Real Avid’s new Master Sight Pusher takes the pain out of pistol sight upgrades
by Rob Reaser
There’s a good reason why we’re seeing an increasing number of pistols being offered from the manufacturers with fiber optic and/or tritium sights. For a defensive handgun, night sights make total sense. Darkness is the ally of the criminal set, so it stands to reason that an EDC or home defense pistol be equipped to work in extreme low-light conditions.
That said, factory-installed night sights are still the exception rather than the rule. That’s why aftermarket night sights continue to be hot sellers, with many options and variations to choose from across a broad swath of handgun models.
What frustrates many consumers, though, is the challenge of getting those aftermarket sights installed without damaging the expensive sights or, worse yet, the pistol slide. Rear pistol sights utilize an interference dovetail fit in most slides, which means the task of removing the old sight and installing a new one requires a specialized sight installation tool or the services of a qualified gunsmith who can do the work. The tools can be expensive and often are handgun specific. Yes, you can find a few universal sight pushers on the market, but from our experience, these can be somewhat complicated to operate and are often “too universal”—meaning they don’t always work satisfactorily with certain slide and rear sight profile combinations.
Earlier this year, the folks at Real Avid added the Master Sight Pusher to their rapidly growing line of DIY firearm service tools. The Master Sight Pusher is universal in that it is designed to accommodate a broad range of pistol slides and sight profiles. The difference in this installer when compared to existing universal sight pushers on the market is that Real Avid designers addressed many of the problems typically associated with both universal and handgun-specific installers. Like most Real Avid tooling solutions we’ve used over the last few years, it is these nuances—addressed by putting the home DIY enthusiast front-and-center in the design approach—that separates Real Avid tools from the rest of the pack. That is certainly the case with the Master Sight Pusher.
The press block on the Master Sight Pusher covers most sight sizes and profiles with the common 60-degree surface angle. For small or exceptionally low-profile rear sights, the press block can be rotated to employ the 4mm tooth side. This allows users to press against the sight base below the top of the slide (as seen in the left image). Most applications, though, will utilize the larger pressing surface to push against the sight body (right image).
Setup for the Master Sight Pusher is straightforward. A detailed and illustrative chart is included with the tool, allowing you to achieve a precise setup for most pistol slides.
One of the advantages of the Master Sight Pusher is its robust anti-torsion frame. Some sights are more difficult to press into place than others, and that extra torque can be difficult to manage with smaller-framed sight installers. The Master Sight Pusher is large enough to sit on a work bench and includes a large handle up top to provide ample control when pushing tight-fitting sights. When more control is needed, the frame can be placed in a bench vice via the lower bench vice attachment ridge.
Once the proper press block surface is selected and the slide is aligned in the tool, removing the sight is a simple matter of turning the torqueing handle until the sight is free of the slide.
Many aftermarket rear sights include a set screw to provide additional security once the sight is correctly positioned in the slide dovetail. Before installing a rear sight, be sure to remove this screw to prevent damage to the sight or the slide.
The new sight should insert 1/3 to 1/2 of the way into the slide dovetail by hand before the pressing operation begins.
If the sight is too tight for the initial 1/3 to 1/2 fitment, a SLIGHT amount of material should be removed from the slide base. Do this by moving the sight base along a flat file using slow, even, and light strokes, rotating the sight 180 degrees with each pass. Check the fitment after every two or three passes until the sight will move 1/3 to 1/2 of the way into the dovetail and stop. If too much material is removed, the sight will be too loose and may move during use.
Once the sight is started into the dovetail, use the Master Sight Pusher to push the sight to its final position in the slide. The objective is to center the sight in the slide while pushing only in one direction. Pushing the sight too far and having to move it back to achieve proper alignment in the center of the slide may cause a loose fitment.
Another intelligent design feature of the Master Sight Pusher is the 3/8-inch ratchet receiver built into the torque handle. This allows you to gain even more leverage/torque for those tight-fitting sights.
Once the sight is installed, simply remove the slide from the Master Sight Pusher and check that the sight is centered in the slide. A small ruler can be used to ensure there is equal distance on both sides.
Night sights are a welcome and recommended addition to any pistol. The ability to achieve a clear sight picture in low-light conditions is key for any home defense or EDC handgun. With the Real Avid Master Sight Pusher, you can install aftermarket sights on most any firearm in your arsenal. The cost of the tool will pay for itself by saving you a trip to the gunsmith.