Smith and Wesson Revolver front sight insert replacement

It’s easy to appreciate a quality revolver. The Smith and Wesson K-frame is a personal favorite. Recently we had a customer bring a 3″ Model 66 into the shop to have its front sight replaced. In this post, we’ll take a look at how we did it.

The revolver had a tritium night sight installed on the factory ramp. To bring the gun back into an original state, I could have either replaced the entire front sight assembly, or tried to replace the insert.

The front sight on this revolver, like many others, is held into the top of the barrel by a cross pin. The pin can be drifted out and replaced with a new one. This requires that a new hole be drilled in the new blade. Alternatively, trying to salvage the original sight blade, seems like a more practical approach.

Before we begin, let’s take a look at the disclaimer:

The contents of are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.

For this project, I ordered the following items from Brownells:

I secured the unloaded revolver in a set of rubber vise jaws and used a small punch to drift out the aftermarket tritium insert sight. This was a fairly simple task. It should be noted that the entire area surrounding the sight was coated in a thin epoxy that was used to install the tritium sight. This was carefully scraped away with a dental pick. I degreased the area 3 times before moving on to the next step.

Brownells makes a front sight insert kit for jobs just like this. The kit is a little pricey, but includes dyes for 5 different colors and enough acrylic to fill scores of sights.

The kit allows you to mold a new sight in pretty much any shape. Since this Smith already has a dovetail cut to receive an insert, a dam needs to be built up on each side to prevent the compound from running out the sides of the sight. The instructions recommend two tiny pieces of aluminum. I felt a little bit of shim stock would work better, so I formed some .005″ thick brass shim stock to wrap around the sides of the front sight. I secured the stock in place with an old tool maker’s clamp I had lying around, alternatively, a set of parallel jaw pliers could be used.

Mixing the acrylic seems to be much more forgiving than mixing epoxy. The acrylic, activator and dye are all mixed in a small cup that is provided in the kit.

The back end of a wooden cotton swab is used to place the acrylic in the sight opening. A little bit goes a long way.

Brownells‘ recommends waiting at least a half hour to remove the dam from around the sight. I waited over night. When I pulled the brass away, an oversized acrylic deposit remained- perfect!

I began shaping the excess material with a flat file. Since this is a stainless steel gun, I didn’t have to worry about damaging bluing, but, I needed to be cautious to not damage the front sight blade in any way.

With the majority of the material removed, I went ahead and polished all of the acrylic surfaces with a purple Scotch-Brite pad. Finally I applied a little bit of oil to the surfaces.

Looks great, doesn’t it? I’d say better than new!

For more information on the Brownells front sight insert kit, click here!