Replacement front sight for Colt revolvers

Discussion in 'Handguns' started by Tom A Hawk, Apr 23, 2019.

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Is there adequate interest in a replacement 1860 front sight to justify the cost of manufacture?

  1. Yes I think so

    57.1%
  2. No, save your money

    42.9%
  1. Apr 23, 2019 #1

    Tom A Hawk

    Tom A Hawk

    Tom A Hawk

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    As you are aware, the colt designs tend to shoot very high. I have have been discussing this problem with a CNC shop to see if it would be feasible to manufacture tall replacement sights. The next question, is there enough demand to make this worth while. Please share your thoughts.
     
  2. Apr 23, 2019 #2

    FishDFly

    FishDFly

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    I believe there is a criteria for As Issue Matches on the dimensions for front sights. Replacement might eliminate them being used in sanctioned matches upon inspection.

    Sometimes shifting your hand on the grip as possible will lower the point of impact.

    Colts were designed to shoot high.
     
  3. Apr 23, 2019 #3

    hawkeye2

    hawkeye2

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    FishDFly has a good point regarding As Issue Matches. The N-SSA allows sight modification but the modified sight must closely resemble the original sight and cannot be adjustable (soldered). Most everyone I know can modify their sight or knows someone who can so there isn't much market there. The new front sight would need to be brand and model specific it it fitted a slot, screw-in hole or dovetail so you would end up stocking a number of different sights. If the gun is only used in matches or sport shooting where an accurate copy of the original is mandatory then there are plenty of aftermarket front sights mostly intended for rifles that are easily adapted, see the Track of the Wolf site. I have a Navy with 3 interchangable barrels of different lengths and I eventually intend to install this sight on all of them.

    https://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categories/PartDetail.aspx/874/5/FS-PA-253-B
     
  4. Apr 24, 2019 #4

    hawkeye2

    hawkeye2

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    If the gun is only used in matches or sport shooting where an accurate copy of the original is NOT mandatory then there are plenty of aftermarket front sights mostly intended for rifles that are easily adapted, see the Track of the Wolf site.

    Sorry, I just noticed I left out a key word.
     
  5. Apr 24, 2019 #5

    Tom A Hawk

    Tom A Hawk

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    If you know of one that is easily adapted I would certainly like to know about it. Having just fashioned two, it is not an easy job.
     
  6. Apr 24, 2019 #6

    arcticap

    arcticap

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    There's different front sights for different models.
    And even the replacement methods used for homemade fixes can vary greatly.
    If there were a particular make and model that a person could devise an inexpensive replacement sight for, then surely some folks would be interested.
    But how to best design and market them would probably be an uphill battle to break even since many cap & ball shooters are do it yourselfers.
    The only way to really test the market would be to make a small sample batch and then see how well they sell and are received.
     
  7. Apr 24, 2019 #7

    Tom A Hawk

    Tom A Hawk

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    An expensive gamble and the reason for this poll.
     
  8. Apr 24, 2019 #8

    arcticap

    arcticap

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    Unless you know the owner of a CNC shop who would like to become a partner with you on the endeavor.
    And you might be able to wholesale some sights to known C&B gunsmiths and vendors if you have a surplus of sights.
    It's still a risk but the alternative is not to bother with it at all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  9. Apr 25, 2019 #9

    smoothshooter

    smoothshooter

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    I had a dovetail cut where the front sight goes and ordered a dovetail rifle sight and had it installed. Was too tall when it came, which was what I wanted so I could file it down to the proper height. Looks and works great.
    Got the sight from Track of the Wolf.

    Shooting really high is also an indication that the arbor on the frame is cut too short ( common problem ) on Italian guns and original Colts alike.
     
  10. Apr 25, 2019 #10

    FishDFly

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    Somewhere I read Colts were designed to shoot high. If I recall correctly, it had to do with during combat, soldiers would tend to aim at the belt buckles of the opposing troops and the pistols were designed to shoot high to get the ball up into the torso.

    A ball leaves the cylinder upon firing, jumps into the forcing cone and then out the barrel To me, the height of the front sight is what regulates the point of impact.

    What does shortness of an arbor have to do with the point of impact?

    What am I missing?
     
  11. Apr 25, 2019 #11

    arcticap

    arcticap

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    I'm not an engineer, but I've heard many say that when the wedge key is inserted into the short arbor, it results in the arbor being drawn or flexed upward raising the point of aim even more than it would be otherwise.
    That's why in a revolver with a short arbor, as the wedge key is pushed farther into the arbor/barrel hole, the cylinder gap becomes tighter & tighter to the point to where it can close up and bind up with the mouth of the barrel.
    Drawing the barrel closer in can be an indication that the arbor is being drawn upward by pressure on the wedge and arbor.
    When an arbor is properly fit, and has the proper length inside the arbor hole and bottoms out, the cylinder gap is not affected by the amount of pressure put on the arbor by the wedge key, and the gun won't shoot as high.
    Of course the guns were intended to shoot high, but through some engineering dynamics the short arbor is often blamed for additional problems, either rightly or wrongly.
    Even if the short arbor didn't physically affect or raise the point of impact, a business has grown around fixing the short arbor problem in order to not damage the mating surfaces of the wedge, arbor and barrel interfaces over time.
    Perhaps as the cylinder gap is closed up due to the short arbor problem, chamber pressures are increased which also raises the point of impact, whether by recoil or by trajectory.
    It's argued that the wedge was not intended to close or control the cylinder gap, and that the arbor should be set up to have a consistent cylinder gap when the wedge is inserted, with the wedge and barrel holes properly supporting it.
    The wedge is said to act as some kind of fulcrum in the entire assembly, and may be why its name was originally called a key.
    I'm just a layman and am only trying to repeat what I've been led to believe are problems with a gun having a short arbor and related fitment problems.
    Some folks measure their cylinder gap each time they insert their wedge using a folded over Dollar bill or piece of paper.
    So it's not viewed as a critical problem by everyone.
    That way the pressure on both the arbor and inside the chambers can be kept more constant, along with the point of impact.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  12. Apr 25, 2019 #12

    FishDFly

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    Thank you.
     
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  13. Apr 25, 2019 #13

    Tom A Hawk

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    I'm familiar with the short arbor story and view it with great skepticism. Consider for a moment the amount of force required to warp the barrel upward when mounted on the frame. I can adjust the cylinder gap on my Dragoon by tapping the wedge in or out without change in POI. The barrel on my 1860 fits rock solid on the frame with no movement what so ever and the wedge fits snug but is easily removed with the fingers.

    Occam's Razor holds that the simplest solution to a problem is usually the right one. The guns shoot high because the sights are too short. I don't care if it was designed to shoot at opposing forces at 200 yards. I just want to be able to reliably hit a tin can or woodchuck ( they have no belt buckle ) at 30 yards. The guns are quite accurate enough once the sights are adjusted.
     
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  14. Apr 25, 2019 #14

    FishDFly

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    "skepticism", that is a nice word and I have to agree with you.

    I guess the problems with Colts, short sights and short arbors, is the reason that most folks shoot Remington's in the As Issue matches.

    I just picked up a Colt 36 Navy and have yet to shoot it, guess time to do so and see what it does.
     
  15. Apr 25, 2019 #15

    arcticap

    arcticap

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    Corrrection: I should have said "point of impact" instead of "point of aim" in the opening statement above.
    It was posted early in the morning....

    Uberti's are known for their short arbors yet some are very accurate.
    I don't know how much the flexing affects the POI, but the whole barrel assembly is only held in place by the wedge.
    There's a lot of force being exerted against the forcing cone of a gun without a top strap.
    And then there's also heat.
    IIRC, even the original Colt patent drawings and such refers to the key as being a fulcrum.
    One difference in those days was that each gun was hand made and fitted.
    And the chambers may have created a better gas seal when the hammer was cocked.
    There's a whole division of engineering dedicated to studying that type of material flex.
    It doesn't really matter whether we believe that the flex exists or not.
    It's more about how to make the old design as accurate as possible by making little improvements.
    Even rifle barrels flex and have harmonics and they're way thicker in diameter.
    That's really not an opinion as much as it's an existing body of science.
    Even though as written it is my opinion, but I'm only a messenger.
    Help, Zonie help! :D


     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  16. Apr 25, 2019 #16

    Zonie

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    By design, if the arbor is the right length so that it positions the lower lug of the barrel to very lightly press against the frame and at the same time, the arbor bottoms out in the hole in the barrel, it is impossible for the wedge to cause the barrel or arbor to bend making the gun shoot high. By saying, "lightly press against the frame" I'm saying the barrel would have about .001-.005" interference at the lug/frame interface.

    In this case, all of the wedge force will be used to pinch the arbor against the bottom of the hole in the barrel.

    If the arbor is too short, as the wedge is driven thru the barrel it will move the barrel rearward until the short arbor finally bottoms out in the barrel hole.

    By moving the barrel rearward, the lower lug of the barrel will first stop against the pistols frame and as the wedge is forced further in, because the barrel lug won't allow the barrel to move further aft, the arbor will bend, resulting in the barrel pointing upward and the gun will shoot higher than it should.

    If the arbor is REALLY short, the barrel will continue to move aft and upward as the wedge is driven further in, driving the cylinder back against the pistols frame at the rear.
     
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  17. Apr 25, 2019 #17

    Tom A Hawk

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    Another tidbit before your heads explode...:)

    Based on the 10.5" sight radius of the 1860 Army, a gun that shoots 10" high at 25 yards would require an adjustment at the muzzle ( angling the barrel down, preventing it from rising or increasing the front sight height by .230", or a shade over 1/4" to lower POI by 10".
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  18. Apr 25, 2019 #18

    arcticap

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    Thank you for such a precise clarification Zonie.
     
  19. Apr 26, 2019 #19

    denster

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    Zonie is absolutely correct. The wedge is essentially an incline plane and is more powerful than most would suspect.
     
  20. Apr 29, 2019 #20

    johnfrommd

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    I have been making mine out of brass keys but brass keys are starting to get like hens teeth. It would be great if someone made a round brass washer with no hole that was the same with as a Colt front sight cut. Then you can sweat or epoxy it in and just file to shape.
     
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