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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2012 Digital Edition - Page 28

PISTOLSMITHING tHe INsIDe scooP oN PIstoLsMItHING tecHNIQUes ALeX HAMILtoN The Advantage sight system is one of the rare after-market sights a user can generally, actually install on their own. sight sense O f the thousands of questions gunsmiths answer, questions about sights top the list. The most common is, “I’m getting old and am having a hard time seeing the sights. Is there anything that will help me see the sights better?” I have been through that time myself starting at 40 years of age until I had to give up competitive shooting around 55. I tried everything from trifocals, progressive lenses, Merit discs and electrical tape with a pinhole cut in it, aperture sights and other weird ideas. The best solution in those “old days” was the battery operated red-dot sight. However, the red dots back in the 1970s and 1980s were fraught with problems. They worked well on 22s, but would not hold up to the punishment of the .44s and .45s, so aging shooters in the bull’s-eye precision shooting game dropped out like flies. Today, we have a cornucopia of sights to enjoy, including fiber-optic, Tritium, white dot, combination Tritium and fiber-optic and sights for the partially blind made by Advantage. For shooters who are legally blind, or close to it, the Advantage sights can be real saviors, plus they look cool. A complete kit comes with red, orange, yellow, green and white snap-in inserts for the front and rear sight. The Advantage is the closest sight you will ever find to a “do-it-yourself” drop-in set. The front dovetail might require a little fitting, but the rear sight glides into the factory dovetail and is tightened with a screw locking a gib tightly into place. Other than the Advantage, there are no other sights of which I am aware that a shooter can install his self. efore ordering sights please be absolutely sure you know what you are ordering. If you’re ordering sights to fit into an existing American factory dovetail, such as a Kimber Custom II, you can order sights for that particular gun as supplied by Heinie, Novak, Dawson Precision and others. If you are dealing with an obsolete pistol you should know exactly the size and dimension of the dovetails cut into the slide, especially if they were custom cut by some old gunsmith who has long since assumed room temperature. Dovetail sights are measured across the points of the sight and the degree of slope from the bottom of the sight up to the top of the angle. The most common dovetail on factory .45s dates back to the early 1900s and is expressed as 600 X .359", with .359" being the distance across the points of the base, and 600 being the angle up from the points. There are bucket full of sights made for this common 600 X .359" dovetail, such as the now defunct BoMar. But every manufacturer out there like Trijicon, XS and Tripp make a rear sight for that size dovetail. Other common dovetails are 650 X .330" for a Novak front, 650 X .495" for a Novak low mount rear, and 650 X .370" used for the beautiful Heinie rear low mount fixed sight. Then there are the 600 & 650 X .300" for guns not having much metal to make a deep or wide cut. There are other sizes, such as the puny little 600 X .245" and the oddball 740 X .250" I believe were invented by some joker who wanted to screw with us. The Tripp k-1, invented by Virgil Tripp, is a modern, beautifully engineered, adjustable sight a competent pistolsmith can install on your gun. 28 A Dose of Knowledge Measure twice B W hat all those sizes and combinations of sights boils down to is you are going to be much better off telling the gunsmith what you want, then allow him to order the sights. Many times customers send their guns in for custom sights, along with the sights. Inevitably, I have to break the news to them that the sights they ordered are incorrect, or they can’t be installed on their slide for one reason or another. When ordering sights for your pistol or revolver be absolutely sure you know what you are doing. The minor savings you might have made could go up in smoke if you have to return the sights and pay the gunsmith for the correct set. There are not a lot of adjustable choices these days due to the popularity of combat and carry guns. However, one adjustable sight stands out above all others, the Tripp Research Model K-1. The K-1 is a beautiful, modern design emitted from the fertile brain of Virgil Tripp, inventor of the STI 2011 pistol. It is different in both appearance and mechanical function, plus — when low mounted — sets your pistol apart from all others. The K-1 can only be purchased directly from Tripp Research in Bastrop, Texas, (432) 837-9445. * For more info: www.americanhandgunner. com/advantage-tactical-sight WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY2012

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