Point Of Aim Vs. Point Of Impact

Hitting a target with a handgun bullet not only requires a bit of hand-eye coordination and small motor skills in your fingers and hands; but also requires understanding point of aim (POA) in regards to point of impact (POI). Handguns cannot — and do not — place all bullets where aimed.

If you don’t believe that last statement have someone aim straight away with a big bore revolver, such as an old S&W N-frame or Colt New Frontier. Then stand a dozen feet to the side and look carefully. Its muzzle will be pointed slightly downwards. That’s due to a simple law of physics saying that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

For handgunners, that means as soon as the bullet begins moving down the barrel, recoil begins pushing the barrel upward. With cartridges such as .45 Colt, .44 Special, etc., with heavy, slow moving bullets, the revolver’s muzzle actually has to be pointed noticeably down so the bullet exits when recoil brings it up to level. The gun manufacturers calculate that factor into the heights of their front sights. Back in the day when there wasn’t much choice in factory load bullet weights, this was simple. They simply regulated a .45 Colt revolver for 250-grain bullets, a .44 Special for 246-grain bullets, a .38 Special for 158-grain bullets and so forth. That’s the reason why front sights are so tall on older revolvers, especially those for big calibers.

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One thought on “Point Of Aim Vs. Point Of Impact

  1. John

    There have been many informative and entertaining articles in AH in the few years I’ve been a subscriber, but this one stands out as worthy of study. I’ve been around handguns, reloading, and bullet casting most of my life (watching my Dad), but just started doing it myself in the last couple of years. While this info may be elementary to some, it comes to me at a perfect time as I decide for myself what bullet weights, styles, and powder charges to use. This is not to mention the help it will provide at the range in understanding when to pull out the sight-adjustment screwdriver (or not). Thanks Duke.

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