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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sight Work
Some days I could shoot the Rock Island’s nickel sights just fine and other days, I couldn’t. It’s getting a set of high hardball sights at minimum, maybe a glow dot up front; but I haven’t settled on them yet and I wanted something usable on it for the time being. So I dug through my parts box and found a half-dozen blue GI rear sights, some of which are new. Next up was to cut heavy cardboard strips pad the jaws of my 6” drill press vice, to avoid marring the slide’s finish.  Since I was going to use a hammer, punch and potentially a file, I covered the slide in a double layer of masking tape right up to the edges of the sights. With that all done, I carefully mounted the slide in the vise and set to work.

The 1911’s rear sight drifts out from the left, looking down the sights, and a few light raps on the punch brought it right out. I measured its height and selected the replacement with the cleanest notch, which was still within 0.005”of the original. Here’s where it got interesting because the replacement wouldn’t even start in the dovetail. So out comes the file and I started by removing material off the bottom of the sight. Once it started in the dovetail, I removed equal amounts off the sight’s dovetail about eight file strokes at a time until it went about halfway in. Normally, you’d touch it up with cold blue at this point. Since this was all experimental, I centered it as best I could and touched it up with a marker. I also very carefully serrated the front sight with a small triangular file, which turned out to be an exercise in futility. In fitting the rear sight, I had shortened it and later had to shorten the front sight anyway. Such is life.

I did at least kill the glare and end up with something more akin to a normal, GI .45 sight picture.

Today was ‘zero day’ so I loaded up the folding table, hunting chair, gun tool box, vise, range bag and ammo and headed down to the log pile. I always zero service pistols at 50 yards, for a couple of reasons. First, I’d like to be able to punch some lowlife through the gourd at 50 paces, if that’s all he gives me to shoot at. Second, I like to play at bullseye shooting occasionally and a 50 yard zero is necessary. When I’m zeroing, I shoot from the table with the gun held normally and my hands rested over the range bag. This is to remove as much human error as possible and focus on where the gun is printing.

Early shooting proved it was low-left; so I pulled off the slide, mounted it in the padded vise and tapped the rear sight over just a froghair. This had to be repeated once and when the windage was set, I re-masked the slide again and carefully applied ten light file strokes to the top of the front sight, keeping it as square as possible. The point of impact moved right where it belonged and the last 50 yard group was 3 rounds of Tula hardball, topped off with a couple of Remington 230 grain Golden Sabers. I was pretty happy to see this when I walked down to check it.

Success- and not a single scratch on the finish. This will hold me until the permanent sights are decided upon. I’m also please to report that the gun chugged through another 100 or so rounds of mixed hardball, JHP’s and a few 200 grain semi-wadcutters I’d loaded over four grains of W231 for 626 feet per second- cat loads. It plugged the SWC's into over-lapping holes, right on the front sight, shooting two-hand unsupported at 25 yards. Now to get busy reloading.


Blogger Tony said...

That’s quite a journey you’ve had with your RIA 1911, Sarge. I can’t wait to see which sights you choose.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 12:25:00 PM  

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