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Old 01-08-2020, 01:04 AM
Classic Radio99 Classic Radio99 is offline
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How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low?  
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Default How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low?

How do I go about correcting 3rd gen pistols that shoot low because the sights are mis-adjusted?

So, I have several 3rd gen DAO pistols, including 3914, 6946, 3953, etc. I've been really inconsistent at the range when shooting different pistols on different days, especially hitting low. I always figured it was me not holding my sight picture, jerking the gun, not having a smooth DA trigger pull (all true at various times, BTW).

As I was working on improving myself, I bought one of those laser target cartridges that go in the chamber and flash a dot on a target when the trigger is pulled. If I'm doing something wrong, this shows it.
But, on some guns, I was definitely always "shooting" low, even though I know I had a good, on-target sight picture when the hammer dropped..

So, I picked up one of those cheap ($29) laser bore sight devices that go in the chamber and did a little controlled testing. I used a 1" dot sticker on a piece of paper at 20 ft. as a target. I clamped each pistol, aimed the gun with as perfect of a sight picture as I could with the top of the front sight on the middle of the dot.
What I found was that about half of the pistols were good, the laser dot was on the bottom of the dot (about the distance between the sight axis and bore axis, indicating the sights and bore are parallel. All good!)
The other half were all putting the dot about 3-4 inches low from the point of aim. All the "bad" guns were the same amount low, 3-4 inches. None were high.
As an example, I have two 6946, one is good and parallel, the other is 3 inches low from where it's aimed.

After all this, I'm wondering how I can correct the sights on the "bad" guns and get the sights and the bore to match, i.e., be parallel.
A couple of the guns are also off left to right, but I know I can adjust the azimuth on the sights to correct for this. It's the elevation part that stumps me. None of the sights appear to be adjustable in elevation, unless I'm missing something here.

Has anyone had this type of problem? And how did you fix it?
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:04 AM
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The only option I'm aware of would be to purchase a slightly shorter front sight. (or a higher rear sight) A plain bladed aftermarket dovetail sight could be installed and shortened the required amount to correct your POI at the desired distance.

S&W 3rd gen pistols have 74į x .250" front dovetails.

Dawson Precision makes a plain front sight for the 3rd Generation S&W that could be installed and shortened as needed if you decide to try that remedy.

Dawson Precision S&W 5906 Black Front Sights - Dawson Precision, Inc.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:12 AM
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Either swap in a shorter front sight or if you are handy with tools... My Model 6946 shot way low, I filed down the front sight and re-faced the sight so that I could drill a new dot.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:45 AM
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Using a 'Combat-style' sight picture with front sight covering the bull's eye, my 3913NL is ok, but my two CS9's are about 3-4" low at 7-10 yards. The CS9's have the plastic rear sights from the S&W Value-line 900 series pistols that I don't like anyway. So I sent a CS9 slide back to Novak in WV where they installed a FO front at the original height, but a .030 taller metal black-out rear sight. About $110 all-in. Solved the problem. Check out Novak's website for 3rd Gen options.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:47 AM
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A heavier bullet will strike the target higher. This may or may not work in your case, if you are using a 115 gr bullet try a 147 or 124 grain bullet.
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:24 AM
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Bore sighters are an approximation at best; particularly with handguns. "good and parallel" as you mention is probably not the right solution. Others have mentioned how to change your sights, but before you do that I suggest a little more investigation.

Handguns are super-sensitive to grip. A loose grip may translate to more muzzle flip and a high impact. The reverse can be true too. You may also be flinching. With just a laser in the gun, you know it won't recoil so your hold is steady. With real ammo, you may be pulling the gun low on firing. Maybe getting someone else to shoot your guns would be indicative of what's going on. Or, try shooting off of sandbags.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Classic Radio99 View Post
How do I go about correcting 3rd gen pistols that shoot low because the sights are mis-adjusted?

As an example, I have two 6946, one is good and parallel, the other is 3 inches low from where it's aimed.
Have you verified they have the same height sights?

One of my pre-rail 4013TSWs shot high even though they had the same .204" tall front sights. Once I installed a .235" tall front sight on it they both sh◘◘t to the same POI.

Your 6946 should have a .204" tall front sight too. Those are the shortest front sights I'm aware of on the 3rd Gens.

Of course a taller rear sight will raise the POI also but not too many 3rd Gen factory options there.

If all else fails you can go to an adjustable rear sight like an LPA-91SW30.

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LPA rear sight
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:51 AM
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The LPA adjustable rear sight is "ok", but on a pistol for defensive and carry purposes, I prefer a no-snag, nothing to break fixed sight.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:14 PM
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I got tired of going through the front sight dance every time my dept changed ammo, 105,115, 147, 124. I went to the Novak (extreme duty)?
It used a taller front sight, rear sight driftable for windage but adjustable for elevation, good sight picture. Worked great and still sits on my old duty gun after probably 15 years.
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:31 PM
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I have swapped out some non-adjustable sights for adjustable ones over the years. I have had very good success with the adjustable sights as they do straiten a older gun up pretty good.
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Old 01-11-2020, 01:38 AM
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My CS9D shoots low. I swapped out the sights in hopes it would help but didn’t. They are fixed and sit pretty darn low. I just compensate and aim a little higher than center of mass. This photo was from my first session with it. The low rounds were the first shoots with point of aim at center of mass. Once I saw what it was doing I compensated.

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Old 01-11-2020, 03:26 AM
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I had one that did that. I finally had a dovetail cut in the front and a different height front sight installed.
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Old 01-11-2020, 09:15 AM
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Solved three issues in one shot. By sending the slide to Novak they replaced the bogus plastic rear with a metal Low-Mount Carry black-out sight that's .030 taller and drift adjustable with lockdown set screw(LMSW01H); then they replaced the front with original height in FO (I specified green DFSSW-FO.200). I had them swap the sights for $35 to save myself the aggravation. All-in $119.90 including shipping.
The .030 taller rear corrected my 3-4" low shots, I ditched the plastic, and my 'ol eyes can now see the sights much better. YMMV


Last edited by SWCZSIG-Vinny; 01-11-2020 at 02:55 PM. Reason: added Novak part #'s
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Old 01-11-2020, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLUEDOT37 View Post

One of my pre-rail 4013TSWs shot high even though they had the same .204" tall front sights. Once I installed a .235" tall front sight on it they both sh◘◘t to the same POI.

Your 6946 should have a .204" tall front sight too. Those are the shortest front sights I'm aware of on the 3rd Gens.

Of course a taller rear sight will raise the POI also but not too many 3rd Gen factory options there.


.
I'm finding my new-to-me 3rd Gen's tend to shoot low, too.
Putting Meprolights on em made it worse, the tritium
front sight is taller than OEM.

Are rear dovetail cuts about the same for all 3rd Gens?
On Midway, there are two 3rd Gen Novak rear sights--
looks like a 9mm series and 45/10mm series.

Smith & Wesson Rear Sight Novak S&W 3953TSW 4003TSW 4006TSW 4013TSW

Smith & Wesson Rear Sight Novak S&W 4513TSW 4553TSW 4563TSW 4566TSW

The 45/10mm look taller...
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Old 01-11-2020, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fotoman12001 View Post
My CS9D shoots low. I swapped out the sights in hopes it would help but didnít. They are fixed and sit pretty darn low. I just compensate and aim a little higher than center of mass. This photo was from my first session with it. The low rounds were the first shoots with point of aim at center of mass. Once I saw what it was doing I compensated.

I do the same with my 5906 O.E sights and 124gr 3-7 yards any further can't see were I'm hitting
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Old 01-11-2020, 04:57 PM
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Do the easiest thing first. Aim higher.
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Old 01-11-2020, 10:12 PM
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My CS9 always shot low for me, too.

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Old 01-11-2020, 11:39 PM
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Thanks for all the information!

Nice to know about the Dawson sights, I've been wondering about how to possibly get a FO front sight on one or more of these guns, that would help the tired old eyes here. I also like the fact that they have a calculator to help determine what height is needed to correct a problem.

Vinny, how long ago did you send that CS9 slide in for the sights? The reason I ask is that I can find the FO front sights, but not the FO.200 model. Also, when you sent the slide in, did you tell them how low it was shooting, and did Novak determine which parts were needed?
I have a 3953 that I was considering sending in to Novak anyway. It has faded night sights (and the boresight shows it's way off), and it may have been "repaired" before I got it. This one will probably be my first Novak project.

As far as checking the front sight heights, now that I know what to look for, I'm going to check that. I'm wondering if some of these guns have mismatched front and rear sights installed, especially since they are either right on, or 3-4" low. Again, they may have been "repaired" long ago.

Regarding the advice on shooting errors, all true, and guilty on all counts here.. I'm learning the tricks to shooting a DAO gun consistently and accurately. I'm finding it takes a while to learn.
When I use a gun with sights that are correctly aligned, and IF I do my part, (hold the sight picture, smooth pull, and follow through) I can hit exactly where the sight is aimed and can chew the center out of the target..
However, if I'm using a gun with sights being 4" low, I can do everything perfectly... but I'm still 4" low.
And remember, I'm checking the boresight at about 20 feet, which is pretty close, and 4" at 20' seems like a lot to me, especially considering that error will compound at greater distances.

I really appreciate all the answers, I now know a lot more than I did a week ago. Thanks!
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Old 01-12-2020, 02:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve912 View Post
Are rear dovetail cuts about the same for all 3rd Gens?
On Midway, there are two 3rd Gen Novak rear sights--looks like a 9mm series and 45/10mm series.
The 45/10mm look taller...
Those two rears are the common (only?) metal fixed Novak rears I've noticed on the 3rd Gens.

PN#107920000 appears in the 2012 S&W parts catalog over (50) times & the PN#107970000 appears over (30) times & are for the medium frame & large frame pistols, respectively.

And the large frame rear sights are a lot taller, essentially a full .100" taller (.254" -vs- .352", on my examples).

You'd need a corresponding tall front sight to offset the rear's increase in height & none of the factory 3rd Gen's come close.

I've never tried it but it should fit, it just wouldn't likely be helpful.

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Old 01-12-2020, 03:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Classic Radio99 View Post
Thanks for all the information!

Nice to know about the Dawson sights, I've been wondering about how to possibly get a FO front sight on one or more of these guns, that would help the tired old eyes here. I also like the fact that they have a calculator to help determine what height is needed to correct a problem.

Vinny, how long ago did you send that CS9 slide in for the sights? The reason I ask is that I can find the FO front sights, but not the FO.200 model. Also, when you sent the slide in, did you tell them how low it was shooting, and did Novak determine which parts were needed?
I have a 3953 that I was considering sending in to Novak anyway. It has faded night sights (and the boresight shows it's way off), and it may have been "repaired" before I got it. This one will probably be my first Novak project.

As far as checking the front sight heights, now that I know what to look for, I'm going to check that. I'm wondering if some of these guns have mismatched front and rear sights installed, especially since they are either right on, or 3-4" low. Again, they may have been "repaired" long ago.

Regarding the advice on shooting errors, all true, and guilty on all counts here.. I'm learning the tricks to shooting a DAO gun consistently and accurately. I'm finding it takes a while to learn.
When I use a gun with sights that are correctly aligned, and IF I do my part, (hold the sight picture, smooth pull, and follow through) I can hit exactly where the sight is aimed and can chew the center out of the target..
However, if I'm using a gun with sights being 4" low, I can do everything perfectly... but I'm still 4" low.
And remember, I'm checking the boresight at about 20 feet, which is pretty close, and 4" at 20' seems like a lot to me, especially considering that error will compound at greater distances.

I really appreciate all the answers, I now know a lot more than I did a week ago. Thanks!
To answer your questions:
The .030 taller low-mount sight is currently backordered, Novak Designs Inc. - Product Detail - LoMount Carry S&W 3rd Gen Plain Black High - $34.95 It's a black-out low-mount rear .030 taller than the plastic white dot that was on it, they don't have a FO rear. When I ordered this just before Christmas; it was in stock and it only took Novak a couple days to send it back all mounted up. The combination I mentioned is specific to correcting the CS pistols shooting 3-4" low.

You might be best served by contacting Novak to discuss what you need and what they can offer to fix it.

I liked the fact that it was turn-key and they'll install what they sell for a nominal fee. ($35 to replace both front and rear). If you're not really careful, those darned little springs under the rear sight will jump out, never to be found again.

Dawson is also a good option, but they seemed less knowledgeable about the specific dovetail size and angle required for 30+ year old Smiths.

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Old 01-12-2020, 11:05 AM
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OK, Thanks!

I'll be giving them a call on the 3953 very soon.

After I measure the sight heights on some of the other guns with errors, I may be calling them some more.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:54 PM
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So... I called Novak for my 3953 that had dead night sights and was shooting way low.
They told me to go ahead and send the slide in and they would call me back.
When they called, they recommended going to an adjustable rear on the night sights as they didn't have a front sight post that was low enough to correct my problem with fixed sights.
(Which begs the question: Did S&W have QC problems with cutting the depths on the dovetails to the correct depth? That might explain why the guns I have that all shoot the same amount low...)
Anyway, I went ahead and authorized them to install the adjustable night sight set.
They called me back fast, did the work really fast, fast turnaround in general, didn't take my CC until the work was complete.. And surprisingly, the adjustable rear sight wasn't much higher than the old fixed sight. Not too worried about it snagging anything. All for $217 shipped. Not bad in my book.
Except...... I got it back today, installed the slide and checked it out in the dark, and...... The front night sight doesn't glow, it's dead...
So, back it goes.. What a bummer! I was really looking forward to a range trip this weekend to get it sighted in and getting this going..
I've never heard folks complain about Novak, hopefully this is just a one-off screw-up?

Last edited by Classic Radio99; 02-18-2020 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 02-19-2020, 09:13 AM
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One thing no one else has mentioned. What distance are these guns supposed to hit POA at? The bullet starts out lower than the sights. The bullet has to be aimed higher than the sights to come up to the target. If it is zeroed for say 30 yards and you are shooting at 10, then it will most likely hit low at 10. It may be dead on at 30 yards. Try shooting at a longer distance and see where your POI is. Of course, the bullet is falling also so at some point, it will be low again at distance. If the guns are on at 30 yards, the error at 10 yards is still a kill shot anyway you look at it.

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Old 02-19-2020, 11:21 AM
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I've been doing 'Bill Drills' with my (new to me) CS-9; trying to draw and place 5 rounds on IDPA -0 circle ( I think 8"dia.) at 7 yards in under 2 seconds. I'm using the front sight 'combat-style' but I really don't have time to accurately line up the rear. I'm no expert by any means, but I guess it's a matter of what you're trying to accomplish with a defensive pistol. Speed and accuracy are a balancing act until you find that groove.
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Old 02-19-2020, 10:34 PM
Classic Radio99 Classic Radio99 is offline
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How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low?  
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rosewood, that's a good point, but I'd expect that the difference from POA to POI at very short ranges should be no more than the distance from the center of the bore to the top of the front sight. That should be about an inch low. That amount of error at short range is perfectly acceptable to me. Most of my guns are like that when checked with the bore sight.
However, the guns in question are 3" to 4" low at 20 ft. with the bore sight, and shoot similarly low at 20 ft at the range.
If the gun is zeroed at 30 yards, then the bullet shouldn't reach the 3-4 inch low point until reaches 75 yards or so out.
I like to use this calculator: Ballistic Calculator GunData.org , it has all kinds of useful information.
What I'm noticing is that on the affected guns that are 3-4" low at 20 feet, they are waaaaaay low at 25 yards, I have to aim over the top of the target to hit the bottom. Actual bullet drop from the muzzle to 30 yards is only about an inch or so. So those sights are way off.
I agree with you though, if the gun is properly sighted at 25-30 yards, you're still "minute of bad guy" all the way along that distance. One of my instructors is big on "aim small, miss small", so that's why I'm trying to get sights on various guns to be on target, especially over that 0 to 30 yard distance.

Vinny, that's some pretty good shooting there. My normal range doesn't allow draw or rapid fire unless you're in a class. So, I try to present the gun from my chest to arms extended and put one shot on an 8.5 X 11" sheet of paper at 7 yards as quick as I can push the gun out. So far nobody's complained about that yet.
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  #26  
Old 02-20-2020, 10:31 AM
Frank Black Frank Black is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stansdds View Post
The LPA adjustable rear sight is "ok", but on a pistol for defensive and carry purposes, I prefer a no-snag, nothing to break fixed sight.
This is the correct answer.

And a shorter front sight.

My 6906 was a low shooter too. Measured the front sight (a Trijicon) and found it was .216".

In my S&W parts stash I found a spare Trijicon frt sight that measured .193. It was originally intended for use on S&W 3rd Gen models with the adjustable rear sight (45XX & 10XX).

Installed it and it worked perfectly. POI now = POA. Happy camper right here.
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  #27  
Old 02-20-2020, 10:58 AM
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Kurusu Kurusu is offline
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If you are absolutely sure it's printing low. File the front sight down.
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Old 02-20-2020, 12:01 PM
rosewood rosewood is offline
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If you are absolutely sure it's printing low. File the front sight down.
That doesn't move the white dot, assuming that is what he aims with. I do.
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Old 02-20-2020, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
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That doesn't move the white dot, assuming that is what he aims with. I do.
There is a white dot? that's just wrong.
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Last edited by Kurusu; 02-20-2020 at 12:20 PM.
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  #30  
Old 02-20-2020, 07:51 PM
Classic Radio99 Classic Radio99 is offline
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How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low? How to Fix 3rd Gen Pistols Hitting Low?  
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Yep, I use the white dots.. And in this case, if using the night sights in low light, I couldn't see the top of the post anyway.
Not that I can see the sights very well in good light... My old eyes absolutely need the dots, especially if I'm shooting w/o my glasses (which will probably be the situation if this turns real)
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Old 02-21-2020, 07:57 AM
Frank Black Frank Black is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosewood View Post
That doesn't move the white dot, assuming that is what he aims with. I do.
Yes, to raise POI, the OP's going to need a whole new - and shorter - front sight.

He first needs to measure his existing front sight, but I'll hazard a guess that it's in the .216 range.

Then he'll need to track down a Trijicon frt. sight or used/NOS S&W factory frt. sight in the .193" range.

It's possible Novak's could make the OP a custom frt. sight, but he'd have to know what height he needs to make the POI correction, so he'll have to do the measuring anyway.

Last edited by Frank Black; 02-21-2020 at 08:04 AM.
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  #32  
Old 02-21-2020, 08:36 AM
rosewood rosewood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurusu View Post
There is a white dot? that's just wrong.
Yeah, it ain't a Colt Peacemaker...
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  #33  
Old 02-25-2020, 12:03 PM
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Perhaps my gun is an outlier...i was having the exact same problem last yearwith my 6906. Sent it to S&W with a note explaining that it shot 2-3 inches low and asked them to install new sights to correct the problem. Instead of replacing the sights they installed a new barrel. Drives tacks now.
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Old Yesterday, 10:01 PM
Arman4461 Arman4461 is offline
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I have the same problem with my 3913TSW. The cure was to load up 147 grain TMJ Speer bullets with 5.4 grains of Blue Dot. Instant center black at 25 yards on a standard 25 yard Bullseye target. I quit carrying factory 124 grain loads and now carry 147 grain jhp. This using factory 3-dot fixed sights.
Arman
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