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Old July 11, 2010, 01:21 AM   #1
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1911 front sight

I would like to know what the difference is between a wide tenon and narrow tenon front sight and if there is a way to tell which one my 1974ish steel commander has. I am considering ordering a set of replacement sights.
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Old July 11, 2010, 06:29 AM   #2
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The difference is in the thickness of the sights “tenon” that fits into the slot in the slide.

Colt guns of that generation are NARROW tenon (Colt went to a WIDE tenon in the late 1980s). To know for sure measure the slot in the slide (or on the old sight). NARROW tenons are .058” thick, WIDE tenons are .125” thick (and Springfield Armory uses a proprietary “MEDIUM” tenon that is .088” thick)
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Old July 16, 2010, 08:24 AM   #3
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I am considering ordering a set of replacement sights.
I suspect that Colt went to the wider tenon because any front sight that is larger than the little one that typically came with the factory Colts would soon shoot loose. Therefore, if you are considering larger sights for your 1974ish commander, If it were mine, I would opt to have a dovetail machined into the slide for the front sight.
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Old July 16, 2010, 08:58 AM   #4
Jim Watson
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I think a 1974 production Colt would have the narrow tenon front sight.
It doesn't matter. Front sight installation is not a common hand tool DIY, it requires some tooling and technique. I leave mine to the gunsmith.

As dahermit says, a cross-dovetail front sight will give you a stronger mount and more choices in sight type. It will cost more, though; and the front and rear must be of compatible heights to zero.
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Old July 17, 2010, 03:54 PM   #5
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On a lot of these older small tenon front sight slides, armorers used to silver solder the heavier target style front sights on to avoid them shooting loose. You do need a special staking tool to use the factory installation method, and Jim is correct that some technique is involved. I wound up cutting up and brazing a modified C-clamp to a cheap set of vice grip pliers and shaping and hardening a staking tooth and mounting it to the plier jaw. This lets me clamp the sight into position so the jaw can upset the tenon enough to get a grip in the slide without the sight popping up any. It works OK, but if you don't have the tooling, the suggestion to get a target style front sight dovetail milled in is a good one. That will let you exchange a number of sights, in case you don't like the first one you get?
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