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American Handgunner Jul/Aug 2010 - Page 24

SHOOTINGIRON Mike “Duke” Venturino Drift adjustable front sights, such as found on Duke’s German Luger and German P38, are moved in the opposite direction to where you want the bullet to impact. Note both of these are a bit off-center after Duke zeroed the pistols. TM Photos: Yvonne Venturino THUMB BUSTIN’ MUSINGS FROM THE DUKE Duke’s Luger hit left of center, so the front sight was moved to the left. Sighting-in SecretS O ne of the most frustrating experiences I had as a fledgling gun’riter was caused by a nitwit editor. He rejected an article of mine about sighting in fixed sight handguns saying, “It’s no big deal to hold off.” If you actually want to hit something with a handgun, yes it definitely is a “big deal” to have it sighted in. Later after I gained a “name” that same editor wrote me asking for articles. I threw his letters in the trash. All handguns should be sighted in to hit point of aim at some distance determined by its owner and its specific purpose. Personally I use 50' for mine, and here’s a tip: sight them in by shooting them in the manner in which they are likely to be used. That is one handed, two handed, or however. Quite often a handgun sighted in from a solid sandbag rest will have a different point of impact when fired unsupported. Handguns with adjustable rear sights are sublimely simple; merely move the rear sight in the direction you want the point of impact to move. Say the handgun’s point of impact is to the right. Then move the rear sight to the left. If it is hitting low just raise the rear sight. It’s no more difficult than being able to manipulate a screwdriver. he next level of complication is sights that are what I call “semi-adjustable.” With my current fiddling with World War II handguns I’ve run into a few of these. The German Luger makes a fine example here. Its rear sight is a simple blade mounted on the toggle. Into it is cut a V-shaped notch. There is nothing remotely adjustable about that rear sight. BUT, the front sight blade is dovetailed into a barrel stud near the muzzle. My personal Luger hit right on for elevation at 50' with 115 grain FMJ factory loads but it printed several inches left at that distance. No problem there either. I put the Luger in a padded vise, took a small brass punch and whacked its sight blade in the dovetail so it was left of center. That brought point of impact to the right and so now it’s sighted in. And I can shoot it pretty darn good even if I do say so myself. Now let’s carry things one step further. After buying the Luger I just had to have a German P38 as well. Those clever Germans also saw fit with that model to put the front sight blade in a stud near the muzzle. My “new” P38 not only printed left but shot way low too. I prevailed on my gunsmith buddy Tom Sargis (28 Lake Drive, Livingston, MT 59047) to order in a small array of P38 sight blades from Numrich Arms. We picked out one that looked substantially lower than the issue sight, and dovetailed it in so it set slightly left of center. Bingo! After our first attempt some shooting showed the P38 now hit right on at 50', again with 115 grain FMJ factory loads. T sorta’ Adjustable 1911 Foibles U Screw adjustable rear sights such as this are a no-brainer. Simply move the rear sight blade in the direction you want the bullets to move. S Army Ordnance officers were not as smart as the Germans when developing the US Model 1911 and Model 1911A1. On those pistols the rear sight is dovetailed into the slide and drift adjustable for windage. However, the front sight is a tiny blade staked into the slide. It cannot be easily replaced with a higher or lower one, as the case may be. Unless you are a talented gunsmith the elevation you get with an issue 1911 is what you must live with. There’s an “unless” that can go with that last statement. Elevation in handguns can be manipulated to a modest degree with ammunition. Simple physics cause the following: heavy bullets impact higher than lighter bullets with all other factors the same. That’s because recoil begins immediately as the bullet starts to move. Therefore heavier bullets cause a handgun’s muzzle to raise more by the time the bullet exits. Thus some adjustment of point of impact can be accomplished by trying different bullet weights. Speaking of ammunition, I said my Luger and P38 were sighted in with 115 grain FMJ factory loads … what about handloads? To maintain their zero, it’s my duty to load my 9mms to equal said factory load’s ballistics. Next issue we’ll get into the really difficult sighting in chores — handguns with fixed sights that are not adjustable by screwdrivers nor are dovetailed on. * 24 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JULY/AUGUST2010

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