How to Adjust Sights on a Handgun


( – To Adjust the Windage Because You are Shooting to the Right, Which Way Do You Move the Sight?

  • Up
  • Down
  • Left
  • Right

Answer: Left. Here’s why…

Adjusting the sights on a firearm is a relatively easy task. However, for beginners, the terminology associated with the task can be confusing at first. Once a person has a basic understanding of the terms, the whole process becomes far less intimidating.

Basic Terminology

There are a few terms that everyone should know when it comes to sighting a gun:

  • Windage – Windage is the term used to describe the variation on a horizontal plane (left to right) of a projectile’s path from the firearm to the target.
  • Elevation – Elevation, on the other hand, is the deviation on a vertical plane (up and down) of a bullet as it travels from the gun to the target.
  • Point of Aim – Where the gun is aimed using the sights.
  • Point of Impact – Where the bullet hits once fired at the point of aim.
  • Zeroed In – A firearm that has the sights adjusted so that the point of aim matches the point of impact.

How to Adjust Sights

The goal of adjusting the sights on any firearm is to have the point of impact match the point of aim. In the following video, Roy Huntington explains how to do this for iron sights on a handgun.

To begin, fire a shot at the center of the target, generally the “bullseye”. Follow the first shot up with one or two more. This establishes a grouping (and ensures the first miss wasn’t the result of a bad shot).

As Roy shows in the video, when the point of impact isn’t hitting the bullseye, the rear sight needs to be adjusted in the direction the bullets need to move. In his case, the bullets were hitting on the right of the bullseye, so the rear sight was adjusted to the left. Had it been firing to the left, the rear sight would then need adjusting to the right.

The same principle applies to adjusting the rear sight of a firearm for elevation. If the shot is going high, adjust the rear sight down, and vice versa.

Once the sights have been adjusted, test fire a couple of rounds and continue to adjust until the firearm is zeroed in.

When sighting a gun, it’s important to use the dominant eye for aiming. To see how to determine which eye is the dominant one, check out our article here.

~Here’s to Your Survival!

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