How Accurate Are Fixed Sight S/A Revolvers?

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Montelores

Buckeye
Joined
Oct 29, 2009
Messages
1,337
Does it depend on the manufacturer? Does one need to mentally adjust the sight picture if a revolver has its own idiosyncrasy? Does one mark or file a front blade sight? Is the trade-off fidelity to tradition vs. adjustability?

I began thinking about this while looking at all the USFA revolvers in an adjacent thread. One would hope that such beautiful guns are perfectly accurate.

Thank you,

Monty
 

pisgah

Buckeye
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Upstate SC
They are just as accurate as their adjustable-sighted brethren. It's just that a fixed-sighted gun may not shoot exactly to your point of aim, in which case there are several things you can do.

First of all, different loads will shoot to different points of impact. For instance, a .45 Colt load with a 300 gr. bullet will hit higher than one with a lighter bullet, say 250 or 200 gr. One load may also hit left or right of another. SOmetimes, just changing the way you grip the revolver may correct your problem.

If you find a load that is acceptably accurate in terms of it's group size but is shooting too low, you can file the front sight to raise your point of impact. If it hits too high, you might have a gunsmith install a higher front sight. If the load shoots far left or right, you might slighty bend the front sight in the appropriate direction, or turn the barrel slightly to get it shooting to point of aim. Typlically, the user of a fixed-sight revolver will find one load that is "right on", and that load will become "the one" for his revolver.
 

7tcu

Bearcat
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
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Most fixed sight revolvers are accurate. If you compare the same model with fixed and adjustable sights, there should be no difference. Only problem with fixed sights is that you can't readily adjust for point of impact.
 

RonEgg

Blackhawk
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Oct 26, 2007
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East Texas
I had posted one of those handguns over on the other post. Mine shot just slightly to left or right, don't remember which. After shooting it for a bit, I had my smith remove a little material from the rear sight channel, cold blued the area and it's a shooter.
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
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Mar 11, 2009
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Kentucky
I've got a .45 LC "New" Vaquero with a 4-3/4" barrel as well as one of the Lipsey's .44 Specials in the same length, and a 50th Anniversary .357 Flat Top. It's no surprise that the better sight picture offered by the adjustable sights helps in shooting accurately.

Given that each of these handguns has its own accuracy potential, regardless of the sights, I find that the open notch type on the Vaquero costs me about 1/2" at 25 yds. It will still shoot 2" gps on demand and smaller if I have the time and inclination to smoke the sights black with a candle and the sun is behind me.

As to sighting it in, I found that it shot 2+" left and 2+" low when I first got it. I will not change my grip technique to cater to a particular gun but here's the story. With two hands the gps were about 2" left, but with one hand (the right one), they were almost 3" left. Correcting this without access to a good gunsmith to turn the barrel is difficult, and I didn't want to send it back to Ruger. In the end, I carefully widened the rear notch to the right with a set of jeweler's files, effectively "moving" the rear notch in that direction. That gave me an inch of the two I needed. I also filed about .015" off the right side of the front sight blade, as well as off the top. The top correction was necessary to raise my point of impact for my standard load: 255 gr SWC and 8.0 to 8.5 gr of new Unique. I took enough off to place that bullet 2" high at 25 yds. If I load 230 gr cast .45 ACP bullets, I find they hit about an inch low at 25 yds...still usable and somewhat lighter in recoil. The narrower front sight blade and widened rear notch have not affected the sight picture as far as I can determine. The piece groups as accurately now as it did before my efforts to correct the shot placement.

That pretty much did it and my gps are centered with a two-hand hold, and only an inch left when shooting with my right hand only. I used a cold blue to reblue the filed notch and blade and it's very difficult to see the changes.

As to ergonomics, I find the Vaquero with its rounded front sight and smooth notch rear is far easier to shove into my hip jeans pocket and the draw is much smoother. Too, in a Tom Threepersons type holster, it NEVER comes out with leather duff on the front sight. So, while the adjustable sights on the standard Blackhawks allow easy sighting in, they do have some disadvantages, primarily in carrying...

Don't get me wrong, the Lipsey's .44 Special is my favorite...but I do like the Vaquero a lot. Here's 3 pics of the work. If you look closely, you can see the widened rear notch, it doesn't take much on a 4-3/4 barrel to get the correction you need. I taped the hammer and adjacent frame to prevent the file from straying. It was file a little, then shoot a cpl of gps. Fortunately, I have a range off my back deck here on the farm so it was a morning's work to finish the job.

Regards and HTH's, Rodfac

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Bob Wright

Hawkeye
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Far as I'm concerned, all revolvers are fixed-sight revolvers. Some are just easier to sight-in.

Its far easier to adjust sights with a screwdriver that file and pipe wrench.



Just kiddin', of course. I don't REALLY use a pipe wrench to turn the barrel.

Bob Wright
 

DGW1949

Hunter
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Lot's of good info in the previous postings. About all I can add is that if circumstances permit, make dern-sure that any fixed-sight revolver you buy has the barrel clocked correctly to start with.....for that is half the battle....AND it's the half which is the most difficult to deal with.

DGW
 

Montelores

Buckeye
Joined
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Messages
1,337
Thank you all for the replies and explanations.

I suppose that I did mis-speak when I used the term "accurate". More correctly, I should have asked if fixed-sight systems have the same point of aim and point of impact.

Rodfac: I understand what you have said about changing one's grip, but I have a question. Shouldn't a gun fire to essentially the same point every time if the gun is held in a fixed position (on a bench)? I know that when I rush my trigger pull, I tend to shoot high, but I do sight the gun in from a stationary position on a rest.

Thank you again,

Monty
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
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Land of the Pilgrims
About all I can add is that if circumstances permit, make dern-sure that any fixed-sight revolver you buy has the barrel clocked correctly to start with.....for that is half the battle....AND it's the half which is the most difficult to deal with.

Howdy

I will certainly agree with that. I used to have a Cimarron (Uberti) Cattleman whose front sight leaned to one side. I did not realize it when I first bought the gun. I also made the mistake of trying to bend the front sight, rather than turning the barrel. Bad idea. The gun had other problems and I eventually got rid of it to buy, guess what? A Bisley Vaquero. Which I also eventually got rid of to help pay for a Colt.

I have a S&W Model 1917 that has a bent front sight. This is one of the Brazilian contract guns, and it is often said that when these things were imported back into the US they must have been all dumped into a box, which rattled around in the hold of a ship for a month or so. Mine is no exception, it has some pretty serious dings on it, which include a bent front sight. I have decided to live with it because there is a hairline crack at the base of the sight, and I am afraid if I try to straighten it out it will break right off. And the design of these guns does not lend themselves to rotating the barrel. The funny thing is, I have another one which has been refinished. It's all shiny and new looking, and the sights are nice and straight. When I am shooting both of them I just ignore the leaning front sight on one and place my sight picture where I want the bullets to go. I ain't shooting for super accuracy, I just like shooting neat old guns.


Shouldn't a gun fire to essentially the same point every time if the gun is held in a fixed position (on a bench)?

It's all in how it recoils in your hand. Remember, the gun begins to recoil and the muzzle begins to flip up before the bullet leaves the barrel. So how the gun recoils will affect where the bullet winds up. Many times we grip the gun so that it does not recoil perfectly straight up, instead the grip can twist slightly in our hands. Even when sitting at a bench. If the gun twists while it recoils, the bullet will probably go someplace other than exactly where we are sighting.
 

Coop

Blackhawk
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Mt. Lebanon, PA USA
Rodfac - great whiskey bottle there. Annie and I keep one in our bedroom for our usual nightcap.

Montelores - Annie and I have been shooting our Vaqueros in CAS matches for over 11 years now. My pair of .357 Vaqueros consistently shoot POA 1-1/2" groups at 15 yards, offhand, with a two-hand hold.

158 gr. RNFP Oregon Trail bullets, Starline brass, Winchester Small Pistol primers, and X.2 gr. Alliant Unique powder. PM me if you want to know the "X".

Coop
 

Yosemite Sam

Hunter
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I had the same concerns before I got my first SA. I wanted a Bisley Blackhawk due to the grips and sights. Going to a gun show yielded a Bisley Vaquero in the same caliber, that was nice, shiny, and called to me. It came home with me, and ended up dropping it's very first shot right into the bullseye at ~30ft. That was with commercial ammo, before I started loading.

I tend toward adjustable sight guns now, but honestly, rarely change the settings once they're set up. I do think they take away from the "old style" looks, if that's what you're after. Then again, the BH is 50 years old now, and that makes adjustable sight Ruger SAs pretty "traditional", too...

-- Sam
 

Sonnytoo

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florida
Rodfac":2sz083vl said:
I've got a .45 LC "New" Vaquero I carefully widened the rear notch to the right with a set of jeweler's files, effectively "moving" the rear notch in that direction.
If you look closely, you can see the widened rear notch, it doesn't take much on a 4-3/4 barrel to get the correction you need. I taped the hammer and adjacent frame to prevent the file from straying. It was file a little, then shoot a cpl of gps. Fortunately, I have a range off my back deck here on the farm so it was a morning's work to finish the job.

Regards and HTH's, Rodfac

You did some nice work there. Good for you!
Sonnytoo
 

Rodfac

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Monte....I sight mine in from a sitting position taking extra care to use the same hold that I use offhand. It's a sitting positon, my back up against a support (tree, fence post, what ever). I took some pics a week or so ago and will post one here. After getting a pretty good zero sitting, I shoot offhand, standing from 25 yds to fine tune it. 90% of my shooting is done offhand, standing so that's were I want the piece sighted for.

Shooting from a bench support, either sandbags, a rolled towel or jacket gives me a different point of impact, from what I get sitting or offhand. The gun will recoil or bounce away if held against a hard surface while sighting in, and in my experience, my bare hands are the best support with as little interference with the natural recoil motion as is possible. I can move groups around on the target by varying my grip strength and position. To combat this, I do as much of my shooting as is possible from the positions I use in the field.

It's a matter of grip angle, and distance from the sights to my eyes and as another responder pointed out, the way the piece recoils in my hand. I suspect that I also hold, grip the gun differently, though it doesn't feel that way to me. Too, I find that I get better more consistent groups sitting than off a bench...and as a matter of fact in my case, I've never had a game shot from a bench support. HTH's Rodfac....

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Dale53

Blackhawk
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Hamilton, Ohio USA
Rodfac;
It looks like that .44 Lipsey Special was MEANT for your hands!

Very useful report for the newbie's (and not so newbie's) with excellent photos.

Dale53
 

DanChamberlain

Single-Sixer
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
140
Location
Mascoutah, IL
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This is only a 10 yard 5 shot group...but it's with one hand unsupported. So I'm pleased with it. Cimarron .44 Special. I have fixed sighted .22lr Ruger group that is just as good...actually better as it's less than the size of a penny.

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Ruger single six, fixed sights

10 yards one hand unsupported (six shots).

Dan
 

contender

Ruger Guru
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Lake Lure NC USA
I just love these accuracy questions. It gives me a chance to show off a group shot out of one of my Vaquero's by our own sixshot.
Enjoy!

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Stump Buster

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
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Location
N. California
Contender,

Great group, how far away was Mr. Sixshot? That will help the OP with his questions.

I'm no "Super Shooter" but I do have my okay days, here's a five shot offhand group out of my USFA Rodeo at 15 yds (The target was the 1" red square in the center of the steel)...
gunshowammo15yds-1.jpg


The shooter...
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The fixed sight revolvers can be "right on" straight from the factory...I got lucky...this one was!!!


Dan...That's Excellent shooting too!!!! I could never get any of my SSSix's to shoot like that. :cry:
 

contender

Ruger Guru
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Sixshot was seated in his favorite chair, his feet propped on a foot rest,, his hands resting on his knees,,, (Classic sitting position w/o a tree around,) and shooting at 25 yds. And he said he didn't like fixed sighted guns!
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
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Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Location
Kentucky
It's THE gun for me, Dale. Only wish they'd have set up the lock work to prevent the white line damage to the cylinder in rotation. Why would anyone design that into a gun?.....Yeah...I know....lawyers for the transfer bar. Dave
 
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