Smith and Wesson 438 Revolver Shoots Low and Left

Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
98
Likes
28
I recently bought Smith & Wesson 438, partly because of $30 rebate.
Yesterday I bought some ammo and shot it the first time.
The recoil of this 15 oz revolver is much better than the 13 oz Ruger LCR. I shot about 50 rounds through it, and my hand did not feel hurt. When I last tried out Ruger LCR, every shot felt like a slap to my palm. After every 5 shots, I need to switch to shooting S&W Shield 2.0, as a rest for my hands. While I still feel a big relief when I switched from 438 to Shield, I do not have fear when I pulled the trigger of 438.
One round failed to fire. I noticed this dud when I pick up the cases at the end of the session. I put it back into the revolver, pull the trigger again. It still refuse to fire. This is clearly an ammo problem. I was quite surprised, as I have never met this kind of problem so far, after 500 rounds of 9mm ammo, 200 rounds of 7.62x39 ammo, and 30 rounds of 12 gauge ammo.
The biggest disappointment is point of hit. It is 4 inches low and 3 inches to the left of the point of aim, at the distance of 7 yards and 10 yards. The spread is bigger than I got from Ruger LCR. Ruger LCR also shot 3 inch high and 2 inches to the right of the point of aim. I tried Remington and a low recoil type from Walmart. The deviation from point of aim is the same.
I wonder what caused this difference. I may contact Smith & Wesson to see if this deviation can be corrected in repair.
Is it impossible to have 2 inch barrel revolvers to shoot true to the point of aim? What went wrong? Could be my shooting skills? Also, what is the correct sight picture for revolvers?
 

greencobra

NES Member
Rating - 100%
28   0   0
Joined
Jul 2, 2011
Messages
23,641
Likes
20,181
the 438 is a dao revolver is it not? i guessing the pull is so long and hard you're just snapping the trigger back by the end of it's travel so if you're right handed, shots go left as well as hit low.
 

Mountain

NES Member
Rating - 100%
22   0   0
Joined
Jan 6, 2013
Messages
16,104
Likes
18,928
In case you are pushing your shots: Try ‘hooking’ the trigger a little more with your trigger finger pad. In other words, get the trigger closer to the crook of the first joint of your trigger finger.
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
98
Likes
28
438 enclose the shortened spur in a shroud. So I used both hand to cock the hammer, then use 4 pound force to pull the trigger. The point of impact is the same as double action.
At the range, I also suspected that I suddenly lose the capability to shoot. So I pulled out S&W Shield 2.0. I could shot that to the point of aim, within 2 inches in 7 yards.
I also trigger different placement of my finger on the trigger, slight different way of grip, but with the same disappointing result.
 

Glockster30

NES Member
Rating - 100%
7   0   0
Joined
Jan 13, 2013
Messages
8,693
Likes
3,970
Location
Milky Way
If you were high and to the right with the Ruger LCR, you were definitely anticipating or "riding" the recoil, especially since you stated that it hurt your hand when firing it. Usually, low and to the left indicates jerking the trigger instead of using a steady pull rearward (using increasing trigger pressure).

You don't say whether you're a new or experienced shooter, but with the many shooters I've instructed, I drill it into them that when firing a gun, the last thing you should be thinking about is recoil. In general, there are 7 or so functions (depending on who you read) that pretty much need to happen, and the more you shoot, these functions will become second nature to you. As noted, recoil is NOT one of the functions or something you should be thinking about at all, while shooting. Hope this helps.

There are seven fundamentals of handgun shooting and, in my opinion, they are all equally important. The goal should always be to shoot to stop the threat. So let’s examine them one at a time. They are:
  1. Stance
  2. Grip
  3. Sight Alignment
  4. Sight Picture
  5. Trigger Control
  6. Breathing
  7. Follow Through

Gun Safety: Foundation of Handgun Shooting | USCCA Training
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
98
Likes
28
Thanks for all the advice. I tried many kinds of 9mm pistols in the range, all shooting straight to the point of aim. 438's single action is the lightest compared to them. I am puzzled that I could not get both 438 and Ruger LCR to shoot to the point of aim. Any way, it is more likely for Smith & Wesson to be consistent with their manufacturing process than I can be consistent with my shooting. I will practice more and see what happens.
 
Rating - 100%
76   0   0
Joined
Dec 26, 2008
Messages
38,079
Likes
17,848
Pics of target.
If you call smith ask them what the "zero" distance is and whats acceptable accuracy standard they have for that model.
i thought the 438 went out of production?
Any how dont becsurprised if SW says 3 yards and accuracy of around 12" groups.
Does this model have a laser sight?
 
Last edited:

92G

Rating - 99.1%
108   1   0
Joined
Mar 19, 2014
Messages
7,969
Likes
5,283
Location
NC
have someone else shoot it. 95% of the time low left is the shooter. most of the snubbies ive shot actually print high. if it turns out reallt shooting off try another load.
 

HorizontalHunter

NES Member
Rating - 100%
5   0   0
Joined
Jun 23, 2009
Messages
7,519
Likes
7,613
Location
Western Massachusetts
Bench shoot it with a proper rest and tell us the results.

have someone else shoot it. 95% of the time low left is the shooter. most of the snubbies ive shot actually print high. if it turns out reallt shooting off try another load.

Follow these suggestions.

Low-left for a right handed shooter is a shooter problem. Rarely is it the weapon.

Bob
 

ToddDubya

NES Member
Rating - 100%
17   0   0
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Messages
16,939
Likes
19,855
Location
Berkshires
I had a PPK/S with a terribly finished muzzle. There were a couple sizeable burrs at the end of the rifling and the crown wasn't cut all the way around. It was obviously unfinished and shot way off. S&W fixed it for me and now it's dead nuts. Maybe you have something like that going on.

However, I'm going with the folks who say to use more finger (heh heh). I shoot my 642 with the trigger in the first joint of my index finger instead of the pad of the finger.
 

meh

NES Member
Rating - 100%
4   0   0
Joined
Jan 2, 2016
Messages
1,983
Likes
2,858
Location
Massachusetts
Well, he can check the timing and the end shake. They're doing better on the barrel cant issue, but I still don't think they're as anal about it as we want them to be.
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
98
Likes
28
I will try to find some rest to shoot my 438 the next time I go to the range. I will report back here.
Among the people I shoot with, I am the only one who has a revolver. So I do not think I can find someone to check my gun.
The next person to check my 438 will be the service people in Smith & Wesson, if I am lucky to have decent service from them.
 
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Apr 8, 2007
Messages
2,696
Likes
3,156
Keep your eyes open during the entire firing process. In some circles its known as "calling your shots". If you are actually watching and seeing when the shot is fired, if you the see the fire come out the front of the gun that is, it should be pretty evident as to whether you are jerking the gun off target at the last millisecond or not.
 
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Joined
Nov 9, 2010
Messages
10,827
Likes
12,976
Just put a spent shell in one of the cylinder spots, make sure you don't know where it is, and shoot all five. You'll know what the front sight is doing when you unexpectedly hit the spent shell. That's a start.
 
Rating - 100%
76   0   0
Joined
Dec 26, 2008
Messages
38,079
Likes
17,848
I recently bought Smith & Wesson 438, partly because of $30 rebate.
Yesterday I bought some ammo and shot it the first time.
The recoil of this 15 oz revolver is much better than the 13 oz Ruger LCR. I shot about 50 rounds through it, and my hand did not feel hurt. When I last tried out Ruger LCR, every shot felt like a slap to my palm. After every 5 shots, I need to switch to shooting S&W Shield 2.0, as a rest for my hands. While I still feel a big relief when I switched from 438 to Shield, I do not have fear when I pulled the trigger of 438.
One round failed to fire. I noticed this dud when I pick up the cases at the end of the session. I put it back into the revolver, pull the trigger again. It still refuse to fire. This is clearly an ammo problem. I was quite surprised, as I have never met this kind of problem so far, after 500 rounds of 9mm ammo, 200 rounds of 7.62x39 ammo, and 30 rounds of 12 gauge ammo.
The biggest disappointment is point of hit. It is 4 inches low and 3 inches to the left of the point of aim, at the distance of 7 yards and 10 yards. The spread is bigger than I got from Ruger LCR. Ruger LCR also shot 3 inch high and 2 inches to the right of the point of aim. I tried Remington and a low recoil type from Walmart. The deviation from point of aim is the same.
I wonder what caused this difference. I may contact Smith & Wesson to see if this deviation can be corrected in repair.
Is it impossible to have 2 inch barrel revolvers to shoot true to the point of aim? What went wrong? Could be my shooting skills? Also, what is the correct sight picture for revolvers?
well at least shooting low you can file down the front sight to bring elevation where you like it....mind you for the ammo you tend to shoot 90% of the time.
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
98
Likes
28
Today I did a rushed test in an indoor range with an ammo box as a rest. I could not see the front post and rear groove very well. The 5-shot result is not as bad as before. So it is likely my fault, not 438's. I will do a thorough test when I have the change.
 
Rating - 100%
76   0   0
Joined
Dec 26, 2008
Messages
38,079
Likes
17,848
Today I did a rushed test in an indoor range with an ammo box as a rest. I could not see the front post and rear groove very well. The 5-shot result is not as bad as before. So it is likely my fault, not 438's. I will do a thorough test when I have the change.
i am not sure anyone can really see those sights.
 

enbloc

NES Life Member
NES Member
Rating - 100%
43   0   0
Joined
Sep 10, 2009
Messages
35,197
Likes
61,020
You may also want to consider an Apex Duty/Carry spring kit or an equivalent after you've tried a couple of the good advice posts above.
These aren't the "End-all, Be-all" fix but they can help with trigger pull weight.

I've seen new j-frame shooters benefit from having one installed. They are not very expensive. YMMV

Oh, and a little paint on the front sight blade can help you see it a little better.
rear-sight-correct.jpg

~Matt
 
Rating - 100%
22   0   0
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
1,141
Likes
228
An alloy j-frame will humble the best shooter. What I did to improve my shooting with my 638:
-Paint the front sight orange so I could see it.
-Dry fire 10 or more rounds at the target for every 5 rounds of ammo
-Swap out the hard plastic stock grips for something soft and rubbery.
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
98
Likes
28
Today I received my 438 from Smith & Wesson's warranty service. On the worksheet I saw "Shoot Low", "Shoot Left", "Adjust Barrel Alignment", and "Test Fire: A (Accepted)".
I guess that SW's service people also found out that my 438 shot low and left, and they adjusted barrel alignment.
I do not have plan to go to a range in the near future, so I tested with a Laser practice cartridge, which was placed in the cylinder, and emits laser when the firing pin hit the base. The laser is on the lower and left of the POA, the same as before. I assume that the laser practice cartridge is aligned to the cylinder. SW did not adjust the cylinder alignment. So my laser practice cartridge is still off. Hopefully SW people correctly adjusted the barrel alignment, and my 438 will shoot true with live ammo.
So far, I am happy with Smith & Wesson's service.
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
98
Likes
28
Yesterday I finally had a chance to go to a range and shoot my Smith & Wesson 438 after warranty service. The result is satisfactory.
When I put the revolver to single action, for once, I can put 5 shots within 1.5 inch around the POA at 5 yards. That is good news to me.
Later I have difficulty to reproduce result at this level for single action shots. For double-action shots, POI is 2 inches to the right of POA. I am pretty sure that it is my fault. Small J-frame revolver is a weapon very difficult to shoot accurately. I just need to recognize what it is, and use it in the way that it is best at.
 

Qwikdraw45

NES Member
Rating - 100%
21   0   0
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
1,889
Likes
2,309
Location
Rochester NH
Today I received my 438 from Smith & Wesson's warranty service. On the worksheet I saw "Shoot Low", "Shoot Left", "Adjust Barrel Alignment", and "Test Fire: A (Accepted)".
I guess that SW's service people also found out that my 438 shot low and left, and they adjusted barrel alignment.
I do not have plan to go to a range in the near future, so I tested with a Laser practice cartridge, which was placed in the cylinder, and emits laser when the firing pin hit the base. The laser is on the lower and left of the POA, the same as before. I assume that the laser practice cartridge is aligned to the cylinder. SW did not adjust the cylinder alignment. So my laser practice cartridge is still off. Hopefully SW people correctly adjusted the barrel alignment, and my 438 will shoot true with live ammo.
So far, I am happy with Smith & Wesson's service.

Yesterday I finally had a chance to go to a range and shoot my Smith & Wesson 438 after warranty service. The result is satisfactory.
When I put the revolver to single action, for once, I can put 5 shots within 1.5 inch around the POA at 5 yards. That is good news to me.
Later I have difficulty to reproduce result at this level for single action shots. For double-action shots, POI is 2 inches to the right of POA. I am pretty sure that it is my fault. Small J-frame revolver is a weapon very difficult to shoot accurately. I just need to recognize what it is, and use it in the way that it is best at.
Hmm, I wish I had done that. I had two recent S&W snubs. A 442 and a 438. Same problem at 7 or 10 yards. Very slow, careful deliberate shooting (and cocking for single action in the 438) and bench shooting. Always the same.
 
Top Bottom