View Full Version : Replace frontsight on original Colt m1860?

03-25-2009, 11:04 AM
The gun in question is an antique Colt m1860 Army, which has had the barrel and cylinder replaced with antique parts (and those parts ar re-numbered to fit the gun) at some time. It´s a very nice fully functional gun though with nice deep patina and 90+% scene on the cylinder. I´m going to use it as a shooter, but the frontsight is pretty worn and from experience (I haven´t testshot it yet) I think I´ll probably have to aim a full meter below the bullseye at 25m with the sight that is on it now.

I have never had reason to think about how the frontsight on a m1860 is attached. Nor have ever I had a reason to look for replacement frontsights.

Can you help me here?
How´s the frontsight attached on a Colt m1860
Are there any vendors (prefferably online) who have replacement frontsights?

Anders Olsson

Southron Sr.
03-25-2009, 01:12 PM
I would shoot it off a bench at 25 yards first to actually see where the bullets are going. You might be very lucky and find that no alterations of the sight are necessary.

That being said, most likely you will find that at 25 yards, the bullets are going high and striking either left or right of the "point of aim." Then I would try shooting off the bench at 50 yards-there is a possibility that your revolver is shooting high at 25 and your elevation is "dead on" at 50 yards.

IF your bullets are going too high at 25 yards, then you have the option of reducing the powder charge and/or changing to a heavier conical bullet IF you are using a round ball. Either of those changes should cause the arm to shoot a bit lower.

As for changing out the front sight blade for a higher one (to get the arm to shoot at the point of aim at 25 yards IF it now shooting too high) is necessary-then that is job for a professional gunsmith.

IF your M1860 is shooting too far to the left or right, then you have a problem because correcting that difficulty would entail offsetting the front sight OPPOSITE of the point of aim to get it hitting "dead center." The only way that could be practically done would be to have a gunsmith remove the original front sight, cut a dovetail front sight slot behind the muzzle and install a front sight that could be tapped either to the left or right in the dovetail to correct the aim of the gun. That being said, IF the gun is shooting only a little bit off of the point of aim to the left or right, then the opposite side of the front sight blade could be filed away to move the point of impact over a smidgeon.

Keep in mind that by filing the original front sight blade or changing out the original front sight blade, then you are hurting the "collectors value" of the pistol. Under those circumastances you would want to keep the front sight blade and have it re-installed when you get ready to sell the gun in the future.

Actually, I would recommend that you purchase a high quality reproduction M1860 and confine most of your shooting to that repro-keeping the original M1860 unaltered and only for an occasional trip to the range. With a repro you could alter the sightts to whatever worked best with out the worry of damaging the collectors value of an original.

Last but not least, Back in the 1960's as a teenager, I became the possessor of a genuine, World War II surplus U.S. Army Model 1911A1 .45 Auto.

My problem was that it shot "High and to the Right" when using the original G.I. sights that came on it. When I carried the gun into a local gunsmith and inquired about the cost of replacing the original sights with a commercial set of sights, the gunsmith informed me that the cost of those new sights was way above my budget.

When I explained my problem that I could not afford a set of new sights, the knowledgeable old gunsmith replied: "Well Kid, then aim LOW and to the LEFT."

Taking his advice to heart, I was soon popping the heads off of turtles and water moccasins in the farm pond following his aiming advice. With a little practice, you should be able to hit your targets the same with that original M1860 following a bench session to find where the original sights are sending the bullets and a little practice!


03-25-2009, 01:44 PM
Thank you for your answer Southron, Sr.

I actually found replacement frontsights at Dixie gunworks!

I should probably explain that I´m no novice to shooting antique perscussionrevolvers. Been doing it for 20 plus years now.
Also, I live in Sweden, where repro percussion guns requires a permit just as much as modern ones do (I have permits for both types of guns), while antique ones do not require a permit. So, getting a repro is out of the question. Besides, half the fun is in holding an antique gun and letting it do it´s thing.

I´m also pretty good at home-gunsmithing. Been repairing, timing and sightning in Single Action revolvers for as long as I´ve been shooting them.
I just wasn´t familiar with how the frontsight of the m1860 is attached to the barrel since I never had reason to think about it.

You are ofcorse right, I need to testshoot the gun before doing anything, but there´s no question that the frontsight of this gun is at least 1/10th of an inch lower that it was when it left the factory. I still need to testshoot it to find out what aproximate height the replacement sight should be.

Been doing the "aim low and to the right/left" thing way too often, for once, I want an antique shooter that hits at POA at 25 yards (from where 80% of our shooting is done). If it hits a bit high is okey, but I don´t want to have to aim below the target.

Regarding the collectors value, as I said, this is a gun with mixed parts, only the "foreign" parts (barrel and cylinder) have been restamped with the same number as the frame and other numbered parts. It´s all antique parts, but it´s not all original, so collectors value is pretty low to begin with. I will be saving the originial sight though.

Best regards!
Anders Olsson

03-26-2009, 10:59 AM
Hey Anders, good to hear from you again (and about your latest project.) How is the carbine shooting? Have you had the chance to get some quality range time with it yet? Wish you were a little closer by so we could see you at Ft Shenandoah! :(


03-26-2009, 01:14 PM
The Carbine is shooting great. There hasn´t been that much rangetime with it, weather has been apalling here for the last few weeks, and "stuff" keeps getting in the way when weather is acceptable!
I still need to adjust the frontsight, but the gun groups well, I get best groups of about 3" from 50 yards without support. The average group was bigger though, but that´s my fault, not the gun.

Man, I wish I lived in the US, for several reasons, skirmishing being only one of them.
Actually, I think I was born about 160years too late and on the wrong side of the ocean! :lol:

Anders Olsson