Windage and Elevation Adjustment in Your Uberti Cattleman Revolver
So, you have your brand-new Uberti single-action revolver, a few boxes of ammo and some nice pristine targets. You head for the range, staple the targets in place, load up and start shooting. But to your dismay, the bullets do not land where you were aiming at. They are either high or low, left or right or a combination. If you don’t have one of the (relatively few) models with target sights, what to do? Here is a quick run-down of the solutions to the problem, easiest to more complicated.
1 – Make sure it ain’t you. I know, I know, we all were born with shooting skills in our DNA, right? Right. Still, make sure it’s not you either pulling the shots or otherwise throwing your aim off—especially if you’re new to single-action revolvers. Why do I say that? Because a single-action revolver is different from any other design. Besides the very obvious, there’s one feature in particular that throws new shooters off: the fact that the trigger is slightly offset to the left side of the receiver. This causes many novice shooters to overcompensate by slipping their trigger-finger farther into the guard and pull the shot to the right upon firing. So try shooting from a rest, using as little muscle as possible and see where the shots land. As extra insurance, have a buddy try it to see if his shots land where yours do.
2 – Try different ammo-brands and bullet-weights. Not only will different revolver-models shoot differently. But sometimes different specimens of the same model will also have idiosyncrasies in how they place bullets. Therefore, it always pays to test a new revolver with different kinds of ammo, not only for precision (i.e., repeatability or good groups) but also for accuracy (i.e., the shots landing where you aim).
3 – Elevation adjustments: the gun is shooting low. OK, so you’ve tried umpteen types of ammo and you’ve found a couple that your gun likes. The groups are excellent—only, they are landing below your point of aim. The traditional way to cure this problem is to carefully and very gradually file down the front sight. The shorter your barrel, the shorter your sight-radius, which means the smaller the adjustment will need to be. Decide what your optimal shooting distance is, because your gun will be “sighted in” for that distance only. Then bring a file to the range and, carefully, remove metal from the front sight—a tiny, weeny bit at a time—and shoot. Groups should start moving up. Repeat until the groups are where you want them to be. At that point, you can touch up the front sight with a commercially-available bluing solution (if it was blued to begin with, of course).
4 – Elevation adjustments: the gun is shooting high. First of all, how high is high? If you are shooting at 6 o’clock of a 12-inch bull at 30 feet and your slugs are hitting the center of the bull, leave it be. Even if you go longer distances, you can get used to adjust your point of aim lower—a kind of elevation equivalent of Kentucky windage. If your revolver shoots a lot higher than that, however, and you’ve tried different bullet weights with the same result, then here’s the remedy. For starters, DO NOT be tempted to file down the notch in the receiver. It ain’t just a sight—it’s the receiver! As such it needs to remain intact and strong. Simply have your gunsmith build up your front sight—that is, make it higher. Have him make it high enough that you have a bit of a margin; this means that your newly-sighted revolver may shoot low, but this is OK. At this point, simply follow the instructions for the previous point.
5 – Windage adjustment a): filing the front sight laterally. Here, too, a couple rules apply: there’s a tolerable amount of windage discrepancy, and if you still need to adjust, the shorter your barrel, the slighter the adjustment. So you have to aim at 5 or 7 o’clock of a 12-inch bull at 30 feet to hit dead center? Big whoop. If your gun is off by a lot, however, you have a couple options, one of which is filing the front sight laterally. First make sure that just by aligning the left or right corner of the front sight with the target, the group moves in your desired direction, or else this won’t be enough. Example: if the gun shoots left, try aligning the left corner of the front sight with the target, and the group will move to the right. If this gives you the desired result, simply remove some metal from the right side of the front sight, and you’ll be on. Reverse directions for a gun that’s shooting to the right.
6 – Windage adjustment b): rotating the barrel. If you don’t want to file your front sight, you have the option of having the barrel rotated, so that the front sight “moves” to the left or right, depending on the side to which your gun shoots. Do me a favor and have a competent, qualified gunsmith do this, unless you are one yourself. This will in fact alter the alignment of the ejector rod as well as the exact dimension of the barrel-cylinder gap: this is stuff for guys who know what they’re doing. Anyway, what the ‘smith will do is this. He will put your revolver in a vise, with the jaws safely holding it by the barrel. He’ll insert a dowel into the trigger-guard and every so slightly rotate the receiver so that it moves left or right in relation to the front sight. This will de facto do what an adjustable rear sight will do: if the receiver moves left of the front sight, the groups will move left, ditto for the right side.
7 – Windage and elevation combined. Combine any two steps (3 or 4 with 5 or 6) doing one at a time to gradually bring your revolver to shoot where you want it to.
Please, pretty please. If you are not sure what you’re doing, that’s what gunsmiths are for. If you’re new to single-action revolvers, my bet is that steps 1 and 2 are all that you’ll need to make your gun shoot where you want it to. Besides, it’s fun to experiment and you’ll burn more powder, practice more, and invariably put more rounds on target the more you get to know your gun.
Happy shooting, stay safe and keep supporting Uberti!