The Kitchen Table Gunsmith
Main menu  



Making a 1911 Front Sight Staking Tool
by Roy Seifert

Click here to purchase a CD with this and all Kitchen Table Gunsmith Articles.


Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.


I recently purchased an Armscor Rock Island Armory M1911A1 to use for Wild Bunch match competition.  I spent a lot of time fine-tuning this gun to avoid having to shoot 500 rounds to break it in as suggested in the owner’s manual (refer to my article Fine-Tuning a Rock Island Armory M1911A1).

I didn’t like the narrow WWI front sight that came with the gun so I fabricated and installed a taller rear sight, and a taller wider front sight.  I have fabricated and installed dovetail sights on 1911’s in the past (refer to my article Milling a Front Sight Dovetail), but I wanted to maintain the original factory installation by staking the front sight in place.  I found some sources on the Internet that said to use a prick punch and 1/8” steel punch to peen the end of the sight, but this came out ragged and looked really ugly, and eventually the front sight became loose.  One reason the sight became loose was because the tenon was too short so there wasn’t enough metal to peen and hold the sight in place.  My next version had a longer tenon, but using the punch method still looked ragged and unprofessional.

The factory front sight staking was smooth and concave; very professional looking.  I’m guessing Armscor used a tool similar to the one described below.

Front Sight Staking Tool
Brownells sells a front sight staking tool #080-817-000 but I thought I could fabricate my own a lot cheaper.  I found a drawing on the Internet for a 1911 front sight staking tool which I have reproduced below. 


The body of the tool is supposed to be made of steel and a 3/8” bolt is used for the anvil.  Since I had a lot of scrap aluminum that I purchased off of ebay many years ago I decided to make the body out of aluminum.  Aluminum probably won’t last as long as steel, but it should be plenty strong enough for the few times I need to use it.  I also had some four-inch 3/8 x 16 bolts so cost to me should be $0.00.


I milled a piece of aluminum 1” x 1” x 3”, then milled 1/2” off of the bottom half.  I drilled a 5/16” hole 5/16” up from the bottom and threaded it with a 3/8 x 16 tap. 


To fabricate the anvil I used a hack saw to cut off the threaded part of a 3/8 bolt leaving 1/2” of threads.  I then cut the unthreaded shank leaving 1/2”.  I applied some red Loctite 271 to the threads and installed the anvil into the 3/8” tapped hole.

Ok, so how does it work?  The above photo shows the tool in place.  Notice the small piece of brass under the bottom of the tool.  The new front sight is laying on this piece of brass to prevent the top of the sight from becoming deformed during the staking process.  The blue painter’s tape prevents the sides of the slide from becoming scratched or marred.


A few gentle taps with a mallet and the tenon was perfectly peened.  This didn’t seem to affect the aluminum body at all.  Notice in the above photo how the peened end completely fills the recess cut in the slide and is smooth and round.  I couldn’t do that with punches.  Because the sight is now perfectly staked in place it should last for thousands of rounds and not shoot loose.


   © Copyright 2014 Roy Seifert.