Super Stubborn Sight Removal... advice needed.

Discussion in '1911 Gunsmithing' started by Rezarf, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. Rezarf

    Rezarf Active Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    First, I can't seem to find a search for the site, am I missing something?

    Second, I have a Springfield with a Novak rear sight that I want to swap out for a 10-8 Performance rear sight. I have removed and installed about a dozen sights in the past and haven't ever encountered a problem like this. This one is STUCK!

    What I have tried...
    • Removed the set screw.
    • Good ol' clamp up the slide in the vise, and use a brass drift to drift the slide out... nothing.
    • Added a little heat with a heat gun and repeated the drift/vise combo.
    • Moved the slide to the mill vise a nice Kurt 6" vise that can clamp like a monster. Clamped the slide to the static vise jaw. Used a brass rod to drift the sight with the clamping force of the vise.... nothing.
    • More heat.
    • Dripped some acetone on the sight to break any RED thread locker that might be lurking around, tapped with nylon hammer, rinse repeat... nothing.
    • Back to the Kurt vise with a steel drift pin instead of the brass drift... finally pushed the steel to the point of deformation on the sight, but no movement.
    That is where I am at, I was able to begin to mar the sight with the steel drift pin but still couldn't get the sight to budge.

    Any tips, tricks and or thoughts of next steps?

    I appreciate it, and thank you in advance-
    CENTURIATOR likes this.
  2. Slapshot

    Slapshot Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2017
    Well you do have a mill.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    gaijin, Rezarf, Joe C and 1 other person like this.

  3. azguy1911

    azguy1911 I'm done buying guns, I'm just a bystander now

    Oct 22, 2015
  4. Integrity Arms

    Integrity Arms 1911 Pistol Smith

    Mar 20, 2017
    More heat than a heat gun will allow, such as a torch.. A heat gun will not get it hot enough. Or if as Slapshot mentioned you do have a mill, then just mill it out less headache that way.. Since it is a Novak direction shouldn't matter.
    Rezarf and wrmiller like this.
  5. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    I've gone through this with a Springfield XDS. Apparently, Springfield uses a large interference fit with a massive hydraulic press to shove these things in with. So I took a pistolsmith's recommendation and basically split the thing in two with a cutting wheel (lengthwise with the dovetail cut) and it popped right out. Had to be real careful to not nick the slide though.
    Rezarf and Steve Owens like this.
  6. Integrity Arms

    Integrity Arms 1911 Pistol Smith

    Mar 20, 2017
    Funny you should mention this had a buddy get a hold of me today with an XD that he got the back sight out the SOB that is was, but broke his pusher and his front sight off. So, if he can't end up getting the rest of it out with heat, then he is going to priority mail and i am going to mill it out.. lol.. Those Springers can indeed be a bear. I know they aren't supposed to be directional if novaks, but I have found it easier sometimes going one direction as opposed to the other when it wouldn't move as well.
    BennyAdeline and Rezarf like this.
  7. zipper046

    zipper046 Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2013
    Oh boy...ok here goes some suggestions:

    1) Check the set screws you removed. Make sure both are of equal insure one of them (or if its a single set screw, the single one) did not break off part way down and you still have part of the set screw in the sight holding it in. The set screws have been known to break when removing them because they were overtightened upon installation. Check the set screw hole and make sure there isn't anything still in there and check the screw for evidence that it broke off leaving a piece still in the set screw hole.

    2) If #1 above turns out not to be the @Steve Owens suggested...a bit more heat to loosen up any loc-tite and/or the metal, however be cautious. I'd place a good heavy tape (duct tape, etc.) on the slide around the sight to protect the slides finish....then judiciously apply force...don't worry about the sight, you're replacing it anyway

    3) If additional heat and judicious application of force (ie: big hammer) doesn't work, then I'd CAREFULLY cut the sight with a cut-off wheel on a Dremel. You can cut down into the sight cross-wise (left-to-right as you are looking at the rear of the slide) but make sure you don't go all the way through and damage the bottom of the dovetail. The gap/space created by the cut should allow the sight to collapse inward on itself enough that when you try drifting it out it will do so.

    4) Mill it out

    5) If all else fails....send the slide to Novak's and ask for sight replacement. (although this may be a better #1 option...less headache, LOL).

    Hope this helps...oh, and I'm not a 'smith...only a "tinkerer" so take the above for what's it's worth (whatever that may be, LOL).
    Mike Meints and Rezarf like this.
  8. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    I've talked to several smiths and they all say the same thing. Massive interference fit. Best to cut them out.

    It's worked so far. :)
    Rezarf likes this.
  9. azpoolguy

    azpoolguy Well-Known Member

    Jul 4, 2013
    Just mill it out. You don’t need that part of the slide anyhow when you fit up an RMR. ;)
    gaijin, Rezarf and DukeSoprano like this.
  10. Rezarf

    Rezarf Active Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    I was hoping to save the sights... actually I was hoping to pop these onto another Springfield I have in the safe but I bet those are just as locked in as the rear I am removing. I will mill a slot down the middle and drive it out.

    Bummer to waste a good rear with nice bright tritium but it looks like that is what it is going to take. I think I'll whack it a few more times with some gusto now that the finish is marred and my only other option is to destroy it.

    On another note, I was heating the slide not the sight, figuring I'd want to expand the dovetail not the sight... is my thinking wrong? I figured a torch would eat the finish (Armory Coat or whatever they call it).

    Thanks again and I promise carnage pics...
    MDP, gaijin, azpoolguy and 1 other person like this.
  11. Jigo23

    Jigo23 Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2017
    Yep Springfield rear sights are RIDICULOUSLY tight it seems no matter the model. I’ve had good luck removing several using a Wheeler universal sight tool. The first time I did it, just knew either the tool was going to break or the sights or the slide would be destroyed, but by that point I was determined either way! LOL Just when I thought they or I couldn’t take any more force being applied, heard a LOUD snap and the sight slid right out, none of us worse for wear. Same scenario repeated each time I removed a Springfield sight but the Wheeler tool has done the job very well so far. Be sure to tape up/protect slide very well and double check tool not slipping on sight surface.
    wrmiller and Rezarf like this.
  12. Autonomous

    Autonomous Turgid member

    Jan 14, 2019
    Just thinking out loud here. Could an arbor press be used with a reasonable chance of success for this?
    Rezarf likes this.
  13. Rezarf

    Rezarf Active Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    I have one... never thought about using it due to the awkwardness to clamping it down. I'll pull it out and see what happens. Thanks for the suggestion.
  14. Jhp147

    Jhp147 Enthusiast

    May 17, 2014
    Would soaking the back of the slide a day or two in mineral sprits followed by a day or two with Kroil or other penetrating oil be worth a shot...or have you long passed that? I've had good luck doing that. I wanted to try an ultrasonic doing the same plan, but I understand the glue holding in the tritium vials may not hold. I don't know, maybe a trip to Tool Tech or some type of DevCon adhesive might work to fix that...or send it to Novak start to finish.
  15. Rezarf

    Rezarf Active Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    So, I got it out... it was a dual to the finish but in the end I won.

    From where I left off...
    • Used a big hammer on a brass drift and some judicious whacks... nothing.
    • Gave the "pinch it with the vise" one more go... nothing.
    • Chucked up a 3/16" end mill bit, set everything up (or so I thought) and started cutting. On about my 10th pass I saw the bit starting to "walk" out of line. After freaking out and shutting down the mill and cleaning up the cut I realized I had not locked down the mill head (I am using an old Jet Mill/Drill) and the bit started to pull itself laterally off the center line of the cut. Luckily I had only just kissed the slide when I got the machine shut down. A little blue and I should be good to go. Lesson learned.
    • Drifted some more with the sight now cut... nothing.
    • Getting frustrated I grabbed the dremel and began slicing down my mill cut... nothing.
    • Calmed down, realized I was going to mess up the slide unless I slowed down so I grabed a hack saw and one pass at a time cut the sight all but 1/32" through.
    • Drifted again and the back half slid out. Readjusted and the front finally broke free.
    Anyhow it is out. Disaster averted. A good rear sight ruined and time to fit up my new 10-Performance rear sight.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  16. Rezarf

    Rezarf Active Member

    Dec 30, 2018



    If you look close in this pic you can see where I kissed the top of the slide.
  17. Wildcat Creeker

    Wildcat Creeker Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Jan 26, 2012

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