View Full Version : How thin can they possibly go ??? old S&W front sights

Magnum Wheel Man
November 17, 2010, 07:54 AM
top break S&W's...

about a year and a half ago I started collecting various black powder cartridge era guns, mostly the smaller framed "pocket guns" typically the front sights on these guns are pretty thin ( I suppose because they are pinned into a slot in the top rib of the barrel, & the thinnest part of that rib at the muzzle determines how thick the front sight can be ) specifically talking the S&W's right now, though most were copying them... the normal ( for these guns ) was a 3" barrel, & the front sight is almost too thin to see in anything but bright range light, certainly not in dim self defense type shooting light... I also have a couple snubbies that were shortened "back in the old days" & these shorter barreled guns all wear thicker more useable front sights... well... I just picked up a 5" barrel top break 38 S&W, & the front sight is litterally "paper thin" ( these ribs taper, so it stands to reason, that the longer the barrel, the thinner the front sight has to be )

... I know they made a 6" barrel in these guns ( anyone have one ??? ) if so, is the front sight thick enough to keep from bending in regular use ???

James K
November 17, 2010, 02:14 PM
I don't know about "regular use", but I have seen quite a few of those old sights that were bent, on different makes of guns. The nearly invisible front sight and tiny notch rear was "the way it was done" in those days, by everyone, not just S&W. And it seems to have been what the customer wanted, or at least didn't know any better. The literature of the time uses terms like "a fine sight" and "narrow precision sights."

AFAIK, the front sights were the same regardless of barrel length The guns that were shortened had the sights replaced with something better at the same time.

It was not just top breaks. The 1896 .32 HE First Model (S&W's first swing cylinder revolver) also has a thin front sight. Not until around 1900 did the sights begin to get thicker until, under the influence of shooters like E.E. Patridge, they became the wider and more useful sights that are universal today.


Magnum Wheel Man
November 17, 2010, 02:25 PM
the stock front sight on my 5" S&W is litterally 1/2 as thick as the stock front sights on several of my 3" S&W's ???