A Darn Sight More Useful

Last trip to the range I determined that the front sight I made for the Colt Police Positive Special .32-20 was… well, it sucked. It’s too wide, and the colored insert shows up poorly in the shallow rear sight. This made it difficult to obtain a sight picture quickly, and when I did it wasn’t good.

Even with the front sight taped for greater visibility accuracy was not special, and the gun was consistently hitting low even at 7 yards.

OK, honestly a civilian self-defense handgun really doesn’t need to be a tack driver, but I want to be able to eek out some decent accuracy from the gun. A change was needed, but what change specifically? Obviously the point-of-impact needed to come up and the sight should be narrower. So should I shorten and thin out the blade of the existing sight? Replace it? Mount some kind of rear sight because I can’t really make the fixed sight channel any larger?

All of those options made some sort of sense so, being me, I did something else entirely.

I’m investigating big-dot sights and will be testing them on my 1911 soon. I got to thinking that maybe such a thing might work for the PPS too. I decided to find out, but rather than spend a bunch on money I’d try a home-spun solution.

I cut the sight down slightly, then carefully filed a groove in the top and silver-soldered a short piece of 1/8″ brass rod in, with the rear surface angled to be non-snag and to catch overhead light. This produced an interesting effect; if the sight is a vertical oval you’re aiming too high, and if it’s a horizontal oval you’re aiming too low. If it’s round you’re dead on, and if it’s round and sitting in the sight groove you’re going to hit what it’s pointed at.

The Colt PPS with the home-made ‘big dot’ silver-soldered in place.

This gives a different sight picture than I’m used to; I’ve always uses a conventional sight picture with the top of the front sight level with the to of the rear sight. This doesn’t work that way. Here’s an illustration:

The ‘ball’ front sight sits in the rear-sight notch like the illustration above.
Here’s the real-life sight picture. On a sad note my iPhone will never be a great shooter; I just can’t get it to focus on the front sight…

Of course when I am aiming the front sight is sharp and the rear is a bit out of focus. To be sure, these are not the sights you want for Bullseye competition, but for self-defense it should provide adequate accuracy. A bit of testing at the range had the bullet hitting dead-on to the front sight. After that I did some draw-and-fires at five yards, where I started with the gun securely holstered, drew and fired a single shot, then rinse and repeat for a total of five shots. How did it work out?

Five single-shot draw-and-fires at five yards. I’d call that acceptable.

I’m gonna go with pretty damn good. The sight is very easy to pick up and at five yards is basically the same size as the bullseye in the ten ring. The learning-curve is not much; put the dot on the target and fire. The angled surface picks up ambient light well, too; even in dusky conditions it’s reasonably visible.

Not only has this been a serious upgrade to this little Colt’s sights, but it’s really got me looking forward to the ones I’ll be trying out on the 1911. I will, of course, keep you posted when that happens.

Take care and stay safe out there!

Michael Tinker Pearce, 2 April 2021

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