Lyman No. 2 Tang Sight
By Chuck Hawks and Rocky Hays
The Lyman No. 2 is a traditional, folding, tang sight. The original was designed by William Lyman and the Lyman Company was founded in 1878 to manufacture and sell this sight. The Lyman Products Corporation is still with us today and selling No. 2 tang sights, as well as many other products.
This modern version of the No. 2 is presumably much like those used on lever action Winchesters in the late 1800's. The No. 2 tested here (item #3902109) was designed for Uberti replica Winchester Model 1873 rifles and carbines.
The No. 2 sight is nicely packaged in a foam padded plastic box and includes the appropriate mounting screws, instructions and two screw-in sight apertures. One has a very large .093" diameter peephole (see photo above) and with it in place, you have a "ghost ring" type sight. The second is a .040" large disc "peep" aperture that we found more useful. It serves to increase the eye's depth of field, making focusing on the front sight and the target easier for our middle-aged eyes, while still allowing a wide view of the target area. Lyman calls the .040" disc a "target" aperture, but we consider it a general purpose aperture.
The all steel No. 2 sight weighs 6 ounces and carries a MSRP of $86.50. It is made in the USA. You can buy one online at the Lyman web site, www.lymanproducts.com
The instructions are worth noting, as they are actually an interesting read. The history of the aperture sight is briefly covered. It turns out that it dates back to Roman times, when it was used on crossbows. Also explained is the optical advantage of an aperture sight compared to a traditional open or semi-buckhorn rear sight, including how the aperture sight works, the beneficial effect of increased sight radius and why it is faster and more accurate than open sights. (Much of this material is also covered in the Guns and Shooting Online article "Choosing the Right Sight," which can be found on the Rifle Information page.) Another bit of useful information is that the loop on the side of the sight is there simply to replicate the appearance of the original No. 2 sight and has no function. (Actually, it can be used, with an impromptu lever inserted through the hole, to adjust the tension on the folding sight's hinge.) Of course, mounting instructions are provided, as well as how to align the sight and adjust for elevation.
The Lyman No. 2 sight is mounted to the rifle's tang by two screws. The appropriate mounting screws are provided with the sight. There is already one tang screw, so installation requires drilling and tapping a second hole in the rifle's tang. Once that has been done, use the supplied screws to secure the sight to the tang. Tighten the mounting screws evenly; the front screw does not have a lot of metal to bite into, so do not over tighten and strip the threads.
Before attempting to use the tang sight, remove the semi-buckhorn rear sight from the rifle's barrel by tapping it out of its dovetail from left to right. You can fill the dovetail with a blank or by substituting a Lyman No. 16 folding leaf rear sight.
Adjust the No. 2 tang sight for elevation by simultaneously turning both knurled sleeves (finger nuts). Turning the sleeves clockwise raises the sight; turning the sleeves counter-clockwise lowers the sight. Once the elevation is correct, turn the sleeves in opposite directions so that they jam against each other. This is supposed to lock the elevation post in place and prevent movement.
The No. 2 tang sight has no provision for windage adjustment. Drift the rifle's front sight laterally in its dovetail to adjust windage. The front sight must be moved in the opposite direction that you want the bullet to move (i.e., if you need to move the point of bullet impact left, drift the front sight to the right).
Maximum elevation is 0.8". There is a graduated scale on the sight stem, but it does not indicate any particular distance. Our suggestion is to ignore it. The No. 2 sight is not particularly strong or rigid and once you get it sighted-in, tighten everything up as much as possible and do not mess with it.
We mounted the Lyman No. 2 tang sight on a .357 Magnum Uberti Model 73 Special Short Sporting rifle and it worked as advertised once the rifle was sighted-in. It is definitely faster and more accurate than the semi-buckhorn open sight supplied with these rifles. We shot a number of three-shot groups at 50 yards using both Remington .38 Special +P factory loads with 125 grain SJHP bullets and Federal .357 Magnum factory loads with 158 grain JSP bullets. The group sizes were very consistent, measuring between ¾" and 1" center to center with both types of ammunition. Suffice it to say, we were impressed with the accuracy of both the tang sight and the rifle.
If that were the end of the story, it would be a perfect world. Unfortunately, it is not. For one thing, the mounting base of the sight very slightly overhung the rifle's rear tang, with the result that it crushed and marred the stock finish where the wood meets the metal. Then there is the tiny .050" Allen head set screw that secures the elevation assembly in the sight's base. The instructions warn not to attempt to loosen this setscrew, which has been torqued at the factory. Unfortunately, the setscrew in the supplied sight loosened and allowed the elevation assembly to fall out before we even got the sight mounted on the rifle. The elevation assembly is a thin gauge, rolled steel tube into which the sight stem fits--rather loosely, we might add. The knurled adjustment sleeves surround this tube. There is a lot of play in the whole fixture, not to mention the inadequate bite on the elevation assembly's flimsy outer tube taken by the tiny setscrew that secures the whole thing to the base.
We finally got the No. 2 sight correctly assembled and secured in place. Once the rifle was sighted-in, we tightened all adjustments, including the setscrew, as tight as we dared to remove as much play from the sight as possible. It survived its first range session, maybe 50 rounds of .38 Special +P and .357 Magnum factory loads, without loosening. All we can do is wait and see if everything stays put as we use the rifle in the future. We definitely intend to order (and sight-in!) a folding leaf rear sight for the now empty barrel dovetail to serve as a back-up for the No. 2 tang sight before we take the Uberti '73 into the field.
Lyman would do well to forego some authenticity if that is what is needed to improve and strengthen this sight. The elevation assembly tube should have a thicker wall and the internal tolerance between it and the sight stem should be tighter. The loop at the base of the sight should be replaced by a slotted screw, which would be tidier. The tiny .050" set screw is too small and takes an inadequate bite on the elevation assembly tube; at the very least, a larger setscrew should be substituted. Far better would be to braze or solder the elevation assembly tube into the sight base and if it loosens again, that is exactly what we are going to do.
An excellent improvement would be to add some provision for windage adjustment. The present system (none) works only if the rifle's front sight can be drifted in its dovetail, which is at best an inexact, time consuming and expensive (due to the number of cartridges required) way to sight-in a rifle.
The bottom line on the Lyman No. 2 tang sight is that it offers a big improvement in sighting accuracy and speed of target acquisition, far superior to the rifle's standard open sight. Its design and construction, however, leave something to be desired.
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