2 Mini-14's, GP100, Ruger American Hunter. 308
Thanks for the detailed response. I installed one of those Choate sights on my other mini-14, and I ended up using epoxy to set the new Choate front sight to zero, and once it was set, then I drilled the new hole through the top of my barrel.I can’t speak to how Ruger aligns it’s sights at the factory, but the design whether it’s the old style sight or the newer winged sight uses a pin that fits in a hole drilled through both the sight and about a half pin diameter of the barrel.
Normally, when you are fitting a new front sight to a Mini 14 or rifle with a similar sight design, you ensure it is zeroed (in windage at least) and then clamp the action or barrel in a vice to prevent any movement of the rifle and adjust the vice and or a target dot so that the sights are aligned on a target dot several feet or yards away. You then remove the old front sight, slip fit the new front sight and rotate it until you have proper alignment of the rear sight, front sight and target. Then you drill the new hole through the sight and barrel. Using that approach you don’t end up any worse off than you were with the old sight.
Choate front sights come with a divot in the side of the sight that allows you to center the pilot drill, and with a drill press or milling table, you get a nice properly trued hole through the sight and barrel, and then you upsize the hole to the final dimensions.
Lacking a jig, getting things not to move from the vice to the drill press or milling table can be accomplished with one of the green loctite compounds designed for cylindrical fit operations and you have a few minutes to align things before it sets up. 641 has a lower maximum temp of 300 degrees F which makes it easier to remove the sight if you screw up the alignment or wand to replace it. 620 withstands a temp of 450 degrees for at least 30 minutes, and up to 600 degrees F for shorter periods. Choose wisely based on your needs.
Several years go I bought a Mini 14 ranch rifle as surplus from the NC department of corrections. It had a monstrosity of a muzzle device that served as bayonet lug, flash suppressor and front sight. The device was pinned, but unfortunately the front sight was on the opposite end of a rotating piece that held the bayonet lug. The set screw provided was not enough to hold it in place. NC DOC didn’t care as they scoped their rifles.
But it meant that when I replaced the front sight I had no baseline for alignment of the new front sight.
However, since I was using a Choate front sigh, which like the old style Ruger sight has a lot of surface area in contact with the barrel and was a snug fit to start with, I was able to zero it without drilling the sight. I wrapped a piece of tape around the rear of the sight and another piece of tape behind it on the barrel. I made an index mark on both pieces, rotated the front sight as needed to zero the rifle in windage and then made a second set of index marks.
Given that unfortunate barrel already had two holes in it from the two prior front sights, I wasn’t real excited about drilling another hole in it. I degreased that section of the barrel as well as the inside of the sight and used Loctite 620 to secure the sight to the barrel, using the alignment marks to ensure proper alignment. I then shot a group to confirm it was dead on with the rear sight mechanically centered before the compound set up.
I let it cure and then out a couple 30 round magazines through it rapid fire to bring the barrel temp up as hot as I’d ever anticipate it getting and didn‘t even get half way to the 450 F mark at the front sight location per my infrared thermometer. As such, I didn’t bother drilling and pinning it. It’s never moved or loosened.
Looking at your replacement sight it appears to be 3D printed and designed to use the existing hole in the barrel with holes already present in the sight. That makes installation easy, but proper zero with a mechanically centered rear sight, would require a) the new front sight to be identical to the old front sight, and b) the rifle close enough in overall mechanical alignment that Ruger didn’t have to drill the original hole very far off the vertical.
That doesn’t appear to be the case with your rifle and sight.
You could move the sight slightly fore or aft so that it still covers the original hole and drill a new one, after using the above process to get proper alignment. The challenge will be hitting the hole on the opposite side of the sight when you drill from the front side through the barrel. That takes very precise alignment with a drill press or mill.
A crutch there is to drill the hole half way through from both sides. A roll pin should be flexible enough to negotiate any minor alignment error, and the error is now on the inside where it doesn’t show.
You could also just use Loctite 620 and see if you have enough surface area to secure it.
I guess I can't use the existing drilled out Groove that secured my factory front sight for the new front sight. It sounds like I will have to drill a New Groove for the new front sight, or just deal with keeping it slammed all the way to the left...
When I drilled out the groove for the choate front sight, I used a portable drill press and it worked out great.
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