View Full Version : How do you raise the front sight?

August 28, 2010, 05:53 PM
Just got a Pietta 1851 navy .44 caliber.

Shoot to center but way high. 5 inches at 12 yards.
Brass front sight.

How is the front sight removed. Maybe I can make up another taller one?

the Black Spot
August 28, 2010, 07:25 PM
on the octagon barrels you can file in a dovetail and tap in a dovetailed sight.

August 28, 2010, 07:47 PM
Might resort to that, but is there an easier way by pulling the front sight and replacing with a taller "pin"?

August 28, 2010, 08:17 PM
To correct the point of aim you'r going to have to make the new sight .115 taller than the current one. That make for a rather tall pin. One easy fix is to take a small square of brass that is slightly thicker than your current sight and the right height for the new one. Drill a hole in the bottom of it the same diameter as your current sight and as deep as your current sight is high. Put a little JB weld in the hole and press it down over the current sight. When it cures file the new sight to shape. It will stay in place nicely but can be removed with a little heat.

August 28, 2010, 09:37 PM
What are you guys talking about?!:eek: Isn't the rear sight on an 1851 navy on the hammer?

To lower the point of impact, all you have to do is lower the tip of the hammer like I did on my 1860 (and you can adjust windage too while you're renotching it):

the rifleer
August 28, 2010, 10:16 PM
I filed the rear sight down on my Ruger Old Army. It fixed my problem of shooting to high, but my sights are adjustable and i can replace the rear sight very easily if i want to sell it for some reason. That is something you have to consider before you take a dremal and a file to your hammer.

August 28, 2010, 10:26 PM
Either way is good. For a gun that is shooting high you can either raise the front sight or lower the back sight. If the required amount is .060 or less I'd do it with the hammer as Model-P suggests. However 5" at 12Yds with the sight radius of an 1851 is going to require .115 and that's a big chunk to take off the hammer. That's why I spoke about the front sight.

August 28, 2010, 10:28 PM
Denster, I like your suggestion!
That way the front sight could be replaced or adjusted.

I also like Model-P's suggestion of filing the hammer, so that the front pin would not be too high. I think that Densters suggestion would end up with more of a blade sight.

Is the hammer hardened and therefore hard to file down?

Denster, are you some math wizard to be able to figure out exactly how much to elevate with the formula I gave??;);)
What is the formula you are using?

joe sixgun
August 28, 2010, 10:34 PM
I have seen where people have filed down a penny to fashion a new front site and it don't look too darn bad.

August 28, 2010, 10:48 PM
Yes my suggestion would give you a bladed front sight like is on the 1860 Army. You could if you have access to a lathe turn a thicker round sight tapering up to a point depends on how you want it to look.
No I'm not a math wizard there is a simple way to figure this and I did a rough calculation in my head. Basically you are 5" high at 12yds. The sight radius on the 1851 is roughly 10". There are 432" in 12yds. Divide 10 into 432 and you have 43.2 sight radius increments in that distance. Divide 43.2 into 5 and you get roughly .115. That is the amount you either need to raise the front sight or lower the rear. I'd make it .010 taller to allow for final shooting in. This is the simple formula for those who don't like geometry. Before anyone jumps in here with the answer carried out to six decimal places don't bother. I did this in my head without a calculator.

August 29, 2010, 12:20 AM
I better practice my math more than my shooting!
I need some practice~!

August 29, 2010, 12:48 AM
denster is correct. I only had to file my hammer down .052" based on the same type of math, only I resorted to using a calculator;)

Yes, the hammer is hard. I essentially ruined a couple of files to do the job. However, if you are handy with a small grinder or have a diamond stone you could do it more easily. As denster pointed out, though, .115" is quite a bit to have to remove and would be more noticeable. That's a little more than twice as much as I had to remove, so double the amount removed shown in the picture and you'd get an idea what it would look like.

August 29, 2010, 08:47 AM
Certain times,like when someone wants the same look to the gun, I go to the rear sight first and take it down some and try it...a little at a time so you don't end up shooting low. best to take off the rear as you are shooting. I use a diamond file easily aquired at the hardware store. You don't want to take too much off the rear sight because the rear,breech end, of the barrel can start showing in the rear sight. Some rear barrel in the bottom of the notch isn't bad but too much and you can't get the front sight in the rear sight.:eek:
So the gun doesn't end up with too much off the rear sight and too tall a front sight I'd do both...the hammer sight and the front sight. The front sights can get difficult to get out and may need filed off some and then drilled out(a bottoming end mill is much better than a drill bit to take the brass out of the hole) and replaced with a higher one pressed and loctited in . There's always some quirp to everything. Like,"easier said than done". That's why gunsmiths get top dollor for their work.
Some take off the rear sight at the wrong angle and that makes for more that has to come off. Denster has it right. The top of the rear sight should be paralel to the barels centerline. Less comes off that way and it doesn't look noticable really. Just put the gun barrel in a padded vise and pull the hammer back and cover everything with a rag so filings don't go down into the gun and....tape the top of the barrel with two or three layers of masking tap....so the file can't get to the barrel. Eye ball the sight from the rear to get the top on the right plane and not canted and tell when the sight is getting to the point the barrel shows in the notch. Remove the tape once in awhile to check for "barrel" beginning to show in the rear sight. Deepen the rear sight notch some usually with a triangulat file OR a round file. I like the rounded bottom to a rear sight since it lets more light show on each side of the front when aiming.
Anyway take the rear sight down while shooting the gun so you know when to stop...unless you have some "Kitchen Table Gunsmithing" under your belt and can tell how far to go. Then if the rear sight goes all the way and the gun still shoots high you go to the front or live with a six o:clock hold.
I'd shoot the gun more to make sure it's broken in before changing the sights.

Check the crown first since that may be off and make the gun shoot higher.

Sometimes it just takes a,"firm" grip on the gun and it'll shoot lower from the weight of the arm. Make sure you ain't "limp wristing" the gun making/letting it shoot high. The gun mentioned seems to shoot "pretty" high" and makes me suspect some of the "high" may be from the grip the shooter has on the gun.
Maybe the rear sight just needs opened up so the shooter can get the front sight down in the rear more.
I'd check the looseness of the arbor in the barrels hole first off too. If the arbor is a loose fit the barrel will cant down at the rear and up at the front. A shim may be needed in the hole with the arbor....on the top of the arbor and inserted with the arbor into the barrels hole. Piettas usually aren;t loose arbors in the barrels hole but it can happen.
In the long run it would be easier to leave the sights as they are and get used tio the "shooting high" and maybe......learn why the gun does shoot extremely high. May be something other than the sights. The arbor barrel fit loose is a biggie. The front muzzle crown is another. The "firm" grip on the gun can help it shoot lower. The barrel being "quirpy" may be the cause of the gun shooting so high. Maybe a "loose" spot at the muzzle or somewhere inside. The rufkling grooves being "unequal" depths may cause it to shoot high. Look for a tight spot inside with a lead slugg "bumped up to be tight in the barrel. Measure a slug from the front about "not vaery far in". Do the same from the breech end. Then tap a slug clean thru and measure and see if there's a tight spot inside that needs lapped out. Maybe the muzzle end is more diameter than the rest of the barrel too. That can make a gun shoot badly. A smaller diameter at the rear and a larger diameter at the muzzle end is "bad". There are times a barrel has to put in the parts bin to save for a "snubbie" and a new barrel bought. New barrel bought since all the retailers won't take back a gun because it shoots high because it's got a bad barrel. If the gun is "unshot" they will(well some maybe). I just ordered three guns from Cabelas and sent them all back because of unequal rifling grooves(makes a gun shoot bad). They wouldn't send a forth(same model on sale)out to me. It was said they didn't have in stock what I needed. I had called to complain and I guess they figured I'm too picky. I am picky. I won't buy a cap&baller rev that has unequal riflings depth or...the muzzle end shows the barrel was drilled with "run out" and the bore isn't concentric with the outside. That means the hole was drilled off center and then rifled and the gun will shoot off. If the bore cants down a little so the gun shoots lower I may keep that.;)

August 29, 2010, 03:52 PM
You don't want to take too much off the rear sight because the rear,breech end, of the barrel can start showing in the rear sight.

Yes!!! In fact, I was just thinking about this today and logged on to give this same warning. Thanks, enyaw.

And, getting it exactly parallel to the line of sight would be nice, but not likely to happen. I recommend slanting it slightly forward to prevent glare off of the top of the hammer that you would get if it was slanted back instead. I scribed a line on the side of the hammer while installed, but did the work with the hammer out of the gun. I've messed up the finish on surrounding parts of guns while trying to work on a part while assembled too many times.

August 29, 2010, 11:25 PM
Maybe I can make up a little taller one?

Yes you can,with a small bead of weld on top of your existing front sight.

Had to do it on an old 50 cal. TC Hawkins. Used my mig welder to install small bead, then dressed bead down to my liking.

August 30, 2010, 12:11 AM
the rifleer,
My ROA shot high when I started shooting up-loaded conicals instead of balls. The simple solution was to get a taller front sight blade from Ruger. Some may object that it makes the gun unsightly, but it now shoots POI.

Fingers McGee
August 30, 2010, 11:21 AM
Chuck a piece of 1/8 inch brazing rod into your dremmel, get out the jewelrs files, and make a new, taller sight. The old one should pop out of the barrel so you can use it as a pattern. Make it a snug/tight fit and tap it in the hole with your plastic hammer after putting a drop of red locktite in the hole. Took me about 20 min to make a replacement for one that fell off of one of my Frontiersmen.


August 30, 2010, 12:48 PM
The old one should pop out of the barrel so you can use it as a pattern.

How exactly did you get it out?
Did you have to heat it first?

Did you just use a plier to pull out. It is not threaded in?
The brass is soft, so I want to know that I can get it out without mangling it.
Once out, I am not worried about fitting a new post or making one...I can do that. Just worried about the old one breaking off in the removal.

Is it just it there by fit, a dowel in a hole?

August 30, 2010, 01:15 PM
It's a press fit in the hole and if you grab it with pliers and give it a twist or two it will pop out.

August 30, 2010, 02:06 PM
Haw, I did that and the danged thing broke off, flush even with the barrel.
Had to drill and tap.
Be prepared for that, if luck fails.
Not all bad, though.
Now the sight is easy to remove, just unwind, like it should.

August 30, 2010, 03:42 PM
Just in case there is a purist out there that is quivering because someone suggested a blade front sight on an 1851, I have an original that has a factory installed blade front sight. The gun was made in 1862 and apparently they were in war production and used what was at hand.

Fingers McGee
August 30, 2010, 06:37 PM
My only experience is with Uberti '51 Navies and a Euroarms Rogers & Spencer. The Uberti's were a press fit. Grab it with the pliers & it should pop right out. Twisiting while pulling would probably help. The Euroarms Rogers & Specser was threaded in. Grabbing with pliers & twising couterclockwise removed it. Bought a replacement threaded sight for that. I have no experience with Piettas, so can't say for sure; but think they're press fitted like the Uberti's.


Doc Hoy
August 31, 2010, 05:28 AM
....ala Fingers. I left the replacement sight a little tall so as to be able to shoot it in.