Shooting a Handgun from a Bench Rest

By Chuck Hawks

Consistency is one of the secrets to shooting a handgun well, whether offhand or from a bench rest. You must hold the gun in your hands exactly the same way and with exactly the same tension from shot to shot to optimize accuracy. (You must also focus on the front sight and squeeze the trigger properly, but that's another subject.)

The assumption here is that you are taking advantage of a bench rest to sight-in a pistol that will not normally be fired from a bench rest once the sights have been adjusted to your satisfaction. A hunting pistol, defensive pistol, target pistol, or plinking pistol, for example. Here are some simple suggestions that may help you sight-in your handgun from a bench rest.

  1. Always hold your handgun the same way, and with the same tension, as you would if you were not shooting from a bench rest. This is to prevent change of impact when you really are not shooting from the bench.

  2. Shooting over sandbag
    Shooting a revolver from a Caldwell sandbag. Photo by Bob Fleck.
  3. When shooting over sandbags, rest the frame of the pistol, not the barrel and not just the trigger guard, against the sandbag. (It's okay if the front of the trigger guard touches the sandbag, just don't have your gun resting on the trigger guard alone.) Support your hands on something soft (another sandbag, a folded towel, etc.) to keep movement to a minimum.

  4. Shooting from Pistol Perch
    Shooting from a Pistol Perch. Photo by Bob Fleck.
  5. If using a Pistol Perch rest to sight-in your handgun, rest the barrel on the "Y" just in front of the frame (if a DA revolver), or the frame just in front of the trigger guard (if a SA revolver or a semi-automatic). Grip the pistol normally and use the base plate to support your hands.

  6. Wear ear and eye protection. It's safer and you will shoot better groups.

These suggestions may not produce the smallest possible groups, but you should be able to shoot good groups--certainly better than you can shoot offhand. Most of all, they are intended to insure that after you have sighted-in your handgun from a bench rest, it will also be sighted-in when you shoot from unsupported positions. For additional information, see the article "How to Sight-in a Hunting Pistol," also on the Handgun Information Page. I hope that these suggestions help. Good shooting!

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Copyright 2007 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.