Open Sight Improvements for Ruger Rimfire Handguns
By D. K. Taylor
Ruger handguns are excellent values which feature rock solid parts, quality craftsmanship, and an accuracy potential that is seldom fully realized. There are two common improvements that owners of these fine handguns often seek. The first, and most common service desired, is trigger work. The close second, is to find and install aftermarket sights for their Ruger handgun. This page will address the latter with a unique option.
The single largest complaint about hunting & field handgun sights is how bulky and large the factory issued ones are. Very common for a front sight, is a ramped or undercut blade that is .100" - .125" in width. Then, a rear sight with a large notch is used, leaving the awkward task of lining the pair up with attempted evenness in a way that is seldom precise enough to give the shooter the full benefit of their handguns accuracy. But the fact is that most .22 handguns on the market are much more capable than their owners ever get to experience without adding optical sights.
As of this writing, Ruger has introduced a new, (for 2004), sight option for their Single Six Hunter model .22, that is very similar to what this page will illustrate. Using the parts and methods outlined below, you will be able to retrofit this same setup to your Ruger .22 handgun. (Including all bull barreled .22/45s, Super Single Six model .22 handguns.)
Older .22 rifles and some open sighted centerfire rifles use a fine brass bead front sight with a rear sight to match its shape. This is an excellent sight system, but until recently, it could only be found on rifles and only on a few custom handguns. The principle behind it is that handguns are inferior or lesser firearms to rifles in general, and they are meant to be used at shorter ranges, meaning larger targets than rifles are typically used for. This is technically true, but there is certainly room for improvement on many factory handgun sights, and refining them is a task that is well worth the effort involved.
First, we'll replace the rear sight. The factory Ruger rear sight is replaced easily, using only a small screwdriver. For a replacement, Ruger offers an upgrade sight kit for their Redhawk revolver. This kit includes a rear blade that is a "V" Notch style,(pictured below), that has a white line centered in it to aide in sight alignment. The kit is named the GVBR Sight, and is sold as a front insert & rear blade combination. You can order this kit and only use the rear blade only, from Brownells. (Part # 780-005-001, $14.60ea) Or, you can also order just the rear blade, directly from Ruger, which is much more affordable(Part #H07201, $3.60ea).
You can use the rear sight exactly how it comes, but I prefer to lower its profile and use only a very fine "V" notch. Using a sander and a small triangular file, this can be done in just a few minutes. Also a quick application of cold touch-up bluing to it afterwards, will protect it and it will look factory original. The factory white paint is less than vivid, but that it is easily fixed with some new paint. The modified rear sight blade will be approximately .020" shorter than the original, after modification.
Next, we'll tackle the front sight. You'll need to order a dovetailed ramp, with the correct radius for your handgun's barrel. Marble makes one that works wonderfully, and it will drop right on to your Ruger. These come in different heights & radiuses, but I will list the correct part numbers for your handgun.
For all bull barreled model Ruger .22 pistols except the 10" MK10, use Brownells Part # 579-000-036 ($10.00ea)For adjustable sighted Single Six revolvers, and the 10" barreled MKII MK10, use Brownells Part # 579-000-035 ($10.00ea)
Then, you will need the correct sight insert. These are available in many styles and heights. The styles offer choices, but the height is critical. Choices of bead include Ivory, Gold, and a few Fiber Optic fluorescent color choices. I have tried all of them, and I prefer the Ivory, as it matches the vertical white line on the rear sight blade, and creates a lower case shape for me to sight with. The fiber optic versions are a bit too bright, and tend to wash-out to the eye. The brass versions are good, but they tarnish quickly in weather, making them less visible with extended use.
1/16", (.060") bead sizes are preferred for this setup to match the small "V" notch in the rear blade, but 3/32" beads are available also, and may work better for some older or vision-impaired shooters, who might have trouble defining the smaller bead.
For all bull barreled model Ruger .22 pistols except the 10" MK10, use Brownells Part #579-502-922 ($11.50ea)
For Super Single Six revolvers and the 10" barreled MKII MK10, use Brownells Part # 579-503-422 ($11.50ea)
(Note; these Marble sight inserts are with the 1/16" Ivory bead. Brownells will be able to assist you with other options if desired. Just remember that listed above, the sight height for the former is .290" and for the latter it is .343". These are the heights that you will need to use with your new rear sight to retain the needed adjustment travel in the rear sight.
You will also need to use your original front sight mounting screw, (Ruger Part # XR07600 $.50ea), to install the front ramp base, since the one that is included with the Marble base is the wrong thread pitch for the Rugers and Pac-Lites. It is also probable that you will need to shorten that screw slightly, since the ramps screw hole is slightly deeper than your original front sight, and may bottom out before fully tightening the ramp to the barrel. Carefully touching the screw to a flat, moving fine sanding surface is the best way to do this without harming the remaining threads. A touch of removable Loc-Tite is recommended since the mounting screw will not be accessible after the insert is installed.
After you install the base, install the insert. Driving it in to place with a hammer and/or punch is not recommended, since it will loosen the screw or possibly break it. A small C-clamp works well to press the insert into place, while being careful to not damage any of the gun or ramp surfaces. Brownells also sells a tool for this, but it is a bit expensive for a tool that will not be used frequently.
The finished product is attractive and it functions better than the original sights. Sight acquisition is much more refined and precise, and the sights have proven to be very durable against all of the nasty field conditions that I and others have put them through. I hope you try it and that you enjoy the upgrade as much as we have. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments regarding installation procedure or parts.
To order parts from Ruger, call 603-865-2442
To order parts from Brownells, call 800-741-0015
Copyright 2004, 2012 by D.K Taylor. All rights reserved.