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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.