While the front sights on many pistols are friction fit into a dovetail, the front sight on the original 1911 pistols is staked in place. In this post, we’ll look at how you can remove a staked front sight and replace it with a new front sight that is staked in place.
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This is an aftermarket front sight that was installed on a Colt Delta Elite. The customer wanted it removed and replaced with an OEM part.
When you remove the bushing from the slide and examine the bottom of the front sight, you can see where the original sight was staked in place by deforming the metal at the bottom of the sight.
I’ve removed 1911 sights a number of different ways, but I’ve found one of the easiest is to grab the sight with the vise and wiggle the slide. Normally you can work it off. Alternatively, you could grind the bottom of the sight free and/or tap it loose with a punch from the bottom.
With the sight removed, you can inspect the slide and the square hole that accepts the front sight. If you look closely at the image above, you’ll note there is a slight chamfer on each side of this hole. These areas allow for the displacement of metal from the front sight to hold it in place. If the relieved areas aren’t large enough, a small rotary tool can be used to enlarge them.
To replace the sight, I place the new part in the hole and make sure it fits. Generally, the replacement front sights either have a wide or narrow tenon. If the tenon doesn’t fit snugly, you have the wrong replacement part. I hold the front sight in a set of bronze jaws with some paper to prevent damaging it.
To deform the bottom of the tenon on the new front sight, I use a front sight staking tool from Brownells. The steel tool has a hardened pointed tip that displaces the material, staking the sight in place.
Note the tool is designed to fit into the slide. The top is then tapped with a ball-peen hammer.
The staking tool leaves the bottom of the sight tenon deformed. A rotary tool with an abrasive wheel can clean this up, followed by some polishing with an abrasive cloth. Test fit the bushing in the slide to ensure enough material is removed and that it’ll fit.
The finished sight.
The slide now has a set of OEM sights, just what the owner wanted.