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Old February 13, 2009, 06:10 PM   #1
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1911 front sight pinned versus dovetail

Going to replace the front sight on my 1911 GI, the local smith is trying to convince me to pay the extra and just get it dovetailed instead. He said often the pinned front sights come out, especially after being replaced once like that. Is this true, or is he just trying to make the extra money?
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Old February 13, 2009, 07:22 PM   #2
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The small front sight on a Government Issue .45 is not pinned with a cross pin. There is a small square tenon hole that goes all the way through the slide and ends with a slight fillet on the underside into which the tenon is flattened out into that fillet.

This system only works for the very small mass of the original sight. If a larger (heavier) front sight is installed using the same small hole and fillet, it soon shoots loose. In short, the small little riveting of the original sight only works with the little sight the guns comes with.

So, if you are putting on a higher, bigger, heavier front sight, you would do well to use a fastening system that will keep it there.

Your gunsmith is giving you good advice.
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Old February 13, 2009, 08:20 PM   #3
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Government model 1911s are famous for loosing their staked in front sight (they arn't pinned).

What is better is the Millet crimped sight. You need a special crimping too that comes with a V cutter. It also comes with a gig. You drill two holes in the slide. Then, in a slow running drill press (milling machine is better) you run the chuck down to the slide. The V cutter slides up from inside the slide to be chucked in the chuck, then you cut a V inside the slide. Do the second hole the same way. Then you put the millot sight through the holes and using the crimper, crimp in the sight. This bevels the sight post, inside the slide.

I've been doing this for about 30 years and have never had a front sight come off.

I'd not sure you have enough room to cut a dicent dove tail and make in stay in.

Here is an example of what the finished sight looks like on a USGI 1911a1. I also put one on my series 70 gold cup when I was shooting a lot of hard ball in matches.

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Old February 13, 2009, 08:55 PM   #4
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You can have a sight dovetailed in, no problem but there's another option.
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Old February 13, 2009, 09:13 PM   #5
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I believe your smith is giving you some very sound advice.
Choose a transverse dovetail front sight with a .330x65 base, have it installed by a smith with good machinist skills.
I've never had one shoot loose or shear off; the .330x65 degree base will give you a large selection of sights to choose from.
Bob Hunter
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Old February 13, 2009, 09:15 PM   #6
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Strange, the only staked in sight I ever had kick loose (not off the gun) was on my Ace .22. Not a big problem, it needed a taller blade to zero anyhow.

I think the Millett double crimp is an abomination and a mutilation. If your guy is not smart enough to stake one where it will stay put, go for the cross dovetail. The .330" Novak is more common, but the .300" Heinie looks better.
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Old February 13, 2009, 10:04 PM   #7
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I've had good luck with staking in both the Colt Goldcup and the Springfield slides. The Goldcup slide has a wider tenon hole than the Government Model and the Springfield has its own odd inbetween size. The skinny one on a standard GI gun gives me pause for a heavy sight. I would dovetail that. Be sure you get the cross-dovetail mentioned, and not the parallel dovetail used for sight extensions for target pistols.

I did wind up building my own staking tool. I'm out of town at the moment or I'd take a picture. It is basically a Chinese knock-off Vice-grip pliers I got at Odd-lots. The upper jaw I drilled for a pivoting sight anvil. I brazed a c-clamp on top of it so the clamp can anchor the sight to the slide via the anvil. The lower jaw I drilled out to insert a hardened tooth I made for it. The pliers operate to rivet the sight tenon with the tooth. After riveting, I usually whittle the excess tenon flush with the inside of the slide with files and scrapers. I built that tool 25-odd years ago and it still works fine, though I don't often do them anymore.
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Old February 14, 2009, 12:30 AM   #8
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I've seen a couple of hundred staked front sights come off, regardless of the tenon size. Back in the ol' days, we made a new front sight ans silver soldered it on. Later, dovetail front sights became available and that seems to have become the preferred route. The 'smith is giving you correct advice.
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Old February 14, 2009, 12:35 AM   #9
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The small bit of extra money really is worth it to upgrade to dovetail sights. I would do it if I was you.
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