This gun has been in a near-constant state of change practically from the moment I got it. It had a 6-1/2″ barrel and a butt-ugly pitted black finish and not a few issues. Had a nice trigger though, and I could see the potential. I learned how to gunsmith on S&Ws with this gun. a fix here and a tweak there. Eventually it got cut down to 3″ and carried quite a bit, but when I got a later M&P and gave it the treatment the old 1902 was redundant.
Then a gunsmith buddy was getting some Model 10s and cutting them to 2″. I rather fancied the look and did the same with the 1902. I did a half-round front sight to complement the Noir vibe I was going for, did a full trigger job etc. The trigger is now glass-smooth and breaks at 6-1/2 lbs. double-action. The top of the hammer is checkered so the gun can still be thumb-cocked, and I actually made the single-action pull heavier; it was a bit too light for my comfort on a carry pistol. Now it’s nice and crisp but breaks at 4-1/2 lbs.
I wanted a wide front sight for fast target acquisition, but I made it a bit too wide and precision suffered more than I could accept. I made a ‘note-to-self’ to change that, and today as I was unwinding after a seriously stressful couple of weeks I decided it was time to tackle the job.
I heated up the sight to loosen the solder and removed the old sight, then cleaned out the groove in the top of the barrel where it had been. I got some 1/8″ mild steel plate and cut and ground the new front sight, then ground and filed the blade thinner. I soldered the new sight in place, cleaned it up with 220 and 400-grit sandpaper, then re-blued it with Oxpho Blue.
Gives a much nicer sight picture, but the rest of the gun was looking a little care-worn, so I cleaned it with acetone and touched it up with the Oxpho too.
OK, time to see how it shoots. I grabbed a box of .38 Special ammo and headed for the range. I ran the target out to 7-yards and shot it. Seemed to be hitting a bit low and right. I ran a new target out to 7-yards and shot a hole in it , then used that hole as my point-of-aim.
The gun is consistently hitting low and right. Should be easy enough to fix and I will at some point. I rounded things off with two cylinders of ‘Panic-Fire,’ meaning I dumped the cylinder as fast as I could. This was also at 7-yards.
I want to correct the sights, but there’s no urgency; this is not a carry-gun for me anymore. It’s a fine gun and great to shoot but I have better options. Honestly it’s already good enough for the sort of gun it is, but for me correcting the sights is more about craftsmanship than capability; I want it to be right.
I like the new sight; It allows for a good sight picture and correcting the POI won’t change that. And yeah, I stuck with the half-round sight for impractical reasons. It just feels right for this gun, to me anyway.
This is one I’m not going to part with; I’ve learned a lot working on this gun and had a lot of quality-time at the range. This is probably the end of the modifications and tweaking though, and it’s a pretty good place to stop.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 9 March 2023