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Enhancing the Contrast Of Hand Gun Sights

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Recoil Sissy, Sep 23, 2012.

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  1. Recoil Sissy

    Recoil Sissy Well-Known Member

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    Gentlemen:

    I'm not a hand gunner but I own a couple of S&W wheel guns. Both have factory original sights.

    One is a 686. The rear sight 'notch' is outlined with a narrow white line. The front sight has a bright orange (plastic?) insert. Under normal lighting conditions that combination really stands out for easy target acquisition.

    I also have a 617. Its front and rear sights are plain black. Even with very good light the sights are hard to pick up.

    I'd like to experiment with some non-permanent modification of the 617's sights to enhance the contrast. Any suggestions/recommendations would be truly appreciated.

    sissy
     
  2. wayneo

    wayneo Active Member

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    White-out on the front blade helps a lot.

    Wayne
    [​IMG]
     
  3. ky4some

    ky4some Member

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    I also use orange, white or green fluorescent paint from the hobby section of Wal Mart. The little containers are only about $1.00 each and the paint will comes off pretty easy if you don't like the results.

    Mike Kamer
     
  4. CalvinMD

    CalvinMD Well-Known Member

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    something thats a combo of the two..is using white out to make your outlines then "stain" it with highlighters of any color you prefer..once you find a permanent color combo you like you can make it permanant with a paint....the whiteout tape works too because you can snip it in nice thin lines and it adheres and colors well..if you really want to make it permanant a careful spray of satin polyurethane/ lacquer works wonders and protects it from chipping or flaking off
     
  5. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    Your problem puzzles me. I own a collection of pre-lock, pre-MIM Smith & Wesson revolvers, some of which have the red ramp front, white outline rear sight package. But every one that was built as a "full target" version has a black Patridge front and all black rear sight blade as that is the package most preferred by competitive bullseye shooters. That's why your 617s have that package - 22LR revolvers are primarily target guns.

    To me, the red ramp/white outline sights are best suited for hunting under "woodsy" conditions, where their bright colors stand out. Any time I buy an S&W revolver, I always try to find one with the target sight package as it is the one that works best under most light conditions. In bright light, the bright, glossy red front sight insert produces so much glare that a consistent sight alignment is difficult to obtain. I even sold a 6" 686 with the colored sights when I found another older one with the black Patridge front sight.

    Now the good news (maybe) - your 686 probably has a pinned front sight as opposed to one that is an integral part of the barrel. That means you can buy a red ramp blade from S&W, drive out the pin and change sights. White outline rear blade kits are also available from S&W but you have to determine your rear sight blade's height before ordering a replacement. A special tool they also sell is required to make that swap.

    Ed
     
  6. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    What Mike Kamer said. Blaze pink for me.
     
  7. blowin smoke

    blowin smoke TS Member

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    Check out the Hi-viz fiber optic front sight. Easy installation. The one on my 686 is bright red, but I think they make it in green as well. It's what you are looking for.
     
  8. Sky Buster

    Sky Buster Sky Buster TS Supporters

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    If you have a pinned front sight, drive out the pin and strike
    the front of the sight with a plastic mallet. Order a fiber optic
    front sight from Brownells. The new sight will not be drilled.
    Install it and using a #56 drill, drill half way from each side
    and reinstall the pin. If the front sight is forged as part of
    the barrel, clean of the front sight with alcohol and put on a
    thin coat of flat white paint. After it dries, put on a coat
    of green or red flourescent paint. It's pretty tough stuff and
    lasts a good while. There's not much you can do with the rear
    except replace the blade with one having fiber optic inserts.
     
  9. ImpalaBob

    ImpalaBob Member

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    Nail polish - any color you want!.... nail polish remover or acetone to take off.
     
  10. Recoil Sissy

    Recoil Sissy Well-Known Member

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    Gentlemen:

    Thanks to everyone for the input, suggestions, and advice.

    Sincerely,

    sissy
     
  11. Shooting Sailor

    Shooting Sailor Well-Known Member

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    I used white metal marker ink on my front ramp, nothing on the rear. It adheres to the ridges on the ramp very well, and doesn't wear off, being as it is designed to mark sheets of metal for fabrication. I found that was all I required to make the front sight pop visually.
     
  12. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    If you really want to see those sights, try a pair of reading glasses next time you go to the range. Use an old pair that are a litlle on the weak side. HMB
     
  13. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    What works for me and my aging eyes is a thinner front blade that is non reflective and either square or under cut and flat black. The rear sight needs to be flat black as well.

    I also find the 'classic' S&W red ramp/white outline to be one of the worst sight arrangements that is not fast or precise.

    Another fast and precise set up that I use on my 1911s is the standard Bomar low mount rear sight and a small diameter light pipe for the front sight. You have to machine the rear of the slide to fit the Bomar and the front requires a 3/8" dovetail but it is an excellent package.

    I think where you get into trouble with handgun sights is in trying to line up the front sight in the rear sight and then put all that on target. Try getting your focus on the target and then bring the front blade into that sight picture and let the rear sight remain a blurr. You will be suprised at how well this works.
     
  14. TALLEND

    TALLEND Member

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    Sissy

    This item works well for me,and several pistol shooters that I know----

    Merit Iris Aperatures

    meritcorporation.com

    518-346-1420

    Tom
     
  15. Recoil Sissy

    Recoil Sissy Well-Known Member

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    Gentlemen:

    As per usual, you've provided an outstanding sssortment of answers. Unfortunately, I did a poor job of asking the question. Maybe this will help clarify...

    Through the generousity of a member and benefactor, my local gun club received a large free standing steel target display earlier this summer. It is massive. I'm guessing at least 25 feet long. The targets are mostly square falling plates consisting of five each 12", 10", and 8". It also has a few hanging steel targets including one monster about 18" x 30" and 3" thick.

    I'd never shot plates before but finally got around to it last Sunday. Call it enthusiastic plinking. It was a riot!

    I sent 50 each .38 specials and 200 each .22 LR down range. All were shot double action, two handed, and for me, relatively quick - less than one shot per second and probably closer to two seconds. I concede that the plates are big but I'm still not a handgunner so I was surprised that under 15 yards the challenge was minimal even on 8" targets.

    Here's the bottom line. The red insert on the 686 was much easier to pick up than the all back sights on the 617. They seemed to take F..O..R..E..V..E..R, LOL. That's what prompted my poorly stated original question.

    I'm not interested in a permanent modification. I'd just like to make it easier to visually pick up all black sights on the 617.

    I'm truly grateful for the suggestions and input. Thanks again.

    sissy

    PS: I intend to shoot the plates again soon. Are there standard distances for that sort of competition? If so, what are they?
     
  16. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    Sissy -

    Steel plate competition is what I mainly use my 1911s for. The game is man on man so you need to be both fast and accurate. The imagination is the limit for the target arrays that I have shot on but generally you shoot at targets that are from 15 yards out to 40 yards, and anywhere from 5 to 8 targets. We have been known to throw in a few 60 yard 8" plates to challenge the higher class levels but other than that the targets are not too difficult to hit. (until you try to go fast)

    This is a knock down game so you need a reasonable amount of power. .38 super and up, the .40 S&W and the .45 acp are great choices. The 9 mm is boarderline as are standard vel .38s. Rimfires don't play this game but there are special rimfire only events using lighter weight steel.

    Excellent way to develop pistol skills but be forewarned, you will see a bunch of other pistols and probably want to upgrade your collection to keep pace with the game.
     
  17. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    About 15 years ago, a club where I used to be very active, the Palmyra (PA) Sportsmen's Association, built a steel pit for those events. There was a problem with bullets getting out of the pit at first, which was brought to our attention by a very understanding neighbor who found a bullet in his swimming pool, which is located a lot farther away than you would believe a 38-caliber lead slug could travel. We were going to close the pit but one of the members who was instrumental in constructing it and holding the shoots told us that if we spent the money to make the range safer, he would hold shoots that returned that money to the club. We grudgingly agreed.

    Those "shoots" became national events, drawing shooters from all over the country and growing from a one-day "fun" event to the "PSA Shootout," a four-day competition with primary sponsorship from Smith & Wesson. Use the link above to look at the pit and see the schedule for their 2013 shoot. Under "photos," there are links to YouTube videos of shoots.

    So yes, there certainly is a lot of interest in and enjoyment gleaned from "shooting steel."

    Ed
     
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