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What do people use nowadays to "blacken" the rear surface of their steel sights?

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What do people use nowadays to "blacken" the rear surface of their steel sights? Empty What do people use nowadays to "blacken" the rear surface of their steel sights?

Post by mikemyers on 8/26/2020, 10:07 pm

I have been reading this article over the past few days:
     https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2017/2/1/precision-pistol-iron-sights-in-the-sun/

It got me to thinking that my rear sight is "dark", but I wouldn't call it "black".  What do people buy nowadays to color their sights to make them as "black" as possible.

(...or, don't people bother doing this any more?)
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Post by spaatz1644 on 8/26/2020, 11:36 pm

I've got some matte black model paint I put on with a brush. It does a good job but its not nearly as good as a carbide lamp. It flakes off quickly, but its less of a hassle. 

I've seen people use a match and burn various things that leave a sooty residue, but never tried it myself.

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Post by Wobbley on 8/27/2020, 12:16 am

Roll up a length of making tape and burn that.  It leaves a very sooty black.  Almost as good as a carbide lamp.
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Post by dronning on 8/27/2020, 1:19 am

I don't blacken the rear site only the front one.
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Post by Jambat on 8/27/2020, 2:33 am

I use the Ray-Vin calcium carbide lamp on my stainless steel revolvers.

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Post by james r chapman on 8/27/2020, 5:12 am

Ray Vin or folded masking tape
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Post by CR10X on 8/27/2020, 5:33 am

Sights are not "blackened" to be colored "black", but to reduce as much reflection of light / glare as possible (sunlight, etc.) to ensure the shooter can see crisp, sharp edges and top of the front sight and no glare in the rear sight notch.  This makes the sights appear more "black" than with simply "blue" steel most times. 

You can use carbide lamps, the sight black disposable lighters from a couple vendors (which I like because it doesn't go on quite so thick), or masking tape (all of which give a good results).  Or even the spray can versions (which works better in the wind sometimes) but they have a tendency to go on too thick if you are not careful.

The main issue is not to build up so much you have uneven edges or fill the the rear sight notch unevenly.  Crisp, even edges and top and definable "bars of white" on either side of the front sight are more important than color.

And yes, at least this person does it, especially during the first relays with open sights at CMP matches at Perry.  The light coming from the extreme right can really produce some nasty glare for me.  

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Post by Tim:H11 on 8/27/2020, 6:08 am

I used to use a zippo. I’ve used Bic lighters, and masking tape too. Currently I have a carbide smoker in my kit. Some options work better than others but all will give you some sort of coverage on the metal to prevent glare from light reflection.
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Post by TonyH on 8/27/2020, 6:20 am

The original Ray-Vin Carbide smoker is now available as the "WR Super Smoker" here:
http://www.watersrifleman.com/supersmokersightsmoker/
$55 + $17 shipping....not cheap, but works very well (I have a Ray-Vin) as long as it's maintained. Get the spare parts kit if you purchase one and it will give you years of trouble free service.
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Post by Outthere on 8/27/2020, 6:35 am

TonyH wrote:The original Ray-Vin Carbide smoker is now available as the "WR Super Smoker" here:
http://www.watersrifleman.com/supersmokersightsmoker/
$55 + $17 shipping....not cheap, but works very well (I have a Ray-Vin) as long as it's maintained. Get the spare parts kit if you purchase one and it will give you years of trouble free service.
That's what I use. Works perfectly.
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Post by mikemyers on 8/27/2020, 7:59 am

Until just now, I had no idea of what this was about, and until now I had never heard of a "smoker".   I just went to the page noted up above, and I now plan to order the Ray-Vin smoker.  I also found this video, which answered ALL my questions:




As a test, a few days ago at the range, I tried to shoot using "center hold" on a B-8 target.  The "black" from my gun blended in nicely with the "black" on the target, but I remember thinking that neither of them really was "black".  

Do you guys use this only on your front sight post, or also on the rear sight blade?
How long does the "black" last, a day, week, month, year?  

Is the only reason to do this to allow us to use center hold?  I can't see it making any difference with a sub-6-o'clock hold, where the sights are in front of white paper.
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Post by james r chapman on 8/27/2020, 8:06 am

CR10X wrote:Sights are not "blackened" to be colored "black", but to reduce as much reflection of light / glare as possible (sunlight, etc.) to ensure the shooter can see crisp, sharp edges and top of the front sight and no glare in the rear sight notch.  This makes the sights appear more "black" than with simply "blue" steel most times. 

You can use carbide lamps, the sight black disposable lighters from a couple vendors (which I like because it doesn't go on quite so thick), or masking tape (all of which give a good results).  Or even the spray can versions (which works better in the wind sometimes) but they have a tendency to go on too thick if you are not careful.

The main issue is not to build up so much you have uneven edges or fill the the rear sight notch unevenly.  Crisp, even edges and top and definable "bars of white" on either side of the front sight are more important than color.

And yes, at least this person does it, especially during the first relays with open sights at CMP matches at Perry.  The light coming from the extreme right can really produce some nasty glare for me.  

CR

Re-read it.
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Post by mikemyers on 8/27/2020, 8:24 am

I noticed that, but it doesn't apply to where I shoot.  We shoot from inside a "shed", and everything, including the sights, is quite dark.  There is no glare.  I do notice that the "black" of my sight is the same darkness as the "black" of the target. 

(I assumed what CR wrote was for people standing outside, in an open area, which doesn't apply to where we shoot at my club.  If there would be no benefit from making my sights "blacker", then I guess there's no need for me to buy one of these......)


I deliberately over-exposed this image, so at least some detail on my shooting bench would show up.  The bull on the target normally looks blacker than what is shown here.
What do people use nowadays to "blacken" the rear surface of their steel sights? Img_3023
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Post by REConley on 8/27/2020, 8:56 am

The saying 40 years ago was "You shoot toward the light" if the sights are not blackened (Carbide black is a non-reflective flat black.) to get the glare off. Sun (Point light source) from the right makes the right side of the front sight appear to disappear and you then center what appears to be the remaining sight. Resulting in you aiming right.  In competition I always blackened both front and back. Carbide last for that days shooting only.
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Post by TonyH on 8/27/2020, 9:21 am

mikemyers wrote:I noticed that, but it doesn't apply to where I shoot.  We shoot from inside a "shed", and everything, including the sights, is quite dark.  There is no glare.  I do notice that the "black" of my sight is the same darkness as the "black" of the target. 

(I assumed what CR wrote was for people standing outside, in an open area, which doesn't apply to where we shoot at my club.  If there would be no benefit from making my sights "blacker", then I guess there's no need for me to buy one of these......)


I deliberately over-exposed this image, so at least some detail on my shooting bench would show up.  The bull on the target normally looks blacker than what is shown here.
What do people use nowadays to "blacken" the rear surface of their steel sights? Img_3023
If what Cecil said above doesn't apply to you on your home range, don't waste your money (or do)? The advice is solid...whether you choose to take it or apply it is entirely up to you....
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Post by mikemyers on 8/27/2020, 10:13 am

Sorry, if I wrote things poorly, my fault.  

The reason I got involved in all this was because I couldn't get the sights on my model 14-4 revolver adjusted.  I wanted to shoot it sub-6-o'clock hold, and shooting it center-hold wasn't working.  I eventually did fix the revolver, but a few days ago I tried to shoot my Baer Premiere II, both sub-6 and center.  The sights and the bull all merged into a single dark colored blog.  Then I posted this thread, giving the link, and asking how to make my sights more "black".

From what people here have said, especially CR, is apparently the real reason for using the carbon, but I thought it was also a "fix" for what I was trying to do.  I like trying things, to see for myself, even when I'm given an answer.  I'll likely buy this device anyway - it's not all that expensive.  I guess it's unlikely to do much to improve steel sights over a black target with a center hold.

I'll certainly remember this discussion, should I ever find myself shooting somewhere without a "roof" over my head.  Thanks for all the feedback.  This thread is more informative than the article in "SSUSA".
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Post by CR10X on 8/27/2020, 10:35 am



Is the only reason to do this to allow us to use center hold?  I can't see it making any difference with a sub-6-o'clock hold, where the sights are in front of white paper.


Try it and you might "see" why (or maybe not depending on the shooter's visual acuity).  

Again the purpose is to make sure you can see the best defined outline of the front sight (without glare, reflections, etc.) as possible no matter what your area of aim is.  

Every discernible bit of difference, top of front to top of rear or width of the bars of light on either side in the rear notch is a deviation from the best orientation of the sights.  Even a little side glare can throw off our perception of exactly where the front sight is in the the rear notch.  

Yes it can help center hold (black on somewhat black) but it can help for 6 o'clock area hold or sub 6 area hold as well; and even when shooting under a roof depending on how the light is hitting the front sight. Just might make the difference between and 10 and an X.....


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Post by mikemyers on 8/27/2020, 10:58 am

I couldn't find an order form - from what I read, I need to fill out the form on the main page, and submit it.
    http://www.watersrifleman.com

If he/they get back to me, I'll place the order today.

Thanks for the update.
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Post by james r chapman on 8/27/2020, 11:11 am

Mike, you don’t need every gimmick and gizmo.
As Zins said “I find a cigar lighter works just fine”

Try the free stuff and see how it works for you!!!
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Post by sharkdoctor on 8/27/2020, 11:28 am

In the days of antiquity we used to smoke (blacken) kymograph drums using kerosine or xyene, so in a pinch, a Q-tip can be wetted with kerosine or lamp oil, lit and used to smoke sights.

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Post by james r chapman on 8/27/2020, 11:36 am

Fuel oil works also
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Post by Wobbley on 8/27/2020, 11:51 am

The purpose of blackening the sights is to give a consistent image of the sight.  With glare coming off the sight, it shifts the image of the sight from where it was to some new place.  Groups shift and accuracy suffers.    A carbide lamp burns acetylene and acetylene flames that are free burning in air produce long strings of soot carbon.  So any flame that produces carbon soot will work.
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Post by mikemyers on 8/27/2020, 1:20 pm

james r chapman wrote:Mike, you don’t need every gimmick and gizmo.
As Zins said “I find a cigar lighter works just fine”

Try the free stuff and see how it works for you!!!
Actually, the honest truth is I don't NEED any of this, free or otherwise.  If I'm serious about getting a better target, I'll use my bullseye guns with a red dot sight on top.

I've got unlimited hours of free time, as I'm not doing most of the things I used to do, so I'm playing around with my other guns including the revolvers, my old Baer, and my PPK/S.  I've also gotten more involved in reloading, and will start loading my own 38 Special ammo again as well.  I also read all of "Target Shooting Today".  Other than my "fun matches" with Tony, I'm not going to any matches, period.  The only people I get to compete with are Tony, and my own previous score.  I got in way over my head with my Model 14, but I fixed it (finally) with lots of advice from others.  Getting my Baer to the point where I could shoot it reasonably well was another challenge.  One thing always leads to another.  .....and another.  Getting a better grip (along with other things) led to me now getting Physical Therapy two or three times a week, and practicing with one of those springy hand exercisers.

As CR pointed out, anything that makes steel sights stand out better is good.  LenV sent me a photo with lots of his revolvers with dot sights mounted on top.  That's one option.  Or, I can follow the advice in Target Shooting Today, and enjoy using my old revolvers which I was interested in long before I knew about Bullseye Shooting.  Or, I can combine all of this, and start enjoying all these guns at the range (other than for my coach telling me I should only be using ONE gun, which would be great advice if I was competing).  Other than for maybe spending $50 needlessly, I see no reason not to follow CR's advice.  Besides, I like "gizmos" and "gimmicks".  Many of them turn out to be quite useful.  :-)

Thanks for all the advice.  

Oh, and the person who helped me buy the Baer in the first place wrote me a few minutes ago:  
      "Actually whiten front sight with old fashioned  white out used on paper mistakes"
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Post by james r chapman on 8/27/2020, 1:34 pm

YUCH!
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Post by WesG on 8/27/2020, 2:58 pm

As often as not, for me, losing the sights in the black is a result of being too lazy or tired to maintain focus on the front. My progressive lenses with a clip-on are a bad combo as well.

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