How to Sight-In a Gun With Fixed Sights

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At its most fundamental level, pistol marksmanship is simply a matter of ensuring that the alignment of your gun sights intersects the trajectory of the fired bullet’s travel at the moment of impact. This is accomplished by adjusting the sights of the weapon to align them with the trajectory, in a process called “sighting-in” or “zeroing” the weapon. So-called “fixed sights,” such as those found on the Beretta 92F -- issued to the U.S. military as the M9 pistol -- are the most common sights found on modern service-type pistols. Fixed sights are adjustable, but they require more effort than is needed to adjust non-fixed sights.

Step 1

Fire a three- to five-round group of shots on the zero target, a target used to sight-in weapons. Use a bench rest or sandbags to ensure maximum stability of the weapon. Note where the geometric center of your shot group is located in relation to the actual point-of-aim of the weapon’s sights at the moment of firing.

Step 2

Unload and clear your Beretta 92F pistol. Remove the magazine, lock the slide assembly to the rear and visually inspect the chamber and magazine well of the weapon to ensure that it is unloaded and clear.

Step 3

Break down the weapon in accordance with the included owner’s manual. Remove the slide assembly, barrel, and recoil spring and rod. Other than the slide assembly, place the other parts of the weapon aside, including the pistol frame.

Step 4

Place the slide assembly of the Beretta 92F in the padded-jaw gunsmith’s vise. If you don't have a gunsmith’s vise, place a piece of thick, soft, non-abrasive material, such as a piece of carpet remnant, between the slide assembly and the jaws of a regular shop vise.

Step 5

Place the tip of the drift punch against the dovetailed base of your weapon’s rear sight. Use your light mallet to tap the drift punch firmly, moving the rear sight base in the desired direction of travel. Drive the rear sight base to the left if your initial shot group was to the left of the point-of-aim. This will move the point-of-impact to the right. Move the rear sight base to the right to move the point-of-impact to the left.

Step 6

Drive the sight firmly in the desired direction of adjustment with one to two solid strikes of the mallet initially.

Step 7

Reassemble and load your weapon. Fire another three- to five-round group on the target. Check the point of impact against the point of aim again. Repeat steps 1 through 7 as necessary to align the point-of-aim with the point-of-impact.


  • If the weapon’s point-of-impact is above or below the point-of-aim, seek assistance from a competent gunsmith. This adjustment is outside of the recommended operator’s maintenance of the Beretta 92F.


  • "Modern Beretta Firearms;" Gene Gangarosa; 1994
  • "FM 3-23.35 Pistol Marksmanship Training;" U.S. Army Infantry Center and School; 2004
  • "MCRP 3-01B Pistol Marksmanship;" U.S.M.C. School of Infantry; 2005

About the Author

A classical Rennaissance man since serving in the U.S. Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment, Ragnar Danneskjold has worked as a ranch cowboy, a Department of Defense contractor, a strength and conditioning coach, a martial arts instructor, a freelance writer and a horse trainer.

Photo Credits

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