Author Topic: fixed sights?  (Read 11064 times)

Offline Artificer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2014, 11:18:51 PM »
Archie,

My apology as I forgot to mention earlier that sometimes you have to “clean up” the sighting notch in the rear sight.  If when you look through the Rear Sight Notch (RSN) and it is fuzzy or if there is not enough light showing in the notch on either side of the front sight blade when you look through and align the front and rear sights, then you should think about cleaning up the Rear Sight notch by filing a little to true it up or change it as you prefer.  However, if your RSN is crisp and clear and looks good to you, then don’t worry about it.

So perhaps it is best to explain why a RSN can look hazy or something is just not right with it.  If the rear of the notch that faces your eye is wider than the front of the notch, that gives you a kind of tunnel like vision.  If the notch is cut dead even through its length, but is mounted a little crooked, you will see the front part of the notch on one side as you look through the notch.  If you have a “Square” or “U” shaped notch and one or both sides of the notch are crooked, that can give you sighting errors for windage or errors in the way your shots impact on the target side to side.   If the bottom of the notch is hazy, that is usually because the front bottom of the notch is higher than the rear bottom of the notch.  Yes, I realize you don’t use the bottom of the notch when sighting, but if not formed correctly, sunlight can bounce off it on a bright day and make the sight notch look fuzzy.  

Since most of us don’t have Precision Milling Machines at home, we have to resort to files to clean up an improperly shaped Rear Sight Notch so it looks crisp and clear.  If you have or prefer a “V’ notch, then you need a small knife edge file and sometimes a Knife Edge Jewelers or Swiss File is just the ticket, though sometimes you need a slightly larger file.  Personally, I don’t like a “V” shaped notch and prefer a notch where the sides are parallel to the sides of the Front Sight Blade.  So I use a fine Flat Jewelers or Swiss File that I ground and sanded a safe edge on one edge that is placed on the bottom of the notch and a second such file that is square if the bottom of the notch is square/flat (if the bottom of the notch is rounded, then use a round Swiss file).    

I learned to clean up Rear Sight Notches by having to do it on Bullseye and International Pistol Sights, but until I learned the following trick, I absolutely hated to do it.  I was originally taught to file the sight notch from the rear, but that’s the hard way to do it.  It is best to file on the notch from the front of the notch so you can “sneak up” to the rear edge that you look through.  It does not hurt at all if the front of the notch is a little wider than the rear, so that gives you room for human error.  Matter of fact, some notches are made that way.  Also, because you want the front bottom of the notch even or lower than the rear bottom of the notch, it is easier to file that from the front of the sight.   Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some folks who can do a great job cleaning up the sight notch from the rear, but I’ve found it is easier for more folks to do it from the front.  After you get it the way you like it, use cold blue to cover the shiny metal, then oil and dry it so there is no oil slick on the surface.  

While we are on the subject of filing, perhaps this is a good time to bring up filing down the front sight if the groups you shoot are hitting too low on the target.  The method I will describe is not historically correct for all time periods of front sights on muzzleloading rifles, but it works.  When you file the front sight blade down, you want the rear edge that you see to be perpendicular to the sides of the front sight blade.  From that edge forward, it is normally best for shooting that the top of the front sight angles downward towards the muzzle, at least a little, to ensure the sight picture is good.  Now it may be daunting to some folks who have never tried to file flat and at an angle at the same time, to do this.  (I remember what it was like trying to file down the front sight blades on NM M14’s and M1’s when I first began doing it and it is not normally easy at first.)  

Well, there is another trick you can often use on front sights for muzzleloading barrels to do this, though not all the time when the front sight is too close to the muzzle.  If there is at least ¼” to 3/8” of barrel ahead of the front of the front sight blade, this will work.  You need a Nicholson or Stanley 8” Handy File that you can easily get at Lowe’s, Home Depot and other hardware stores.  (There is a link to show you what I mean at the end of this paragraph.)  This is a nice flat file that is medium coarse on one side and fine on the other.  Normally when you file the front sight blade, you will use the fine side unless it is REALLY shooting low and you have to take quite a lot off the top of the sight blade, but you finish filing it with the smooth side.  
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Nicholson-8-in-Blade-Handy-File-06601/100208251

You also need a piece of drill rod or something that is round and the same diameter for at least ½ inch to one inch.  (Worst case scenario is you can use a small block that is of uniform thickness.)  The top of the round rod when laid down flat on the barrel across the top barrel flat and ahead of the front sight blade, needs to be a little lower than the top of the front sight blade.  (Same thing for the block if you have to use that.)  Now lay the cutting portion of the file on top of the front sight blade near the rear end of the cutting portion and the smooth handle on top the rod.  (You do NOT want the cutting portion of the file to go over the rod.)  By applying gentle pressure evenly down on the file over top the rod and pushing forward maybe 3/8” to ½” at a time per file stroke, it will cut the angle going down towards the muzzle.   If you are lucky, it will also cut the rear of the top of the sight blade parallel to the sides of the blade.  If not, then still using gentle pressure and short strokes, put a little pressure on the side of the file where the high spot is until the top of the rear of the front sight is perpendicular to the sides of the sight.    


Sorry, but that is all I can write now, but will be back for more later.
Gus
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 11:25:34 PM by Artificer »

Offline Artificer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2014, 11:20:49 AM »
One thing I wanted to add to the post above on filing front sights is by filing along the length of the Front Sight Blade as suggested, instead of filing perpendicular to the blade, makes it easier to not bend a thin front sight made out of brass or silver.  If you are filing perpendicular to the length of a thin brass or silver blade and your file catches instead of cuts, it can too easily bend the blade sideways.  It is even possible to bend a thin steel front sight blade, as found on M1903 rifles for example, when filing perpendicular to the blade and the file catches.  (Yes, it has happened to me a couple times over the years even when I'm careful to clean the file between strokes.) 

Gus

Offline Artificer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2014, 12:32:38 PM »
Archie,

If you are primarily going to use the rifle for hunting deer, then I suggest using the information you recorded for your heavier powder charge load on how far the groups dropped at each range.  If the area you hunt in may cause you to shoot at longer ranges, then it probably would be a good idea to set targets up at 125 yards and maybe 150 yards to see how much the groups drop at that range.  Then you can figure out at what range you need to sight in your rifle so the ball will rise or drop no more than 3 to 4 inches anywhere along the distance you shoot as mentioned in an earlier post.  This is a bit harder to do than other techniques, but it will better show you where your ball will land along the length of any shot you make.  You also don’t have to worry about doing mental math while trying to make a shot on a deer within that range, so it takes away that problem when hunting when you may already be excited when taking the shot. 

Some folks will suggest for a hunting rifle that you simply sight in your rifle at 100 yards and file the front sight and move the rear sight as necessary for that range.  Then you aim dead center in the killing zone of a deer at any range out to or slightly beyond 100 yards.  This is easier to do if where you hunt you will never shoot beyond 100 yards or not much beyond 100 yards.  They may also suggest shooting at 125 and 150 yards to see how much the bullet will drop at that range and aim higher to make up for it at each range.  If you do that, then I would suggest shooting the rifle at 50 and 75 yards as well to see how high the groups hit at those ranges. 

There are some people who recommend for a .50 cal. rifle and round ball, that you use 50 grains of powder for the 25 yard line, 60 grains at 50 yards and 80 grains at 100 yards.  They claim that by sighting in at 25 yards with the 50 grain load and using the heavier powder charges at the longer ranges, you can aim dead center at all ranges and it will keep you in the bullseye.  I tried that many years ago with a .50 caliber rifle I had and found I was not happy with the size groups I got at the different ranges, so I don’t recommend it.  However, some folks have said it worked well in their rifles.  Just thought I would mention it if you have run into someone who recommends it. 

OK, what happens if your rifle shoots too high at 125 yards or whatever is the Point Blank Range to sight in your rifle?  Then you need a taller front sight or you need to lower your rear sight.  It can be easier for many people to file down the top of the Rear Sight if that sight is flat along the top of the sight and the rifle is not shooting very high.  However, if your rifle is a factory rifle and they offer a taller front sight, then that would be easier to replace the front sight than filing down the rear sight. 

If they don’t offer a taller front sight for your rifle, or if the front sight was custom installed, the first thing I would suggest is contacting the builder to find out what front sight blade was used. Many folks find it easier to have the builder install a higher front sight or solder on a piece of metal to make the front sight higher.

If you don’t know who the builder was, then you have to accurately measure the size of the dovetail base and height of the front sight blade on your rifle.  You want the base to be the same size as the one on your rifle or maybe slightly larger so you can fit it to the dovetail in the barrel.  OR if you know how to Silver Solder or know someone who can do it for you, you can use a Low Temp Silver Solder to solder on a piece of the same metal as the front sight on top the front sight to raise the height of the front sight.  Then you file that piece to the shape of the rest of the front sight.  If either of these things are beyond one’s capability, then it is best to have someone else do the work such as a local builder or gunsmith.

Hope this information is helpful for you.
Gus

Offline Daryl

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2014, 03:05:43 AM »
When filing sights at the range, I hold the gun, Taylor files the sights.

It is always best to make your front sight too tall. That way, filing the front sight is much easier than having to file the rear sight.

I do not see how a well made gun barrel can be on at 25 yards and out 6" at 100 - or 2" left at 25 and on at 100 - doesn't make sense to me -

unless

 just back from the muzzle, the bore takes an angle to one side of the barrel in the last few inches of the barrel so the ball is being launched off at an angle to the centre-line of the barrel.

Thus, to be sighted in at 25 even, the sights will have to be mounted to either side of the barrel's dovetails, ie: rear to the far left side, and the front sight to the far right side - just to get that ball lined up at 25 yards. I do think under that circumstance, it is logical to think the ball would be off at 50 and at 100 still.

Any thoughts on this?
Daryl

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Offline Artificer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2014, 04:44:29 AM »
When filing sights at the range, I hold the gun, Taylor files the sights.

It is always best to make your front sight too tall. That way, filing the front sight is much easier than having to file the rear sight.

I do not see how a well made gun barrel can be on at 25 yards and out 6" at 100 - or 2" left at 25 and on at 100 - doesn't make sense to me -

unless

 just back from the muzzle, the bore takes an angle to one side of the barrel in the last few inches of the barrel so the ball is being launched off at an angle to the centre-line of the barrel.

Thus, to be sighted in at 25 even, the sights will have to be mounted to either side of the barrel's dovetails, ie: rear to the far left side, and the front sight to the far right side - just to get that ball lined up at 25 yards. I do think under that circumstance, it is logical to think the ball would be off at 50 and at 100 still.

Any thoughts on this?

Daryl,

You wrote: “I do not see how a well made gun barrel can be on at 25 yards and out 6" at 100 - or 2" left at 25 and on at 100 - doesn't make sense to me –“

You are correct.  I added the underline and emboldened emphasis because by definition, a well made gun barrel almost totally, if not always precludes this from ever happening.  It only happens in barrels that are not well made or if the barrel happened to be one that slipped by an inspection process or if the manufacturer just “let it go.”   This is why I mentioned it was so rare and that most people will never run into it and also why I was hesitant to even bring it up.  

I want to make it very clear I am not referring to the barrels made by any American barrel maker for the muzzle loading trade.  

I have only seen it one time, myself, and that was in one of the poor quality “Generic” Plains Rifles that was imported into this country.  It was back in the mid 80’s and don’t remember if the rifle came from Spain, Italy or somewhere else.  The then current owner was not the person who bought the gun originally and he did not know where the rifle came from except where he bought it at a second hand store/ almost antique “Junke Shoppe.”   It was brought to me at a NSSA Spring or Fall championship, because folks knew “I messed with Round Ball Guns” as they used to say.

The owner had tried to sight it in at 25 yards and had moved the rear sight all the way to one side, but it still was off.  As an NSSA Skirmisher only, he did not know about moving the front sight, but from what he described, it did not sound like moving the front sight would help that much.   I only gave the rifle a cursory inspection as I was up to my eyeballs in trigger jobs for Rifle Muskets and Smith Carbines and did not really have time to pull the breech plug.  The quality of the lock was also very poor.   I told him it would cost a whole lot more money to fix than it was worth and suggested it would be better to spend the money on another rifle.   As he walked away, one of the Head Skirmishers on the NSSA Ordnance Committee noted he had seen another rifle like that and heard of a couple others.  

The only reason I even mentioned it earlier in this thread was because Archie did not describe what gun he was trying to sight in.  If he had a poor quality foreign gun, something like this could happen (though rare as I mentioned).  I did not think it important to go into great detail on it as such an occurrence was/is so rare.  I thought it more important to describe “sighting in” in detail.  

Daryl, I do think you gave a good explanation on at least one way the barrel was improperly made that would have caused it to be so far off at 25, let alone 100 yards.  
Gus
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 06:25:34 PM by Artificer »

Offline Candle Snuffer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2014, 08:01:48 AM »
Snuffer

Offline PPatch

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2014, 06:43:19 PM »
I question that first sight "picture," the peep sight. I was taught in the military to center the bullseye in the peep and put the post under that. And that is the way I have always shot a peep.

dp
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Offline Candle Snuffer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #32 on: April 27, 2014, 08:08:29 PM »
That's the way I remember it as well dp.
Snuffer

Offline Artificer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #33 on: April 27, 2014, 09:08:10 PM »
I don't know this for certain, but I think they aimed "Point of Aim, Point of Impact" or “Center Hold” in the original time period as it is better for hunting.  Placing the front sight at the bottom of the bullseye seems to be a more modern sight picture that is very useful for shooting at bullesye targets.   Though there were some bullseyes during the period, most targets were not bullseyes.  

I know I prefer a point of aim sight picture for hunting while I use the front sight at the bottom of a bullseye for target shooting.

Though the following link shows a square notch rear sight, it shows a “Point of Aim” or  “Center Hold” sight picture.
http://0.tqn.com/d/hunting/1/0/s/Q/hunting-sight-picture.jpg
Gus
 
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 09:10:12 PM by Artificer »

Offline Candle Snuffer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2014, 10:01:03 PM »
I personally believe it is whatever works best for each of us unless we are required (as taught for example - in the military) to use a certain hold where as if you would ever needed to pick up (in my case) an M16 from a fallen brother in arms because your own rifle failed - you would have the same elevation (not so much windage) as you had with your own disabled rifle.  

I will admit that for the past 38 years I have used the center hold in civilian life with all my firearms.  I have a mental picture of 10-12-2 o'clock in my mined when I aim one of my fixed sight's muzzle loader's at any range beyond 25 yards of where I will hold to place a shot beyond my dead zero of one inch high at 25 yards.  This works for me, it may not work for others, but again their hold and their shot is not my hold nor my shot.  I respond only to my shooting and will not advise another on how to make their shot unless I'm pressed for help from them.  Best advice is to know basic knowledge of aiming, and the rest is a learning process between you and your long rifle, and whatever works best for you. :)  
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 10:03:23 PM by Candle Snuffer »
Snuffer

Offline Artificer

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Re: fixed sights?
« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2014, 01:48:12 AM »
I absolutely agree what works for one person may or may not work for another in shooting and each shooter should seek out what works best for him/her. 

For hunting medium to large game, I suggest using the Point Blank Range method outlined earlier and a center hold.  Then one does not have to do any mental calculations for elevation in one’s head within the effective range of that rifle.   Just aim in as close to the center of the killing zone as you can from 15 to possibly as far as 125 to 135 yards (depending on the caliber and powder charge) and the ball will most likely land within the killing zone as far as elevation goes.  Of course, one still has to account for wind velocity working on the projectile if the target is closer to one’s own maximum point blank range.  When one also has to lead a moving target; aiming off for windage and leading the target, while keeping the sights aligned on what would be the center of the killing zone – well, I figure that is more than enough to handle when trying to make a good shot.  Grin. 

Now if another technique works better for a person, then definitely that person should use what is best for him or her.

Gus