Recently, I’ve been removing a lot of front sight bases attached with taper pins – which caused me to think of a different method of removal.
Traditionally, having a friend hold the upper in place on a solid surface and attacking it with a large punch and a large hammer has yielded acceptable results. However, if you’re not careful, or if you get a little carried away, you can end up damaging the front sight base. I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past.
Now, the method I’ve been using can still cause damage if you’re not careful – but it seems to be much faster and easier. It doesn’t require a third hand, and if you do it right, no damage will result.
Basically, I place the front sight base/barrel assembly in the jaws of a vise at an angle – so that the small end of the pins are firmly seated against the vise, and the big ends are sitting just atop the other jaw, with enough of that side of the sight base clamped in the jaw that it won’t pop out like a zit when pressure is applied. On the other side, it’s important to get the small ends, not the base itself, against the jaw.
At that point, all one needs to do is tighten down on the vise. When enough pressure is applied, a “pop” will be heard as each pin comes loose. You might find it easier to do them one at a time, though the angles involved can be tricky – you may need to remove the sling swivel before you do the rear pin.
Of course, they won’t come all the way out – you’ll still need to use a punch to move them past the point where they’re flush with the surface of the sight base. However, a smaller punch can be used for this – with more precision. It won’t take much effort to get them all the way out.
I have done 5 front sight bases like this, and have yet to scratch one or leave a mark that can’t be cleaned up with a little cold blue. I can’t say the same for some of the FSBs that I’ve attacked with a hammer and punch in the past.
Naturally, the procedure would be much easier with a tool which would hold the barrel/FSB in place, keeping it from the metal jaws of the vise, and applying even pressure to each pin. I hope to have a prototype made soon. But if you’re at your wits end with a pinned FSB, and have access to a vise, this technique might be worth a shot.