Aiming is essential to accurate shooting with firearms in general — handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The aiming process consists of aligning a firearm with an intended target. When using small arms, a shooter typically uses a sighting system to assist with aiming. Sights fall into two broad categories:
● Iron sights
Iron sights are metallic markers consisting of a front sight and a rear sight. To aim using iron sights, you align the front and rear sights vertically and horizontally. In open sights, the tops of the sights must also be level.
In aperture or “peep” sights, the top of the front sight must be in the center of the aperture. There are three focal planes in iron-sighted firearms to shift between — the target, the front sight, and the rear sight. Standard practice is to focus on the front sight, the rear sight remaining blurry or faded.
● Optical sights
Optical sights use glass lenses and provide a reticle or crosshair. Using electronics or mechanical systems, optical sights may offer reticle illumination, magnification, and other functions.
Best Universal Sight Pushers
- Wheeler Armorer’s Front and Rear Handgun Sight Tool
- Real Avid Master Sight Pusher Tool
- NcStar Vism Universal Rear Sight Tool
- MGW Sight Pro Universal Sight Installation Tool
- Lyman AccuSight Pistol Sight Installation Tool
Wheeler Armorer’s Front and Rear Handgun Sight Tool
The Wheeler Engineering Armorer’s Front and Rear Handgun Sight Tool allows you to install, uninstall, and adjust the front and rear iron sights of your semi-automatic handgun with a high degree of precision. The two top clamps hold the slide securely in place, while four horizontal positioning clamps ensure that the slide is square. As Wheeler’s sight pusher is designed to be used with a variety of different handguns, you can reverse the sight prong assembly for Glock slides.
The large drive knob features four posts, increasing the leverage you can exert and reference marks to help you determine the extent to which you need to move the sights.
While the Wheeler Engineering sight pusher is a high-quality product manufactured to strict standards, it’s also somewhat expensive. If you need a highly precise sight pusher for installing sights on your competitive shooting or hunting weapon, the Wheeler is optimal.
Real Avid Master Sight Pusher Tool
Real Avid manufactures a variety of firearms accessories, including cleaning kits, gunsmithing tools, and more. Among the equipment Real Avid produces is the Master Sight Pusher Tool. This professional-grade device allows you to install or adjust the sights on your handgun while also protecting them against surface damage.
Compatible with most modern pistol sights, the Master Sight Pusher Tool is ruggedly constructed and durable. You won’t have to worry about the Master Sight Pusher Tool breaking or wearing out.
During the installation process, the Easy Torque Handle combines an oversized design with fine drive threads to ensure that you’re able to apply more torque with less strain, allowing you to install or remove your sights effortlessly.
The Universal Press Block provides multiple contact surfaces to accommodate a wide variety of different dovetail slots and sight profiles. As these contact surfaces are also adjustable and won’t mar the finish of your firearm, they are suitable for both M1911-pattern, square, rectangular, and flat-bottom slide designs.
Heavy with a wide base, the Master Sight Pusher Tool provides a solid, rigid platform for taking the first step toward changing the sights on your handgun.
NcStar Vism Universal Rear Sight Tool
The NcStar Vism Universal Rear Sight Tool is specifically designed to install, remove, and adjust rear handgun sights that attach via a dovetail slot. A highly versatile sight pusher, the Vism is compatible with various handgun sizes, from full-size and compact to subcompact and pocket-sized.
You can adjust the height of the base platform to align the slide and rear sight with the sight pusher, and the Vism includes a single spacer for this purpose. Vertical and horizontal clamps allow you to secure handgun slides of different shapes and sizes.
The top brace has plastic inserts for securing the slide on the horizontal plane. The sight pusher is compatible with sight profiles of 30° and 90° and allows the installation, adjustment, or removal of the sight in either direction.
You don’t have to worry about the Vism frame obstructing your view of the sight during the installation or adjustment process. NcStar machines witness windows into both sides to ensure that you’re always able to verify the accuracy of the alignment process. For additional rigidity, the Vism can be attached to a work surface using bolts or clamps. You can also clamp the Vism to a work vice.
The heavy-duty aluminum construction is anodized blue and adds both weight and durability. While the sight pusher has an adjustable handle, you can remove the handle and use a 15mm socket tool or wrench if you’d prefer. The steel sight pusher screw has brass bushings.
MGW Sight Pro Universal Sight Installation Tool
The MGW Sight Pro Universal Installation Tool, as with the other devices on the list, allows the simple installation, removal, and adjustment of front and rear sights that attach to handguns with dovetailed slides. This particular tool uses firearm-specific shoe clamps. The result is that one tool can perform the work of several, accommodating several different types of handguns and rendering the MGW Sight Pro universal in the truest sense.
The MGW Sight Pro has a relatively compact footprint compared with other sight pusher tools on the market, taking up less space in your workshop, garage, or office.
MGW has changed the design of the left-hand threaded support shaft, changing the material from low-carbon blued steel to 416 stainless steel and adding a ¼ hex broach at the end. This allows you to remove the support shaft and change the blocks using standard ¼” hex Allen keys, which the company supplies with the Sight Pro.
The MGW Sight Pro includes 30° angled and 90° straight-sided standard blocks. Although the Sight Pro has the capability for universal functionality, you need to purchase firearm-specific shoe clamps separately, which can add to the cost of the kit.
Lyman AccuSight Pistol Sight Installation Tool
Lyman has a well-known reputation for manufacturing firearm sights, including peep sights for rifles. Lyman’s AccuSight Pistol Sight Tool is CNC machined from a solid block of aluminum. Suitable for installing, adjusting, and removing iron sights, the AccuSight is compatible with a variety of firearm designs and includes a machined pocket specifically for M1911-pattern slides.
This increases the strength and stability of the system for the four horizontal clamps and one vertical clamp, ensuring that your pistol slide remains secure and stationary. The windage scale is adjustable in increments of 1/32”.
Designed with gunsmiths, competitive target shooters, and hobbyists alike, the Lyman AccuSight also features a large handle, increasing the leverage you can exert. Some iron sights are harder to move than others, and you can use all the mechanical advantage you can get.
Point of Aim and Point of Impact
The point of aim is where you place your sights during the aiming process. The point of impact is where the bullet strikes—zeroing or sighting in consists of adjusting the sights until these two points coincide at a particular distance.
This allows you to achieve accuracy, which refers, properly, to how much the point of impact deviates from the point of aim. Accuracy is when the shots land where you’ve placed your sights.
Precision in the context of shooting refers to the group size — i.e., how closely spaced the shots are — which is a product of mechanical accuracy and ammunition. For example, match-grade target ammunition, which is held to higher production standards, is more consistent and, thus, more precise than surplus military or plinking loads.
Point shooting — also known as threat-focused shooting or reflexive shooting — was routinely practiced by law enforcement and military personnel in the 20th century. However, this technique has been largely relegated to shooting from retention at close-range targets. Sighted shooting from eye level is the dominant technique and has been for decades.
Most handguns have fixed, low-profile iron sights attached to the slide via dovetail mounts. These are simple, durable, and are less likely to snag on your holster or clothing during the draw stroke. Adjustable sights are also available for handguns, which allow the shooter to change the elevation or windage by rotating screws.
Adjustability is useful when firing different loads in the same weapon, as this can alter the point of impact. However, adjustable sights tend to be more fragile in construction and typically have sharp corners.
Adjusting Fixed Sights with Universal Sight Pushers
Fixed handgun sights are often drift adjustable, which means that you can change the point of impact on the horizontal plane by drifting or moving the rear sight left or right. If, for example, you want to shift the point of impact to the left, you need to move the rear sight to the left.
Adjusting elevation may require substituting a shorter or taller front sight. Unlike adjusting windage, if you need to move the strike of the bullet down, you need to raise the front sight. This causes you to lower the barrel to align the front and rear sights. Likewise, to move the strike of the bullet up, you need to lower the front sight.
A common technique for installing front and rear sights and adjusting the rear sight’s windage is to use a punch and hammer. Placing the tip of the punch against the side of the sight, you strike the end with a hammer to drift the sight in the direction you want to shift the bullet impact.
The use of a hammer, however, is not conducive to precise adjustment. Depending on the tools you’re using, you risk marring the gun’s finish. If you’re using sights containing delicate components, such as fiber optics or tritium-phosphor lamps, the impact can also cause damage.
The solution is to use a sight pusher tool. This is a device designed to simplify the process of installing, removing, and adjusting handgun iron sights. In addition, it eliminates a significant amount of human error, protecting the weapon and increasing precision.
Adjusting, installing, or removing sights from a handgun with a dovetailed slide requires the right tools. You can attempt these processes with a punch and a hammer, but this takes time and effort. You also risk damaging your sights and firearms. A sight pusher tool manufactured by a reputable company can offer a simple, precise, and long-lasting alternative.