Sighting in troubles

Wildlife management area in GA, Charlie Elliot Wildlife CenterI have found a new favorite place to shoot! About 45 minutes south and a bit east of Atlanta is a “Wild Life Managment Area” called, Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center. Now, I say that the trip takes 45 minutes, but if you live in, have ever visited, or have even heard of the city of Atlanta, you know that the bulk of the travel commitment is not included in this amount of time. So, as long as you’ve packed your patience, you will be in for a treat!

I visited the range, for the second time ever, this past weekend, and I was impressed that the guys running the place remembered me from my first visit. (They even asked why their range hadn’t yet received a write up on ArmedCandy!!) They are so sweet and helpful, even while being extra vigilant toward careless shooters or idiots. They have helped me set up product tests that are both safe and useful, even when they are not sure “if I should really be allowed to shoot that here”…

20130804-205556.jpgHowever, this weekend, while at the Charlie Elliot Shooting Range, my focus was primarily on sighting in my AR. I recently removed the cheap red/green dot optic that I had originally put on the rifle in exchange for inexpensive iron sights. My reason for doing this was that without a co-witness front sight the dot in the optic was useless. Only I, really knew where it needed to sit for a precise shot and it was NOT in the center. After using 50 rounds to zero the gun, a 25 yard shot aligned to look something like what is pictured to the left. So the optic was returned, and iron sights put in its place.

Prior to my range visit, I attached a laser to the muzzle of my rifle and did my best to align the sights at home. At this point I noticed that the front sight post had no where to go but up and the rear sight was turned pretty far to the left and it still looked like I was not aligned with the dot from the laser bore sight. I took the gun to the range and hoped that I was close enough to just do minimal tweaking, and then have some fun.

20130804-205548.jpg60 rounds of .223 later, I looked around and realized, I was out of ammo and my shots were still hitting like the green dots picture on the right. Further, the rear sight was now, all the way to the left, and the font sight post was still twisted all the way down. I was at a total loss… other than taking a file to my front sight post or buying a riser for the rear. Per the RSO’s suggestion, I had tried raising, rather than lowering my front sight. This had only caused rounds to dissapear into the berm without ever touching the target. My shooting buddy for the day was of the opinon that I needed magpul sights, because Magpul makes everything better.

I let my AR cool and played with my CZ 75, which has never let me down. 24 hours later, I’m still completely frustrated and disappointed. This is probably why I don’t compete; A day at the range that leaves unresolved issues, sends me on a downward spiral of self loathing that doesn’t get go away until I can get the situation fixed. (And Charlie Elliot isn’t open on Sundays or Mondays!)


  1. If your FSB is fixed (pinned to the barrel) check to see if it’s got an “F” stamped on it. If it does not, it’s the wrong height for the barrel length (16 inches?). If you are using detachable sights, I’m clueless.

    I’ve played around with inexpensive RDS and now just suck up the price issues and go Aimpoint. A certain internet AR parts and ammo seller (just down I-20 eastbound for 3 hours or so) sells the Aimpoint Pro for about 400 bucks.


  2. I feel your pain, Gabby. I think we’ve all been there once or twice. Hope you get it worked out soon.

  3. It almost looks as though you’re using the wrong eye. Have you checked your eye dominance? It’s more common for women to be cross-dominant than men, and you may find that it would help to just switch sides and try sighting in again.

    I’m cross dominant, and I get trouble like you’re describing when I try to shoot a rifle with my right hand. With the left hand everything lines up correctly. It takes some serious practice to retrain your shooting stance, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. As an added bonus, ARs are really not hard to make lefty-friendly if you’re okay with a bit of gas spitting in your face. I don’t really notice the gas thing so much but I’m also used to firing my AK lefty, and it shoots a lot smellier ammo than the AR.

    I also have the Magpul flip-up rear sight. It is really nice, but if your problem is eye dominance it won’t solve it for you. 🙂

  4. The comment above about the F marked front site base is definitely possible. There are a ton of different manufactures of sights, both flip and otherwise, and they do not always match up with eachother. Also check to make sure anything added on is on nice and tight, aligned properly, and does not wiggle. I know that sounds silly, but sometimes stuff wiggles loose (like even the front sight post- it can happen!)

    After that, I would check your eye dominance. It’s a very important but often overlooked component of shooting. Handgun shooting is a lot more forgiving with eye dominance due to the shorter sight radius, so people transitioning from handgun to rifle frequently see problems. Also, being cross dominant (dominant hand opposite of dominant eye) is far more common in women for some reason.

    One thing you might not be aware of is that you do not need to cowitness with a red dot. With a red dot, you should focus your eyes on the target and then place the dot on the target. No need to align it with your front sight post or rear sight. You can do that if you want (I do it occasionally to check my zero), but there is no need to. Note that those cheaper red/green sights are notorious for problems. If you can’t afford an aimpoint or something similar, go with some decent iron sights instead.

    I would consider getting the magpul sights, after everything else. They are not that expensive, and have never been a problem for me. There are other great brands for sights, of course, but the magpul ones have the best combo of price point and quality.

    I am not usually one to try to solve problems by throwing money at it first, though. Check your eye dominance, if you haven’t already. Eye dominance is critical in rifle shooting, IMHO far more important than hand dominance.

    Good luck!

    1. Oh, quick addendum: I don’t know if you have a flip front or fixed. If you have a flip front that attaches directly to the gas block, the magpul front sight may not be a good idea. I hear they have a slight tendency to melt.

      1. Nope, I’m using all-steel flip ups for a same plane rail system, which is exactly what Ive got, from receiver to gas block 🙂

  5. Those inexpensive sights weren’t the plastic ARMS #71 series were they?

    I bought a set off Amazon which turned out to be knock-offs from china.

    I contacted ARMS and after exchanging a couple of emails with photos of the purchased sights, they sold me a legit set for a large discount.

  6. Gabby – Check out Creekside Firing range in Taylorsville. It’s not free like Charlie Elliott is, but you don’t see nearly as much unsafe gun handling as you do at Charlie Elliott. I used to be a regular at Charlie Elliott, but some of the dumbass stuff I saw there convinced me to go elsewhere.

  7. Lots of good advice above (I made a couple of notes myself). The only other question I would ask is whether you were using the small or large aperture on the rear sight.

    I assume you’ve consulted the owner’s manual if there is one.

    Sounds like a nice range. I’ll have to give it a try next time I’m in the Atlanta area.

  8. How is a red dot without co-witness useless? They are completely independent sighting systems, and should be sighted in as such.

    With iron sights, if everything is set up correctly, the rifle should be hitting relatively close to point of aim, point of impact with a mechanical zero. As long as you have same plane sights for your same plane setup.

    What distance did you try to bore sight with the laser at home? If you did it at shorter range (less than 25 yards), and moved the sight all the way down, in order to match the boresight at close range, the close range coupled with sight stand off would NOT give you a 25 yard zero.

    Filing the front sight down, would continue to move the impact up…

    If your sights are correct for the gun, impacts with irons were as they are shown in the picture, the front sight post needs to go UP, which will bring the group down. I don’t know your specific sight set ups elevation change per click, but it’s going to be a lot.

    Based on experience, having used M-16’s in the military, and coaching new shooters with AR’s I’d say you just bottomed out the sight bore sighting, and made a common error of thinking that to move the group down, you move the sight down, when it’s reversed. Moving the front sight up will move the group down.

    Forgive me if that’s not the case.

    1. I think the confusion here is that the optic was not “reflexive,” it was simply a red dot. I showed you what it looked like when it was zeroed but when anyone else picked it up and looked thru, aligned the dot to sit centered in the lens. When they did this the shot was a total loss. So a front sight would have helped them know where the dot should have been.

      Regardless, that piece of equipment is gone and now I have these iron sights. I’m going to take the gun up to my indoor range and make one more attempt… then I will try more drastic options.

  9. Red dot sights are reflex sights (reflector sight). People are not always going to have the same sight setting with them either. If the dot was shooting point of aim, point of impact with you shooting it, it was sighted in for you. The dot being sighted in correctly, AND sitting in the center depends on your cheekweld. It’s a parallax issue.

    I don’t understand what “more drastic” options are. There is nothing drastic about sighting in a rifle as song as all of the equipment is correct, and the instructions for what you have installed are followed. (I.E. if your group is 6″ high at 25 yards, move the front sight post up X amount of clicks).

    What distance did you boresight the rifle at, at home?

  10. Mandy, you can mitigate a lot of the gas issue pretty easily, without having to buy a “gas buster” charging handle.

    RTV compound filling the asmall gap between the charging handle and the receiver does wonders.

  11. The fact that your red dot setup was off for everyone else points to your shooting form being at least part of the issue. Are you sure your eyes aren’t different distances from your nose? haha

    Has any other [experienced] shooter fired your rifle with iron sights? Perhaps let him/her sight it in then see where you shoot it. This would let you know if your issue is you or your rifle. This is definitely cheaper than getting your rails fixed or barrel reset, etc.. I suggest starting with determining if an issue is with the shooter before troubleshooting the firearm.

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