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Old 03-17-2013, 11:31 PM
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Default SD9VE Rear Sight WAY Off

My new SD9VE is the first handgun I've owned in more than 30 years. It's also the first I've purchased brand new, and the first semiauto. When I first took it out of the box, one of the things I noticed was that the rear sight didn't seen to be positioned midway between the two sides of the slide. It was very far to the left. However, the sight is plastic, and I never assume that a plastic piece will be as symmetrical as one that's milled or cast from metal. What I did assume was that the sight had been adjusted at the factory, and that what I was seeing probably resulted from some other aspect of the gun that wasn't in the absolute center of its tolerance window. Well, I went to the range for the first time today, and it turned out that all these assumptions were incorrect.

My first shot at a target about 7 yards away was very near the center. This turned out to be an accident, nothing more than beginner's luck, but it threw me off for the next 50 rounds of shooting. The thing is, I've also discovered that I can no longer see sights clearly without my reading glasses, and things were a little fuzzy on that first shot. After I put on my glasses, the sights were clean and crisp, but I couldn't hit the center of the target to save my life. My wife - shooting a handgun for the first time ever - was lucky to hit the target at all.

By the time we'd shot about 40 rounds, I saw we were grouping mostly in the far lower left corner of the target. It was low mostly because my wife was dropping the barrel slightly before many of her shots, but it was to the extreme left because of the rear sight. This was confirmed by one of the attendants at the range, and at that point, I cut the session short. I have since disassembled the gun for cleaning, and while the slide was off, I adjusted the sight. I made the adjustment by eye using a steel rule. I won't know how accurate it is until my next trip to the range, but I'm sure it will be miles better than before.

My main purpose in posting this is to warn other novice users about this issue. I have read a couple posts here in which new buyers complained about an extreme lack of accuracy. In both cases, the advice was to practice and improve their technique, but with no mention of the rear sight. For anyone else who may be having the same difficulty, it's clearly worth considering that your aim may not be the problem. Check the sight, and if it looks like it's offset, it probably is.

I'll just add that despite this issue, I'm very impressed with this gun. The fit and finish are excellent, and even though it's only now starting to break in, I can already tell that it's smoother. Many thanks to S&W for producing such a good quality firearm at an affordable price!

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Old 03-18-2013, 12:45 AM
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I laser bore sight any new pistol or rifle I buy when I get home. The firearms I've used the laser bore on and readjusted have been true every time at the range. The sights on my SD9VE were just a tiny bit off so I tapped the rear over with a punch and now it's GTG. I'll have to do it again when my rear M&P sight arrives, but no big deal.

I sent my M&P FS 9mm in to S&W for accuracy issues one time and they adjusted my rear sight to shoot too far to the left. No sure why or what they use to sight them in. Maybe it's a person over there. It happens.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:47 AM
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Default SD9VE Rear Sight WAY Off

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Originally Posted by Nakanokalronin View Post
I laser bore sight any new pistol or rifle I buy when I get home. The firearms I've used the laser bore on and readjusted have been true every time at the range. The sights on my SD9VE were just a tiny bit off so I tapped the rear over with a punch and now it's GTG. I'll have to do it again when my rear M&P sight arrives, but no big deal.

I sent my M&P FS 9mm in to S&W for accuracy issues one time and they adjusted my rear sight to shoot too far to the left. No sure why or what they use to sight them in. Maybe it's a person over there. It happens.


what laser bore sight do you use? I've been thinking about getting one but I see mixed reviews on most of them...
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:50 PM
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what laser bore sight do you use? I've been thinking about getting one but I see mixed reviews on most of them...
I've been using an older version of this Laserlyte sighter that I bought at Walmart for the past 8 years.

Academy - LaserLyte® MBS-1 Laser Bore Sighter

99% of the time the sights were right on at the range when readjusted at home. Most firearms are right on from the factory which is nice to know ahead of time before wasting ammo, so to me the laser bore sighter makes it one of the best tools in my toolbox.

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Old 03-19-2013, 12:36 AM
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I've been thinking a lot about this situation, and the issue of the sight being corrected now doesn't really address the bigger picture. The thing is, I haven't shot a gun without a scope in several years. My closeup vision has deteriorated significantly in that time, and I can no longer focus on mechanical sights without putting on reading glasses. I bought this gun for home defense though, and in an emergency, such as a noise in the middle of the night, glasses might not be an option. It seems that maybe I only have two possible solutions for this problem, given the overall context of how this gun will be used. The first would be to go to the range everyday for a month until I can hit the target accurately at 6-7 yards without using the sights. I have no difficulty focusing on the target itself. The second solution would be to install a laser sight, go to the range once, and leave the gun in the nightstand. Any advice on this?
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeffersonwasright View Post
I can no longer focus on mechanical sights without putting on reading glasses. I bought this gun for home defense though, and in an emergency, such as a noise in the middle of the night, glasses might not be an option. It seems that maybe I only have two possible solutions for this problem, given the overall context of how this gun will be used. The first would be to go to the range everyday for a month until I can hit the target accurately at 6-7 yards without using the sights. I have no difficulty focusing on the target itself. The second solution would be to install a laser sight, go to the range once, and leave the gun in the nightstand. Any advice on this?
Even if you practice, in the middle of the night with adrenaline coursing through your system and no glasses on, you still might not be able to hit your point of aim accurately. It sounds to me like you might benefit from a laser sight...but I'd still go to the range more than once, and make sure you can hit what you aim at consistently with the laser.

Another option to consider is corrective surgery so that you can see without glasses.
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:35 PM
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Can you use a 9mm laser bore sight in a 40 cal?
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:32 PM
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Can you use a 9mm laser bore sight in a 40 cal?
If you're talking about the bullet specific type that are chambered, no. The universal one I posted a link to works in everything from .22-.50 just fine. I've sighted in rifles and pistols with iron sights or scopes.

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Old 03-31-2013, 05:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffersonwasright View Post
I've been thinking a lot about this situation, and the issue of the sight being corrected now doesn't really address the bigger picture. The thing is, I haven't shot a gun without a scope in several years. My closeup vision has deteriorated significantly in that time, and I can no longer focus on mechanical sights without putting on reading glasses. I bought this gun for home defense though, and in an emergency, such as a noise in the middle of the night, glasses might not be an option. It seems that maybe I only have two possible solutions for this problem, given the overall context of how this gun will be used. The first would be to go to the range everyday for a month until I can hit the target accurately at 6-7 yards without using the sights. I have no difficulty focusing on the target itself. The second solution would be to install a laser sight, go to the range once, and leave the gun in the nightstand. Any advice on this?
Usually, the worst thing a new shooter can do is adjust the sight. Your vision and trigger control come first.

For self defense start really close. 10 or 15 feet is fine. (3 to 5 yards).
Use whatever glasses you can see your front sight clearest with. everything behind it including the target should be a bit blurry but identifiable.

Most self defense shooting for civilians is really close. People who attack others with knives and clubs are very close. Robbers in mini marts, and on the street stand only feet apart. When robbed on the street he is not going to be standing 7 yards away saying hand me your wallet, or toss me your wallet. Better to give what they want than draw against a gun that is already out.

In high crime areas one should carry an extra empty wallet to hand them or toss to them (street in front of them?).

In your house most rooms are 12 feet wide with furniture against the wall making distances closer. My circular walkway around and through living room and kitchen is about 23 feet center of walkway to center of walkway across living room and dining room.

Basically you want to keep all your bullets inside a silhouette target at 3 and eventually 7 yards. Cardboard boxes are nice but wood frames on a dirt hillside last longer.

Watch your front sight as you dry fire empty. Does it jump to left or right. Pull trigger a bit the other way to compensate and educate the finger and wrist muscles (find whatever works for you).

If you have someplace to shoot where you toss out an oil can ten feet you are better off. Need a hill or rise behind it when bullet ricochets up a bit. Or toss it in a gully.

Half the time raise gun up and shoot. Half the time raise it and do not shoot. You do not want a habit of always pulling the trigger once on target. It must be a conscience decision.
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Old 04-14-2013, 03:01 AM
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First, thanks for all the good advice. Here's what's happened since last time...

I double-checked the rear sight with calipers, and it's exactly centered on the slide now. Back at the range, accuracy is better, but still not good. I'm shooting targets at 4-5 yds, and the grouping is about 8 inches low and 6-8 inches to the left. It's reasonably consistent, and the group is smaller than my first time out, probably about 4 inches when I take my time. Because of the accuracy issue, I decided to buy a laser boresight. It arrived today, and the results confirm that the sights are dead on.

The question now is why can't I hit the center of the target? I've dry fired enough to think I'm not pulling the gun down or to the left. Also, the last time at the range, I used two different types of ammo. I'll add that I'm accurate with long guns and smaller caliber pistols, and I understand concepts like trigger control.

Is there any possibility this is the gun itself? Is there anything else I should check to be sure something isn't amiss mechanically? I don't mind spending money to practice, but I can't afford to waste ammo if the fault is in the gun. Next time I'm at the range, I'll ask someone else to fire it. If they get similar results, I guess it'll go back to S&W.
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Old 04-14-2013, 05:23 PM
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jwr,
Low grouping depends on a number of factors. Proximity to target (the closer you are to the target the lower your group), bullet weight (the lighter the bullet the lower the group) and how smoothly you pull the trigger. My SD9VE hits POA at 50ft with Speer 115 gr. Lawman FMJ ammo and prints 2" to 3" groups at that range.

Since you don't have a lot of experience with handguns get some 9mm snap caps and practice your trigger pull. Rest a Nickel on the top of the slide and aim at a point on the wall (I use a light switch plate). Keep practicing until you have a trigger pull and follow through smooth enough to keep the Nickel on the slide. That will help eliminate jerking the trigger and pulling you groups off target. If you are using 115gr. bullets going up to a 124gr., 135gr. or 147gr. will also raise groups.

After you start getting tighter groups move your target farther out. Bullets travel in an arc. Factories sight in most of their handguns at 50 feet or 25 yards. If you are shooting at shorter ranges your bullets are still rising and are hitting low.

Hope this helps. The more trigger time you get in, the better you'll get.

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Old 04-14-2013, 05:41 PM
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Is it possible that you are cross eye dominant? If you are shooting right handed but are left eye dominant your groups will be off relative to sight alignment. The way to test this is simple. Hold both hands at arms length making a circle with your fingers and thumbs. With both eyes open hold the opening and look through it at a distant target -- a lamp, a clock, a light switch..etc. First close your left eye. Does the item you targeted stay in the hole between your hands? Try the same thing while closing your right eye. Whichever eye works without the target going out of view is your dominant eye.

If you are cross eye dominant you have several choices. (1) make the rear sight adjustment as necessary. (2) learn to shoot with the other hand (3) train the other eye to be dominant. Of the three the first is easiest.
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:15 PM
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I teach beginner handgun classes and run into the "my gun shoots low left" often. Sometimes even with my loaner gun, the student insists the problem is with the handgun, and wants to start messing with the sight. With my gun, I am sure it is not a gun problem, and sometimes have to take the gun and shoot a group to get the student to start listening.

Most of the time the student is yanking the trigger and jerking the gun low left. Training is the answer.

I am left eye dominant and shoot handguns both right hand and left hand. It is very easy with a handgun to simply move the handgun and use the dominant eye, shooting with either hand. Long guns are not so simple.

Spending some money with a good instructor will most quickly get you using the right techniques and save you a lot of money on wasted ammunition using poor techniques.
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:55 PM
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From what I have read, shooting low and left is probably the most common problem for new shooters. I am pretty new myself and had the same problem.

I wanted to adjust the sights, but a mentor suggested I shoot the pistol while resting it on the bench and guess what? It shot great! So I knew I was the cause of the problems. I was anticipating the recoil from my SD40VE and also, as the front sight wavered around the bullseye, I would snatch the trigger as it passed the exact center of the trigger.

I was also gripping too tightly and pressing against the left side of the pistol with my thumbs hoping to counteract the low and left. So - many issues with my shooting!

I read a couple of books and watched lots of YouTube videos and took repeated trips out to the range and have improved a lot. Use snap caps and practice keeping the pistol aligned with your dominant arm, and smoothly pulling the trigger and holding the pistol steady through the whole trigger pull.

I think shooting once a week to practice all of these points as well as allowing me to get more comfortable with aiming, trigger pull and just getting used to the recoil is what helped me the most.

Just my novice experiences...
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:18 PM
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When I began shooting serious targets, in the 1960’s, all police and prison guards were taught to be target shooters (15 or 25 yard range? Round bulls-eye targets). The most common handgun was a 4 inch barrel S&W revolver in 38 special. At my prison, like everywhere else, we were trained to shoot one handed, take a breath, cock the revolver, squeeze slowly, be surprised when it fires. (Watch your wabble circle as front sight moves across bulls eye squeeze a little more -and-on-and-on).

Naturally that style of shooting was handed down from old parlor shooting matches with muzzle loading single shot pistols. (With flintlocks there was a slight delay as the powder in the pan under the flint exploded then the main charge)

When the original dueling pistols shot this way the shooter turned sideways to make themselves a thinner target (back when most people were skinny - and any body shot eventually fatal).

In about 1970 some FBI research on police shooting distances claimed police shootings where typically less than 7 yards. At ranges over 25 yards the police had the advantage having been trained as target shooters.

So my first time on an organized range with a professional instructor in the 1960’s began with the words “if you want to hit something with this revolver, first forget all the cowboy stuff you see on television”.

Then in the 1970’s we were going back into the “cowboy stuff”. Police were dying at very close ranges. And police shootings are at farther distances than civilian shootings. They walk or run up toward armed robbers. They chase speeding cars and then need to make an arrest after stopping at an almost safe distance. (No such thing as a safe distance).

Anyway, one notable handgun shooter had really good scores shooting with two hands. And two hand shooting was best for handgun retention, and use of bullet proof vests that were coming on the scene.

We have come a long way. Gamblers in the old west sometimes unscrewed the barrels of revolvers, shooting directly from the cylinder. Drawing from a sitting position from sitting across a table the barrel was just in the way. Smaller pocket pistols were popular in the cities. In the Civil War Calvary a person needed to be able to shoot from a horse. Particularly when they were flanking down a row of cannons pointed at infantry.

Long ago an old story about some (union enforcer?) 400 pound gangster paying a visit to a guy who was not doing the right thing. Or maybe he was behind in his loan shark payments? Anyway the homeowner had a 9mm in a holster mounted up under his kitchen table. When it got serious the guy with the 9mm won the encounter.

Many homeowners have had a knock at the door, often at night, where he was attacked with knife or club instantly when the door was opened.

Inside a home a person seldom shoots very far. You need to forget about shooting a really small target (for awhile) and just concentrate on a fast small group, perhaps two shot bursts?

Most crime happens up close in low light conditions. Laser dots are nice. Warning shots are not considered good but a laser dot waved across a doorway between rooms speaks loud.

Let me know when you can quickly shoot bursts into an 8 inch circle at 2 yards (six feet from end of handgun). Naturally you are not looking a sights but holding a few inches lower, looking down the top of the slide.

For target shooting use your bifocals. Tell your eye doctor you want to see at arms length (your computer glasses?).

If a friend has a revolver you should try target practice both double action and single action. After shooting targets with a (38 special?) revolver using double action your semi-auto will feel nice. After shooting the smaller single action groups with revolver you will have a base (group size) to measure your progress from.

Lots of good advice has been given in this and other threads. Just hang in there and do not send your gun back unless you are shooting better groups with a revolver using 12 pound double action trigger pull.

We are not talking about shooting gophers at 25 yards. Daytime or indoor target shooters at public ranges can be a real nuisance. But they get you past irritating bad habits.

Rule 1. If someone is breaking down your door first turn off your lights.
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Old 05-11-2013, 10:48 PM
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I've been really busy lately, but I should have a chance to visit the range tomorrow. I don't think my trigger control is the issue here, but I've been practicing (dry firing) anyway. I tried the nickel/dime on the slide trick, and the coins didn't budge. I have also been dry firing both against a white background and with a laser bore sight installed. At this point in time, I just don't see any issues in terms of unwanted movement.

I'll be using both sight shooting and point shooting at the range. I'm hoping the sight shooting will be better. If not, I'll ask someone else to shoot the gun. If that goes badly, I'll send it back for a checkup.

Thanks very much for everyone's advice.
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Old 05-12-2013, 04:05 PM
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OK, I went to the range today and tried again. My plans changed a little though, because I've decided over the last few days that it's more worthwhile to practice point shooting. Given the current restrictions on my ammo supplies, that limited my sight-shooting to roughly 20 rounds, more resembling a quick test than a practice session. Anyway, here's what happened...

The first ten rounds or so produced a pattern at 7 yds *exactly* like the last trip to the range - about 6" low and 6" left. I'm absolutely certain now that I'm not pulling the gun, and it occurred to me that maybe this is a recoil issue, something happening *after* the trigger is fully pressed. With that in mind, I exerted more pressure to create a stronger push-pull isometric grip. Waddya know, the next two rounds were only an inch off the center, still left, but near perfect elevation. The rest of the mag followed suit more or less, enough to convince me that I'm somehow allowing the recoil to pull the barrel down and to the left. Of course, I can see the barrel recoil up, so I don't know how that's even possible. I'm content to leave it at this for now, though. It is what it is, and I don't think there's anything wrong with the gun.

On a better note, my point shooting with the sights covered with tape went really well. At 7 yds I can hit the body (about 2/3 scale) every time when I pull the gun up quickly and shoot. It's a large grouping, but good enough to meet my requirements for home defense. I also had good success sighting in a new 4X scope on my Ruger 10-22. I can cut a 3-4" circle at 75 yds with no artificial support. That's more than good enough for squirrel stew when SHTF.

Thanks again for everyone's advice!
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