Boresighting a Pistol
“When you read about “accuracy” of any given handgun, know that unless machines are involved, what you’re really getting is an indication of that pistol’s ability to be shot accurately. — Tom McHale Shooting Illustrated
When we say a pistol is ‘accurate,’ we mean it consistently hits where we aim. A lot goes into whether a gun is accurate. The barrel, fittings and how precisely-machined all the parts affect accuracy. The sighting system affects accuracy. But we can’t blame all accuracy issues on the pistol. Most accuracy problems originate with you, the shooter. If you have the fundamentals of pistol shooting down—your aim, stance, grip and how you manipulate the trigger—then you should be shooting pretty darn straight. If you are still having problems punching holes into holes from a self-defense distance (10 feet and under), there just might be an issue with the gun.
So, where do you begin?
Let’s start by inspecting the sighting system you have on your gun—iron sights, night sights, lasers and red dots all need sighting-in to make sure they are aligned properly. Surprisingly, a lot of us just compensate our aim to match that of our gun’s sights from the factory. For example, if your sights are off, which they could very well be, we simply just shoot low left, or high right—whichever way your sights are set—to hit bullseye. It is not good to compensate our aim for offset optics or sights.
Why does accuracy matter?
To stop a threat, you must be able to hit vital organs. Inaccuracy could mean the bad guy wins.
What Happens to Your Body During a Self-Defense Shooting
When we are faced with a threat, our bodies dump adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol into our bloodstream, preparing us to either stay and fight or run. Our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing increase, our pupils dilate and our muscles tense. This dump of hormones can cause memory problems, loss of hearing and create tunnel vision.
In a self-defense situation, you won’t be able to take your time to aim. You won’t focus on the front sight. That is why we put lasers, red dots and high-visibility aftermarket sights on our handguns. Anytime we get a new handgun or a new sighting system, we need to make sure our sights or optic is centered with the bore. This makes your gun more accurate. An in-chamber boresight is a perfect way to do this and saves you time and money.
What is a Laser Boresight?
A laser boresight is a preliminary method of getting your sights dialed in without using a lot of ammo at the range. Using a laser diode, it projects a red dot on a target, making it easier for you to center your sights and optics. Sightmark’s pistol boresights are caliber-specific and placed directly in your firearm’s chamber.
How to Boresight a Pistol
Using a pistol boresight is simple.
- Unload your firearm and pointing it in a safe direction, stabilize it using a benchrest or shooting bags.
- Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
- Unscrew the bottom of the boresight and insert the batteries according to the instructions. The boresight automatically turns on when the batteries are inserted correctly.
- Put the laser boresight into the chamber.
- Close the slide.
- Line the laser beam on to the center of the target.
- Look through your optic and using your windage and elevation knobs, adjust the crosshairs or dot until it lines up with the dot of the laser boresight. If you do not have an optic and just want to calibrate your sights, aim as you would regularly and then use a pistol sight adjustment tool to correct for windage and elevation.
As mentioned above, most inaccuracy problems can’t be blamed on the gun. There are a few things we can do besides improving our own technique to help increase accuracy. Accuracy isn’t just for precision shooters or competitors. Accurate is something we must all aim to be. For a small price to pay and a few minutes, a laser boresight might just make all the difference.