Trouble with my 1866 Carbine


February 9, 2013, 11:12 AM
My 1866 carbine replica was shooting dead center all morning...then, abruptly, it wasn't. Suddenly I couldn't make a shot to save my life. And it happened between one shot and another. One shot was dead on...the next shot went who knows where. It looks like the screw that holds the front sight barrel band together broke off inside. So a trip to the gunsmith will be in order

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February 9, 2013, 11:48 AM
Thats a definite weakness of the sight on the band. I had a 66 in 22 cal years ago, it suffered from wandering zero now and then.

If I was going to rely on a gun that had the sight on the band, I'd grind the sight off the band and get a sight put on the barrel like the later models, sweat the band in place, or pin the band so it couldnt move around.

February 9, 2013, 03:23 PM
"...get a sight put on the barrel like the later models..."

As of late I have been reading a book on small arms design by Col. Townsend Whelen which is originally printed during 1945/'46 in addition to a short dozen of other firearms theory titled books between 1901 and 1952 along with countless articles for gun-related magazines (so, the author REALLY knows what he's talking about) .
He wrote specifically about dovetailed barrel sights in the "Small Arms Design and Ballistics" tome one (of two).While I wasn't aware that the use of the dovetail groove for sight mounting would result in it's own host of problems, I ended up changing my attitude and implementation of them somewhat.
I will be altering the change of barrel mounted sights and other uses of that technology on my guns to reflect this new-found (to me) wisdom.
It seems that a dovetail cut for a sight needs to be slip fit instead of interferance fit. The sight is then modified for retention with a set screw.
From what I can gather, the dovetail groove with a drive-fit sight will cause a draw (or push) in the barrel that results in high (or low) POI depending on where the interferance in the dovetail occurs. If the same groove is fitted with a slip-fit/set screwed sight it won't cause the arm to suffer from that sort of problem.
The same sort of imposition (up -or- down) on the barrel's true along it's length can be expected to occur if a loading ram catch or magazine tube anchor is dovetailed onto the bottom side of a barrel and then fitted with a drive-tight catch or anchor loop.
I would have thought that the problem would have showed up as an inward dent toward the bore much like will occur from an overtightened post-style sight or set screw threaded into the barrel's wall, but that doesn't seem to be the over-riding concern.

February 9, 2013, 03:51 PM
I agree about the dovetails. The early carbine sights were a stud on the barrel silver brazed in place, not a dovetail. Unfortunately, most gunsmiths or customers choose dovetails, either from ignorance or simplicity. A gun may shoot ok with a barrel dovetail, but I think its simpler to avoid them when other means are better, and not that difficult to use.

I had a gunsmith make me some early type carbine front sights, they've worked out well, and I like the looks of them far better than the later ramps.

This is a late pre-64 94 carbine I modfied to early type front sight and band location, long forend wood, etc.

February 9, 2013, 04:59 PM
That's interesting, Mike.

I have a Uberti '66 carbine in .38 Special, serial number 96XXX that I bought from another shooter. This one has a dovetailed front sight with the barrel band behind it. The previous owner had the rifle tuned for cowboy action, and now you have me wondering if the dovetailed front sight was from the factory or if it was part of the action job. The photos on Uberti's website still show the front sight on the barrel band.

Good luck with the repair in any case!

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