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Installing new sights...

1101 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  bigboyhf
I have a set of XS tritium Big Dot sights coming today for my Kahr PM9. I was wondering if there are any little tricks to removing/installing the sight that would help. I plan on putting the slide in a vise and using a punch. I don't have a dedicated sight pusher. I guess I want to know how tight the sight should be in the dovetail so I don't take too much off the sight when fitting it.

H
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i have installed several sets of XS sights. i love them but the front sight is somewhat tricky. like installing any gun part that requires filing to achieve the correct fit, you must go slowly.

i am not ashamed to admit how many i have ruined by being too heavy handed on the file. the bottom of the the XS front sight is 'U' shaped, not flat, so filing removes material quite a bit faster than on a simple flat surface.

the trick i use is to place my file in my vice and then gently run the sight across the file. if you put some color on the bottom of the sight, you will notice immediately if you are grinding flat.

XS sights rarely take more than a few light strokes to prep them for installation. as with anything, reading the instructions iscrucial. you will notice that they say to remove just enough metal so the sight just starts in the dovetail. put the unfiled sight in the dovetail and make a small mark to indicate how far in it goes, take a few strokes on the file and try again. compare marks. when it just starts to move into the dovetail, you are done filing.

pounding the sight into the slide before it has been sized correctly will be an exercise in frustration and you might damage either the slide or the sight.

the plastic 'punch' supplied with the sight is useless for all practical purposes. i use a brass drift with a piece of tape on the end.

if you manage to take too much material off the bottom of the sight, don't fret. i have done this at least twice. go to the nearest auto parts store and pick up a set of feeler gauges. cut a small piece of the .003 and place it under the sight as you push it in place. you may need to experiment with different thicknesses of shim to find the proper one. make sure you cut it smaller than the width of the sight so it doesn't stick out.

it should be hard to push the sight into the slide. not pound on the hammer hard, but it definitely should require some effort to get it in place.

i dropped the $100 for a sight pusher -- which is an invaluable tool if you do this a couple of times. sweating to hit the sight in the right spot is very stressful. if you nail your slide or the top of the sight you are going to feel miserable.

i can't overemphasize the notion of just taking a very little material off at a time with the file. it may take you an hour to fit, but you will be very proud of the effort and the result.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the details! What kind of file do you use?

I have been toying with the idea of getting the sight pusher since if I like these XS sights on the Kahr, I might be putting a pair on my Kimber...
H
 

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bigboyhf said:
Thanks for the details! What kind of file do you use?

I have been toying with the idea of getting the sight pusher since if I like these XS sights on the Kahr, I might be putting a pair on my Kimber...
H

i use a set of very small files -- maybe 4 inches long. not really jewler's files. i picked them up at a hardware store.

i also have a set of standard 7-8 inch long files -- maybe 9 0r 10. it really depends on how much metal you need to take off. get the finest you can find. they have different designations. i like the plastic handles with multiple inserts more than the wooden handles. i find the plastic inserts grab better and last longer than the wooden one.

if you enough work on guns you will collect 1-2 dozen special use ones -- some that are safe on one or more sides. Brownells' is a great resource on these tools -- the special use ones. the rest you can get at any hardware store. don't forget to get a file comb to clean them when they get clogged -- and the finer cut variety will get clogged fairly quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Meanwhile, Fedex seems to have misplaced the package. :bawling: I just remembered that I have some polish sticks that I bought from Wilson a year or so ago. I might try that first. I think I have fine, medium and coarse. I'm pretty sure that will work on metal and they are about 10 inches long and about an inch wide.

H
 

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I'd highly recommend you get the pusher to install any night sights.

I had installed several sets of night sights by drifting them into place with a punch, but had a disaster one night that I don't ever want to repeat. A cop friend of mine from the next town came over with his brand new duty pistol, an HK USP, just after that model came onto the market. I put his night sights on, dovetails were a little tighter than usual, did a bit of filing, put them on, he left to go on duty and I went to bed. Next morning, there's a message on my machine from Jerry saying we have a problem. He brings the gun back over, and two of the three lights are out, the tritium capsules apparently cracked by me getting a bit too aggressive with the hammer and punch.

I felt so bad I bought him a new set of night sights. Cost me $100 to do a favor for a buddy. (Learned my lesson on that too, now I only work on my own guns.)

So please heed my warning....

Mike
 

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Dovetail Width

Isn't one side of the dovetail slightly wider so that the sight should be pushed out that side and new put in on that side? I've done a couple of my 1911's and it seemed that way to me...can't remember which side it was but think it was the right side that was a hair wider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Still waiting for Fedex to find missing package...:rolleyes: I looked in Brownells and there are a bunch of different sight pushers. Any recommendations?? The first set is for a Kahr PM9 and if I like it I will be doing a Kimber.


H
 

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bigboyhf said:
Meanwhile, Fedex seems to have misplaced the package. :bawling: I just remembered that I have some polish sticks that I bought from Wilson a year or so ago. I might try that first. I think I have fine, medium and coarse. I'm pretty sure that will work on metal and they are about 10 inches long and about an inch wide.

H
i have them also. you can try them but i do not think they will work. if you do use them, get a can of brake pad cleaner from an auto store and spray the sight bottom to clean it thoroughly. make sure you get the 'ozone safe' variety or you may strip the finish off of the sight.
 

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bigboyhf said:
Still waiting for Fedex to find missing package...:rolleyes: I looked in Brownells and there are a bunch of different sight pushers. Any recommendations?? The first set is for a Kahr PM9 and if I like it I will be doing a Kimber.


H
i'll be using my new sight pusher this weekend for the first time. iw ill report back the model # and how it worked as soon as i can.
 

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ulflyer said:
Isn't one side of the dovetail slightly wider so that the sight should be pushed out that side and new put in on that side? I've done a couple of my 1911's and it seemed that way to me...can't remember which side it was but think it was the right side that was a hair wider.
Yup, they go in from right to left, and out vice-versa.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Fedex finally found the package and delivered by special courier in a rented van! Funny how the package was signature required and the courier didn't ask for my signature. I guess if I screw up the install I can call Fedex and ask for my package again...;)

H
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well I was able to punch out the rear sight, but I could not budge the front sight. I whacked it pretty hard a bunch of times with a hammer and punch and not even any movement at all. I also was a little confused on how to fit the rear sight as it did obviously require some fitting. Sooo... off to the gunsmith it went. I should have it back by Tuesday. Better safe than sorry...


H
 
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