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Old September 3, 2012, 11:09 AM   #1
Roshi
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Taller Front Sights for Colt Cap & Ball?

I'm recently back into 1851 Navies after a 15 year hiatus. My new Pietta revolver shoots where they all have, about 8 inches high at 15 yards. Nice groups though.

In years past I'd file down the hammer notch. Doesn't seem like the right thing to do now.


Are there replacement front sights that are taller? What do all the CAS shooters do? Do the front sights on a Pietta screw out?
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Old September 3, 2012, 01:38 PM   #2
Doc Hoy
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I have used...

....1/8 inch brazing rod to make a taller sight for a Navy.

I don't know of anyone who sells a purposely oversized sight.
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Old September 3, 2012, 01:45 PM   #3
Roshi
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Thanks!

Does the front sight just pull out?
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Old September 3, 2012, 02:38 PM   #4
craiso
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I had my local smith cut a dovetail for a front sight that I found at Track of the Wolf.







I modified the sight a bit to make it work better for a pistol.
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Old September 3, 2012, 02:56 PM   #5
Doc Hoy
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Yes...I have never seen one...

...that had a sight like yours (as opposed to a dovetail arrangement like Craiso's) that does not just pull out.

I would check the diameter before you take it out and make sure you have a rod that will fit.

I have done about three of these and it is always a 1/8th brazing rod.

You can do a little trigonometry to figure out how tall it has to be. Cut it rough first. then smooth it little with a file or with some sandpaper on a piece of hard wood. Oak or maple.

Another way is to cut it to about an inch and a half, shape the top of the sight the way you want it by chucking it into a drill. Drill press is better and a lathe is best but I don't know what your shop has in it.

Then cut it to the proper height, flatten the bottom and press it in.
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Old September 3, 2012, 11:44 PM   #6
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My oft copied response to Colt sight adjustments"

I've had a plethoria of Navies. Here's what I have done on different guns:
--Ground the rear notch a little wider and deeper with a Dremel cutting disc. Makes a better sight picture.
--Ground the tip of the hammer off in order to "lower" the rear sight and then Dremeled the notch deeper & wider. Be careful that you don't grind off too much or the barrel will block the front sight as mentioned before. You can sight down the barrel and see what kind of clearance you have to start with. Some guns don't have any. A longer or shorter trigger may raise or lower the arc of the hammer and thus change the heigth of the hammer but I have not intentionally done that but noticed more hammer above the barrel line after swapping out a trigger for a shorter one once.
--Filed off the bead very flat and epoxied a taller shotgun bead onto it.
--Filed off the front sight (or lifted it out of the hole) and epoxied a cut off #4X3/4" brass flat head wood screw (upside down). This fix made a nice tall bead/post that a little cold bluing "ages" it nicely and it looks good if you don't goop too much epoxy onto the barrel. Cut, size, & shape the "bead" before you glue it on. (see attached photo)
--Have a gunsmith dovetail a front sight but only if the gun shoots way off to one side (too far off to merely cut the rear notch over a little). If the front sight needs to be drifted way over to the side, you're gonna get the creeps looking at the sight picture. I carefully (as in gorilla) bent the barrel to the left on one gun to make it shoot to POA. Looks alot better than having a drifted sight hanging off the side of the barrel.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg NavyFrSight.jpg (192.6 KB, 40 views)
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Old September 4, 2012, 06:33 PM   #7
Roshi
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Great suggestions

Thanks! Lots of options.
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Old September 5, 2012, 11:31 AM   #8
enyaw
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I like the idea of the dovetailed front sight for a Navy. I've seen pics of originals that had the dovetailed front sight. The sights were configured in a Navy style with the post a flat topped flat post. Nothing bad about a blade front sight though. Some originals I've seen had that too.
When you grind down the rear sight it needs to be flat(horizontal) on the top when it's drawn back. It makes sense to me to hit the problem two ways and lower the back sight some and raise the front some so.....neither is too pronounced in it's change. Rear not too low or the front not too high.
I like the Navy that's shown in the pic in this thread. Nice front sight. I'd want to have all the sight brass on a Navy but that's just a preference. I have a preference for a steel base brass bead or blade fer a Navy too.The steel base can be blued after the guns regulated and the dovetail "wings" filed flush with the barrel to hide the base of the dovetailed sight.
The sight base on the pictured Navy seems to have a dovetailed cut too deep especially for a 44 caliber. Might be just the way the pic looks. The base is too wide fer my preference too dealing with a Navy Colt. I'm just expressing an opinion is all.
Anywhoooo.......hittin it two ways....lower the rear some and raise the front some is a good way to get er done. Don't want to get the gun shootin too low and have a front sight that gets too short to make lower to "raise er up".
I know the dovetail cut can't be too deep and that's not just an opinion. Never go deeper than half the wall thickness of the barrel and better is keep no deeper than 1/3rd the wall thickness of the barrel. A dovetail cut on a mill precisely can be quite shallow and be strong and be 1/4th the wall thickness. The area left between the sight base and the inside of the barrel can't be too thin. It can bulge upwards if too thin.It should be ,sorta finessed, and shallow fer a Navy or Army Colt.
I can attest to one fact that gets overlooked when a gun shoots too high. Uberti's have the problem more than Pietta's.
The problem that concerns the gun shootin too high? The dang arbor not bottomed in the barrels arbor hole especially when coupled with a loose fer the arbor barrel arbor hole.
When the arbor isn't bottomed in the barrels hole correctly the wedge sets the barrel at the breech end "back and canted down" which raises the muzzle end. Shoots high. Fix the arbor thing and the gun may shoot low even with the stock factory sights. I've done it.
The arbor hole too loose fer the barrelcan be shimmed with a piece of brass or copper shim cut with a scissors and laid on top the arbor above where the wedge slot is and inserted there when the barrel is tapped on. A tight arbor hole for the barrel and a bottomed arbor sets many a-gun shootin low and many times sets it shootin more accurate.
Seems funny....regulating the sights by messin with the arbor fit.
Those Colts...ya gotta love em. I do. I have a collection such as I can't remember how many I have and always want more to "tune up" and play with.
I can help out ,maybe, by lettin folks know that Brownells sells 60 degree dovetail files. With some practice they make good tools fer dovetailin without a milling machine. Milling machine is best though. The dovetail files have a safe side which is very helpful. Most anyone can make a good dovetail cut with the dovetail file. Make the cut with the edge of a regular mill file and put the dovetail under cuts there with the dovetail file.
I hate to say this but I have to......a chisel can be used to make the dovetail undercuts. Cut with the mill file edge and then bang the dovetail under cuts there usin the chisel parallel with the barrel. Pushes metal up but that can be left or filed away. The base of the sight has to be filed to match whatever angle under cuts are made but......the base can be fit close and the raised metal from the chisel can be gently tapped down onto the base of the sight.....as long as the base fits the width of the cut tight.
I may as well say this too even though I hate to type. Mentioned was the bending of a barrel to regulate the windage. Something to try other than that is....study the akigment of the barrel to the frame. Sometimes because of a loose fit arbor and tolerances that add up the wrong way a Colt gun barrel can be mounted crooked. Within the "looseness tolerance" of the barrel on the arbor a person can carefully file the barrels bottom lug (against the frame)at an angle to set the barrel right. Shoots right? Move the muzzle of the barrel to the right. Doesn't take a whole lot neither. A tiny bit goes a long way towards regulating windage. Measured in the .001's inch ya know.
It's tricky filing the bottom lug and keepin the planes of the surface right but it can be done ifin yer good with the file. Don't leave a high spot in the middle of the barrel lugs plane. Don't file too much neither. The barrel can only shift a small amount within the looseness on the arbor. Sometimes it's the "barrel loose on the arbor" that creates the windage problem too. Back to messin with the barrel/arbor fit again to set a Colt to shootin where you aim it. Funny ain't it? There's more to "tunin a Colt" than meets the eye or the regular connotaion of the word "tunin". ha ha ha A Premiere tune job sets "everything a-right". Consistant cylinder gap....tight barrel....shootin point of aim.....nice trigger.....good wedge fit......good arbor barrel fit and.....a million other little things I can't remember until I have some Colt cap&baller in my hands and assaulted by my tools.
Maybe I should say that if the windage is off on a Colt check the crown or muzzle face first off. If the rifling is deeper on one part of the barrel than the other then don't use a crown or get rid of the crown when there is inconsistant rifling depth. Use a flat face muzzle with no crown with inconsistant rifling depth. That lets the gas escape from each groove simaltaneously,even when the depth is not consistant in the rifling, so the barrel doesn't shoot like a gun with a bad crown even when the crown is good. Check the rifling depth since it can be way off in the cap&ballers. If it's off and inconsistant use a flat face muzzle with no crown and concentric with the bore. The flat face muzzle can sometimes fix a windage problem.
There's more to tuning or regulating a Colt than messin with the sights to get it shootin point of aim same as point of impact.
Please excuse any type errors in this since I type terrible.
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Old September 5, 2012, 07:29 PM   #9
Doc Hoy
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Dag.. Wayne!

Great to see your post on the forum!

That Centaure is still looking just great!
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Old September 6, 2012, 09:06 AM   #10
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I've had a number of '51 Navies and have usually fixed them like Doc suggests. My latest is a Uberti and I'm strongly thinking of having a dovetail cut as some have suggested and fixing it that way. As already stated, this was done on originals as well so our forefathers had the same issues!

The only thing I would mention is to keep in mind if you are going to shoot it in certain competitions - the rules may call for original style sights. I'm past that point now and I just plink and kill cans so for me, it won't be an issue. If you go with the dovetail . . . you'll also be able to adjust for windage. Again, as already suggested - check and see what Track of the Wolf or similar supplier has and there are also some "modern" front sights out there that would work well if that's not a problem.
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Old September 6, 2012, 10:08 AM   #11
enyaw
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One interesting type sight fer a Navy Colt is one of the dovetail Remington replacement sights. They can be filed some and made to look just like originals I've seen with dovetailed sights. The smaller Remington sight looks good on a Navy. Blade sights do too though.
Doc Hoy, thanks fer being amiable and courteous. Yer a Gentleman and a Scholar and not just because you own a Centaure Army Colt. ha ha ha ha
Anywhoooo.......the Remington sights come large like the Uberti's have or smaller like the other makes. I like the smaller sights but.......sometimes they aren't high enough fer a really severe case of "shootin high".
Some people,and I don't blame them, don't want to do neurosurgery on their Colts and simply want to adjust the dang sights and get to shootin. Simply cuttin a shim stock piece to lay(I fergetted to say earlier) on "top" the arbor goes a long way to settin the barrel straight with the arbor(because it forces the barrel down into the rounded part of the barrels hole that centers the barrel) and fixin some of the "barrel cantin down and back at the breech end when the wedge tightens it onto the frame.
Getting a shim into the hole on top the arbor isn't hard. A little screw driver helps to keep the shim from moving backwards when the barrel is inserted on the arbor.All it takes is a little screw driver and three hands.
If there's enough room for a shimto begin with it (the shim) helps.
The shim being wide makes it tighter and cutting it less wide loosens it up. if the shim won't go in cut it less wide a little and try again. Aluminum pie plate can be a good shimstock for a pretty loose arbor barrel fit.
Enco and MSC sell sets of shimstock in different thicknesses pretty cheap and you get plenty that would last a long time unless a person is doing hundreds of Colts like some of the gunsmiths hangin round the forums wantin to help Hombres out.
Anywhooooo......ifin a person doesn't like shim stock in their arbor hole with the arbor they can do it another way that I kinda like myself.
If the cylinder will alow it a couple of weld spots fore and aft on top the arbor and filed to make a tighter fit of the barrel on the arbor is move convienient compared to a piece of shimstock.
Those weld spots can be put in other places than on the top if the arbor is loose and the barrel needs centered some....you know.....like puttin the weld spot on the side of the arbor to move a barrel muzzle into better centered.
Usually a weld spot gets filed down pretty thin to tighten a barrel on the arbor.
The nice one is when the cylinder hole lets enough "spot filed down" to tighten the barrel on the arbor plenty enough. If the cylinder hole won't let some weld spot filed down be on the arbor then the shim has to be used.
Anywhoooo.....the Colts I have that have the barrel snug on the arbor shoot accurately more consistntly.
Even in that Gunsmithin Guns of the old West book it mentions having a good push fit to a barrel of a Colt as a good thing. Mentions the bottomed arbor thing too. Made me glad I was on the right track when I read that.
You Hombres mess with guns enough to know what I mean. When some famous gunsmith says or writes about a way to do something that is the way you been doing it then it's like positive affirmation.
I think the originals that had a good amount of hand fittin done must have had snug arbor holes and bottomed arbors.
Sam Colt knew what he was doin.
Of course the cap&baller revolvers weren't made to be target guns or long range guns. The Army Ordanance Department back in the day considered the use of the cap&ballers to be at a distance of like 7-28 feet. Danged near like hand to hand combat with a revolver. I figure if an Hombre has a gun shootin high and he can learn to pop a bean can at 7-28 feet point shootin(not using the sights at all really) he's doing with his Colt what it was intended to do anywhoooo.....with whatever sights on it it had coming out of the box.
Soooooo....if an Hombre doesn't want to do "Kitchen Table Gunsmithin"and change out the sights he can just simply shoot his gun as it comes out of the box and feel satisfied enough. Heck, Wild Bill Hickock never mentioned messin with his sights. He must have just learned to point shoot.
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Old September 6, 2012, 07:29 PM   #12
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nice post's enyaw....BTY, Euroarms has been known to use a screw in post, for that reason I always check 1st to see if the post will remove that way on all guns, machining methods have been known to change over time with Italian reproductions.
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Old September 6, 2012, 10:22 PM   #13
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I've owned 7 and kept 4 Euroarms Remingtons in both 36 & 44 cals. They all had dovetail front sights. Some of those sights were too low and needed to be replaced by taller ones to make the guns shoot POA.
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Old September 8, 2012, 06:14 PM   #14
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Hellgate, My Rogers & Spencer had a screwin brass post...got a dove tail now though
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