My <insert gun model> Shoots <some direction> Instead of on Target

NOTE: This post is focused on hand guns.

This is one of the most common posts on gun groups. Somebody will pop in, pretty much every day, saying something like, “I got a new gun, and it seems to shoot left/right/high/low/upside down. What is wrong?”

It is a pretty good question, it is too bad that the answers seem to suck. The answers are always:

  • Aim the other direction so your shots hit the target. This one wins the award from me for being the most ignorant response.
  • Fix your grip on the gun.
  • Fix your finger position on the trigger.
  • Adjust your stance by blading more the other direction.
  • Change your ammo, some guns only like certain ammo.
  • Take it to a gun smith and have them fix it.
  • Return it to where you bought it and have them sell you one that works.

I want to cry for the community. We have way too many people that just don’t know enough, yet. Hopefully, they will eventually learn. Those that have been around will also post one of these pictures shown.Target Analysis

To be fair, often, these are helpful. However, the first step should be to identify if it is the shooter or the gun. After all, it might be the sights are off. Of course, it is most likely the shooter, but we need to make sure before we start telling them what they are doing wrong.

How do you test whether it is the gun or not? Well, there are a couple of ways. trigger finger

  • Put the gun in a ransom rest. If the shots are off left or right, then it is probably the rear sight needs to be adjusted. While it could be the front sight, many guns do not offer an adjustment for the front sight. Those that do offer the ability to adjust the rear sight, it will often require drifting the sight, and you probably should engage a gun smith to help out unless are experienced.
  • Have an experienced shooter test it while in a well supported shooting position using a rest for the front and rear of the gun to minimize any movement.Grip Analysis

Moving Your Sights

Assuming you are certain that the gun’s sights need to be adjusted, remember the FORS rule. This stands for Front Opposite Rear Same. For example, if you want to move the point of impact to the right, then you would move the rear sights to the right (same direction). This will be easy if you have adjustable sights that you can easily change. Otherwise, you might need to drift the sights, and this might require a gunsmith to do this.

As far as up and down, that is something that requires extra consideration. First off, very few hand guns have vertical adjustments. However, whether the sights can be adjusted up or down or not is secondary to selecting what distance the gun should be zeroed. For example, some guns are zeroed at closer distances and other are zeroed at longer distances. Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter as handguns will not see much trajectory drop as they are shot at very close ranges and there is little variance between 5 yards and 25 yards for most handgun rounds. A typical 9mm round, for example, will only drop about half an inch over 25 yards.

Summary: Identify whether the problem is with the gun or the shooter, then resolve the problem.

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