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Thread: Fitting a dovetail sight...



  1. #1
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    Fitting a dovetail sight...

    We answer questions every day about how to fit the dovetail sights. (Barrel Mount Rear Aperature Sight and Front Sights)

    The ideal would be a perfect world where all 3/8" dovetails would measure 3/8" ( .375" ) wide and be .090" deep. In the REAL world where shooters live and there are centuries of industry variations present, we accept the fact that "one size WONT fit all" and adjust tolerences to allow for HAND FITTING of each sight. (read... oversize)

    There will be the occasional sight escape our shop with an undersize (less than .375") dovetail. HOWEVER... Our goal is to ship them somewhere between .380 and .390 to allow for HAND FITTING.

    If you do much of this and want to make it easier... Take a small triangular file and lightly grind flat the teeth on one side. A belt sander works great for this. That will give you a safe side to use up against the non filed surface while fitting.

    This is a simple process for us in the shop but seems complicated and delicate when approached by the occasional sight fitter.

    With all that said.... Here are some ideas that may help...

    PUT IT IN A VISE AND WHACK ON IT WITH A BIG HAMMER... IF YOU HAVE A BIG ENOUGH HAMMER IT WONT MATTER WHICH WAY YOU GO WITH IT....

    OK... NOW SERIOUSLY:

    In the firearms world, most dovetails are fit right to left as you are looking DOWN the barrel (like when shooting) HOWEVER, the cutting of the dovetails is a parallel process and there is no taper to either the sight base or the slot in the barrel. The only time that becomes a taper is when doing the hand fitting of the dovetail. A slight taper on the left side of the sight allows the sight to start into the slot and when fit right, gentle tapping with a brass hammer or punch will slightly displace metal as it "glides" into place. Never under estimate the value of a lil oil on those edges to keep them from galling as it "glides" into place.

    Its not hard to fit a sight, just file on ONE of the "Slopes" of the sight with a triangular file. I keep a couple on the bench that have had the teeth carefully ground off of one side to create a "safe" edge so I'm only filing on the slope, no where else while fitting. Remember to take the SHARP edges off the sight DT first, just lightly breaking that edge.

    Keep the file strokes smooth and even, following the angle of the existing slope. When you can just start the sight into the dovetail, try tapping it in gently. It shouldnt move with finger pressure but you shouldnt have to BANG on it either. If it goes in smoothly half way, then sticks, back it out and take just a bit more off. AT THIS POINT GO VERY CAREFULLY SO YOU DONT REMOVE TOO MUCH METAL. Its just a few strokes of the file from finished.

    THEN, tap it all the way through to center, shoot it, then make adjustments as needed.

    The above process is really simpler than it sounds, be sure to pad the barrel well in the vise and support the butt of the rifle to keep it from slipping.

    NOTE: WITH THE VARIATIONS IN DOVETAILS, (HUGE BY THE WAY, ANYTHING FROM .360 - .400 ) WE MAKE OUR DOVETAILS SLIGHTLY OVERSIZE. (USUALLY .380 - .390) THIS IS NORMAL.

    If you overdo the filing... (oops) there is no reason for dispare. There are several remedies in emergencies. We would prefer to provide you with another sight but realize that the season my open tomorrow or you may be headed out on a trip. Though not our first choice, these might "Save your bacon"...

    1. Turn the sight over and using a center punch raise a few "Dings" in the bottom of the base near the center, stay away from the dovetail edges. This creates a few ridges that may tighten up the sight in the slot. (not a great answer but may get you out of a bind. PLEASE DONT PUT THOSE BURRS IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SLOT ON THE BARREL. FIT THE SIGHT TO THE BARREL. SIGHTS ARE CHEAP, BARRELS ARE EXPENSIVE. Also please dont POUND Down the edges of the dovetail slot. They are hard to bring back up when the proper sight is obtained.

    2. If its REALLY loose, take a feeler gauge of the right size and "shim" under the sight as you tap it in. This is probably the best fix. (Beer cans Really I'm starting to understand how this happens...... )

    3. AND IN AN EMERGENCY..... Did I hear someone say GLUE? (as crazy as that sounds, it can really work especially if you are not going to move the front sight anytime soon. Loctite makes some products that work well and in an emergency, JB Weld will hold it till the rapture. (A lil heat and it will tap back out when you need to. JB is easy to clean out later with a small file since its much softer than the steel.)

    Our BARREL MOUNT sight should slide into the dovetail (after fitting) with just more than finger pressure. Light taps should move it right and left, then secure it in place using the set screw provided.

    I hope these ideas help... Visit us at www.skinnersights.com and look over our current offerings. Any suggestions or ideas are always welcome.

    We look forward to building a sight for you !!!

    Andy
    Tatersoup and gunscrewguy like this.
    "The nicest folks I ever meet are fellow shooters..."

  2. #2
    Gun Wizard
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    Thanks, Parson.

    After an ugly first attempt (split my sight base), I got it done perfectly. Thanks for the very clear instructions on how to get it done!!!
    Last edited by Tatersoup; 04-07-2012 at 03:36 PM.
    John

    Team Old Phart #86
    Team 39 #61
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    Team 1894 #121


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