How to Adjust the Sights on a Pistol

By Joe White

Having the sights of your handgun properly adjusted is just as important to hitting your target as shooting accurately. Handguns can be tricky to sight in since they do not have scopes and because the sighting depends on the shooter and his control of the recoil. The key to proper adjustment of your handgun sights is patience and consistency as you determine the most comfortable setting for accurate shooting.

Align your sights properly. Before you can begin to adjust the sights, you need a stable shooting platform. Line up the front sight directly in the center of the notch of the rear sights with the tops level on a horizontal plane. The top of the front sight should be directly beneath the bull's-eye. Focus on the front sight while you shoot.

Adjust the windage knobs right and left to test their sensitivity. Shoot a five-round group, then crank your sights 10 clicks left to shoot another five-round group. Adjust the sights to the right for a third group. Find the center of each group and measure the distance between the groups to determine how much each click on the knobs alters your alignment.

Begin at a shorter distance. Ten yards is enough for the first adjustments. Shoot in five-round groups and make appropriate changes to your sighting by turning the windage knobs to move the sights.

Move out to maximum distance. Most pistols will have a ceiling of 50 yards or so, and for many shooters, accurate shooting is limited to distances of 25 to 30 yards. Fire several five-round groups at your maximum distance to ensure the sighting is adjusted properly.

Maintain consistent form. The flight path of the bullet is affected by your grip and response throughout the shot. Make sure your grip and stance are consistent with each shot and from group to group. Each person's shot is different; make sure your gun is adjusted to your shooting style.

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