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Changing and Regulating Glock Sights: How to modify and set up sights for this popular service pistol.

I have always shied away from making modifications to the action of service pistols, limiting work to necessary repairs, part replacement such as springs, and a little work with the grips. I stick with factory magazines for these guns. However, when it comes to Glock sights, I've been changing these since from my very first assignment to test and evaluate the Glock for a police department when the pistol was first introduced. Perhaps the original sights were OK for a fast-and-dirty, close range sight picture but I wanted greater accuracy potential. After all, I wanted to see just what the pistol would do in testing. The first run of Glock .40 pistols did not exhibit what I felt was service-grade accuracy. Later developments and the addition of Novak sights resulted in a pistol that could be counted on for combat accuracy to 50 yards. To do so, replacing the sights is necessary. Front sights on first generation Glocks weren't firmly attached and often drug off when drawing from hard shell holsters. Today, the front sight staking is much more secure but the screw and front post arrangement is superior.

I have added Novak sights, the Warren Tactical--a great competition sight system--and others over the years and have enjoyed good results with each when due consideration was given the purpose. Steel sights and self luminous sights are the best addition to the Glock and one of the easiest. While I'm covering Glocks here, please note this also applies to the Springfield XD and Smith and Wesson Military and Police handguns, as well as some SIG pistols.

There are many types of sights and the end user must be certain of what he needs to accomplish. Some are interested in personal defense, others are primarily competition shooters. Each must make the decision based upon their own needs. While sight installation is straightforward, dovetails do get damaged, sights are sometimes not quite the drop-in fit they should be, and tritium ampoules may broken by poor handling. The problem isn't usually the quality of the sights but the actions of amateurs that attempt to install the sights without proper tools. I have repaired and cleaned up more than a few such debacles during the past twenty years.

Selecting the sights is easy enough. Brownells.com offers the popular versions. When choosing a night sight as an example, the user may find that some, such as the Trijicon, require more effort to fit to the rear dovetail than others. Others, such as the XS Express Night Sight, slip easily into the dovetail and then tighten by means of a set screw. Either works properly if understood. Some have both a tight fit and a set screw. For a service pistol, tighter is better--within reason.

Tools

The tools are simple and not all of them are needed in every installation, but it's best to have them on hand. A sight pusher is essential. I use the MGW Sight Mover from Brownells (584-045-017WB). This tool is a must have for plastic sights such as the Advantage Tactical and even the rugged, all-steel Battlehook sights with a Tritium insert. A hammer and punch just will not serve in this capacity! The slide slips onto the stabilizing bar in the center of the tool and is then tightened by use of a thumbscrew. The tool works by concentration of force. A tool for tightening the front set screw for Glock sights is usually supplied with the sights but not always. Good to keep such a tool on hand as these front sights are installed in the same manner, at least in all I have used. Other tools you must have on hand include a brass hammer for initial fitting, the front sight tool, a dowel with sandpaper wrapped around it in case the dovetail needs to be polished, and a cleaning and drying agent for use once the polish is done. A set of pliers for the front sight in most cases and a punch in others may be required.

There are several questions that must be asked of the shooter before the task begins. Some shooters purchase a Glock and replace the sights before the pistol is fired or proofed. That is OK if appropriate replacements are already identified but the pistol should be fired first to determine the zero and marked to give a good estimate of where to center the replacement sights. Note, this isn't a hard and fast rule. As an example, the Battlehook sight (Battlehook.com, 720/325-7890) offer a much better sight picture than the Glock factory sight and you will be able to afford the user a much better zero. This may deviate zero from the factory sights and such a mark should be used a starting place to adjust from as needed. Set the new sights on the frame atop the factory sights and mark the center of each.

For removal, the original factory front sight is easy. This is among the few tasks that a simple pair of pliers proves useful. Grab the front post and pull. The sights will come out. Some later model Glock night sights are staked in but they're only slightly more difficult. Pad the slide and place it in a vise. Use a punch and drive the front sight out by striking the sight from inside the slide.

To remove the rear sight, use the MGW sight tool. With the slide field stripped, fit it into the guide on the body of the MGW sight tool. The slide is centered and the sight tool slowly cranked into position. Once certain the slide is centered in the jaws of the tool, tighten the slide clamp. Lubricate the main shaft of the sight tool before each use. Twist the operating handle clockwise to turn right, counter clockwise for left, and remove the rear sight. Little pressure is demanded and the Glock rear sight is easily slipped away. The rear sight is usually usable again, in contrast to hammering with a brass punch which may damage the slide's finish as well.

Prep the dovetail. This procedure takes but a few minutes but makes life easier. I make certain the dovetail cut is clean and free of corrosion before mounting the new sight. Glock pistols don't usually corrode but I have noticed that some types of factory night nights do pick up corrosion. The dovetail is cleaned up, cleaned with alcohol, and allowed to dry before fitting the new rear sight. I have seen Loctite recommended but I do not use adhesive. In my experience the new sights are tightly fitted enough as issued, even the ones that slip in more loosely than others and are tightened with a set screw. After all, the sights may need adjustment for a different load at a later date. Competition shooters may change the sights more often. The fit of most aftermarket sights is good and snug. A few tend to be tighter than others I've had to file and smooth the corner of a night sight for a proper fit on occasion. Note, I do not file the dovetail as that is a permanent modification. Filing the sight is an expedient. I take it slow and twist the tool easily, after all, it is easy to let some of the sights get out of track due to their design. Some require more effort than others. Be certain that the designs that require set screws are loosened before installation and tightened after the sights are in place. Also, be certain the end user is aware that they have to loosen set screws before the sights are adjusted.

The front sight seems uncomplicated, however, there are cautions. In most cases the post or pinion holding the front sight is a good solid fit but sometimes it isn't quite perfect. Each maker is a different story, or at least should be treated that way. Once the old sight is knocked out or pulled out, check the slide window to be certain that there are no pieces of plastic left on the opening. I clean this area in the same manner as the rear sight. The new front sight is then carefully pressed into place. I have actually had front sights come into the shop that were cocked to one side or not fully seated. After changing a large number of sights--and if you work in a retail gun shop, night sights are a steady item--you will note this as well. The sight is pressed into place. The next step is to use a tool to tighten the tiny screw holding the front sight in place. If you are a strong guy and have fingers like bananas, this is tough! I am in between with average hands and the technique seems akin to neural surgery. I get good results by setting the screw in the tool and working from below. Most tools are just too deep or do not fit the screw well. A shop-made tool with a large nut for leverage is the best choice.

Changing Glock night sights is a common and profitable chore. My local shop tells me they haven't been able to order factory night sight Glocks for some time. This is temporary issue and the range of other Glock options should keep you busy. Even then, factory-installed night sights have a lifespan and will eventually need replacement.

by RK Campbell
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Title Annotation:WORKBENCH
Author:Campbell, R.K.
Publication:American Gunsmith
Date:Oct 1, 2017
Words:1570
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