[Guest Post] Grizzly Custom 1911 Retro Rear Sight Review

NOTE: This product review was made possible by GunsForSale.com.  To get up-to-date information on where to find cheap Grizzly sights for sale, please visit GunsForSale.com.

Earlier this year, shortly after I turned 21, I purchased a 1911. It was quite a steal but it had two flaws with it. Firstly, it was a GI style 1911 and, as such, had tiny, tiny sights.

Not going to work.

Secondly, it also seemed to be allergic to its front sight and had spit it up at least twice before I bought it. I knew about its flaws when I purchased it and planned to upgrade the sights when it became necessary. It very quickly became necessary when it threw the sight up and over my head into the muddy earth of the range, never to be seen again. Thankfully the seller, a good friend of mine, had purchased an extra front sight, one of a taller, more useful variety. The problem now was I was stuck with a front and rear sight of differing heights.

That’s where my quest for a higher rear sight that fits in a GI rear dovetail began. I looked at several offerings from manufacturers like MGW, but was quickly turned off by the way they sit on the rear of the gun, extending up from the dovetail and running back to the end of the slide before coming up to the actual sight area. While this works for a Novak or Bo-mar cut slide, I felt with the rounded top of a GI slide behind the dovetail it broke the clean lines of the gun and added a snagging point.

MGW rear sight in profile.

An internet friend then pointed me to the 1911 parts page on Grizzly Custom’s website, which at the top in big red text says “The 1911 Retro Rear Sight is back!!!!” Scrolling down a few lines reveals a photo of a very attractive and simple rear sight sitting in a factory GI dovetail.

The photo in question, used with permission by Grizzly Custom Guns, LLC

I immediately shot an email off to Lew Bonitz at Grizzly Custom and ordered one, which arrived at my mailbox a few days later for the price of $35 shipped. My first impression upon opening it was very promising. It was a solid steel piece, with a deep matte blue and serrations across the rear of it to prevent glare and make it easier to get a good sight picture. A single allen set screw holds it into the dovetail, and it does it well.

The sight did require some minor fitting to properly fit my dovetail, but the instructions included indicate that the folks at Grizzly cut them big on the bottom dimension, and that taking material off the bottom until it fits snugly into the dovetail will probably be required. They also included an allen key of the proper size to tighten the set screw.

Not having a proper set of tools to do that fitting myself, and also needing the front sight replaced, I took my pistol to the local gunsmith who did both for me. After getting it back, I was very impressed with the clean and easy to acquire sight picture the new sights offered.

The new and improved sight picture.

I took it out to the range shortly after and fired about 100 rounds through it, and the sights performed as expected. I could pick them up after firing much quicker, and could fire more accurately, than before. The large profile of the sight allows for easy and positive racking of the slide one handed, be it off of a table, your belt, your holster or other gear.

With about 1000 rounds through this pistol after the sight upgrade, and no problems with it, I can safely say that the Retro Rear Sight by Grizzly Custom is one of the best options for upgrading your GI sights without paying for milling on your slide or breaking the attractive lines that a GI Style sight brings.

Looking sharp for not a whole lot of money.

Nathan B

Nathan B is a software engineer living in Maryland. He graduated from Penn State University in 2012 with a BS in Information Sciences and Technology. He has been shooting for most of his life, is a sucker for a good .22 rifle, and shoots competitively in IDPA and local 3-gun matches.


  • business daily

    The shroud around the front post sight is aligned with the rear peep sight to ensure the weapon is properly trained….Iron sights are a system of aligned markers used to assist in the aiming of a device such as a or and exclude the use of as in a . Iron sights are typically composed of two component sights formed by metal blades a rear sight mounted perpendicular to the line of sight and consisting of some form of notch open sight or aperture closed sight and a front sight that is a post bead or ring.

  • Nathan

    The photo order got mixed around, It should be 1st, 3rd, 5th, 2nd, 4th, should make a little more sense like that. Sorry for any confusion.

  • Slim934

    ……isn’t the 3rd picture supposed to show an improved sight picture?

  • Roadkill

    Is that knife a custom? I like the design on it.

  • Sgt. Pepper

    What is the size of the dovetail on the model?

    I have a Colt 22 handgun that is dovetailed but it doesn’t have the sight and I can’t find a replacement. The best I can measure the bottom of the dovetail is about 3/8inch.

    I was just wondering if this would fit?


  • Nathan

    Sgt. Pepper: The dovetail on my pistol is a standard GI dovetail, no modifications to the slide of a GI 1911 are needed to install the sight. Not sure about your Colt 22 though.

    Roadkill: The Knife is a S&W of some sort, it’s owned by a friend of mine.

  • John

    What front sight are you running with the new rear? I’m really thinking about upgrade my GI and need a front with a dot.

  • Nathan

    John: I’m not sure exactly what sight it is, but it is very similar to the MGW front post PP/WD/NT (Plain Post, White Dot, Narrow Tenon). Brownells stocks them, although if I were to get one myself I would probably get the IRS/WD/NT, which is a serrated ramp front with a dot. Narrow Tenon is the style of mounting that GI guns use. Wide Tenon came around with the series 70 Colts.

  • Nathan, what you have created there is a reincarnation of the classic 70’s ‘hardball gun’. It is, essentially, Cooper’s ideal of “Everything you need and nothing you don’t.” The concept is equally relevant today, particularly for those of us who live by the KISS principle.

    Thanks for the info on the rear sight. I am in the process of building yet another one of these, now.