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Old 06-23-2020, 09:19 AM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Default Room for a Dovetail?

Per the thread title; Iím trying to determine whether there is sufficient ďmeatĒ on the top of a Model 439 slide to safely mill in a dovetail like the Gen 3 slides had? I ask because I read that some Gen 2 parts were still being used up at the beginning of Gen 3 production. The latest project on my bench is a 439 slide I hope to upgrade with better (perhaps Trijicon?) sights and other details to graft onto a 639 project. Iíll measure for myself of course, but Iím wondering if anybody has already done it?

TIA ~ Froggie
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:31 AM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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I never got a reply to this so let me refresh it with some explanation. I am working on a project gun, trying to make the best (for me) version of the 39 series I can build. The slide I am using is an orphan 439 (probably) slide I actually bought to harvest parts from... has little to no actual value except as a test bed now.

I want to experiment with sights and it came to me with the standard non-adjustable rear sight and forged front blade. I am wondering about replacing the front blade with a dovetail for the potential to change as desired. Alternatively I might consider the type of staked pin arrangement found on Colt 1911s if there isnít enough meat there to mill the dovetail, but that would slow down or limit blade changes if they should be needed.

I know the 3904 slides were available with front dovetails, but they had that built up region around the DT, so that is why Iím asking whether there is sufficient steel present on my 439 slide to mill what I need.

Anyone with actual experience doing what Iím proposing?

TIA~ Froggie
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:10 PM
Liftrat Liftrat is offline
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I just got my Colt 1911 Government slide (with the old stake-on front sight) machined by Novak's for their dovetail sight. I can't find a spec for how deep their cut is, but if you happen to have a MK IV slide, you could measure the thickness there. If not, I could probably get a measurement off of mine, though it might take a day or so.
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:31 PM
jsbethel jsbethel is offline
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Unfortunately the front sight is your main issue for sure.

Meprolight used to make night sights for the fixed sight 639 with a drop in rear blade and the front sight was pinned to the ramp (pictured). They are probably discontinued and even if you found an old set, Meprolight does not re-lamp sights like Trijicon does.

With the Trijicon SA04, the rear sight would drop in but the front would need to be carefully dovetailed.

Trijicon Bright & Tought Night Sights - Smith & Wesson 411, 915, 5903, 5904, 5906, 5924, 5926, 5944, and 5946 | Trijicon(R)
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:39 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
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You can find on a number of early 3rd Gens that what you have is a 2nd Gen slide that has been partially upgraded for a 3rd Gen pistol. These slides are easy to ID as they have the four lines of S&W information on the left side of the slide and these early guns tend to have a finish that more closely aligns with 2nd Gen guns than with the 3rd Gens.

These guns use the old style 2nd Gen simple blade fixed rear sight or the large winged adjustable rear sight. The adjustable rear sight between 2nd and 3rd Gens is the same.

The front sight is built up higher for the adjustable sight guns.

While I get the hobby/project side of your idea, it sounds cost prohibitive for very little tangible result to me.
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Old 07-22-2020, 03:11 PM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Originally Posted by Sevens View Post
While I get the hobby/project side of your idea, it sounds cost prohibitive for very little tangible result to me.
Brother Sevens you've known me long enough to realize that I specialize in rescuing maidens, slaying dragons and mostly tilting at windmills. This project probably falls into the latter category, but what I have in mind is an all steel (carbon and stainless) single stack 9mm in the configuration I would order if I could walk into the pattern shop in Springfield and get the exact combination of features I wanted. The style of pinned on front sight overlay as used by Meprolight and pictured here by jsbethel may be something I could fabricate fairly readily on a mill. By regulating blade height I could match the front sight up to whatever rear sight struck my fancy, and once I had the prototype designed could make others with different blade heights if I desired a change.

Come, Sancho Panza, Lady Dulcinea awaits us!

Froggie
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Old 07-22-2020, 03:49 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
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No no no, spend all that project time spitting out 616’s and sell them on the forum!
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:08 PM
jsbethel jsbethel is offline
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Finding a 3rd gen upper would make things much easier but that might take the fun out of your project.

3906 upper/639 lower
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:29 PM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Originally Posted by jsbethel View Post
Finding a 3rd gen upper would make things much easier but that might take the fun out of your project.

3906 upper/639 lower
In the best of all possible worlds, the slide I bought to cannibalize would have been a 3904 slide instead of a 439 slide and even would have had sight fins like a 57 Chevy... but I got what I got, and that's what I have that I can work with. I'm curious though... will a Gen 2 barrel work in a Gen 3 slide with the change of bushing style?

Froggie
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:05 PM
Sevens Sevens is offline
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3906 upper/639 lower
Hold on, karma police intervention!

Given that 3906 slide and 5906 are exactly the same thing, -why- source the part from the fantastically scarce and exclusive 3906?
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:27 PM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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I wouldn't tear apart a complete, rare firearm to get materials for one of my projects, but if the part is already an orphan, it's fair game. The farther from its other parts, the more fair the game!

In the case of my 639 Franken-Smith no original 639 parts were harmed in the course of the build and I could even return it to its original configuration in about 15 minutes... all of the cutting and changing is happening on the orphan 439 slide, which doesn't seem all that rare. OTOH, I don't know anything about the history of that 639/3906 hybrid... in fact it looks blued on my screen... could it be a 436/3904 hybrid instead?

Froggie

Froggie
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Old 07-22-2020, 07:02 PM
jsbethel jsbethel is offline
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I just happened to get that upper in a parts kit that included single stack parts and a pre-recall 3906 grip which I promptly sent to S&W for replacement.

No pistols were harmed - I like my 639 as it is and my 3904 and 3906 both have night sights.
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Old 07-22-2020, 08:03 PM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbethel View Post
I just happened to get that upper in a parts kit that included single stack parts and a pre-recall 3906 grip which I promptly sent to S&W for replacement.

No pistols were harmed - I like my 639 as it is and my 3904 and 3906 both have night sights.
Parts kits are wonderful things, but I end up with leftover parts which leads me to start another project, which requires more parts, of which some will be leftover, which lead me to start another project which...

I'm reminded of my old grandpa at the dinner table when he said, "I'm having trouble getting my biscuits and my gravy to run out together" which meant that he had to keep eating!

Froggie
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Old 07-22-2020, 08:50 PM
J. R. WEEMS J. R. WEEMS is offline
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Exclamation DOVETAILS

Froggie-- I have done a ton of them on revolvers back when sight inserts were in vogue but never on a semi auto. Wish I could be more help. The 1911's I worked on the front sights were staked in.. Can you tell I'm old??
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Old 07-23-2020, 08:18 AM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Originally Posted by J. R. WEEMS View Post
Froggie-- I have done a ton of them on revolvers back when sight inserts were in vogue but never on a semi auto. Wish I could be more help. The 1911's I worked on the front sights were staked in.. Can you tell I'm old??
Weíre in the same boat, JR. I just observed the 32nd anniversary of my 39th birthday myself.

Iím guessing the most straightforward strategy might be to mill off the forged front sight and drill the holes to stake in a front blade as seen on classic 1911 builds, but Iíd hate to do all that if I could go another, easier way. That pinned-on Meprolight unit shown by jsbethel just seems like such an easy fix... heck, I could even put it on with epoxy and skip the pin!

Anyway, it seems like these ďsimpleĒ projects have a way of spiraling out of control once we get into them and one good idea leads to another.

Froggie

PS Has anyone mentioned whether I can use a Gen 2 barrel with the fixed bushing of a Gen 3 slide?
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Old 07-23-2020, 01:10 PM
JohnHL JohnHL is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Frog View Post
PS Has anyone mentioned whether I can use a Gen 2 barrel with the fixed bushing of a Gen 3 slide?
Only on the compact models.

In other words, a 469/669 barrel will work in a 6904/6906 slide because they both utilize the "fixed" (pressed in) bushing that mates with the larger diameter "bell" at the muzzle of the barrel.

On the "full-size", 4" barreled pistols (439/639/659 2nd gen and 5904/5906 3rd gen), the 2nd gen pistols utilize a removable bushing that fits the straight, "un-belled" barrels while the 3rd gens use the larger inside diameter fixed bushing that fits the larger, "belled" circumference at the muzzle end of those barrels.

It is "possible" to press out the 3rd gen bushing and then "re-mill" the front of the slide to accept the removable, 2nd gen bushing.
Then you could use the 2nd gen barrel or turn down the "bell" on a 3rd gen barrel to fit the 2nd gen bushing.

One caveat to consider, the 3rd gen fixed bushing and barrel are considered to have improved accuracy over the 2nd gen style.

Simple answer: No easy way to do it.

John
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Old 07-23-2020, 01:41 PM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Thanks, John. So at this point I'm left with modifying the 439 slide that was the impetus for this Franken-Smith project to begin with, or starting again with a new slide, leading to more leftover parts, and probably yet another project. I think I'll heed the sage advice of the late Kenny Rogers and "...know when to hold 'em..." I've never been much of a fan of fixed bushings even though they were supposedly more accurate; that would only be with a properly fitted barrel anyway I suppose.

I guess I'll soldier on with what I've got until and unless a set of the old Meprolight sights comes my way or I get off my lazy @$$ and try to copy one myself. Maybe those fixed sights aren't so bad... some folks seem to prefer them!

Froggie
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Old 07-23-2020, 01:47 PM
Drm50 Drm50 is online now
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No experience with that model but with recoiling slides there is a lot inertia on sights. Both front and back. I like dovetails too, but sometimes stake job is better.
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Old 07-24-2020, 01:06 PM
jsbethel jsbethel is offline
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Here is an older thread showing that it can be done - BRAVO ZULU TO NOVAK'S
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Old 07-24-2020, 03:49 PM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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I wonder whether it would be practical to do a front sight installation like this on a standard forged front sight... you could mill the top of the existing sight flat, then dovetail it for the new blade. It might be necessary to mill off the edges of the dovetail part to be even with the sides of the existing sight.

Froggie
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:35 AM
stansdds stansdds is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Frog View Post
I wonder whether it would be practical to do a front sight installation like this on a standard forged front sight... you could mill the top of the existing sight flat, then dovetail it for the new blade. It might be necessary to mill off the edges of the dovetail part to be even with the sides of the existing sight.

Froggie
But on the 3rd gen slides, the raised portion that provides the base for the front sight is about 0.320" in width. The front sight on on 1st and 2nd gen slides is only the width of the sight, so there is not a lot of metal for a dovetail.
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:05 AM
Sigma40sw Sigma40sw is offline
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Just a thought, Novak makes a Front Sight for Colt Officers models,that is a thinner dovetail. Officer Model slides are also thin in the front sight area.
It may be worth a look.
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Old 07-25-2020, 05:25 PM
WR Moore WR Moore is offline
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Novak has front sight blanks with dovetails either 0.060 or 0.075 in deep. They also use a vertical roll pin toward the front of the blade to further lock the sight in place once you've got it centered.

I looked at an older GPI catalog and the S&W auto skematic shows what appears to be a 3 digit compact. The slide is shown with a dovetail front sight.
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