Saturday, September 3, 2011

10 Steps: Installing Night Sights in your Pistol

Sights are the only part worth replacing in a standard Glock pistol. Fumbling with other parts isn’t just unnecessary, it often leads to malfunctions. You know what they say about fixing that which is not broken. Also, sights are the weak point in the Glock due to being made of plastic and relatively fragile. During torture tests where Glocks are put through hell, the part that often breaks and does so before all others are the sights. Throw a Glock form a plane or car driving at 80 mph? No problem, but the front sight is likely to pop off.

To make it indeed perfect you need steel sights, and the tritium inserts are a nice addition too. Don’t go for sloped snag-free rear sights, go for square ones. It’s quite important for the rear sight to snag on your belt or clothing during single handed reloading and failure resolution drills.
This is a short video explaining how to install night sights, in this case Meprolights. This is one of those things people often ask someone else to do but if you can get around to do it yourself that’s much better. It often happens that dovetails get chipped or bent, tritium tubes break during installation. This has little to do with the quality of reputable products and everything to do with sights getting forced, sometimes hammered into place by gunshop employees with little patience and even less experience. Better to take the time and do it yourself:

1) Buy the night sights. Since you’re changing them get good ones, with tritium inserts. Which one to buy? Some people like XS Big Dots, but I honestly didn’t like them much. I get it that the “golf ball” front sight is very visible, but to me it just gave up too much accuracy.  Good for an express rifle, not so good for a handgun. They are highly visible though, so if your eyes aren’t 100% they might be the right ones for you. I know some people are accurate with them too, not my case. I ended up with  Meprolights TruDot, and after testing them myself as well as several other shooters I can highly recommend them:
Meprolight Glock Tru-Dot Night Sight for 9mm, .357 Sig, .45 S and W . 45 GAP Orange Rear Sight with Green Front Sight - Fixed Set
Meprolight Glock Tru-Dot Night Sight for 9mm, .357 Sig, .45 S and W . 45 GAP Orange Rear Sight with Green Front Sight – Fixed Set

2) Put together the tools needed. Hammer, needle pliers, front sight Glock tool, alcohol, paper, vice or c-clamp, fine sandpaper, Loctite, mechanic pencil, ruler, plastic punch and a table to work.

3) If your sights are on target, then mark with the pencil their exact center in the pistol frame. This will be used as reference later so as to make centering the new sights easier. Use a fine mechanic pencil for greater precision.

4) Make another mark in the sights you are about to install in their exact center. This mark will be aligned with the one in the frame.

5) Remove the existing sights. In 3rd gen Glocks and older you just pull the front sight out easily with pliers. In the Gen4 they have a small hexagonal screw that requires the front sight Glock tool or fine needle point pliers. Use a vise or C-clamp with some paper so as to not scratch the frame and using a punch and light hammer taps remove the rear sight. I found that it came off easier in the older models.  The gen4 requires some intense hammering that destroyed the plastic rear sight.

6)Use alcohol and tissue paper to clean the surface where the new sights will be installed, make sure there’s no oil left. Carfeful not to remove the pencil marks.

7) Apply a drop of Loctite in the contact surface and install the front sight. Make sure the pencil marks are aligned before tightening the screw.

8)Test the rear sight, if it doesn’t slide in with a bit of hand pressure, place the sandpaper on a flat surface. Firmly holding the rear sight with its bottom against the sand paper slide it back and forth, then left and right five times. Try sliding it again into place. Repeat this process until it slides snuggly into place with hand pressure alone.  Dont rush it, and don’t overdo the sandpaper or it will fit too loose.

9) Once it slides into place, remove it, clean the area again with alcohol, let it dry, then add a drop of Loctite and slide until the two marks align.

10) Let the Loctite dry according to the product’s instructions before using. Usually 24 hs will do. Wipe clean any product that may have been smeared in the slide and you’re done.
Here’s the video:

Join the forum discussion on this post


Chris said...

I believe mepro's are made by Kimber. Why anyone would wish to spend money on a product made in one of the biggest anti 2A States in the nation is beyond me!
Vote with your wallet people! The heck with Yonkers AND New York State!


Anonymous said...

No, you can bet your life on some !@#@!# lights you find made in Utah, then.

Good luck.


David said...

Meprolight sights are made in Israel. Kimber is the US importer.

I'm relatively certain that ALL tritium sights are made with vials sourced from Israel (including Trijicons.)

Meprolight Trudot sights for Glocks are square and brighter than other makers. If you prefer instead a different configuration, by all means spend where you wish, but I'm not a fan of Heinie sights and wish I'd have bought Meprolight first instead of second.

hsu said...

I found that the easiest way to take out the old rear sights was with an unplugged drill press. Just insert a pin punch (or a finishing nail, inserted upside down) into the drill press and push out old sights by lowering the drill head, as if you were "drilling" the sights.

Note that the drill press is unplugged/off during the entire time. You are just using the 3:1 (or more) mechanical advantage of the drill press to push out the old sights in a very controlled way.

Anonymous said...

installed some big dot sights last week, not my cup of tea but very fast sight picture acquisition. was really bothered by the installation, I have installed many new sights on glocks, the front sight on these big dots is a standard install but the rear sight is designed to fit loosely in the slide. you actually center the rear sight and use two set screws to raise the sight up in the slide's notch to hold them still then literally cover the cracks in red locitite.

Anonymous said...


Can you expound on this
"Don’t go for sloped snag-free rear sights, go for square ones. It’s quite important for the rear sight to snag on your belt or clothing during single handed reloading and failure resolution drills."?