Fixed sights that shoot to point of aim out of the box - is there such a thing?

Fixed sights that shoot to point of aim out of the box - is there such a thing?

This is a discussion on Fixed sights that shoot to point of aim out of the box - is there such a thing? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I never used to care for fixed sights because rumor had it that they always shot somewhere other then where you were aiming. Some lucky ...

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Thread: Fixed sights that shoot to point of aim out of the box - is there such a thing?

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    Senior Member Array Grizzly2's Avatar
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    Fixed sights that shoot to point of aim out of the box - is there such a thing?

    I never used to care for fixed sights because rumor had it that they always shot somewhere other then where you were aiming. Some lucky folks could find a load that worked but it seemed most had to file or bend sights. I'm wanting to try to buy another small .38 snubby 2" or less. By asking on this forum, I'm hoping that maybe a pattern will form that we can see. Please list fairly recent snubs you've bought lately - not nice old pinned S&Ws - but recent production models and tell us if you found a load that would shoot to your poa or how close to it - or how far away from poa did it hit? Obviously the goal is for poa and poi to coincide at a reasonable distance. You might list that also, if you would. Thanks in advance for participating.

    My first two tries were both off. First a Taurus 85 printed 3-4 inches left either off hand or rested off the bench. The threads in the frame seemed to be drilled crooked and the barrel actually pointed a little left. Next my 3" Bulldog also shot about 3" left and CA finally installed a new barrel. Now it is in the black a 5 yards and moves to the left some as the range increases. I plan to file the side of the sight very slowly until I find that happy medium between shooting offhand da and sa off the bench rested.

    What have you found?
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    Neither hubby nor I have had problems with revolvers with fixed sights shooting anywhere except to POA. I can not say the same for semi autos, however.

    The most recent small revolvers we each had were: Ruger LCR .22lr for me and Ruger LCR .22WMR for him. Both shot to POA consistently, even though the trigger was so horribly stiff that I had to use both trigger fingers to pull it.

    From all I read on the forums I belong to, I suspect that new production anything is going to be problematic. You can get a good one or a messed up one. That is a good reason to buy brands noted for very good and prompt customer service.
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    Senior Member Array CDRGlock's Avatar
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    The only variation I have found with fixed sights is the height of the front sight.

    This can influence whether it works with a 6:00 versus combat hold.

    I have never in my 30 years of shooting had a windage issue with any revolver, and I have a lot of them.

    Add these two, also, not pictured in the family since I just got them today and sunday.

    I own Ruger, S&W and Taurus revolvers. No issues with any of them.

    I’m a reloader, so I do prefer adjustable sights because point of impact changes depending upon the weight of the bullet and what powder I’ve used.

    Every person does use open sights differently. However, I have had a run of 10 people who told me the gun wasn’t shooting correctly. I take one bullet, and hit the mark, and hand it back, saying, “It’s not the gun”.

    But I’d see what alignment issues there are regarding the front sight, since many Snub nosed revolvers have rear channel sights.

    I’d have a gunsmith take a look at the gun before taking off material.


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    Senior Member Array lee n. field's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly2 View Post
    I never used to care for fixed sights because rumor had it that they always shot somewhere other then where you were aiming. Some lucky folks could find a load that worked but it seemed most had to file or bend sights. I'm wanting to try to buy another small .38 snubby 2" or less. By asking on this forum, I'm hoping that maybe a pattern will form that we can see. Please list fairly recent snubs you've bought lately - not nice old pinned S&Ws - but recent production models and tell us if you found a load that would shoot to your poa or how close to it - or how far away from poa did it hit? Obviously the goal is for poa and poi to coincide at a reasonable distance. You might list that also, if you would. Thanks in advance for participating.

    My first two tries were both off. First a Taurus 85 printed 3-4 inches left either off hand or rested off the bench. The threads in the frame seemed to be drilled crooked and the barrel actually pointed a little left. Next my 3" Bulldog also shot about 3" left and CA finally installed a new barrel. Now it is in the black a 5 yards and moves to the left some as the range increases. I plan to file the side of the sight very slowly until I find that happy medium between shooting offhand da and sa off the bench rested.

    What have you found?
    Both of my snubs, a Taurus 605 and S&W 642, shoot to point of aim with my handloads. 158 grain lswc, 3.8 grains Bullseye.

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    Senior Member Array azretired's Avatar
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    My 642-1, 638-3, 64-4 & 65-2 all shoot POA/POI at 15 yards & closer with Standard velocity 158 LSWC & my hand load of 4.6 gr. Unique with a cast 158 SWC. 159 JHP 357 mags shoot about an inch high out of my 4" 65.
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    Distinguished Member Array threefeathers's Avatar
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    There is so much ammo available nowadays you will certainly find one make that shoots center POA. My experience is that you pick 3 brands and give them a try from a bench, seated and braced by a sand bag. That will take away human error.
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    Senior Member Array Grizzly2's Avatar
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    I bought the wife a pinned 3" 36 many years ago and that shot to point of aim and now I regret having traded it off. These last two though have left me wondering. I'd like to buy a new 38 snub but I'm leery after these last two. You'd think with a two piece barrel in the LCR that they'd have a near perfect record of shooting to point of aim but I seem to remember hearing quite a few saying otherwise. I always make a point of seeing how they can shoot from a solid rest and then how I shoot them. I can tell when I'm pulling a shot or a certain set of grips changes things a little.

    I hope more here tell how there snubs shoot.
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    VIP Member Array forester58's Avatar
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    My most recent is a 642 and it shoots true with 158 grain loads and anything lighter I have to adjust elevation just a tad as the distances get longer.
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    I have a Model 36 I bought new in the early '70's that is still in excellent condition. It has always shot high and to the left, even bench rest, single action. Not sure what I could do about it. I thought about having a gunsmith take some metal off the right side and the bottom of the rear notch, but I've never pursued it. I still carry it occasionally, though. It's accurate enough for likely distances and I am aware of the situation, so I can still hit pretty well with it.
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    My wife, daughter and I each have a LCPii. We each tested them from a supported position and all had the same results.....my daughter's is dead-on, mine is about 1" low left. My wife's was so low left that we have sent it back to Ruger (UPS has lost it, so not sure about the outcome...Ruger is tracking it). We are very impressed with two of them!!!!
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    My snubbies all shoot straight.

    If they do not, they are not my snubby for very long.

    Trying different bullet weights can help with low/high issues.

    Any weapon from any company can have a manufacturing issue, but in my experience, shooting low + left is typically a shooter issue.

    My wife's grandpappys 1992 stainless Taurus 85 is my most accurate snub (J frame size). It shoots like a 4 inch Model 10.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Havok View Post
    My bullets hit where I aim.
    Well ... at least mine hit where the gun is pointing. It's my efforts to point correctly that always seems to require more aiming effort.


    Ruminations about personal experiences with fixed sights.

    Yes, there are lots of good handguns that shoot to point-of-aim, right out of the box. I'll be honest and say that I'm skeptical of new production firearms of all kinds. Don't feel quite as confident about what is being cranked out these days as I hold the view that all of the manufacturers' quality control is inferior today. I've got a Smith & Wesson .40 Shield that shot far to the left right out of the box. Sent it back for a warranty look-see when I couldn't budge the front sight in efforts to drift it and the Shield returned shooting straight. On the other hand I've got two late model Colts, a .45 ACP and a 10mm that put 'em right in there.

    I'm sensitive about fixed sight handguns shooting to point-of-aim, especially windage. Windage deviations are annoying. There are lots of handgun on hand and many of them have fixed sights which are my favorite sights for most handgun applications. Seems that once I find a favorite load for the handguns having adjustable sights the rear sights on those handguns effectively become "fixed." For instance the adjustable rear sights on my favorite Smith & Wesson Model 17 .22 or Model 29 .44 Magnum or the Colt Gold Cup .45 ACP haven't required an adjustment in probably 30 years.

    There are only three fixed sight handguns here that I can think of that are significantly "off" and they are all old vintage Colt revolvers. All shoot to the left to the extent that good ol' "Kentucky windage" is required to gain center hits. The worst offender is a Colt Army Special .41 Long Colt. It'll shoot reasonably tight groups thee inches to left of center at 15 yards. That's tin-can-missin' variance and is a bit of an annoyance. I just compensate by aiming my best estimate of three inches to the right. Have taken a cottontail that way once at about 20 yards with the old revolver, thwacking him in the head by aiming at his shoulder as he presented a left side profile. A Colt New Service Model 1917 and Colt Single Action Army here also shoot to the left more incrementally. With them all it really takes is to "think" the sight to the right, sorta just a instinctive "lean" to the right to hit dead on out to 25 yards or so. I'm not going bother with bending front sights or filing the right side of rear sight notches to better align sights on vintage guns. When using these I just have to remember how they shoot.

    I've never found a fixed sight Smith & Wesson revolver of any age, from 1881 to 1998 that didn't shoot to point-of-aim with standard velocity ammunition at any distance out to 25 yards. They may be out there, but I've never had one and I've had lots of fixed sight Smith & Wesson revolvers.

    I've also never had a Colt 1911-gun, military contract or commercial, that didn't shoot to point-of-aim with fixed sights when using standard 230 grain ammunition. Several 1911A1 military contract guns owned and a few more shot always shot to point-of-aim as well. Even my old Augusta Arsenal rebuild World War I era Colt 1911 remains dead-on at 25 yards. Of course the rear sight on these models may be drifted as needed for windage adjustments.

    Off the subject a bit, but I did special order a new Smith & Wesson Model 24 six-inch back in 1983 after getting all pumped up on Skeeter Skelton's writings about it and reading about Smith & Wesson re-introduction of the Model 24 .44 Special. Mine was a handsome revolver and was slated to take most of the shooting pressure off a vintage Smith & Wesson .44 Special I had. It shot well enough too ... when its adjustable sight was adjusted as far as it would go to the right. It looked plum goofy that way. Guess the barrel was canted on the frame and perhaps I should have sent it back for a warranty adjustment. The sight adjusted in such a fashion was an offense to my eye and unsatisfactory to me so I ultimately traded the Model 24 away.

    With fixed sight handguns, the loads that most closely mimic a cartridge's original ballistics will generally agree with the sights in personal experience. With automatics: the 9mm seems to hit to point-of-aim best with 115 grain loads, the .40 S&W and 10mm with 180 grain loads, and the .45 with 230 grain loads.

    With revolvers: the .32 S&W Long with 98-100 grain bullets, the .38 Special and .357 Magnum with standard velocity 158 grain ammunition, standard velocity in .357 Magnum being full-power loads. .44 Special will be with 245 grain bullets at moderate velocities. .45 Colt revolvers will be with any 250-255 grain standard velocity load. 45 ACP revolvers will be with 230 grain loads.

    Study your cartridge's history and the ballistics it offered as it was first marketed. Evaluate your ammunition choices, both bullet weight and velocity performance. For instance, a 1944 vintage Webley Mark IV here shot woefully low (like nearly a foot at 15 yards) with the standard ol' 146 grain .38 S&W factory ammunition or equivalent hand load. Providing this revolver with ammunition hand loaded with 200 grain bullets that mimicked the heavier bullet weights the British chose when they first adopted the 38/200 cartridge, which was their loading of the .38 S&W cartridge, brought the point-of-impact precisely with the revolver's point-of-aim. This was most satisfying. On the other hand, a Colt Bankers Special snub here shoots the 146 grain .38 S&W load to precise point-of-aim at the same distance and is a pretty accurate little snub revolver.

    Hand loading can be beneficial, for one can sometimes bring bullets closer to fixed sights' point-of-aim through adjusting the powder charge or bullet weight of his hand loads.

    My handguns chambered for .22 Long Rifle don't seem to vary significantly when velocity difference or bullet weight differences are introduced. For example my Model 17 Smith & Wesson will put a group of .22 Shorts within an inch of where it will place standard velocity target 40 grain Long Rifle ammunition at 15 yards.

    Any deviation from standard weigh and velocity can affect point-of-impact. The so-called +P factory loads and performance-driven hand loads will reflect point-of-aim deviations. Many times it's not enough to be concerned with at reasonable handgun distances out to 25 yards or so, unless one is looking for bottle cap accuracy. Generally deviations will show up as elevation deviations rather than in extreme windage deviations. Lighter bullets tend to impact lower than point-of-aim on target, heavier ones higher. Speedier standard weight bullets such as .38 Special +P 158 grain bullets for example tend to hit very slightly lower than 158 grain bullets of standard velocity. Heavy hand loads offering enhanced velocities with standard weight bullets impact lower too. Introduce a lighter bullet to the mix such as a 110-125 grain weight in the .38 Special or .357 Magnum or a 180-200 grain weight in the .45 ACP and bullets will impact lower.

    I don't have very many really new handguns so factory fixed sight regulation may have changed to reflect current though on ammunition since when the handguns here were produced. Always remember that each and every gun, even within a particular model, is a law unto itself and will display unique accuracy and point-of-impact characteristics.
    Last edited by bmcgilvray; February 25th, 2020 at 12:52 PM.
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    VIP Member Array G-man*'s Avatar
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    Sometimes, the lighting variations can cause you to see the front sight differently and affect your aim, which causes impact difference horizontally.

    I have experienced this shooting from outside to inside, or a cloudy vs sunny day.
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    OOO... good point G-man! Glad you mentioned this.

    I shoot better groups on cloudy days when using open sights than I do on sunny days with the attendant glint on sights. One can make allowances, but it never seems to be as precise.
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