How to Remove an AR Front Sight
March 20, 2013
Sometimes an armorer may find it necessary to remove the front sight housing on an AR-15/M16 type rifle. Standard front sights are pinned to the barrel. Manufacturers such as Rock River and DPMS use straight pins, while others like Colt and Bushmaster employ tapered pins.
Moving these pins requires a strike from a hammer and punch, and the front sight must be solidly supported to prevent it from walking around on the bench. If the sight is allowed to move, you may end up with unprofessional looking dings in the steel around the pins where the punch slipped.
Brownells produces a special polyethylene bench block designed to aid both removal and installation. The block is machined to accommodate most front sights, although I have seen a couple that were too big to fit the recess.
Taper pins must be driven out from the small end (left to right). The ends of the pins are rounded and a standard punch will tend to slip each time it is struck. Use a Brownells Taper Pin Starter Punch if possible.
The end of this tool has a concave face designed to fit the ends of the pins. This is only a starter punch. Once the pin begins to move, a standard 1/8-inch punch may be used to drive it out. Before reinstalling the front sight, a size 2/0 taper pin reamer may be used to clean up the holes if they are burred.
Another pin removal tool comes to us from X-Ring Products. This tool consists of a clamp that fits over the front sight and provides a guide that keeps the punch from wandering. Machined from 6061 aluminum and hard anodized, this kit comes complete with a short starter punch and a standard length punch. I have found this device effective for punching out tight taper pins.