Fixing fiberoptic sights
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is written by reader 45Bravo.
Like many airgunners, reader 45Bravo doesn’t care for “glowy thingie” sights and turns them into solid sights. Today he tells us how to do it.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
And now, over to you, 45Bravo.
Fixing fiberoptic sights
This report covers:
- In response to you
- Choice of filler
- What you will need:
- To remove the upper
- Watch that spring!
- Remove the rear sight blade
- Clean before filling
- What I used:
- What I did:
- Bonus tip:
In response to you
In the comments of the blog about resealing the Beeman P17 , several readers expressed an interest in an article on how to remove the fiber optic sights, and make the sights more suitable for target shooting. There are a few different ways to do this, and I will cover some of the ways to do them as we go along.
Choice of filler
On this pistol I chose to use thick super glue and baking soda as a filler, as the gun has no recoil, and I wanted to widen the front sight just a smidgen. It also isn’t under any stress, so it doesn’t need to be reinforced, and I wanted to see how well this material would hold up on a polymer airgun. I had used this mixture in the past building/repairing nitromethane powered radio controlled boats, but that was working with wood and fiberglass.
When removing fiber optic sights on firearms in the past I have used JB Weld 2-part epoxy, and I have also used the JB Weld “Steel Stick” steel reinforced epoxy putty that you can buy and knead it into a dull gray lump to mix the 2 parts. Use that as a way to fill the gaps and build up the sights.
What you will need:
• Small wire cutters or fingernail clippers to cut the fiberoptic rods.
• If you decide to remove the upper assembly from the gun, you will need the same 2mm Allen wrench, and ⅛ inch punch and small flat-bladed screwdriver that we used in the P17 reseal blog.
• A Phillips head screwdriver.
• Your choice of filler
• Some small files available from Harbor Freight, or small fine emery boards to sand the filler after it sets. (don’t let the wife find out you used her emery boards, so make sure you hide the evidence.)
• A durable epoxy paint. I chose Rustoleum Black Appliance Epoxy paint as it is what I had on hand.
If you decide not to remove the upper from the pistol (the route I chose), I suggest putting a small plug of paper towel in each end of the barrel to keep out the dust.
To remove the upper
If you choose to remove the upper, you use the 2mm Allen wrench to loosen the set screw that retains the pin as was done in Part 1 of the P17 reseal blog, and then remove the piston rod retaining pin.
Then remove the small E-clip on the left side. It retains the front pivot pin that the upper pivots on when you open the action to pump the pistol.
To remove the barrel, remove the 2 Phillips screws that hold a flat barrel retainer under the rear of the slide, then the barrel should move backward just a bit, and just come out. Set it aside also.
Watch that spring!
Tip: Put a piece of tape over the nut under the rear sight elevation screw to keep it in place during this upgrade. Or just be careful to keep up with the nut when you remove the rear sight elevation screw, being careful not to lose the spring that is between the “slide” (what I call the upper) and the rear sight.
Using the wire cutters or nail clippers, cut the fiber optic tubes on the front and rear sights, they are slightly larger at their ends, to prevent them from falling out.
The rear sight pivot pin (1.5mm x 16.5mm) should just push out with a toothpick, as it is no longer under spring tension. Then the rear sight assembly will come off.
Remove the rear sight blade
On the left side of the rear sight assembly, there is a very small E-clip that retains the rear sight windage screw. The rear sight windage screw has a spring-loaded plunger under the screw head that keeps tension on the sight, and also engages the detents under the screw for positive windage adjustments.
Tip: If you press the rear windage screw to the left side, depressing the plunger, the E-clip will stand proud making it easier to remove.
The sight blade and screw will come out the right side of the sight assembly, be careful not to lose the plunger and spring from under the windage screw.
Remove the windage screw from the sight blade.
The rear sight blade is asymmetrical, and only goes in 1 way. The thinner side of the blade goes on the right side to clear the windage screw head.
Clean before filling
Clean the metal rear sight blade with alcohol or acetone, or some other cleaner to remove any oils that may have gotten on the blade.
Fill the 2 small holes in the rear sight with your choice of filler, you can have a little extra as some fillers have a slight shrinkage as they cure, and you can sand or file off the excess after it cures. (it’s better to have a little too much than not enough.)
What I used:
I put a small dot of super glue in each small fiber optic hole, then sprinkled a little baking soda in the holes. I did this to both sides, and let the filler build up just a little on the sight blade.
The baking soda and superglue hardens almost instantly. Set the rear sight aside to cure.
After it cures, carefully file the excess filler until it is flush with the metal of the rear sight blade, do this on both sides of the sight blade.
Clean the front sight area with alcohol. Don’t use acetone to clean it, as it may damage the plastic.
If you are happy with the width of the front sight, cut an old plastic gift card (or old credit card) into 2 small pieces in the general size and shape you want the front sight to be.
Then using a clothespin or small clamp to hold them on either side of the front sight.
Using a toothpick, or small tool, fill the small gap between the card stock with your filler, making sure it goes into the holes in front and back of the front sight, and slightly over the top of the sight.
Here again, having a little extra is better than having too little, as you can file the sight height, length and shape to your liking. It also helps if the filler is a little thick to keep it from running out from between the card stock before it cures.
After the filler cures completely, remove the clamp, and the card stock to see how your sight came out.
What I did:
I would put a dot of the thick superglue on the sight, then sprinkle a little baking soda on the glue, the another dot, and more baking soda, until I built it up to the height and width I wanted.
You can now use the files, or emery boards to shape your sight to the height and profile you want.
Using either compressed air, or some type of brush, clean all of the dust left over from the sanding.
Tape off the front sight, covering everything you don’t want painted.
TIP: when painting small parts like the rear sight, either put a toothpick, a long screw, or something inside the threads to hold the sight, giving you a better grip on it, and a way to handle it without touching it.
Paint the front and rear sight, several light coats are better than 1 heavy coat, allowing time to cure between coats.
You can see the holes where the fiber optics were in this photo after the first coat.
After everything has cured, remove the tape, make sure everything is clean, reinstall the barrel, being careful not to tighten the barrel strap screws too much as the polymer is soft. Just a little past snug is good.
Assemble the rear sight, make sure the plunger and spring are in place, oil it lightly if you want. Make sure the thinner arm of the rear sight blade on the same side as the windage screw.
Insert the windage screw, and depress the plunger with the screw head, and carefully put the small E-clip back in place to retain the windage screw in the rear sight assembly.
Install the slide on the upper by putting the barrel pivot pin in place, it goes in from right to left, then reinstall the E-clip on the pivot pin.
Attach the piston to the slide assembly with the pin, and tighten the set screw to hold the cross pin in place.
Function test the pistol, and sight it in.
This can be done to other weapons with fiber optic sights, but if the gun is subject to recoil, or heavy vibrations. I would suggest using the strongest filler you can.
As you see from the completed photo, I added some silver paint to the Beeman lettering, using a Pilot Ultra fine paint pen.
With handling, and rubbing, it will wear off, but it is easy to touch up, and dresses the pistol up just a little.