1911 G.I. Front sight replacement options


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maxxwilde
September 11, 2009, 07:10 PM
I own a Rock Island Armory GI 1911, love the gun, hate the sights. The rear is dovetailed so that won't be a problem to replace, but the front sight is (as most of you probably know) a small bit of metal welded on. Too small in my opinion. Is there anything out there, short of having it milled by a gunsmith, that would allow me a better, more visible, front sight? Optimally I'd like night sights, but at this point I'd accept just about anything over the GI bump thingie LOL
So I have been browsing the internet for the past few days off and on hoping to find something that would fix my problem. I haven't and I guess now I just need a kick in the butt to go out and have it milled. Have I missed anything? Some new "magic wonder-thingie" that installs without the aid of gunsmith and metal cutting tools?
BTW, I've tried sight paint with varying results. The bottom line is that putting sight paint on something that is too small, just makes it a different color of too small.
Any help would be greately appreciated. Even if it's to just say "Mike, get off yer butt and spend the money to do it right".


M

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CapnMac
September 11, 2009, 07:22 PM
Well, if it were "true GI" it would be staked on.

Take it apart, look inside the slide under the f/s. If you see a small rectangle, then the f/s is staked. Meaning it has two legs that are peened into the recess in the slide.

Getting one out is middling easy. Putting one back is too, if you have the specialty staking tool, under 10 minutes, tops. If you have the tool (check Brownell's).

mljdeckard
September 11, 2009, 07:58 PM
Yes. Go to brownells.com and order their FREE 1911 catalog. All kinds of stuff you need, and all kinds of stuff you never knew you needed until you saw it in there.

Look at Heinie, Trijicon, Xs sights, Meprolight, etc. If you have the means, go to a range that has them available to rent and try them, see which ones you like best. MY experience is, my Meprolights on my Kimber are fading as little sooner than I thought they would, and I'm trying to decide between XS and Heinie to replace them.

I THINK, if you're going to bother replacing the sights at all, you might as well get the best ones you can.

maxxwilde
September 11, 2009, 10:43 PM
CapnMac said:
Well, if it were "true GI" it would be staked on.

Take it apart, look inside the slide under the f/s. If you see a small rectangle, then the f/s is staked. Meaning it has two legs that are peened into the recess in the slide.

Getting one out is middling easy. Putting one back is too, if you have the specialty staking tool, under 10 minutes, tops. If you have the tool (check Brownell's).

Grr, argh. I reposted your whole post Capn because you just saved me a WHOLE lot of headache. I checked and the Rock Island is, indeed, staked. The little rectangle you mentioned is there, looks a little "smeared" on one side but it is indeed there. I have been looking at sights for days now, off and on and it never occured to me to check and even verify what kind I really had.
Grr, argh, do I feel stupid. Thank you Capn, seriously.
So does anyone have experience changing out a front sight on a Rock Island? I just read through the directions for the sight tool on Brownells websight, seems do able with my skills. Seems I'm gonna have to buy a Dremel though. Oh darn. Heh.


M

mljdeckard
September 11, 2009, 11:06 PM
....heh heh......DREMEL.........heh heh........

maxxwilde
September 11, 2009, 11:13 PM
mljdeckard said:

MY experience is, my Meprolights on my Kimber are fading as little sooner than I thought they would, and I'm trying to decide between XS and Heinie to replace them.

I THINK, if you're going to bother replacing the sights at all, you might as well get the best ones you can.


I'll keep the meprolight info in mind when I'm shopping around for sights. And your right, the more I think about it. If im gonna spend the money and have it installed, I should buy something good and what I want....


M

maxxwilde
September 11, 2009, 11:16 PM
mljdeckard said:

....heh heh......DREMEL.........heh heh........


Lol, yup. I've been looking for an excuse to buy one for awhile now. I think the list of "Reason's I Absolutely Can't Live Without a Dremel" has finally hit critical mass!


M

WC145
September 12, 2009, 07:21 AM
I have a RIA GI .38 Super, just two weeks ago I replaced the sights with a set of Fusion 3 dots ($25 off ebay). The 'smith I use charged me $15 to change them out (I don't have a dremel either). The rear dove tail is standard Colt size and the front is the early narrow tenen style (.055). Trijicon makes a nice set of 3 dot night sights for about $85.

http://www.opticsplanet.net/trijicon-night-sight-sets-for-colt-ca02.html

AK103K
September 12, 2009, 08:43 AM
If your going to do it right, get the front sight dovetailed. Its about a $50 job and it wont come off like most of the staked on replacements usually do.

RSVP2RIP
September 12, 2009, 09:39 AM
+1 for dovetail

I staked a Trijicon on my commander though. The job is simple but it does reqire that you use the $250 tool. I believe that one could also use the $60 on from millet, as long as it holds the sight on the side flats and not the top as it will crush the lamp inside. If you're going with a standard front sight there are several tools that are inexpensive and work well. Millet dual crimp sights require another hole to be drilled though. Taking off the front sight it the easiest thing. You need a vice and a 1/16" drift pin. Clamp the (dissasemble the gun to the slide first) front sight in the vice and twist it off, punch out the staked in part from the top and you're done. No dremel needed.

AK103K
September 12, 2009, 09:54 AM
Other than the dovetail, the Millet dual crimps (They are basically a double rivet.) were the only other replacement sights I've used that didnt eventually come off by themselves down the road.

jaysouth
September 12, 2009, 10:21 AM
King makes two sight sets that work very well, Hardball and King-Tappan combat. Millett makes several that do not require any additional drilling as well as Colt. The best rear sight available for the factory dovetail is the Yost Retro. Hard to find, but as good a sight picture as Novaks. They require a .185 front sight.

A properly staked on front sight WILL NOT come loose or fall off your gun. Many gunsmiths make a lifetime guarantee. If you smith will not guarantee it for life, find another smith.

RSVP2RIP
September 12, 2009, 11:33 AM
I feel the secret to making it stay on is using a dab of epoxy before staking it in, locktite works also. Be sure to clean the staking tool afterwards though.

AK103K
September 12, 2009, 11:44 AM
I've never had an original Colt or GI front sight come off, just the larger, "hi viz" aftermarket type sights. Most of those were back in the 70's and 80's, up until I found the Millets. I had many of them installed by a well known and competent gunsmith, and most still came off over time. I think its just the nature of the beast when you get more mass above. The roll crimp solved that problem until EGW popped up down the road, and the dovetails quickly replaced most all of the others.

gunnie
September 12, 2009, 08:50 PM
+3 for the dovetail mod.

it will never come loose like the staked ones, which always will enough/many rounds downstream.

gunnie

GRIZ22
September 12, 2009, 08:57 PM
I have had better front sights staked on by competent pistolsmiths on several 1911s. Eventually they all came loose or flew off. Never had this happen on a factory installed sight.

Don't waste time or money. +4 for the dovetail.

gunnie
September 13, 2009, 02:47 PM
..."Never had this happen on a factory installed sight."...

i have, on 2 colts. also know of three other 1911A1 owners who have had them wiggle loose. 4 out of 5 mentioned were even the very small OEM standard size. heard of a gold cup that suffered the same problem, and they have considerably more material to hold the tenon in place.

gunnie

Frog48
September 13, 2009, 02:56 PM
Send your slide to Novak and let them cut dovetails and install new sights. Thats what I had done to my Springfield GI, and I'm very satisfied.

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a244/SigEpGrant/Outdoors/My%201911%20Pistols/100_2522.jpg
http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a244/SigEpGrant/Outdoors/My%201911%20Pistols/100_2527.jpg

maxxwilde
September 15, 2009, 11:54 PM
WOW, a LOT of replies here. I honestly don't know where to start. Thanks guys for all your input. I havent replied yet cause I've been doing a lot of thinking (ouch) and I think I'm going to go with the dovetail. I'm sure I can eventually find a good gunsmith who will guarantee it, but out here it's at least an hour drive and I like things that last. Added to that, this guns been reliable enough I may use it for concealed carry in the winter.
I'm also looking at the Novak option of just sending the slide in. As several people have mentioned, and as my dad used to say, do it right the first time and don't worry about it after.


M

kanook
September 16, 2009, 09:09 AM
if you're gonna carry it, I would leave the factory bumb sight. It's less ap to get hungup on anything.

Just another thought, get a piece of paper and wright down all your expenses and don't forget your time (and since you are doing this after your 8hrs at work it's now time and a half). Add it all up and see how close it is to the price of another firearm. I'm not saying sell the RIA, I'm just trying to show that it might be easier to purchase a NEW gun.

NGIB
September 16, 2009, 09:30 AM
This is the main reason I always suggest to always spend the extra few $$$ and get the RIA Tactical. By the time you pay to get the dovetail cut and buy the replacement sights - you've already eaten up the price difference and you still don't have the beavertail or ambi safties...

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