduction.) Let that person shoot your gun, and then discuss it with you analytically.
    2. Take the gun to a good gunsmith, and ask him to regulate your pistol's sights for a 25-yard zero. Pay whatever he asks.

    Then you'll know whether it's your technique or the gun's sights.

  11. #11
    Bob Wright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by usmcj View Post
    You can bore sight some guns, or use a laser to get "on paper", but for any degree of accuracy, you'll need to shoot it.
    Bore sighting a handgun is a useless endeavor. The bore must be aimed below the target to compensate for muzzle rise, or "flip."

    Bob Wright

  12. #12
    DJ Niner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by numbertwo View Post
    Thanks. It could just be the me factor (grip, stance etc) but I has to ask because while replacing my grip I made the mistake of pounding on the fastener while having my pistol upside down on a wooden table. Now I don't know if it's enough to move the sights over a bit but if it was and there was a way to fix without having to fire of rounds then that's less problems for me lol.
    Quote Originally Posted by numbertwo View Post
    It guess doesn't help that my nearest range is 1hr away and the closest we can shoot our targets at is 25yrds.
    Ah, now I understand your problem much better.

    All I can offer is something I have done in the past, so you don't have this problem again in the future. Once you have fired the weapon and verified your sights, you can make a record of a measurement from one side of the slide to the edge of the rear sight (I use a digital caliper, using the depth measurement rod on the end). Another option is to take a close-up digital photograph of the top of the slide, looking down onto it from above, so you can see how the sight is centered (or not) in the notch. Although the second method does not sound very accurate, I have done this several times when replacing a damaged rear sight with the same model replacement sight, and if you get the new sight visually aligned in the same spot as the old sight, the shots will be very close to center or right on-target when you shoot it to check.
    "Placement is power" -- seen in an article by Stephen A. Camp
    (RIP, Mr. Camp; you will be remembered, and missed)

  13. #13
    numbertwo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rex View Post
    Holy crap,what were they thinking?

    While it is possible,my first guess is your sights didn't move,but tell us what gun we're dealing with.If you have a Kimber forget it,you will destroy the table before moving them.If you can see any of the dovetail base,you will see a light mark most likely where it originally sat.It will either be from partial finish removal/scratch,or where there is an 'odd,dry' looking sliver next to the sight.This can be confused with gun oil not getting right up next to the sight while wiping it down,so if it doesn't look like a perfect edge don't mess with it until you shoot it.Most factory sights don't move easy unless you are concentrating quite a bit of force directly to them with the slide locked in a vice.

    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Niner View Post
    Ah, now I understand your problem much better.

    All I can offer is something I have done in the past, so you don't have this problem again in the future. Once you have fired the weapon and verified your sights, you can make a record of a measurement from one side of the slide to the edge of the rear sight (I use a digital caliper, using the depth measurement rod on the end). Another option is to take a close-up digital photograph of the top of the slide, looking down onto it from above, so you can see how the sight is centered (or not) in the notch. Although the second method does not sound very accurate, I have done this several times when replacing a damaged rear sight with the same model replacement sight, and if you get the new sight visually aligned in the same spot as the old sight, the shots will be very close to center or right on-target when you shoot it to check.
    I'm looking at it right it right now and it doesn't appear to have any odd, dry bare metal. Looks like I didn't move it but I'll try DJ Niner's suggestion with the close up digital photo anyway.



    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    The range management is foolish, but it's not unusual behavior. Our local gun-club range has the same stupid rules. (I quit years ago.)
    The best way for a beginner or the inexperienced to check sights and technique is at short range, moving further back (or moving the target further away) as progress is made.

    In your case, maybe the best thing to do is one of the following:
    1. At the range, seek out a very experienced pistol shooter. (Ask the Rangemaster for an introduction.) Let that person shoot your gun, and then discuss it with you analytically.
    2. Take the gun to a good gunsmith, and ask him to regulate your pistol's sights for a 25-yard zero. Pay whatever he asks.

    Then you'll know whether it's your technique or the gun's sights.


    After all the above I'll be trying this next time I go to a range and I'm in the process of finding a range closer to home indoor range that allows me to shoot closer than 25yrds.


    Thank you all for helping!

  14. #14
    usmcj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Wright View Post
    Bore sighting a handgun is a useless endeavor. The bore must be aimed below the target to compensate for muzzle rise, or "flip."

    Bob Wright
    As you wish. You suit yourself, sir.

  15. #15
    Bob Wright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by usmcj View Post
    As you wish. You suit yourself, sir.
    I believe you disagree with my statement? I'd be interested in hearing your stance.

    Bob Wright

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    usmcj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Wright View Post
    I believe you disagree with my statement? I'd be interested in hearing your stance.

    Bob Wright
    The bore must be aimed below the target to compensate for muzzle rise, or "flip."
    Your point is valid.

    Bore sighting, or laser sighting, or "aiming in that general direction" will eventually get a person "on paper". I'm not aware of ANY bore-sighting system that is intended to sight in, then go shoot a match.... and that's not what I was suggesting.

    That being said, in my opinion, bore sighting is NOT a useless endeavor. Any initial reference point for sight adjustment, obtained however the shooter chooses, should generate adjustments that will eventually lead to POA = POI.

    Muzzle flip in an AR-15 .223 is no greater than the muzzle flip of a Savage bolt action in .223, but the sight height of the AR is considerably higher above the bore. ????

  17. #17
    Bob Wright's Avatar
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    usmcj

    O.K. I see what you mean. As far as my experience, I've never done any preliminary sighting prior to going to the range and firing. Never had access to any laser bore sighting equipment, so just fired away.

    Bob Wright

    P.S. What is usmcj? Had two relatives Marines, don't know what "j" means.

  18. #18
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    My first name is Jay, and when I registered here, "usmc" was already spoken for.... so I just tacked the "j" on the end ...

    Bore sighting a handgun is not always possible, nor is it always the most efficient method, but it can be done. If "flip" was that critical an issue, it's interesting that the front sight height to bore centerline on my Buckmark .22 is .875, while the front sight height to bore centerline on my 1911 is only .618... and the 1911 has considerably more flip than my Buckmark. The rear sights are close to the same height.

    ...as long as shots get on target, that's all that counts. Sighting in has to begin somewhere, and that starting point can and does vary from shooter-to-shooter.

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