Guns Handguns

Long-Range Pistol Shooting: Find the Right Sight Alignment

A few years ago I was working as a combat tracking instructor, training brave Americans to track the most dangerous game: the enemy gunman. We were working just a few miles from the US-Mexico border and would often hear radio chatter from drug smugglers and human trafficking networks in their observation posts. We also found sign that told the story of armed men under heavy load. Buttstock impressions of AK variants let us know that an armed confrontation was possible. However, due to the contract we were working under, we were only authorized to carry handguns for self defense. Rifles were strictly prohibited. In order to defend myself I knew I'd have to be able to shoot a pistol somewhat accurately at long distances...out to 700 yards. The idea was to figure out how to shoot accurately at long ranges to suppress an enemy attack. In other words, I wanted to be accurate enough to convince the bad guys to stop shooting at me.

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Finding the Right Long-Range Pistol
My first inclination was to buy the FN 5-7. The 5-7–with its 20-round magazines, super-flat trajectory and light weight–definitely had some sex appeal, especially since we could be covering 20 hard miles on a long day. But I have never met anyone that has shot or been shot by the 5-7. That fact, coupled with what a grizzled Special Forces buddy once told me (“Sure that bullet flies fast and flat, until it hits a blade of grass.”), and the $1,000 price tag sent me back to my tried-and-true, everyday carry gun: The Glock 19. After a few minutes in the training area I learned that if I was going to be engaged with the enemy, it would happen anywhere from 5 meters to 300 meters. Hmmm. A 9mm at 300 meters? Sure, the bullet would go that far, but would it be accurate enough to suppress an enemy combatant? We ran some numbers on a ballistics computer for 115-grain bullets and found that at 700 yards, the bullet is still traveling at 600 feet per second. That’s about 90 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. Enough to kill? Maybe. Enough to suppress? You bet. But how would I know how high to hold over? I quickly learned that long-range pistol shooting wasn’t much different than normal pistol shooting. The only thing that’s different is your sight alignment. Now this isn’t an exact science, but here are the different holds that I was able to come up with for my G19 firing Plus-P 115-grain FMJ ammo.
100 Yards
We all know what a normal sight alignment/sight picture looks like. This hold works on E-Type (man-size) targets out to 100 yards.
300 Yards
The second hold is where things start to change up. Maintain your front sight on your target and break your wrist up so the front of the pistol rises. Align the top of the rear sight with the front edge of the pistol slide. This hold is good for man-size targets out to 300 yards. With practice I was able to hit 7 out of 17 targets at 373 yards.
500 yards
If you want to go farther than that, again continue to break your wrist up until the top of your rear sight is aligned with the forward edge of your ejection port on the top of the slide. This hold will get you out 500 yards.
700 yards
Holding the top of the rear sight level with the back of the ejection port will get you hits out to 700 yards with the G19. Again, with all of these holds, maintain your front sight on your target and alter your wrists, elevating your muzzle to achieve the desired hold for the correct range to target. All of the fundamentals still apply. A stable shooting position is critical. As for the wind, you can hold off your target, and I usually do so in increments of the width of the front sight post. (I have Trijicon sights and a SureFire X300 light on my pistol.) At this range you’re going to need luck on your side, but after some serious practice I was pretty confident that I could effectively suppress fire team-sized formations with my G19 out to 700 yards. And that’s good enough for me.

These are the sight alignments for hitting targets with a Glock 19 at 100, 300, 500 and 700 yards.