How to Stake a Trijicon 1911 Front Sight

How to Stake a Trijicon 1911 Front Sight

Trijicon-6There was a time (a couple decades ago) when most 1911 front sights were staked in place as John Browning originally intended. The factory cut a slot in the slide through which the tenon of the front sight was inserted and the extra metal of this tenon was swaged upwards from inside the slide fixing the sight in place.

This method worked pretty well with the tiny GI half-moon combat sights, but as front sight blades became wider and taller in the '60s and '70s, soldering them in place became common. The problem with soldering is the finish of the slide will be damaged, and it's a technique not everyone has mastered. If the solder isn't applied perfectly, the front sight may fly off.

In the 1990s, custom smiths like Wayne Novak began offering dovetailed front sights, and I think they are the best way to go. Dovetailing allows front sights to be swapped out with a minimum of fuss and is a very secure attachment method. Most aftermarket 1911 front sights offered today are of the dovetail type.

The downside to dovetailing front sights on older factory pistols is the need for a milling machine, a carbide dovetail cutter and a skilled individual to run it.


In the late 1980s when I began working with a lot of 1911s, staking was the only factory front sight attachment method employed by the major manufacturers such as Colt and Springfield Armory. Staking front sights requires proper tooling. The best tool of that era was made by the sight manufacturer MMC for professional gunsmiths. It was expensive, but I look at tools as a long-term investment and it served me well for many years.


The MMC tool consisted of a block of steel that fitted on to the muzzle end of a 1911 slide with a set screw that applied pressure to the top of the sight while a swaging bar was driven through a slot to force the metal of the sight tenon up into the slide recess. This system was easy to use and produced excellent results.


Fast forward to 2014. MMC is gone. Staked front sights have pretty much disappeared from the catalogs of aftermarket suppliers. Dovetailing has become the de facto sight attachment method for most manufacturers. A look through the current Brownell's catalog reveals the only stake-on front sights they offer are Trijicons, and Trijicon offers a copy of the original MMC sight tool for armorers.

Using this tool allows an armorer to replace a staked 1911 front sight with a tritium night sight quickly and efficiently. No slide refinishing is necessary. Follow along as we replace the sights on a Colt Commander.

The Colt we have on the bench is a current production Commander model with basic fixed sights. Our customer wants tritium night sights. I suggested Trijicons due to the excellent sight picture they provide, the lower cost of staking the front sight as opposed to machining a dovetail and the desire to avoid rebluing the slide.


The rear sight was simply driven out of its dovetail and the new Trijicon was installed in its place. The factory front sight was removed by clamping the blade in a vise and simply twisting it off.

The new front sight is then test fitted and some slight cleaning up of the sight slot may be necessary, but be careful: We want a snug fit. Be aware that late-model Colts have wide tenon sights, but older (pre-series 80) models are equipped with the narrow version. Order replacement sights accordingly.

Once the sight is fitted, I degrease it and the slide, apply red Loctite to the sight base and press it in place. The Loctite is simply insurance against our new sight ever coming loose. Install the fixture. Tighten down the clamp over the front sight.


You'll note that Trijicon sights have a skirt around the bottom edge next to the slide. The fixture clamps down on this skirt so pressure isn't applied directly over the tritium capsule. Lubricate the appropriate slotted shear punch with grease and drive it into the fixture until flush.

The next step, according to Trijicon's printed instructions is to remove the punch. This step is easier said than done. You now have the punch firmly wedged into place between the tool and the slide, and it must be driven back out from inside the slide.

You won't be able to get a straight shot at it, so you'll need a bent punch or piece of stock, preferably aluminum or brass, to tap it out. Once the swaging punch is removed, the clean-up shear punch is driven into the fixture to shear off any excess material. Very little further clean-up should be necessary.

Carefully done, a very nice staking job is possible with this Trijicon tool at a lower cost compared to milling a dovetail in the slide. The downside is the tool costs close to $300, so you'll have to do a lot of staking jobs to pay for it. There are alternate methods for staking sights, but this one results in the neatest job with the least amount of effort.

It is worth the entry fee for armorers who install a lot of Trijicon sights on 1911 type pistols but may be prohibitively expensive for many.

The factory front sight on the Colt Commander. While bigger than the half-moon sight on the original 1911, it\'s still pretty small by today\'s standards.
The empty sight recess after the factory blade is removed. Norcross says just clamp the sight blade in a vise and twist on the slide to pop it out of place.
The Trijicon tool is modeled after the old MMC stool. It\'s not cheap, but it will pay for itself if you do a lot of staked front sight installations on 1911s.
The shear punches. Top to bottom: wide tenon, narrow tenon and clean-up shear. They\'re intended first to flatten out and then to cut off the front sight tenon.
Rear view of the fixture installed with sight clamp tightened down. The clamp firmly supports the sight blade so the tenon can be flattened and cut off.
The Trijicon tool installed on a pistol shows the shear punch before it is driven into the fixture. The punch will need to be driven back out, too.
Using the tool flattens the protruding sight tenon into its recess inside the slide. The tenon nicely fills up the recess, meaning the sight will stay in place.
Using the tool flattens the protruding sight tenon into its recess inside the slide. The tenon nicely fills up the recess, meaning the sight will stay in place.

Recommended for You

Want the “Holy Grail” of AR-15 rifles? Brownells has made that possible with their BRN-Proto retro rifle. Rifles

Brownells BRN-Proto Retro Rifle

Patrick Sweeney - July 02, 2019

Want the “Holy Grail” of AR-15 rifles? Brownells has made that possible with their BRN-Proto...

Hi-Point has YEETed its way to internet fame with the new YEET Cannon G1. Industry

New from Hi-Point: The YEET Cannon

David Fortier - July 18, 2019

Hi-Point has YEETed its way to internet fame with the new YEET Cannon G1.

Please sign and share the petition to get the required 100,000 signatures by July 27. 2nd Amendment

Tell the White House that the 2nd Amendment Was Not Given to the People by Government

Firearms News - July 02, 2019

Please sign and share the petition to get the required 100,000 signatures by July 27.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hornady

Hornady's New A-Tip Line of Match Bullets

Hornady Manufacturing, has developed a new line of match bullets. The A-Tip is designed for precision and long-range shooting.

Ruger introduces Rifles Chambered in the All-New .350 Legend

Ruger introduces Rifles Chambered in the All-New .350 Legend

Two Ruger American Ranch rifles and the AR-556 MPR are now chambered for Winchester's .350 Legend cartridge.

New handguns from Smith & Wesson

New handguns from Smith & Wesson

The Performance Center's M&P380 Shield EZ pistol features ported barrel, flat face trigger and tuned action.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to tactical folders, and many of their models are offered in several different styles. Accessories

Ruger CRKT Knives Review

James Tarr - July 08, 2019

CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to...

Please sign and share the petition to get the required 100,000 signatures by July 27. 2nd Amendment

Tell the White House that the 2nd Amendment Was Not Given to the People by Government

Firearms News - July 02, 2019

Please sign and share the petition to get the required 100,000 signatures by July 27.

Rhode Islanders are setting brushfires for freedom once again as they advance a Second Amendment Sanctuary Town movement. 2nd Amendment

SPECIAL REPORT: BIG 2A HISTORY BEING MADE IN LITTLE RHODE ISLAND

John Peterson - May 22, 2019

Rhode Islanders are setting brushfires for freedom once again as they advance a Second...

See More Stories

More Gunsmithing

This fully adjustable stock and comb for AR-15/M16/AR-Style .308 rifles readily adapts length of Gunsmithing

Brownells AR-15/M16/AR308 PRS Buttstock Kit

SGN Online Editors - September 15, 2014

This fully adjustable stock and comb for AR-15/M16/AR-Style .308 rifles readily adapts length...

Manufactured by the famous Belgian gun works, Dumoulin, this action is a perfect platform for a Gunsmithing

Sarco's Dumoulin Large Ring Commercial Action

SGN Online Editors - April 14, 2014

Manufactured by the famous Belgian gun works, Dumoulin, this action is a perfect platform for...

YouTuber, GunCraft101, builds an AR-10 from used brass casings. Gunsmithing

YouTuber Builds AR-10 Receiver from Used Brass Cartridge Cases

Jim Grant - July 06, 2018

YouTuber, GunCraft101, builds an AR-10 from used brass casings.

See More Gunsmithing

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.