Out of Sight

Out of Sight

When black sights won’t work and how to fix them

By Dennis Adler

Seeing is believing (and hitting the target) so to make the Air Venturi V10 (rear) and Weihrauch HW 75 a little easier and faster to get on target I added a white dot to the V10’s front sight and a red square to the HW 75’s. Life gets easier if you do this, and it isn’t a permanent change (like nail polish or paint), just one that works.

There are all types of sights for handguns, some you can change and some you can’t, and sometimes you have to play the hand you’re dealt. Or do you? With the series on single shot pneumatics completed, the topic of sights, in particular those on the Air Venturi V10 and Weihrauch HW 75, was brought up, because while fully adjustable, they can be hard for some people to see. I can vouch for that because I’m one of them.

Black rear notch, black front blade, black target, and old eyes. It’s easier to fix the sights.

At some point in life most people end up wearing glasses, others have been wearing them since they were kids. I was fortunate for the first 50 years of my life to have had 20/20 vision. That changed in my early fifties to glasses for reading. Add another decade and it was glasses for reading, driving, and yep, shooting. Shooting glasses are a necessity, prescription shooting glass are as well. But even with glasses and adjustable sights, if you are putting back on black sights (rear notch and front blade) on a black target like a simple Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C it is hard to tell if the sights are perfectly aligned. I do this three times a week and sometime five, so I’ve learned to compensate; that’s a fancy word for putting a piece of masking tape on the front sight to make it easier to see when I have trouble. I’ve mentioned this a few times with certain airguns in the past. It’s a quick fix. Sloppy, and of course, I never photograph the guns with masking tape left on the front sight. Most of the time the guns go right back after the article is done and I don’t want to make any changes that would be permanent, like using nail polish or paint. I’m pretty much that way on airguns I own, too. Like them left as they were. However, there are better things to use than masking tape if you want to make a semi-permanent change to the front sight. Here are two of my favorites, and they are easy to do with simple items you might have around the home or office.

To put a vertical white line on the back of the Air Venturi V10’s front sight I used an Avery Multi-Purpose white label. Cut the correctly sized strip out of the label (sticking to scissor blade) and then using a pair of tweezers carefully lay it up against the back of the sight. I used a small wooden stick to position it and then press it against the sight so that it sticks and stays put until I want to peel it off.

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Seeing in black and white

If you live in a world of hard copy (i.e. not digital notes and folders) you probably have Avery Multi-Purpose removable labels. They are 3/8 x 5/8 inches and have very good gum backing so they stick to whatever you put them on. They also make color coding labels in red. I’ve had a package of each in my desk for, oh 15 years and have yet to use them up. For changing a matte black blade target front sight, which is usually fairly wide, all you need is to cut a strip of correct width from a multi-purpose white label, make sure it the right height, and then carefully (with tweezers) place it against the back of the front sight. I used a thin wooden stick (wooden shish kabob skewers work great) to move it around and then use the side of the stick to put pressure on the label to make certain it is adhering to the sight. I’m making it sound easy because I’ve done it a number of times but it seriously takes patience to get it just right.

What a different this little piece of gum-backed white paper makes to improve sighting the V10.

The Air Venturi V10 is exhibit A. I found this thin, vertical white line a perfect fit between the black rear sight notch, and it makes aiming at a black circle on the target a lot easier, even without glasses!

White Dot sights

I took the V10 one step further and removed the vertical white label and replaced it with a perfect white dot. Where do you get a perfectly-sized white dot to stick on the back of the sight? You might have to go shopping for this one unless you do a little leather work and have a leather punch around the house. I just happen to have one. You find the hole that is the right diameter for the front sight and making sure it is cleaned out of any old leather (so you get a clean sharp cutting edge), put the white multi-purpose label, still on its backing, under the punch and press it closed. Not so hard that you punch it out altogether and into the opening of the punch (which is what you are supposed to do when making a hole in leather, it’s kind of the donut hole of leatherworking). What you want is to leave it still on the backing (shown in the photo) and then peel it off and carefully put it on the back of the front sight just below the top edge. Again, using the stick to adjust it dead center, and then use the round back end of the stick to push the dot hard against the sight so it stays put. Now you have a white dot front sight on that hard to see black front blade!

Making a white dot sight takes an extra piece of equipment, a leather punch. You want to find the right size hole, and use the punch to cut it out of the label. Not completely out, you want it to remain on the paper with the gum backing. Then peal the dot off with tweezers and press it onto the back of the sight. Use the wood stick to position it and then the round back to push it against the sight so it sticks.
From black on black to black and white dot in about 10 minutes.
The white dot proved to be better on the V10 than the vertical white line. This really works well on the Air Venturi front sight.

My last alteration was to repeat the same process on the Weihrauch HW 75 by adding a red square on the back of the front sight. It is a little narrower than the V10 pistol’s and quite a bit shorter; actually harder to see than the one on the Air Venturi. I used the Avery red labels for this job and with sharp scissors cut a square just the right size, and using the tweezers and then the wood stick, put it right where it needed to be to give me a red front sight dead center between the rear notch.

Here are the basic tools you’ll need to make your own white dot, vertical white or red front sights.

You can probably dial in your windage and elevation a little closer, too, with the easier to see front sight. And that’s how you “compensate” when your eyes aren’t quite what you need to use a traditional black front and rear sight combination; nothing permanent, just practical, easy to remove, and cheaper than dirt. And if you don’t get it right on the first try, stick to it.

For just a few cents I was able to improve my shooting with both airguns and they still remain stock and unaltered under the gum label sights.

The Airgun Experience will return on Tuesday, October 10th. Until then, keep shooting bullseyes.

15 thoughts on “Out of Sight”

  1. Excellent ! Now I have to find my leather punch . Your hints can be used on all my iron sight pistols that do not have fibre optic sights. I do alternate shooting black on white targets and the Birchwood Casey Sight N see targets. These tricks could be used also with our rifle shooting friends.
    Thank you Dennis

  2. I’ve also used some white label paper on both front and rear sights. It has helped me see the sights better against the black targets. The downside I have run into with some pistols is that the action of holstering and then un-holstering the pistol rubs the label off of the front sight.

    I may see if I can find some labels with fluorescent colors at the office supply store and try those on the sights. Maybe a fluorescent green label on the front and two fluorescent orange or red labels on the rear sight.

    • The holster pulling the paper off the sight is unusual. Are you only placing the white strip on the back side of the front sight surface? If you are wrapping it over the top edge I can see that happening from drag on the holster by the top of the sight. If you only have the white (or other color) gum label on the back surface of the sight the holster should have no contact with that surface.

      • I have the Leapers UTG Deluxe Commando Belt Holster that I use with most of my semi-auto style pistols. For some of the pistols the barrels are longer than the depth of the holster leaving the end of the barrel sticking out of the bottom of the holster. Even with a white label attached only to the back side of the front sight, the back side of the sight often catches on the bottom edge of the holster which in turn rubs the label off.

        Yes, I could buy other holsters that are longer for those pistols, but I prefer to buy new guns instead of holsters.

        Speaking of holsters, I still haven’t seen those new Colt SAA and Schofield holsters appear on the Pyramyd Air website. Do you have any word on their expected in stock date?

        • Ah, that would do it. I don’t have a solution for that one other than be careful drawing the gun, angle the barrel in as you draw to keep the back of the sight from catching. As to the new Colt and Schofield rigs, will be noting availability date as soon as we have it.

          • Are the new Colt and Schofield holsters just the 7″ length or both 7″ and 5 1/2″? I was also wondering if there will be a shorter Colt SAA holster to accommodate the new Ace In The Hole revolver that is currently estimated to be in stock on October 6?

    • Thanks. My breaks are for a breath of air and to plan the next series of articles. A working vacation if you will. Working all those single shot pneumatics actually strengthened my wrists a little. Wonder if you could sell pneumatic airguns as an exercise program! Lot’s of new things coming to Airgun Experience in October. See you all on the 10th.

  3. Still here, don’t miss a one.Thank you all for the information. I do have have a question. Why are there c02 pellet revolvers sold in europe , ie umarex, wingun, but not available in the USA?

    • Well, I like to think that the European market is the trial balloon and the guns that come to the U.S. are the best of the lot. I’d like to think that, but in reality, the U.S. only gets a percentage of the airgun models sold in Europe and other nations, and there is a greater variety of models sold overseas than imported to the U.S. Eventually, many of them will get here, like the new rifled barrel Webley MKVI pellet models just becoming available through Pyramyd Air in the weathered Service Model and polished nickel finishes. They have been available in Europe for awhile. Importation is a long process, same with importing cartridge-firing handguns, and that is one of the reasons why there are more airguns in England, throughout Europe and other parts of the world, because handguns and rifles (and even shotguns) are more difficult to own there, whereas airguns are not. That isn’t the entire reason, but it is one reason. Americans enjoy a unique freedom not shared equally by other countries when it comes to gun ownership, and airguns truly are understudies in the fullest sense for many. But be patient, consumer demand in the U.S. will eventually be rewarded with a greater variety of CO2 models. Keep your eye on the European market, it may not be a trial balloon, but it is a preview.

  4. What a brilliant idea – thank you, Dennis! This is certainly a lot easier and less risky than using a Dremel tool to grind a little dimple out and filling it with paint, which is what I’ve done in the past. One refinement I’d suggest – punch your dots out of the waste material around the edge of vinyl stickers, and they’ll be more resistant to dirt and moisture than ones made from paper labels.

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