Vaquero - Front Sight Adjustment

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Wheel Gunner

Bearcat
Joined
Mar 4, 2008
Messages
21
Looking for ideas on how to adjust the windage on a Vaquero. Its shooting 6" left @ 25 yards.

Is tweaking the bbl the only solution? If not, what method(s) can be used to move the sight itself?

FYI... only one light load has been tried at this point - Lym 452664 LRFN 255gr @ 8g Unique.

Thanks
 

BIgMuddy

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 15, 2007
Messages
550
Yes you can tighten the barrel slightly, which will bring your POI to the right. It does not take much. You can also widen the groove in the top strap, removing metal from the right side only.

The only other method I know of to "move" the front sight is to have a dove tail cut in the barrel and replace with a drift adjustable sight.

I would try a few different loads first, but if that is the load you want to shoot (and it is a good one) I would make the gun work for that, were it me.
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Messages
699
Howdy

Yes, rotating the barrel ever so slightly is the best way to do it, but don't try this your self. Too much chance of springing the frame. Gunsmiths have a special vice that holds the frame without damaging it.

You can also open up one side of the rear sight a little bit, open up the right side if it is shooting left.

Whatever you do, don't try to bend the sight, it will probably come off in your hands.

Now, what you really need to know is that most of the time, if a righty shoots a pistol and it shoots to the left, it is because he has too much finger on the trigger. Be sure when you are pulling the trigger you pull it with the pad of your trigger finger, not the crease of the first joint. It feels more natural and comfortable to place the crease on the trigger, but this usually results in pushing the muzzle to the left while the finger is curled to pull the trigger. Pulling the trigger with the pad helps to keep the force more directly straight back. Most guys who have handguns with adjustable sights make up for this by adjusting the rear sight to the right. They don't realize that they are not using good trigger technique. Then when they try a pistol with non adjustable sights they believe it is shooting to the left.

Be sure to try pulling the trigger straight back, and try it off a good rest with sandbags, not off hand. I'll bet you dollars to donuts your pistol shoots straight.
 

The Preacher

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 24, 2002
Messages
385
First find the load that you want to shoot as different loads & bullets shoot to different points of aim. Then shoot enough of that particular load to verify that things really are going West. Lot of time folks tend to pull their shots. Make sure it isn't you.

What I did with my Vaquero Bisley (after finding the load that I wanted to sight in with was low and to the left) was to first adjust for height by filing the front sight a bit. Didn't take much to bring it up. I Also filed a bevel on the back side of the sight to reduce glare. Once it was okay height wise I lightly filed the right side of the sight grove in the top strap. File/shoot/file/shoot etc. I think it took about three trips to the range to walk it over. Doesn't take much and cold blue matches up with the fake CC. A lot of folks say don't do this (file the sight grove) but so little is taken off that I'm sure it can't hurt anything strength wise.

What I ended up with was my 44 Mag 4 5/8" Bisley Vaquero perfectly sighted in with the load ( a 250 gr. Lyman Keith LSWC @ 950 fps) I wanted to shoot through her. Sighted in for life so to say. Never need to worry about sights shifting. Couldn't be more pleased and makes a perfect piece to carry in the mountains

Just go slow with any file work if you choose to go this route. Good luck

The Preacher
 

Hammer

Single-Sixer
Joined
Oct 1, 2006
Messages
231
.

Let me start out stating I have no personal qualifications in gunsmithing. Recommend that one find a professional gunsmith with lots of experience in this specific field.

Maybe my experience as an untrained observer might help.


Back umpteen years ago, I had about 20 fixed-sight single-action revolvers that needed to be sighted-in. I consulted several published sources and also called several gunwriters who are known for their writings concerning single-action revolvers. Following their recommendations, got hold of one of the gunsmiths that several recommended for this work.

Discussed the problem with the recommended gunsmith. In the next few months, shot lots of groups with all the revolvers under different conditions. Kept all the targets with complete notes on shooting position, grip, and ammunition. Got a very solid picture and record of each gun's performance.

By appointment a few months later, traveled to the gunsmith's shop several hundred miles away.

The gunsmith and I spent all day sighting-in these revolvers. I would shoot. He would adjust. It was one of the most interesting days I have ever spent.

As others have commented, the gunsmith adjusted all the sights on the Colt SAA revolvers by turning the barrel for windage and using a file for elevation.

However, on the Ruger Vaqueros he used a special fixture to bend the front sight for windage. There were no defects or marks made on the revolver by doing so. We discussed why he turned barrels on the Colts but bent sights on the Rugers. This many years later I won't risk trying to recite his reasons, but the reasons were very logical and reasonable.

These revolvers have been shot now for many years since then with no problems. This includes 44 Magnum Vaqueros. No front sights have fallen off.



Note -- Not related to any of these pistols, I have had front sights fall off other handguns without any prior work on them. Just bad installation from the factory. Had it happen on a Colt 1911 during a Gunsite exercise as Colonel Cooper was watching. Afterwards asked Cooper what one should do under those circumstances. Cooper said to keep shooting and make sure to get hits. No excuses.


Again, seek professional advice and don't take my comments as authoritative.

.
 

Tx gun runner

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
264
There a lot of thing that cause shooting to the left . The light on the sights and your grip on a SA is the biggest problem . The little finger will control the roll , and the thumb controls the twist . Below is my grip on SA and 7 Vaquero I own , ALL shoot to the same the POA .

4e7d8761.jpg


My range faces south and I do all my testing in the AM . At noon my targets will be more centered . This a normal target for all my Vaquero in the AM . These are not target loads , they are loaded for SASS/CAS [750 fps].

Picture933.jpg
 

Dale53

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
925
I agree with most of what's been said here. I would like to emphasize that "The Preacher's" comments about taking three trips to the range to correct the sights is GOOD advice. Go slow and make sure you need to go further before taking too much off the sights. It is MUCH easier to take off than put back on.

I bought a Vaquero some years ago to shoot black powder in. It was a .45 Colt and my chosen bullet is the Lyman 452664 250 gr. I sighted it in at 25 yards.

Windage was perfect right out of the box. The front sight was plenty tall enough and I carefully filed it down over three range trips until it shot to point of aim at 25 yards. This was a 4 5/8" barrel. I decided I wanted a longer barrel for the BP matches I was shooting in (some were Bullsye matches). So, I sold the Vaquero and bought a Bisley Vaquero with 5½" barrel. Using the same bullet and a case full of 2f Goex or Swiss, it shot exactly to the point of aim at 25 yards - both windage and elevation. I don't know how often that happens but it sure was a pleasant experience (in both cases). Later on I learned that it also shot at the same point with a comparable load of smokeless (factory velocity).

Dale53
 

Hokie73

Bearcat
Joined
Mar 27, 2008
Messages
39
Everyone says don't bent the front sight. Why? Have you got the tools like a frame wrench to properly turn the barrel? No, so a trip to the gunsmith is in order. Doesn't sound much different to me than having to get the sight replaced if it should come out. And I have (very carefully) bent the front sight on several single actions, including Vaqueros, to correct slight windage problems, and haven't had one come loose yet. And no one who looks can tell anything has been done.
 

Big Bubba

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 26, 2006
Messages
112
I wont tell anyone else to do it, but I have also slightly bent the front sight on SA's to correct windage.

As with Hokie, another person cannot tell on my revolvers that the front sight has been touched. It takes very little to center a group.

If I file a front sight to adjust elevation, I take a six inch caliper and adjust the jaws to contact the bottom of the barrel and the top of the sight. I take off .010" and then shoot. When I start to get really close to zero, .005" is filed off to get proper zero.

As stated above, I file a nice angle of about 45 degrees on the rear top portion of the front sight to get a better sight picture, and better control light reflections.

Also remember, with iron sights, a person tends to shoot away from the light, i.e., bright sun overhead, shoot low, sun to the left, shoot right, etc.

Keeping iron sight in the shaded area when zeroing is a plus.
 

Hammer

Single-Sixer
Joined
Oct 1, 2006
Messages
231
Have y'all noticed any specific tendencies for sights to be off before adjusting them ?

For example, the gunsmith who did my SAA and Vaqueros said that left-hand shooters tend to shoot low and to the right compared to right-hand shooters with the same handgun.

Do one-hand shooters tend to have different POI compared to the same shooter using two-hands ?

Do Bisley Vaqueros shoot for most people to a different POI compared to a regular Vaquero ?



.
 

Wild Bill '67

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
121
Wheel Gunner":wmac58kx said:
Looking for ideas on how to adjust the windage on a Vaquero. Its shooting 6" left @ 25 yards.

Is tweaking the bbl the only solution? If not, what method(s) can be used to move the sight itself?

FYI... only one light load has been tried at this point - Lym 452664 LRFN 255gr @ 8g Unique.

Thanks

A couple of things to remember before even thinking about modifying your Ruger:

Is this the only load you intend to shoot? If not, I would try a box of each of the major factory loads to see if there is something about your particular powder / bullet combo causing it to print 6" to the left.

Have someone else, the more the better, shoot it and see where it groups. And do it off a rest or sandbag to boot. As the other members have pointed out, sometimes a right handed shooter will end up grouping to the left because of the finger placement on the trigger. If you shoot a single action like a double action with too much finger on the trigger you can end up pulling the gun without knowing it.

If it is the "gun" and not the load of hand positioning then I would follow the recommendations of the prior posts and let a gunsmith either turn the barrel or file the right side sight grove.

Good luck and let us know how it works out.
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Messages
699
tn gun runner

Really Excellent Photo!!!

4e7d8761.jpg


That is exactly what I have been preaching for years with single action revolvers. Great trigger finger postition, just touching the trigger with the pad of the finger, not the crease of the joint. And keeping your pinky below the grip allows that 1/4 inch or so of space between the rear of the trigger guard and your knuckle, so it will not whack you in recoil. It is much more difficult to leave a little bit of space if you try to cram your entire hand onto the grip. I can shoot my Colts, clones, and Rugers all day long with full powered 45 Colt Black Powdered loads and I never get my knuckle whacked by the trigger guard. Really excellent photo.


Hammer:

I thought I explained this earlier. Yes, the tendancy is for a right handed shooter to shoot left and a left handed shooter to shoot right. It has to do with trigger finger position. We can talk all day long until we are blue in the face about squeezing the trigger rather than pulling it, but the simple fact is that the only thing our anatomy allows us to do is curl the finger. When you pull the trigger, you curl your finger to pull the trigger back. With too much finger on the trigger; the trigger nestled in the crease behind the knuckle, the tendancy is for the curling motion of the finger to tend to rotate the entire gun so that the muzzle swings to one side a little bit. For a righty, the muzzle tends to swing left, for a lefty, the muzzle tends to swing right. The trick is to pull the trigger as straight back as possible without rotating the gun at all. Keeping the pad of the finger on the trigger we are still curling the finger to pull the trigger, but this position allows us to control the finger motion a little bit better so that we can pull the trigger straighter back, without rotating the gun.

Try it, you will see.
 

Hammer

Single-Sixer
Joined
Oct 1, 2006
Messages
231
Now after I have spent all the time and money to get my fixed-sight revolvers to shoot to my POA, you want me to change my shooting style so they will not longer shoot to my POA.

.
 

lanber

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 14, 2008
Messages
13
Now, this thread is only one example of a wealth of free information by guys that have many years of experience, and really know what they are talking about. 8)
 

Cholo

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
5,605
I know this is back to the basics and it's what I've always done, though others are much better shots than I am so...

A handgun should be an extension of your arm. Set yourself up for some "sand bag" testing at the range but don't load the gun. Once you're set don't move the gun and stand up with your arm at your side. Is the gun an extension of your arm in a straight line, or it it cocked to one side?

6" to the left is a lot! I believe you'd see an off cant barrel or something else wrong without ever firing. It's all about technique, to an extent :wink:
 

tomiswho

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 2, 2008
Messages
323
I just did some calculations..... As I need to file my Blackhawk's front sight a bit (I installed a taller front sight, a hair too tall as it turns out)

With 6 5/8" between the front and rear sight on my 4 5/8" bbl Blackhawk, filing .07" (7 hundredths) off the front sight will raise my poi by about 4 inches at 10 yards. Actually, since my rear sight is cranked up almost all the way, I'll probably take off one tenth.

What I'm trying to pass on here, is that very small adjustments in sight picture, sights, hold, etc. have a very major impact. Six inches to the left can occur at 10 yards being off by only about a tenth of an inch in how the weapon is aimed.
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Just another thought....trigger control, ie, not pulling the entire gun to the left while pulling the trigger is certainly one critical element. But...there is another. For a right handed shooter, the gun will recoil away from the palm of the hand, that's up and left...the stronger your grip the less the gun is affected in either direction. I too, use the thumb down along the frame and pinkie under grip as demonstrated above. For me, the thumb increases my lateral support, and the pinkie under helps with knuckle rap with heavy loads and is far quicker for thumbing the hammer back. The same grip, (thumb down) works with my 1911's as well and decreases the tendency for lateral dispersion.

Grip strength is critical...consistant from shot to shot and just short of the white knuckle, tremor stage. More like a strong handshake with a friend you haven't seen in a long while....strong but not hurting, if that makes sense. For part of my early pistol and revolver work, I squeezed a hand grip exerciser every day...as advised by Col Askins years ago... and like him, I found that it helped tame the .45 ACP.

I can move my groups several inches at 25 yds by the strength of my grip. For a two handed hold (which almost always increases the gripping strength unless I'm careful) my group will be an inch or two right of my one hand group.

I find little use for a sandbag as some have advised, finding that it proves nothing since it's not available when I'm on the range or in the field. By hook or crook, I've got to get the gun to shoot where I'm looking.

On one New Vaquero, in .45 LC, I played with the grips and adjusted the loads but still got gps 2" left at 25 yds. I opened the rear notch by filing on the right side then reblueing with cold blue. The combination of that sight adjustment and a tighter grip has me centered up now. I did have to remove .020" off the front sight height to get 250 gr cast lead bullets to point of aim.

On a bird's head .32 H&R, I tried to bend the front sight for the adjustment and promply broke it off. I re-soldered it at the proper angle and got a reasonable point of aim and impact, but the fact is that Ruger uses very hard, high temp solder and you're liable to knock the front sight off if you wack it with a ball peen and drift.

Just my thoughts and what's worked for me...your's can and probably will work out differently, but the principles are the same. Regards, Rodfac
 

Tx gun runner

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
264
Shot this yesterday , 9 ring at 6 o'clock hold and the height of the ft is the only thing that has been done to sights .

Picture1032.jpg
 

Dale53

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
925
Gun runner;
That's a nice target. I really enjoy my .32's (.32 H&R's). I find it a bit harder to hold high than point of aim.

Dale53
 
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