D.I.Y Gone Wrong: Don't Try This @ Home
Make sure you have the right tools for the job!
By James Nicholas
Any time you think about attempting your hand at gunsmithing you need to ask your self two questions first.
- Do you have the skill set to preform the task at hand?
- Do you have the proper tools to preform the task?
Everyone knows that you can save quite a bit of money if you don`t have to hire a professional to do something you can take care of on your own. As well as the savings comes the great satisfaction of being able to show off a professional looking job that you did your self.
But you also should be honest with your self and weigh the pro`s and con`s. In the example shown a nice brand new Stainless Steel Springfield Armory XD which cost the owner around 500.00. The owner had used some steel punches and literally beat the stock sights out of his slide. When the sights did not want to move he grabbed a bigger hammer and punch. After slipping several times and hitting the slide the front sight finally came off but at what price. That 500.00 pistol is now worth a lot less and looks pretty nasty. Not only were the dovetails scratched but the dovetail shoulders were actually bent and gouged. The slide was not secured properly in the clamp and the slides body suffered multiple scratches.
After getting the front sight out the customer told me he figured he was now committed and continued on to the rear sight. By this time he was angry, frustrated and had hit his hands with the hammer several times which only made things worse. Using the “bigger” hammer and big punch the rear stock sight was also beat out of the slide. Again just like the front dovetail the rear dovetail suffered scratching, gouging of metal and bending the dovetail shoulders.
The customer learned several lessons that day. As we spoke on the phone after getting his slide in the mail, I learned he was a mechanic. As we spoke I let him know I would never touch my truck`s engine. I am mechanically inclined but not a mechanic, I will take it to a professional. I don`t have the skill set, tools or money to screw up my truck. My customer told me in his trade he is always repairing what the “husband fixed”. He agreed to share his story in the hopes that someone else may learn these lessons.
Know your limitations, the XD is known as one of the hardest of all pistols sights to remove and install. A better choice if you want to learn how to install a sight is a Glock, practically anyone with a few hand tools can install them. After practicing move on to something more challenging. As with all skilled trades there is a learning curve and it is always best to get some experience under your belt.
Ask any good gunsmith and they will tell you the best advice they can give you is to never get a “bigger hammer”. If you get stuck most likely it is your technique and forcing something on/off a gun is almost never the answer. Brute force and ignorance does not overcome all when it comes to firearms. If you get frustrated.......you need to walk away. Don`t let pride and commitment override good judgment, a 10 min cool down will keep you from doing stupid things trust me. This is the time you ask your self is it still worth it, if so at least you can attack the problem with a fresh perspective.
You need the proper tools for the job plain and simple. A sight pusher could have saved this slide, but averaging around 100.00 are expensive for just one sight install. A good large vice with padded jaws would have kept the slide`s body from slipping in the clap and getting scratches all over the body of the slide. Using a flat faced ball peen hammer and good technique goes a long way in not hitting your hand while tapping out the sights. Using brass punches most likely would have kept the dovetails from scratching and bending, the punch would have deformed before the slide.
The price to fix this was right at 290.00
The customer broke the new sights during his install so a second set was purchased total for both sets 225.00
I had to push an over fitted set of stock sights in to un-bend the dovetails plus the install of new sights 20.00
Abrasive blast the slide with aluminum oxide to get rid of deep scratches. 20.0
Finish blast slide with glass bead to make it a nice satin stainless finish 25.00
This is were you have to make the judgement call, can you can afford to mess up and chalk it up to learning. Or just spend the money and have a professional do the job.
If you found this article helpful please consider helping us out by buying your sights from us. If you buy sights from us the installation is free. If you already have sights but need them installed, thats only 25.00 after return shipping!