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What sight for a Long Range Cowboy

10223 Views 23 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Joelafives
I had a 38-55 Cowboy with a Marbles tang sight. The sight worked O.K. but it really didn't have enough range of adjustment and it was clunky looking and made the gun awkward to hold and shoot. All in all, if there is some other way to do it without sacrificing all the precision offered by the Marbles tang sight, I'd sure like to find it.

I got rid of the 38-55 and now have an 1895 Cowboy in 45-70. I need to put a long range sight on it, but don't know which to use.

What kind of success have you had with the ladder sights available from Buffalo Arms??? Are these a reasonable alternative to the Marbles? Is there another brand of tang sight that does not take over the grip frame -- a Lyman perhaps???

Thanks for any ideas about the dilemma.
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Depends on what you mean by long range. My 1895 45/70 cowboy has a Lyman 66 My shooting buddy's 1895 38/55 a Williams Receiver sight. They have plenty of crank for 200 yards and even out to 300. The receiver sights are not too expensive and work well. In order to keep things standard and not make mistakes in a match I use 66's for CLA, Pistol Caliber, and Rimfire all with Marlins. Merrit Disk fit them too, essential for me.

Also shoot a lot of mid range to 600 yards with 2 single shots and use Montana Vintage Arms Sights. They are excellent sights but not cheap. The 131 & 133 without the adjustment screw are fine sights though and half the price of some of MVA's models. Veneer gives it required repeatability you don't have to have the screw. I have never seen there "Rough and Ready" barrel sight but if MVA makes it you can be sure it's a good one cost no more than a Lyman. Thing about a tang sight is it needs to be made with some precision or it's useless. Lot of them on the market that won't work at all.

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Hey Boats, Can we expand a bit here?
Does MVA make a base that works on a '94 CB? Or would you have to adapt it somehow? How about bolt clearance? I understand they make a really fine sight.
MVA will make any base you need. They have done several custom jobs for me

The CB has to be drilled for a tang sight anway all the sight maker has to do is get the curve right Staff angle is adjustable to suit the gun. You can bet they have done it before. Thing about the 1895 Cowboys is the bolt comes back a real long way. Back edge is about an inch foward of the Tang Screw. It is notched and may stradle one of MVA's Marbles style single staff reproductions. This sight is made as well as the origional Marbles and not like the current production at all.

It realy depends on how authentic you want to be, pure utility and low price don't care about the looks a Lyman 66 or Williams are the way to set up. If you go with a ladder style tang instead of the single staff Marbles/Lyman 1A style count on folding the sight staff back when the action is opened.

That's not a big issue, my single shots need to have the sight folded back to clear the cartridge every time they are loaded. And they flop back some on recoil, no problem, the sight is built to fold and come back to battery same place every time. If shooting over 300 yards folding back every shot is the only answer I know of

If I wanted to stay authentic would look carefully at there Rough and ready sight. Ladder barrel mounted.

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August -- If you want to get serious about long range shooting, a vernier tang sight is where it's at.

ANF -- MVA makes a sight base that fits an 1895 and they say a 336 as well. You'll have to call them about the 1894. The '94 being pistol caliber, a marbles tang sight will cover most of your bases. I've modified their sight bases to be interchangeable between my 336's and 1893's. These allow ranges over 1200 yards depending on the staff (a #107 or #108).

Hope this helps. Best regards. Wind
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I'm getting ready to put a Lyman hooded sight on the front. (1895) 45-70. What is the best height?
Hey there ANF -- I was pretty sure you were talking about a Marlin 1894 when I replied in my last post. In case I misunderstood and you were talking about a Winchester 1894, the same thing applies. A vernier tang sight. Here is a picture of mine, the "Mutt" and a video Wet Dog took of it working...
Very, Very, Nice!!

I want to do this to my Marlin CB.....but where do you put your thumb when you shoot?
I think it would bite.
Hey there Dr. A -- You didn't say what model of 1895. If it has a 24" barrel, and if you are going with a tall rear sight, then get the shortest front sight you can. That combination will get you the most yardage in the long range arena. Granted loads and other facts play a part, but it still boils down to sights. Hope this helps. Best regards. Wind
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Hey there City Slicker -- Check out this link.,68816.0.html Wet Dog's post has some pictures that pretty clearly show thumb placement. About half way down the first page he has posted a video link. About three seconds into it you can see my sub-conscience deciding which rifle I'm shooting and putting my thumb where it belongs. Probably due to a lot of practice. Essentially you can put your thumb over the tang, or along side the tang and sight base. The truly dedicated long range shooters just amputate their thumb if it gets in the way, or creates a nuisance. Hope this helps. Best regards. Wind
You want the lowest front you can get. Distance with a 45/70 requires so much crank on the sight your head is not supported well on the cheek piece anyway. High front it's even worse. Look at a Trapdoors front sight sometimeot's very low. If long range you ought to look at the lace on cheekpieces. Leather ones repoduction of the GI made for M1's when scope fitted don't look too bad and work very well.

On thumbs, Been shooting tang sights so long thumb laying on the side of the stock is the only way I shoot. "A" shooter got after me at the Smallbore Silhouette match other day said I would shoot my bolt gun better if I put my thumb over the stock. It's never hurt my scores. Main thing is to be consistent same way all the time

Does this mean the Marbles sight is not OK? I am looking at buying a 1895CB and thought about the Marbles sight.
Hey there Digger -- The Marbles sight is an excellent choice. Usually there are about 92-96 "clicks" in the elevation adjustment barrel. If you can balance the front sight (a thin Skinner blade is my choice) and rear sight to give zero to two clicks at 50 yards, you should be able to reach 400 yards. There are a lot of "ifs" but generally that's how it will play. The mid-range and long range sight staffs just get you farther. 1000 to 1500 yards plus. There are a lot of "ifs" there as well. Hope this helps. Best regards. Wind
Hey there again City Slicker and Digger -- Most all of my lever guns have Marbles or mid to long range tang sights on them. Here are some of the Marbles tang sights and my raggedy thumb. First up are a couple Marlins...
And here are a couple Winchesters. Hope this helps. Best regards. Wind
Thanks Wind,

Since a recent revelation....I've decided all my guns are gonna shoot. I may start with a model 36 ADL 30-30. It is already factory drilled for a tang site, so it 'might' make it easier for me to get started. If that goes well then maybe my 45 colt CB.
What is the Marbles model number on that '94? Is that the removable/changable staff model? What range are you shooting to? Got that semi buckhorn removed and blanked? Is that a stock front sight? Shooting from how yds to how many yds, accurately? That's alot in a paragraph!
Hey there ANF -- That's OK, I'll try to keep up!! Here is a link to the Marbles sight numbers per rifle manufacturer Look also at the screw package required for the sight as well. They are an extra. I think for pistol calibers the standard sight is plenty, and that is what is on the rifle in the picture. They make an improved version with interchangeable staff, but by then I'd be into a Montana Vintage Arms sight. Again on the pistol caliber rifles, it's the round itself that presents the most limitation, and I think there is no reason to get into an over-achiever mode and not be able to use all the sights potential. A factory front sight will work. I prefer a blade to a bead, and the shorter the front sight the more elevation you can get out of the rear sight. I like the Skinner blade because he will make it thin and tall enough to file for a custom sight fit. There are a lot of variables with yardage, ammunition used being the biggest. I've gotten .22's out to 300 yards, and 25-20's and 32-20's to 400. This is kinda how most of my rifles with tang sights look...
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And because they are all different, a card for each...
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