How To Remove Dovetail Rear Sights?

Trying to install a new sight on your gun? But the old one is in the way and it doesn’t want to move? Chances are, your gun has a dovetail rail and you are using dovetail rear sight from the start.

If that’s the case for you, then I shall help you learn how to remove the dovetail rear sight with minimal tools and do no damage to the gun in the process as well.

Basics of Rear Sight

The first thing you need to know is what kind of gun you are using. If you are using a handgun with a factory rear sight, chances are the gun features a dovetail-style mounting and your sight is stuck into the rail with a spring or brass pin.

Depending on the manufacturer, it might as well be a friction fit. So, make sure what kind of fit your sight is in the gun.

The Tools

While I did say minimal tool usage, you will still require some tools to work with the gun and the sight.

Sturdy Vise: The first thing you will need for the job is a vise. The vise will hold your gun steady and not let it move. It’s very important for the process.

4-ounce ball-peen hammer: you might think that you can just use any hammer, and that’s not a wrong assumption. You might be able to use any hammer you want, but you still might want to use a 4 oz ball-peen hammer for precision. It will not be too hard and the punches won’t be able to shatter the sight into millions of pieces.

Drift Punch Set: If you want precision, you will want this tool. There are many styles of drift punches available for drifting sights. But you can never go wrong with a set of steel Starrett punches. The nylon-tipped, brass and most aluminum punches are too soft and don’t provide the precision and force required to control the small movements of a sight.

A fine Triangle file: This is optional but it will come in handy. If the fitting is having an issue in your new sight, the files will come in handy to make it a perfect fit.

6-inch calipers: This set of tools is also optional. They will help you to accurately measure the distance that you need to carefully file down.

How To Remove Dovetail Rear Sights?

Now the process of removing the sight is starting. Before you start the process, make sure that you unloaded the gun, removed the magazine and the chamber of the gun is empty. Throughout the process, I don’t want you to accidentally hurt yourself or worse.

Now, carefully inspect both the top and the bottom slide of your sights. Some factory sights are further retained with a screw or vertical roll pin. Despite being a dovetail, this is done to ensure the sight of your gun doesn’t move around while you shoot.

Mount It In The Vise

Now that you are done with your inspection, time to mount it on the vise. Make sure to mount the slide in the vise with the right side towards the base. This will make sure the gun moves as little as possible.

Locate The Pin

Now you will need to find out whether the sight is installed on the gun with a pin or not. Some of the sights are friction fit like I said earlier. If that’s the case, then you might be able to take a flat drift punch and punch it from any side to make it come out loose.

Honestly, this is my favorite type of dovetail rear sight. The company isn’t forcing you to stay within a certain type of rear sight. They allow you to change the sight with minimal tools used.

Let’s Say Your Sight Isn’t Tapered In

If your sight isn’t tapered in and it is secured with a pin, then you will need to go back to the vise step. Now, make sure to hold the gun rail upside down. Now look for the pins. If they are soldered in, then you will need to use the triangle file and remove the solder from the inside of the rail.

This way, you will make way for your drift punch to work. Use a pointy steel drift punch. Place it on top of the pin and slowly hammer it away. This way, the pin should fall through and the sight should also follow shortly after.

If your pin is sideways, then chances are it’s not soldered. If it’s not soldered, then you can just hammer it away and it will come out clean.


End of the day, the removal process will depend on how your sight was installed. If it is tapered, then it’s the simplest removal process but if it was installed and secured with a pin, then it will be a bit harder to take out but not impossible.

Remember, patience is key. You don’t want to file too much from the body. That will make it impossible for you to install a new sight in the replacement position. You also don’t want to strip the screws if your sights are installed with screws.

That’s all for now. Hopefully, you learned something new today. Make sure to return later for more. Take care till then.

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