Before I mention a couple more cheap tricks to improve your handgun, let me clarify the last batch:

Smudging the front sight tip: Traditional rifle ranges may have smudge pots available to you. These used to be very popular and the Marine Corps still uses them.  They usually burn kerosene through a thick fibrous wick that gives off a low level of black smoke. A shooter holds the rifle sight over the “pot” until the sight is black. Too much smudge can actually thicken the sight post. The goal is only to prevent light reflection. You can make one with a small piece of cloth lightly coated with kerosene and placed inside a can, or a small coal fire. Magic markers create shine and flat paint is hard to remove.  Be careful.

Fouling the barrel: You should keep a clean weapon, properly oiled. However, accuracy in firearms is often improved as rounds are fired. If you want the best accuracy from your handgun, try firing groups at the end of your range session when your barrel is dirty. When I was a counter-sniper the thinking was rifle barrels had to be perfectly clean for that first shot. Today, even military snipers are realizing the benefit of a dirty barrel. As a Marine marksmanship instructor I saw great improvements in M-16 groups as barrels became dirty and “tighter.” I am not suggesting that you should not clean your weapon. However, if you want to improve your accuracy that fraction of an inch, try a mildly fouled barrel — then clean it.

Here’s a couple more tricks:

  1. For long distance shooting mark your front sight with two or three evenly-spaced horizontal lines (a thread tipped in nail polish works fine as a snap-line.)  Use the lines as front sight tips and points of reference when firing beyond 100 yards. This will allow you to learn where to hold and to be consistent at more than two hundred yards (handgun, ammunition, and shooter permitting.)
  2. Reloaded and light brass has an advantage in a revolver. When doing a tactical reload and trying to save your unfired rounds, simply turn the revolver upward and the the heavier, un-expanded rounds will drop into your support hand. Striking the yoke (the plunger) will eject the fired brass. This technique allows you to reload a partially-full cylinder without throwing good rounds on the ground or collecting spent brass, which can be dangerous when reloading under stress. The goal here is to put the unfired rounds in your pocket, the spent brass on the ground, and charge the cylinder with a fresh reloader, saving those unfired, loose rounds for the last cylinder.

I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

The Author
Albert League is a former Marine and law enforcement firearm instructor who consults on a variety of security topics.