View Full Version : 1911 Sight Question

February 19, 1999, 01:12 PM
My my my, I'm just full of 1911 questions aren't I? Here's my latest...

I have a '70 Series Gov't Model with fixed sights. The gun shoots dead on at 25yrds and I like it that way. The only problem I have is that sight pick-up is really poor, so I would like to improve that w/o putting new sights on it. Anyone got any ideas on how to do this?

The obvious way would be to slap some paint on the sights and go with that, but allthough I have done that on other firearms, I would rather not do that in this case. Has anyone tried drilling indentations in the sights and filling those with something? Any ideas are welcome...

TIA, -SCatt

Jim V
February 19, 1999, 08:22 PM
How tall is your front sight? Is the factory little dinky thing or is it of a larger size? If it is the original factory sight, I don't think there is much you can do. If the sight is around .187" tall, take the slide to a jewler or gun engraver and have him make a series of cuts in the sight and fill them with gold. The gold will pick up light evenly, will not tarnish and looks classy. Brass is the same color but it seems to pick up up light unevenly and it tarnishes. Silver does not seem to work very well either.

Ne Conjuge Nobiscum

February 20, 1999, 01:27 AM
You might try opening up the notch in the rear sight just abit. This allows more light on either side of the front sight making it easier to see. Careful, a little goes a long way.

February 20, 1999, 03:40 AM
Darn, Grayfox beat me to the rear site bit...Another option is to use a spring loaded centre punch on the front site, then use an engraver to "drill" a hole - can be done to the rear as well. Fill in with liquid paper & presto " I can see" :)

"The Gun from Down Under !"

George Stringer
February 20, 1999, 09:36 AM
Swingcat, all these guys have given you good ideas and all will help the sights a little. But, for no more than it costs, I'd go with a high visibility sight set like MGW. Front and rear sell for about $28, add about $10 to install and your shooting. They're the standard fixed sight in my shop. George

Harry Bonar
February 2, 2005, 11:28 AM
:) Dear Shooter:
I've changed my mind about sights on a defensive combat handgun, especially 1911 and clones. I used to want night-sights on all my handguns (semi-autos') After experience the LAST thing I want on a defensive handgun are sights with dots, epoxy or tritium, on front and rear.
I take a perfectly good Novak lo-mount, run through the rear notch with a 3/8" ball end mill and make what I call a "ghost ring" sight, black in the back and on the front, a white or tritium dot with white outline around the tritium. Tritium is good if you can also see it in daytime - at night, after you've identified the bad guy, front sight, front-sight, front sight!
The last thing I want at 69 are a bunch of dots to line up, taking PRECIOUS time from my shot! The ghost ring is only good for our supposed 7 yard senario; past that, especially on a P-12 (which I often carry) you need that rear notch!
The best sights you can have on a combat 45 are FIXED, sighted in at 25 yards.
Also, I tend to carry "hard-ball" the year round now; hollow points tend to fill up with coat and jacket material in winter and act like hard-ball rounds. In summer, if you must carry a golden saber, or hydro-shock. That Golden Saber is a mean bugger! On airliners Glaser is real good.
Sorry for rambling on and on and on!!! We are finding that "gun-fight" ranges are increasing in range!
A tip. Works most of time :( Most bad guys can't shoot for &%^&*%. When they reach for gun, step to left as you draw; they hopefully will flinch low and to the left! Worked so far; things go very, very fast! Harry

Dave Sample
February 2, 2005, 11:42 AM
Harry is 69 and I am 72+. I agree with him completely, but what do we know? My last duty weapon was a 1927 Systima remodeled to my specs. It had tritium sights front and rear by Meprolite that fit the standard dovetail. It was very comforting to see those two little beady eyes in my holster at 0200 on Graveyard Shift.
I have a 1911 GI LW that has a Wilson Front tritium just because it was here in the Junk Box. It also has a black four way Caspian on the rear with no dots. It is a work in progress as I may want to retire my 1954 LW Commander that I carry daily.
Harry, old age and treachery will outwit youth and skill every time! I can't hit anything with dot sights and I do not worry about it. In a gunfight, you never see them. I think everyone should get what they want and can afford.

Harry Bonar
February 4, 2005, 11:17 AM
Dear Dave:

Jim Watson
February 4, 2005, 11:47 AM
I don't understand why you are reluctant to paint your sights as you say you have others. It is cheap and not permanent. Everybody else's ideas are permanent and some are expensive. Look at what is available and be sure you are buying something you will like. In the meantime, you can be messing around with different paint colors and patterns.

Dave Sample
February 5, 2005, 01:14 PM
Right on Jim. I think that there is an abundance of great sight paint out there now. Teddy painted a front sight for Dean's PATRIOT 10 and it helped him a lot. I tried three dot sights, I tried Atomic sights, I have painted sights, but sadly, the only thing that works for me is black on black. Maybe it's because I have green eyes!

February 7, 2005, 01:28 PM
To improve the sight picture on my S80 Colt, I merely deepened the rear notch. The sights already had white dots all over them, and after removing the rear ones, I thought it looked pretty good. Really, what I'd like is a narrower front sight, .100", but maybe a vertical gold stripe, applied to the stock sight would do the trick. I find that the width of the front makes precise shots difficult, since the sight is as wide or wider than the target. A center stripe might make it easier to find the center, without having to go to altogether different sights.

Dave Sample
February 7, 2005, 02:08 PM

Here is a neat one for Dean's latest '70 Series Colt.


Coupled with a Diamond Shaped Ghost Ring Rear Adjustable, it makes a neat sight picture.


Compliments of Caspian Arms at the Shot Show.

Harry Bonar
February 10, 2005, 09:39 PM
:confused: Dear Shooter:
I'll try to post a picture of my P-12 "ghost ring sight."

February 11, 2005, 12:44 AM
My simple solution is to go to Brownell's web page, search for sight paint and spend $14.95 for 5 colors. Degrease your front sight and use a toothpick (not brush!) to daub a little paint on the front sight's rearward edge. Use an old business card to protect the sides of the sights or remove "spillage". Let dry. Try it. If you don't like it, you can remove it and try another color.

Use one color for the front sight -- white or green say -- and a different color for the rear, like red, so your eye picks up the front sight easier. Personally, I find you don't really need paint on the rear sight if you can see the front one.

February 11, 2005, 01:23 AM
Hey Harry, thanks for posting the pic! I envisioned what you were talking about (the ball-nose end mill) but the pic was great confirmation anyway.

Is there a reason you don't use regular centercutting mills to make a square notch? I had the same idea you're using, except with a regular square-cut mill to make the notch bigger, but keeping it "notchy."

Dave Sample
February 11, 2005, 02:13 AM
Harry will love it when he knows I built a dozen Ghost Ring sights years ago with Don Williams and that I had a Ghost Ring Bo-Mar on a custom gun I built for one of my Deputy partners 10 years ago. They went nowhere so I gave up on them. Glad to see Harry carrying on! I like them.

Harry Bonar
February 11, 2005, 08:43 AM
Dear Dave:
Dave, like Solomon said, "there is no new thing under the sun." You, know - we all learn as we go along; I'm learning just by being on the Forum! I think there are a fine bunch of Smiths on the forum :)

February 12, 2005, 12:07 AM
I like that "Ghost ring sight" Dave Sample posted, it looks intriguing.

Some years ago I damaged the rear sight on a pistol and a gunsmith had a replacement with a narrow notch. I asked if he could widen it and he did using an "inverted V" pattern. With the green dot sight paint on the front sight it was incredibly fast to pick up the alignment. I think someone made one commercially that was similar to this, but I don't recall the name.

Here's a crude illustration of the sight picture.

The narrow top allows for precise vertical alignment and the wide angle allows you to quickly see if the sight is left/right of center. Ever seen a sight like this one?

Dave Sample
February 12, 2005, 12:40 AM
I agree, Harry. We all try to out do each other and the public has gotten the benefit from our little ego trips. This is a neat Forum and the best one I have ever posted on. I hope they will let me continue to play on this cellar door! Some of us never settle for Mediorcity.

February 12, 2005, 11:30 AM
My solution:

Check out Brownell's website. They have replacement sights for 1911s that are essentially the same as the issue sight, but taller and wider, therefore easier to pick up.

The rear sight slides in and out with a little discrete tapping, the front sight must be yanked and the new one re-staked. You can do it at home, but it's easier with proper staking equipment.

And I agree with the good visibility fixed sight program. I've used that system for some thirty years now, a decent 45 with hardball will hit a sillouette target out to 100 yards with good fixed sights. For competition, one might demand more, but not for real life.

March 15, 2008, 11:00 AM
Harry and Dave,

you dont have to be old timers to benefit from no dot. There was an old guy at the range one night giving me some pointers. He told me exactly what yall said about dots. I let him blacken my front sight post and my sight picture improved(and im 23 with good vision). The old guy was right on the money.