Sighting Adjustment Question


Foto Joe
March 22, 2010, 10:49 AM
Okay, here's a serious question for some of you to help me with...

BP Colt replicas (and possibly 1st gens) shoot high, that's a given. The question is on how to fix this, raise the front sight or lower the rear.

Both my 2nd Dragoon and '51 Conf. Navy shoot high, real high. Some of this might be the fault of the person holding the gun I fear, but I don't really think I'm THAT bad. I do get 4" to 6" groups, but my target is always too low on the stand, if you know what I mean.

At 25 yards I'm hitting a foot +/- above my aim point. What's the best way to mitigate this issue?? I'm not a gunsmith and paranoid about messing up one of my guns so anything done will be done by an expert when I get back to Wyoming in a month or so.

Is it feasible to lower the "V" in a case hardened hammer?? Are there suppliers who sell higher front sights or do you need to fabricate something to replace the original??


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Fingers McGee
March 22, 2010, 12:02 PM
Opening the rear sight will bring the POI down. Fabricating a taller front sight for the 51 out of 1/8 inch brass rod is fairly easy to do with a dremel & some jewelers files. Pop the old one out, and tap the new one in with some red loctite

Foto Joe
March 22, 2010, 12:15 PM
Opening the rear sight will bring the POI down. Fabricating a taller front sight for the 51 out of 1/8 inch brass rod is fairly easy to do with a dremel & some jewelers files. Pop the old one out, and tap the new one in with some red loctite
By "pop out", what do you mean? Grab it with a pair of pliers and twist?? How much would you suggest I raise it by approximately?

I know this is going to be a trial and error thing.


Old Fuff
March 22, 2010, 12:21 PM
Part of the problem is that most of the replica revolvers, unlike the original ones, don't position the hammer all of the way back against the backstrap when it's at full-cock. Since the hammer rotates in an arc the result is the hammer nose (and notch) being higher then it should.

The best solution I know is one used back during the 1800's. Remove the front sight, cut a dovetail in the barrel, and install a new front sight that is higher, and can also be driven sideways to make windage adjustments. Thus you can adjust the point-of-aim/point-of-impact for any distance you want.

March 22, 2010, 01:09 PM
If I were making a new push in front sight to totally replace the original I think I'd leave it both higher and thicker than needed at first. Then shoot some loads and carefully and slowly file the height down. Then a little at a time work on hollowing the sides to form a blade shape sort of like the Remingtons have. But the trick would be to work the side needed to correct for windage more than the other side. Some sort of wooden jig to clamp around the front of the barrel would serve to both hold the gun steady and to protect the barrel from errant file strokes during this process. And because it's the front sight remember that to pull the POI to the right you want to "move" the blade to the left so a stroke or two on the RIGHT side would be needed to do this.

I guess I'll find out when I eventually get my .36 caliber 1851 out to the range. I gave up finding balls on the shelf and ordered some. But it's been so long that I'm pretty sure the order got lost in backorder hell.

March 22, 2010, 01:16 PM
How hard would it be to put an adjustable rear sight on my 1858 (pietta) Remington?

March 22, 2010, 01:30 PM
Well, for starters due to the raising of the rear sight line the front would need to be replaced with a taller one as well. Then because it's an arched shap with a central V on the top you'd need to get a smith to mill a flat for the sight and to drill some mounting holes. It's not the sort of thing you'd do on your own unless you're into the home machine shop thing like I am and have the tools and experience to do something like that.

And lets not forget how cobbly it would look to mount such a thing onto the smooth Remington shape....:D

March 22, 2010, 01:37 PM
NCWanderer - do you really need adjustable sights or do you just need to find one good load, get it shooting to point of aim with that, and leave it there?
If the latter, you don't need an adjustable rear.

For the front sight idea, I'm thinking I'll need to do this too when I get myself a Colt style. My idea is to get hold of a front sight from Track of the Wolf that's already made to fit in a dovetail, reshape it to my preference, and have a smith cut the dovetail and install it. If that's necessary.
I've found with my Uberti Remington that I'd better just count on having to do a little smithing to get my gun to work exactly the way I want it to, so no worries either way.

March 22, 2010, 02:51 PM
You're right. I probably don't really need an adjustable rear sight. Ever want something you don't really need, but think it would be nice to have?:D I normally load 25 grains of real black and .454
ball. At 25 yards from a rest I can get 3" groups and my POI is aprox. 4.5" low and 1-2" left. I guess I figured with a adjustable sight I could bring my POI closer to my POA.

March 22, 2010, 03:08 PM
Other than a very small lathe and a drill press, my machining capabilities are limited. Before I retired I worked as a machinist for 19 years. Hopefully someday I'll be able to get at least a bench mill. My front sight is tall enough that I could file it a bit and bring up my POI,

March 22, 2010, 04:35 PM
The original Colts also shoot high, they were sighted for 75 to 100 yards. The target at that range, for a soldier, was the enemy's horse. Get the man on the ground and he can't reach you as quickly.

March 22, 2010, 04:43 PM
I installed an Uberti Remington dovetail front sight on an Uberti 51 Navy Colt, also added brass blade sights to 1860 and 1861 Colt types. The Navy needs a sight about 5/16 tall, the Army a sight about 1/4 inch tall.

This is the Remington sight, cut down to height and reshaped.

These sights I made.

The 1860 and 61 sights I never photographed, but they are shaped like the SAA, but of brass.

March 22, 2010, 06:25 PM
NCwander - I definitely get your point. I don't really need seven percussion revolvers or a sawed off percussion shotgun or an Enfield rifle musket, but that doesn't stop me from wanting them.

For your situation, you could bring your point of impact up by filing the front sight down carefully until elevation is correct. If your Remington is a Uberti you can also adjust for windage by drifting it THE OPPOSITE direction from where you want your shots to go. But I think other brands have the front permanently attached. A dovetailed in front sight could cure both problems but I'm not sure of the cost. I haven't dealt with that one yet... But it's why I made sure I got a Uberti Remington rather than the others - so I could adjust my sights.

March 22, 2010, 06:38 PM
I know I can bring my POI up by filing the front sight. That would help a lot. Maybe I can move it to the right by jerking instead of squeezing the trigger.:D:D I know filing will be trial and error so do you reckon 1 or 2 thousandths at a time between test firings would be ok?

March 23, 2010, 12:01 PM
NCW, I'll share with you some advice I got that helped my windage problem. Try using the pad of your index finger on the trigger instead of the crease of the first joint.
On another point. Has anyone ever dovetailed a round barrel colt like the 1860 colt army or the 1862 colt police? It is questionable to me wether there is enough barrel thickness to get a proper dove tail.

March 23, 2010, 12:50 PM
Thanks Pancho. I'll try that next time I shoot.
You may be right about the thickness of a round barrel. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about Colts can advise you.
Since my Remie has a hex barrel I should be ok if I decide to go that route.

March 23, 2010, 01:09 PM
I found when sizing the front sights of my cowboy action pistols to match my S&W Model 10 loads for POI that it also makes a huge difference in using one or two hands. Shooting one handed with the expected roll of the gun in your grip definetly places the shots higher than when shot with a support hand grip ala Jerry Miculek style. Since I wasn't sure which way I'd be using the most I stopped with the sight a touch high so it matched my single hand grip POI.

The side note to this is that I found that my windage is also greatly affected by my hold. The gun apparently doesn't just roll vertically in the grip but also a little to the side. When shooting two handed I was printing the groups to the left and figured that I'd need to do something drastic since with the '73 clones there's no windage adjustment. But when I switch to one handed I found with some slight alteration of my one grip to twist the gun around a few degrees to each side I could go from shooting to the left, to center and even to the right. None of this is taking much of a shift in the grip and certainly not to the extent that either of the extremes feels unnatural. But you can clearly feel the difference in the way the grip sits in your hand for each case. So that would be something to try as well as a shift of the trigger finger. I still haven't gotten into the groove on this yet. So much more practice is needed..... Oh darn :D

March 23, 2010, 05:43 PM
On filing the front sight, it's almost just trial and error. Shoot a few shots, get an idea how much filing = how many inches and repeat.

I've also wondered if the barrel on a round barrel colt would have enough steel for a dovetail to be cut but I've seen originals with dovetailed front sights installed. So if it could be done then, it can be done now.

March 23, 2010, 06:51 PM
Ok goon I'll try a couple thousandths and go shoot. That will probably be the weekend if I can swing it. No ranges near by that allow BP. Got a friend who owns some acreage that will let me shoot. But that's 30 miles one way. I think I must be the only one in this part of NC that shoots BP. At least I haven't found anyone yet except deer hunters and they only shoot once a year.

March 23, 2010, 11:50 PM
I usually just take the file with me when I shoot. I get a rough guestimate by a few quick passes as I shoot, then clean it up and square it off to get a precise (meaning "precise") zero when I start getting really close to point of aim. I have a piece of leather with a hole cut in it that I place over the gun while I'm filing to protect the finish.

March 24, 2010, 08:56 PM
pancho, I put a dovetail on my 1860. When filing it down, make sure and leave at least a trace of the original blade groove showing, that way you won't go too deep.

March 29, 2010, 10:43 AM
Some people used to cut a dovetail in the rear of the barrel and put a new rear sight in that.

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