My Zoli Zouave is very sick

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rdlowe

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The thing has a front sight that is obviously offset just a little to the right, and the rear sight is like looking through a goalpost, and my best 100 yard group with 2 different size and weight minies has been the size of a pumpkin.

I want to try installing and filing a rear sight blank. I haven’t done this before so I’m seeking advice. What size file should I use, etc. I’ve also considered shaving the existing rear sight down just a little and trying to favor the notch a little to one side like one would do on a Colt revolver. Thoughts on that, or is it a bad idea?

I’m kind of one the fence about whether this is worth it but it would be a good way to learn a thing or 2 about gunsmithing. The thought of giving the thing away to someone who might like to get started in BP shooting but doesn’t have the means to do so has also crossed my mind. So while I decide what to do, please let me know what you would personally do if it was yours.

Thanks,
Dave
 

EC121

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Bend a piece of metal into a peep sight and put it on the tang screw. You can move the sight around for windage. If you like it, you can make a fancy one later or replace the back sight. Shoot for group first and worry about hitting center later. If the front sight is dovetailed, drift it back to center with a brass punch. Plan B is to JB weld a new blade on the back sight and cut the notch where you want. I have done that several times when I wanted to replace a back sight, but didn't know how high I needed it. Works so well that most are still on the rifle.
 
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rdlowe

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Bend a piece of metal into a peep sight and put it on the tang screw. You can move the sight around for windage. If you like it, you can make a fancy one later or replace the back sight. Shoot for group first and worry about hitting center later. If the front sight is dovetailed, drift it back to center with a brass punch.
The front sight is fixed. I know it can be removed with heat and replaced somehow. I’ve heard of people having success by drilling a peep for the rear sight as you suggest.
 

EC121

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A peep sight on the rear sight is too far from the eye. Once, I put one on the barrel and unless it was bright sun, I could see nothing through it. The tang screw puts it right up to the eye.
 

Semisane

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A peep sight on the rear sight is too far from the eye. Once, I put one on the barrel and unless it was bright sun, I could see nothing through it. The tang screw puts it right up to the eye.
Not so. I put a peep with a 1/4" aperture at the rear sight location on my Zoli and it worked just fine. In fact, it worked great.
 

Eterry

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Have you shot the Zouave at 25 or 50 yards to see if the load groups better at close range?
I'd confirm the problem is the sights, not the load, before whittling on the sights.

Don't confuse sight regulation with load development. They are not the same critter. And my experience with muskets is they are very finicky. Poor sights won't help, but they may not be the root problem.

I know of several competition musket shooters who filled the rear sight notch with JB Weld, then filed a new smaller notch in the correct position.

In fact, the most accurate musket I've ever shot had it's rear sight filled with JB Weld. I didn't even notice until the owner pointed it out.

I'd suggest trying shooting at 25 or 50yards and report back your findings. Then you'll know if it's your load or your sights.
 

rdlowe

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Have you shot the Zouave at 25 or 50 yards to see if the load groups better at close range?
Yes.
Don't confuse sight regulation with load development.
The sights are visibly crooked to the eye and it’s impossible to achieve a consistent sight picture with this rifle because they’re horrible. Your mention of JB weld is something to think about.
 
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deermanct

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I was reading your post and decided to check out some pictures of a rifle like yours. It appears to me that both the front and rear sights are mounted in a dovetail slot. If it were me, I'd drift either front or rear sight to the left or right, whichever you need to do to align the sight picture. A ball peen hammer and a nail punch or small block of wood should be all you need for tools.
 

rdlowe

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I was reading your post and decided to check out some pictures of a rifle like yours. It appears to me that both the front and rear sights are mounted in a dovetail slot. If it were me, I'd drift either front or rear sight to the left or right, whichever you need to do to align the sight picture. A ball peen hammer and a nail punch or small block of wood should be all you need for tools.
The rear sight is held in place with screws and the front is silver soldered, I think. Anyway they’re both fixed in place.
 

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The sights on the Zoil Zauave are not dove tailed. The front sight sits in a slot running length wise and the rear sight sits screwed and the rear of the sight block sits in a rectangle groove running left to right. I knocked out the front sight of mine and replaced it with a brass dovetail sight. Then replaced the rear sight with a buckhorn dovetail sight. Both I in-letted with a small 3 sided file.
I have since replaced the rear sight with the original again and filed the low leaf down then filed a grove with a chainsaw file. It now shoots 2 inch high at 50 yards and shot in shot is a common occurrence. It loves 80gr FFg and a .562 ball from wheel weight lead patched with ticking.
Originally it shot very high and off to the right by quite a lot.
 

deermanct

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Interesting, I was looking at a gun for sale on one of the websites, it sorta looked like a dovetail. Pardon the error. Anyway, good luck with your project.
 

rdlowe

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The sights on the Zoil Zauave are not dove tailed. The front sight sits in a slot running length wise and the rear sight sits screwed and the rear of the sight block sits in a rectangle groove running left to right. I knocked out the front sight of mine and replaced it with a brass dovetail sight. Then replaced the rear sight with a buckhorn dovetail sight. Both I in-letted with a small 3 sided file.
I have since replaced the rear sight with the original again and filed the low leaf down then filed a grove with a chainsaw file. It now shoots 2 inch high at 50 yards and shot in shot is a common occurrence. It loves 80gr FFg and a .562 ball from wheel weight lead patched with ticking.
This is great. I might have some follow-up questions for you if you wouldn’t mind helping me through something like this with my own gun. Sounds like the effort was worth it?
 

Tasbay

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My only regret was the chainsaw file I used on the rear sight was a little large. I`d go the smallest file you can find, you can always go larger but its hard to go the other way.
Works fine for my eyesight (I`m long sighted) I see the front sight perfectly but as time has passed the back sights are a bugger.

Remember the Zoil Zauave twist rate is 1-66 inch so its a round ball barrel. Every one I have come across shoots better with a ball than a Minie
 

rdlowe

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Remember the Zoil Zauave twist rate is 1-66 inch so its a round ball barrel. Every one I have come across shoots better with a ball than a Minie
I’ve only found one guy on the internet who says he’s managed to work up an accurate minie load in a Zoli. All other Zoli owners have told me what you’re telling me.
 

hawkeye2

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Actually the rifling in a Zoli is correct for a mini. Minies need shallow rifling and a slow twist. Bobby Hoyt's recommended twist for a mini is 1 in 60" and the original Zouaves, .58 Mississipies and '61 and later Springfields were even slower than that. There are a lot of Zolis still being shot in the N-SSA successfully and they will shoot a group well under a pumpkin size as long as there is nothing wrong with the barrel
 

Tasbay

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I would try a round ball and patch load first before taking to the gun with tools. I found the original nipples were an issue, anything over about 70 grains of powder and the hammer would be thrown back with crud thrown in the face. I fitted a stainless nipple from TOW, a tight fit but they will go in. Gun will now accept up to around 120 grains of powder under a ball. 120 is as high as I have taken it, though it loves 80 grains of home made powder and a ball.
My CVA .58 mountain rifle will shoot better with a Minie than the Zauave will do and its a Douglas round ball barrel at the 1-66 twist. I carry a lubed minie for a quick second shot when hunting with the CVA once the Round ball has been sent on its way.
 
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