Sight Pusher: Do You Need One To Replace Your Pistol Sights?

After a lifetime of using mechanical contrivances including guns, I have found that things break when they are in use. Sometimes when your safety or the safety of your family is at risk, and only you can fix the problem. So, knowing this, why SHOULDN’T a handgun shooter have basic tools like a sight pusher for their firearms? Furthermore, what tools should they have? First, look at what — BY ITSELF — will render the firearm useless. What are the breakage-likely parts that by themselves will prevent a shooter from putting rounds on target? Firstly, it’s your sights. Without an accurate and reliable sighting system, you not only have a useless self-defense or sporting firearm but rounds NOT placed EXACTLY where you intend is unacceptable and dangerous. A slight sight adjustment can make all the difference in the world. Obtaining, mounting, and training on high quality sights to place rounds accurately and precisely on target is the most important single part of your firearm.

Hammers, Fingers, Fingernails And Multi-Tools Might Work

Your sights must work every time, all the time. Regardless of the optical or open sights you choose, properly mounting them is critical. Now here’s where the tools come in. You have a choice. You can use hammers, fingers, fingernails and multi-tools to pound, scratch, and force to adjust, remove and replace sights that need to be precisely mounted to SAVE YOUR LIFE or spend a few bucks and obtain job-specific sight tools to do the job faster, cleaner, and better. Get the tools. Do the installation.

What Tools Do You Need?

So, what tools does a shooter need for installing/replacing their EDC self-defense, sporting, or hunting pistol sights to align point of aim to point of impact? Second question, what do you need to know to adjust sights on your pistol? Most quality pistols have an upside-down broad “V” dovetail cut across the rear part of the slide or frame that a notched metal or plastic sight is inserted to align with the front sight. How hard is it to push a rear sight out and in? Pretty tough. Why? You sure don’t want a loose fit, or a rear sight that will be susceptible to everyday bumps and use that would knock them out of alignment – or worse – find that they were lost as your pistol sat in your holster! Therefore, the rear sight needs to be fitted very tightly which also means it is tough to move or install. Yes, pounding with a hammer MIGHT work, but better still is a tool called a sight-pusher.

 MGW Sight Pusher

What Is A Sight Pusher Tool?

A rear sight pusher is robust tool generally comprised of a set of padded, hand tightened screws that clamps the slide in a frame to align a different padded screw that when rotated applies sideways pressure to move the rear sights slowly and precisely through the OEM dovetail. The sight pusher can be used to remove a dovetailed rear sight or incrementally adjust it until the rear sight is aligned with the front sight. Major gun manufacturers generally use the least expensive and most utilitarian sights on their basic, stock guns because they know most shooters who appreciate quality sights will want to replace them with quality after-market sights like the Mepro Hyper-Bright™ from Meprolight®. So, the very first thing you might want to do after buying a handgun, is upgrade the sights.

Do You Need A Sight Installation Tool To Replace Your Pistol Sights?

I have seen (and used) dowels and rods hammered to achieve the same result, but if the rear sights are self-illuminated sights with vials of Tritium that provide the required glow, whacking them repeatedly with a hammer is – well – dumb. so, with a sight pusher tool used in conjunction with the replacement of the front sight, a shooter can have a tremendous number of choices. A shooter can upgrade the stock sights for night sights, and then replace them with tall sights when using a suppressor. A sight pusher tool simply provides a shooter with more options. Installing sights with a sight pusher tool is not difficult and if you plan ahead, you can save ammo and range time by pre-sighting the pistol using a few safe and inexpensive items. Besides the rear sight pusher tool, a LASER bore sighting tool and a target ranged at the distance that you want to zero your pistol will make your life easier. I placed a simple red bike reflector on a tree in my yard at a known distance so I can literally sit at my work area inside the house to check and adjust my work without leaving my chair. I just use the sight pusher tool until I get the bore sighter illuminating the reflector right above my front sight. It’s quick, easy and makes my range time more efficient and I use less ammo. Once you do get to the range and more fine tuning is needed, using the sight pusher after field stripping the pistol, you will be able to make precise, incremental corrections immediately between strings.

Safety First

To have the flexibility to upgrade or switch out your sights, a shooter needs to equip themselves not only with the tools required but possess knowledge of the task and organize a good working environment. Use a well-lit area so you can clearly see what you are doing. Safety first, so unload and visually verify and by touch that the firearm is not just unloaded, but then move ALL the loaded magazines and live ammo to another room. Once you’ve verified that no ammo is in the gun or able to be introduced, then do it again, and have it verified by another. There are no “accidental discharges”, only “negligent discharges.”

“It Won’t Budge”

When working on a firearm, apply the amount of force that is called for, don’t escalate up and up. If you get to a point where you are straining, something is not moving that you think should move or you are surprised by a lack of progress, STOP. Either you are doing it wrong, have the wrong tools or have misunderstood the work. Re-evaluate the job, find out why the desired result is not happening. Don’t be in a hurry, feeling mad or frustrated. If whatever you are doing creates this condition, walk away and restart later, or seek professional guidance and get help about what you are doing wrong. I have yet to EVER see a gunsmithing step where it says, “pound harder with a hammer….” So don’t do it. If you don’t have either the patience, tools, experience or understanding (viewing a YouTube video barely qualifies) it might be a better choice to utilize the services of your local gunsmith and have him advise you or do the job.

Which Is The Best Sight Pusher Tool To Buy?

They vary widely in price from about fifty to hundreds of dollars as well as design and size. First do you need it for a particular pistol, or for your whole collection and will use it a lot? That will narrow the field. Personally, any tool I rely on and use again and again is an investment worth a higher price. Some sight pushers are designed to be mounted on a work bench, but for me I like to use mine both at home and at the range, so mine is hand-held and comes in a padded case that stows in my range bag. Popular brands include Real Avid, Wheeler and MGW. Some other basic tools to have at home and the range include a rear sight tool, front sight tool (if your pistol has a front sight that is secured by a small nut like a GLOCK,) a LASER bore sighting system (to provide a useful rough verification that the sights are aligned with the bore, and a rangefinder to verify the distance you are sighting the pistol. A few other common tools will ensure that a day on the range is productive and fun; not cut short by a breakage or malfunction stopping you cold.

 Jennings Sight Pusher Tool

One great way to increase your enjoyment while training to improve your skillset is to find the aftermarket sights that fit your shooting style best. Upgrading your sights to better match your ability, purpose, and environment that you use your pistol will make you a better shooter when it matters most. If not already on your hi-end pistol (yes, they are offered as options for some major gun makers), the Meprolight® line of sights including the fiber-optic /tritium powered Mepro FT Bullseye™ Rear Sight or Mepro Tru-Dot® self-illuminating pistol sights should be considered. These sights increase your capabilities. Use a sight pusher tool and you no longer have to compromise. You change sights as your conditions, ability or mission requires. A combination of sight pusher and upgraded sights gives far more options than ever. To find the best sight for your shooting style, visit Meprolight®