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S&W Model 17 rear sight problem

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Post by John McCormick on 3/4/2018, 4:14 pm

I posted this question at the Smith and Wesson Forum and thought I would ask it here as well. I recently picked up a 70s-era Model 17 that I find shoots about 8" above point of aim at 25 yds with the rear sight down as far as the adjustment screw will allow. I notice that with the screw bottomed out there is about .025" of space (by feeler gauge) between the frame and the bottom of the rear sight. It's been a while since I've had an adjustable-sight S&W revolver. Shouldn't I be able to lower the rear sight more than that? S&W tells me they're sending along a shipping tag for it, but maybe there's a quicker fix that I can do.

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Post by Sa-tevp on 3/4/2018, 6:36 pm

Grind 0.025" off the elevation nut:
S&W Model 17 rear sight problem Adjustablesight%5B1%5D

You will probably find the best you can get is a 6 o'clock sight picture with a S&W with a stock front sight.
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Post by fc60 on 3/4/2018, 7:01 pm

Greetings,

Is it possible the previous owner removed metal from the front sight?

You would need to locate a fellow shooter with a K-22 to compare sights.

Actually, having S&W fix it is not a bad idea.

Cheers,

Dave
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Post by LenV on 3/4/2018, 7:33 pm

That would be the upper elevation nut. The bottom one is really a bolt. Front sight blade measures .311 the rear sight body including the leaf measures .405. Mine will bottom all the way to contact and 11 clicks up is a fifty yard zero with a center hold. Picture of rear sight looks like I missed the spot but calipers were locked and just held there to show where I measured.

S&W Model 17 rear sight problem 20180315
S&W Model 17 rear sight problem 20180316
S&W Model 17 rear sight problem 20180317
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Post by John McCormick on 3/4/2018, 7:59 pm

Doesn't look like anyone cut the front sight down. The gun was essentially as-new when I got it. Nice smooth action, .004 B/C gap, tight chambers. Thanks for the photos, the last of which is perfect evidence of what is wrong with mine. S&W says they'll take care of it.

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Post by mikemyers on 8/19/2020, 11:45 pm

I am having the same problem with a Model 14-4.  There is no way to bring the rear end of the rear sight down so it looks like the last photo in the other post - it is much too high.  

The line drawing of the parts shows the rear sight as being flat.  My rear sight is curved.  Maybe that is my problem, and I need to straighten it, or buy a replacement rear sight.

My rear sight:
http://www.sgrid.com/2020/IMG_3069.jpg

The rear sight from the side - maybe it's not supposed to be bent?
http://www.sgrid.com/2020/IMG_3069.jpg
http://www.sgrid.com/2020/IMG_3052.jpg

It's a used gun, from Gunbroker, about a year or two ago.  

If I'm right that the rear sight is bent, what is the best way to straighten it a little?
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Post by Jack H on 8/20/2020, 3:48 am

They make or made different height rear sight blades.  Which one you got.
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Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2020, 8:16 am

Jack H wrote:They make or made different height rear sight blades.  Which one you got.
0.126"  -  the correct one for this gun.
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Post by DA/SA on 8/20/2020, 8:34 am

Mike,

14-3

S&W Model 17 rear sight problem MyngBGMl

S&W Model 17 rear sight problem 64b8Ucol
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Post by BE Mike on 8/20/2020, 9:10 am

Have a taller front sight installed. There are a few different S&W front sights that have been catalogued over the years.
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Post by David Donley on 8/20/2020, 10:17 am

I have a M17 of roughly the same vintage that exhibits the same problem.  I will be interested to learn what the final solution is.

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Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2020, 11:04 am

BE Mike wrote:Have a taller front sight installed. There are a few different S&W front sights that have been catalogued over the years.
Yes, that would cure it.  Three times I've thought of glueing a think piece of black plastic on top of the sight.
I don't want to do it that way though - I know something is wrong, and I want to fix the problem.

Again, if you look at my photos, the rear (and sometimes the front) of my rear sight assembly are high, and the middle of the sight assembly is all the way down into the notch.  I am 99.9% certain that if I flatten the rear sight, so it looks like it does in the part drawing at the top of this thread, the problem will be eliminated.

Buying a new rear sight would most likely fix it, so that's "plan z" when all the other ideas don't work.

This is a photo of how the rear sight looked yesterday:
http://www.sgrid.com/2020/IMG_3057.jpg

One of the things I did last night was to remove the rear sight, grip the square piece that screws into the nut, and unscrew the not completely.  Everything was lubricated with penetrating oil.  Then I re-assembled the sight (the rear was still too high) and this morning I tightened the elevation screw some more.  I know I got the sight blade lower than what it was when I started - I need to get back to the range and try it.

http://www.sgrid.com/2020/IMG_3083.jpg

     (Sorry, I posted the wrong image here, it's now fixed)

The sight adjustment screw is getting tight, as it's bending the rear sight downwards, but I feel I have one more turn that I could make if I needed to.


Last edited by mikemyers on 8/20/2020, 12:12 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : uploaded the wrong image)
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Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2020, 11:17 am

David Donley wrote:I have a M17 of roughly the same vintage that exhibits the same problem.  I will be interested to learn what the final solution is.
David, I'm on hold with Smith & Wesson tech support - I want to see if they have any advice.

In the meantime, could you take a photo similar to the above photos, and post it here?



If what I've already done fixes the problem, I'll post about it here.  I haven't really done much - I removed the very small screw at the front if the rear sight.  After that, the entire rear sight lifted off the gun with no effort.  On my sight, it was bowed up at the front and rear - maybe that's normal, I'm not sure.  What I did then was to grip the small square black "thingie" which is the bolt that screws into the upper thing with the screwdriver slot for sight adjustment - that's the "nut".  I screwed CCW until the square thing (post) came off.  After that, I cleaned, checked the threads to be sure they weren't stripped, then put a tiny amount of penetrating oil on the threads, and screwed the square thingie on far enough, but not too far.  Then I put the rear sight back in place, and carefully tightened the small screw that holds the front of the sight in place.  Everything looked fine, except the rear of the sight was too high.  So, I tightened down the sight adjusting screw until it "looked" right (just a guess).  Next thing is to check it at the range, and adjust accordingly.  Note - the "square" post needs to be aligned with the gun, so it can slide into the notch in the frame.  Took me a few tries to get it right.

All the above is "safe", nothing dangerous.  I think that if I screw the sight adjusting screw down a lot more, to mostly close the gap between it and the gun, the gun will be sighted reasonably close to what I need for "center hold".  For now though, I just want sub-6-o'clock hold.
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Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2020, 11:24 am

DA/SA wrote:Mike,
14-3
.....
Thank you - I'm closer to that now.  Is your gun sighted for center hold or sub-6 ?
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Post by DA/SA on 8/20/2020, 12:16 pm

Center
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Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2020, 12:47 pm

DA/SA wrote:Center
Well, there's hope.

My latest photo, after cleaning, and re-installing:
     http://www.sgrid.com/2020/IMG_3085.jpg

I think I have half a turn, or maybe one turn left in my adjustment nut.  If your photo is good for center fire, maybe I'll at least be able to set my gun for sub-6.

My new friend at S&W wanted photos, so he could evaluate what I should do.

My opinion - a new rear sight would probably fix it immediately.....    but I'll wait for him to get back to me.
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Post by Jack H on 8/20/2020, 3:03 pm

"I think I have half a turn, or maybe one turn left in my adjustment nut."

Run the sight screw all the way down to the deck.  Don't tighten it snug.  Maybe relieve it one click
Then shoot it at 20-25y range.
At close range you can calculate the change you need.
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Post by DA/SA on 8/20/2020, 3:07 pm

Mike, 

I can place my thumb on the rear sight and push it down (compressing the spring) to where the bottom of the sight contacts the frame. It takes a pretty good push, but it will go.

It sounds like your adjuster nut may be binding up.
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Post by JIMPGOV on 8/20/2020, 3:14 pm

http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-revolvers-1961-1980/225017-sight-blade-help-126-146-160-height-model-purpose.html

POST 16 ON THIS THREAD HAS THE CORRECT HEIGHTS OF S&W REAR SIGHT BLADES (S&W CALL THEM REAR SIGHT SLIDES). YOURS LOOKS LIKE A .146" . I WOULD REPLACE IT WITH A .126" . JP

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Post by mikemyers on 8/20/2020, 4:34 pm

I had two long talks with Paul in S&W Customer Service.  As he explained it, these old sights were made by hand, were machined, then treated, then the "blue" was applied.  Different assemblers used different ways to bend the sight assembly - it's supposed to be bent, but not as much as mine is. Mechanics used to put it in a jig and hit it, and maybe they hit it twice, not once.  

His advice if for me to carefully straighten it a little, gripping it in a vice with wood protecting the sight, and giving just enough pressure to bend it slightly.  The part was designed to have a small amount of bend, and he doesn't want me to remove any more than necessary.

(I will try it as soon as I get to the range - if I've already moved it enough to allow me to shoot sub-6-o'clock hold, I'm done.  I can't see much purpose in adjusting it for center-hold, unless I'm going to shoot that way.  Maybe I'll buy new parts anyway, and assemble a replacement sight.)



JIMPGOV - my calipers tell me my rear sight blade is 0.126.  You're correct, but maybe my photo made it look different.  The actual dimension I get with my digital calipers is: 0.1240" reading off the scale.
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Post by mikemyers on 8/21/2020, 12:04 pm

I think I figured out the problem, and it has nothing to do with what I was thinking yesterday.  

I think my problem is because the “leaf” isn’t going down far enough in the end, where the sight adjustment is located.  I thought this was because of the bend in the leaf, but this morning I didn’t see how the bend has anything to do with it - the height of the leaf, towards the rear, is mostly controlled by the distance between the “post” and the “nut”, which we adjust by screwing the nut in and out.

Then it hit me - when the sight assembly is removed from this gun, I can press the entire screw/nut assembly up and down - it’s free to move quite a bit.

Here are two photos of my Model 28 - it had the same issue, and I solved it by replacing the entire assembly.  These photos are to show the height of the “nut” above or below the “leaf”:

This photo shows the sight assembly, as I removed it two years ago from the M-28 which had the same issue. 
When I press up on the leaf, to simulate the force that it would deal with on the gun, the leaf raises up quite a bit OVER the nut.
S&W Model 17 rear sight problem Img_3021


This is a photo of the replacement sight assembly, which is now mounted to my M-28.
The leaf and the top of the “nut” are level.
This means the leaf has to be "lower" on the gun, since it isn't sticking up above the nut

S&W Model 17 rear sight problem Img_3022


My Model 14-4 also has the leaf sticking up above the nut, almost as much as in the top photo.

My conclusion - I am pretty confident the leaf in all my guns is fine, and to fix my problem, I just need to replace the nut and any related parts under the nut that I’m not yet aware of,  I think it is extremely unlikely that the steel leaf could be damaged to cause this.  

Next step is to identify the other parts that might be underneath the elevation adjustment nut, and replace all of them.
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Post by mikemyers on 8/25/2020, 12:06 pm

Mission accomplished.


Yesterday I made a "jig" so I could un-bend the sight.  I did so, and. when it spring back, it was lower by the thickness of a dime.  Reinstalled in gun.

Got to the range this morning, and could "almost" do center hold, but with black sights in front of a black bull, I didn't like shooting that way.  I changed back to sub-6-o'clock hold, and after a small adjustment, I got the following target.  Before leaving the range, I raised the aim by two clicks, which should raise the 9 good holes so they're centered on the bull.  Even as it is now, I would be happy to get 96 and 3X for a score.

So, when all was said and done - taking some of the bend out of the sight body was the needed repair.
(This was with two hands - I also tried one hand, but the grouping opened up.  Need more practice.)

Thanks to everyone here for your ideas.  

S&W Model 17 rear sight problem Img_3113
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Post by spursnguns on 8/25/2020, 1:23 pm

Hello mikemyers,

3X?

Jim
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Post by mikemyers on 8/25/2020, 3:54 pm

Oops.    :-(
I don't have any idea how I goofed.
As a penalty, let's think of the target as 96 and 1X.
I think I was so happy that I got a group like that, my brain shut down.
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Post by spursnguns on 8/25/2020, 4:29 pm

Hello mikemyers,

Good shooting, nonetheless.

Jim
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