Author Topic: Thoughts on sights  (Read 10801 times)

eagle24

  • Guest
Thoughts on sights
« on: September 02, 2009, 07:18:11 AM »
I made a front sight for my rifle this afternoon.  Another task that most of you builders probably do in 1/2 hour, took me 5 hours.  I was thinking about how I needed to make the front sight and what it needed to be made from.  This rifle will be a hunting rifle.  Since my proficiency with a flintlock (range) is very slightly farther than with a longbow it probably doesn't matter a whole lot. ::)  Anyway, I used German Silver for the blade (whatever German Silver is).  I wanted to round the blade more like the original rifles I have seen, but I left it huge and it hardly looks original.  I would like to file it down considerably, but thought I would get some input before I find out I have a sight that I cannot see while hunting.  What materials make the best sights for hunting whitetails and what front blade design?

Offline rf50cal

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 89
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 01:51:20 PM »
For my eyes, brass shows up the best in the low light conditions of early morning and evening hunting .  My rifle has the low sight found on originals, has not been a problem for me. I'm sure others will have a different opinion.
Roger Fleisher

northmn

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 02:55:14 PM »
You may find a few previous threads on this subject helpful. German Silver is another brass alloy, I just forget which as in tin zinc or whatever.  Brass or silver is not a big issue for me but I file a bead on the top once sighted in so I can see the top and use a U in the rear.  Its kind of individual and depends upon things like aging eyes and so forth.  Some originals had brass cast very low front sights.  Also for hunting deer use an adequate notch in the rear so that you can see the sights.  These fine target sights do not work as well.  I was shooting high last year because in the field theres a tendency to hold the bead above the sight blade.  Daryl has been showing pictures of the "Express" sight which is probably the best combination for close up.  Very shallow V with no notch.

DP

Offline LRB

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1540
    • WICK ELLERBE
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2009, 03:02:53 PM »
  My favorite is a silver blade, undercut in profile, but rounded for about 1/32", to just a tad more at the top. This gives a bead effect in low light, and is comparatively easy to align for windage and elevation. In low light you see just the rounded "bead", rather than a tall blade, and the silver shines for my eyes where as brass might not.

Offline Long John

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1571
  • Give me Liberty or give me Death
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2009, 04:02:39 PM »
Being a certifiable old fellow I have to make sights I can see!  I use coin silver from silver dollars.  My front sight is 1/8th inch thick and the notch is the rear sight is cut wide enough so that there is just as much light on either side of the front sight as the front sight is wide when I aim.  Many of you will opine that such bold sights will not serve for precise shooting.  I just center the center of the target on the front sight.  It works for me.  I have confidence it taking 100 yard shots at game with these sights and if I can't get within 100 yards God has other plans for that critter.

As we age it gets harder to keep the sights in focus.  The loss of focus is noticed as a loss of definition of the edges of the sight.  With bold sights you will still see the center of the sight clearly even though the edges are blurry.  Just center the clearest part of the front sight in the brightest part of the notch and you have the sights lined-up.

By the way, "German Silver" is an alloy consisting of approximately 70% nickel and 30% copper.  German silver did not come into use in America until after about 1820.

Best Regards,

JMC

eagle24

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2009, 04:44:18 PM »
What are the differences of types of silver.  Coin Silver, Sterling Silver, German Silver?  and which are appropriate for use as sights and inlays?  Is coin silver different from sterling silver?  My wife never uses her silver.  I was thinking she might not miss a tine off one of the forks.  I have a buddy who has made some iron sight blades, cut a slot in the front of the blade and hammered in a wedge of coin silver or gold.  I guess I just don't really understand all the problems with a sight that works well for all lighting conditions.  From what I have read and been told, an iron sight is good in bright light but dissapears in low light or shade and a silver or brass sight works well in low light, but disappears in bright light.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 04:59:49 PM by GHall »

Sean

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2009, 05:29:25 PM »
GH,

I really like Jack Brook's quickie front sight of folded sheet brass on his web sight.  It definitely doesn't take 5 hours to make it.  His description is at the bottom of this page:

http://www.jsbrookslongrifles.com/theclassroom.htm

Sean

Offline Jerry V Lape

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2831
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2009, 07:27:35 PM »
Suggestion you may find useful.  I thought to make an express sight similar to those Daryl espouses.  But I wanted to be sure my eyes were able to get as clear a picture as possible.  So I took a small board long enough to represent the distance from the cheekpiece to the end of the barrel and quickly made several crude but representative front and rear sights which were tried on the board at various distances.  What works best for me is the shallow V shaped rear express sight with a silver line at the bottom of the V; and a front sight with a large  3/16" brass bead (formed from brass rod).  I may even remake the front by putting on a 1/4" bead.  When the large bead is at the far end of a 42 inch barrel it isn't all that large!    But experiment for yourself.  Move the rear sight around as well until you are satisfied you have what you need.  Those narrow, short little original sights  are neat looking but if they don't function well for your eyesight what is the point!  If you are under age 40 go ahead and make the original type sights.  Remember that most of the originals were being used by people with a life expectancy of less than 40 years.  Their eyes hadn't become a problem yet. 

eagle24

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2009, 07:37:20 PM »
Couple of thoughts on the small low original sights.  They weren't shooting on a range much and heating up the barrel causing problems seeing the sight.  Probably worked well for one shot while hunting.  Another thing I have wondered is if since they actually carried their rifles every day, they wanted the sights to be smaller and lower because they were more durable and less likely to bent or knocked off the rifle.  BTW, I'm 47 and going through the changing of the eyes.  I just got prescribed progressive lenses but have not gotten them back yet.

Offline Long John

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1571
  • Give me Liberty or give me Death
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2009, 08:47:11 PM »
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver conatining at least 92.5% silver, the rest (7.5%) usually copper.  Coin silver is an alloy of silver conatining more than 7.5% alloying metals, usually 90 % silver and 10% copper.  German silver has no silver in it at all.  It is an alloy of about 70% nickel and 30% copper.

JMC

Offline flehto

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2543
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2009, 09:07:41 PM »
Recommending specific sights to others that "work for me" isn't realistic except in a very general sense or not at all. The requirements for  young eyes through middle age and beyond, let alone the personal eye problems of many individuals, a book could be written and that's why "scopes" are so popular on modern arms. We that choose to shoot guns that aren't "scoped" have a much more difficult problem to find a sight combination that enables us to "hit the mark".  However there are some general guidelines for some older shooters and which might also work for younger shooters as well .....installing the rear sight somewhere in the range of 10-12" from the breech, having a front sight blade of .090-.100 thick w/ a real silver insert that has a 30 degree face angle and as was previously mentioned, plenty of "daylight" on both sides of the front blade as viewed when aiming. .....Fred

hyltoto

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2009, 11:15:07 PM »
I just went through three years of trying to find the right sites. I ended up with the light trap sight made over at Kenockee trading post near Port Huron Michigan.

But more importantly, when I got my Zeiss progressive bifocals, I had all types of ghost images, double vision etc. This even effected my scoped shooting. I talked to several docs about this. This made aging even suckier.

I got a clue about what was going on after reading an article in the American Rifleman on optics last year. It described a condition in lower quality optics called flare. This is internal reflections. The autor made a point if you look thru the objective lens you should see nothing but black and the exit lens if all the lens are fully multicoated.

I went to my optometrist and asked about the lens coating on my glasses. The Walmart AR coating was on one side of the lens only. I ordered some uncoated lenses and all the ghost images are gone. I was seeing the reflection of the image from my own eyeball reflected in the back of the lens.

Either get both sides coated or neither to keep a fine site. The best lens I've found are Crizal.


Offline bob in the woods

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3252
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2009, 11:31:17 PM »
Long John's set up sounds almost exactly like mine. I think my rear site has about a square notch about 3/16ths wide or maybe even a hair more. Front is a 2 stage with 3/16ths at the base and 1/8th above it. This gives me a 50 and 100 yd sight picture.  Very easy to see in the woods.

roundball

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2009, 01:13:24 AM »
"...an iron sight is good in bright light but dissapears in low light or shade and a silver or brass sight works well in low light, but disappears in bright light..."

That's been my experience with the black sights on previous Flintlocks compared to my recent early Virginia with its brass base/silver blade front sight.

Since I'll shoot hundreds to thousands of shots at the range compared to only a few while hunting, I ordered the .100" black iron sights from TOW that replaces the brass/silver on the Virginia...when it comes time for hunting season, I'll use a dab of white paint on the front sight like I always did...white has proven to give me the best visibility / fastest sight acquisition during the rut here when all the fall colored leaves are at their peak everywhere...
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 01:19:40 AM by roundball »

Offline Waksupi

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 221
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2009, 02:48:10 AM »
Well, for a pure hunting gun, I cheat. I overlay ivory on the front sight for good visibility. And for a rear sight, regardless of authenticity, I take a full buck horn, heat it and bring the tips nearly to touching. I then use a mandrel to make the hole perfectly round. Sometimes I will shorten the tips, to be able to make a smaller aperture.I don't cut a notch.
I use the full rear sight as an aperture. Being still an open sight, it could still theoretically be used for competition, but that isn't my purpose.
There are also silhouette rear sights that are made that are tall and square profile, with a thin slit in the center. These are also good for this purpose, as it allows you more leeway in making the aperture smaller if it suits you.  
I'm getting older, and having a harder time seeing notch sights. The method I use is very fast for getting on target, gives a good sight picture, and finally and most important to me in a hunting rifle, it works!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 02:49:45 AM by Waksupi »

Offline frogwalking

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 978
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2009, 04:54:18 AM »
Waksupi,

Can you post a photo of that sight?  It sounds interesting.

I have seen old rifles with as many as 4 dovetails, three back ones filled with iron and the front most one where the sight is.  I smile as it likely belonged to one man who progressively had the sight moved forward as his sight failed.  Needless to say my current rifle is being constructed with the rear sight over a foot from the breach. 

This is why I prefer the 2 band Enfield.  For some reason I cannot explain the rear sight is much further forward than the 3 band.  (Lighter too.)
Quality, schedule, price; Pick any two.

Offline Danny Jones

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 219
  • Danny Jones - retired telecom eng.
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2009, 05:44:31 AM »
One of the most interesting front sights I have seen was posted several months ago but I can not find it in the archives or remember who made it. It consisted of a holed drilled vertically down into the front blade and a piece of bone/ivory inserted. Then the face of the sight was filed down to allow the ivory to show. Neat - I would like to see it again.  Danny
North Louisiana

California Kid

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2009, 05:55:17 AM »
I'm pretty sure it was Dave Rase. I remember seeing it as well. Try a search.

Offline B Shipman

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1914
    • W.G. Shipman Gunmaker
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2009, 07:30:39 AM »
I always use sterling silver for front sights and make them the same way Jack Brooks does. Folding and brazing into one piece, file up.
By nicking the top edge, it shows up even better than brass in poor light. With the sun in your eyes it comes up like a dark line. Very clear with the light at your back.   

Offline Waksupi

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 221
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2009, 08:31:07 AM »
Sorry, I'm not up on posting pictures on this forum. The sight should be fairly easy to visualize, and is quite easy to alter from standard available sights.

Do you need to use something like Photobucket to post pics from here, or can it be done directly from my computer?

northmn

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2009, 01:52:53 PM »
Sorry, I'm not up on posting pictures on this forum. The sight should be fairly easy to visualize, and is quite easy to alter from standard available sights.

Do you need to use something like Photobucket to post pics from here, or can it be done directly from my computer?

Acer has a tutorial in the Tutorials.  Most use photobucket.

DP

hyltoto

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2009, 10:33:43 PM »
I went to the jewelers and he can order 14k pins threaded on an end in didifferent diameters. You could drill and tap a hole thread in the pin and file it off. I think I'll try it someday.

Online Simon

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 87
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2009, 04:18:34 AM »
I worked a lot of nights as a LEO and used a piece of ivory dove tailedinto the front sight.  It was the best of several I tried before radio active sights(what ever they use to make them glow in  the dark)  The ivory does'nt wash out in the light and has a kind of soft glow in low light.  Nothing works in darkness execpt the glow in  the dark sights, I don't belive that they are PC., LOL
Mel Kidd

Offline Herb

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1356
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2009, 05:13:03 AM »
Waksupi- Here is a "closed buckhorn" sight on an original ML in a museum in DesMoines, Iowa.  I also saw one on an original Hawken in a National Park Service museum in St. Louis maybe 10-12 years ago, near the Arch.  Westward Expansion Museum (?).

If anyone has James D. Gordon's books, "Great Gunmakers for the Early West, Volume III, Western U.S." (a $300 set of books), I think this Hawken rifle may be pictured on page 380.  That rear sight is tall and thick, vertical to the barrel.  The one I saw in that glass case looked like a buckhorn sight with a quarter-inch flat washer soldered in the horns.  I called Mr. Gordon to order his books, and he did not know about that NPS museum Hawken, but he may have it!  Or a different one with a closed buckhorn sight. 
I have also made them by bending the horns closed, but that makes it necessary to have a tall front sight.  Track of the Wolf sells a "closed buckhorn" rear sight, but that also needs a tall front sight.  I installed one on a .58 fullstock flintlock Hawken I built.  If I used another, I'd modify it by cutting that circle out of the rear sight with a jeweler's saw and inletting it deeper until the center of the circle was at the center of the side flats.  This to get a lower front sight. Otherwise it works good.  Doc White may pitch in here, he told me he uses closed buckhorn sights on some of his rifles.
Herb

Offline Waksupi

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 221
Re: Thoughts on sights
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2009, 06:19:23 AM »
Thanks, Herb. You saved me from figuring out the picture posting. Guess I should do that, any way!
I had seen that rifle in the Des Moines museum before, but didn't take notice of the sight. It has been over 35 years since I have been in the Jefferson Memorial Expansion Museum in St. Louis, and don't recall that one.
The idea of a high front sight doesn't bother me that much, to get away from any heat distortion there may be. Without measuring, I would estimate my front sights set about 3/8 above the top flat.