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How to Install Glock Sights with Sight Pusher Tool or File to Fit

How to Install Glock Sights with Sight Pusher Tool or File to Fit

Jun 7th 2023

Glock night sights are a great way to improve your shooting performance in low-light conditions. They are also one of the first upgrades many folks make to their pistols, and with good reason. Tritium sights are stronger and more durable than the factory offering, and they are a simple upgrade that most people can do at home with minimal tools. This guide will teach you how to install any Glock sight, from fiber-optic sights to tritium night sights.

Glock Sight Types

There are many types of Glock sights on the market today. The most common sets are fiber optic and tritium night sights. There are a few hybrid options like tritium fiber optic and tritium photoluminescent sights. Fiber optic sights gather ambient light and funnel the light to the tubes ends. These are ideal for bright light shooting. Tritium sights glow 24/7 in low light from the chemical reaction between phosphorus and tritium gas sealed in a glass vial. The hybrid options combine self-illuminated tritium with a bright light ambient feature. To learn more, check out our tritium vs. fiber optic sight blog.

Benefits of Tritium Night Sights

Most bad situations don't happen in daylight; they occur in a mix of varying light conditions. Tritium glows 24/7 and is ideal for defensive handguns. Tritium doesn't rely on batteries and has a 10-year half-life. We pair a photoluminescent Glow Dot with the tritium. The Glow Dot provides a bright-colored ring in bright light, absorbs ambient light, and glows in low light with tritium. We keep our rear sights simple, no matter the sight picture. Our iron sights will illuminate your sight picture when you need them most.

Don't have your sights fly off your pistol. Upgrade your plastic sights with a set of duty-ready iron sights. We CNC machine our sights from solid steel to ensure our product will withstand the worst environmental conditions, drops, and thousands of rounds. Read on and we’ll walk you through our Glock sight installation process.

Attachment Methods for a Glock Front Sight 

All Glock aftermarket front sights attach to the slide with a hex screw. To change the front sight, you will need a 3/16 hex bit. You may see a pinned front sight if you are lucky enough to come across a Gen 1, Gen 2 or early Gen 3 Glock. The pin can be easily removed with needle-nose pliers.

Glock Rear Sight Dovetail Fit

The new rear sight will likely take a bit of effort to get it in. Luckily the factory sights are easy to remove. There are two standard options for Glock rear sights on the market; dovetail interference fit or slip fit.

Dovetail interference fitment (Press Fit)

Dovetails are a joint formed by tapered sides that interlock with a corresponding female shape. Interference is created from the exposed surface area on the sides of the trapezoid to keep the sight in place. Dovetail fitments will hold sights in place well. Still, installing sights can take a good amount of effort because aftermarket sights are slightly oversized to compensate for max/min manufacturing tolerancing. To install a Glock rear sight, you will need a sight pusher tool or a gunsmith hammer and punch set.

Ease of Sight Installation 

Glock sights are our easiest set of sights to install and require few tools. The front sight is only one screw change, and there are two methods for the rear sight. With a little bit of prep work and some patience, Glock sight installation is an easy DIY project.

How to Install Glock Sights

You will need some basic tools no matter which installation method you choose for the rear sights:

  • Degreasing solvent (Gun Cleaner, Contact Cleaner, Isopropyl Alcohol)
  • Q-tips or Paper Towel
  • Masking Tape or Painters Tape
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or Calipers
  • Pliers
  • Glock front sight tool (3/16 Hex Bit)

Glock Font Sight Install

Disassemble the pistol per Glock's owner manual. Use the Glock front sight tool to unscrew the old front sight and pull the sight off the slide. You may need to use a set of pliers. Set the old sight and screw off to the side. The factory screw will not work in the new sight. Remove the screw from the new front sight. Degrease both sides of the slide where the front sight will be installed along with the new front sight and the screw. Oil will prevent the thread locker from curing.

Insert the screw into the Glock front sight tool and graciously apply thread locker to the threads and the screw base. Then stand the tool up vertically. Apply thread locker to the bottom of the front sight and the tab that fits into the hole on the pistol slide. Insert the sight tab into the front sight hole and hold the sight in place with your weak hand. While keeping the front sight pinned, flip the slide over and install the screw to finger-tight pressure. Do not over-tighten the screw! Finger tight is sufficient, and over-tightening can cause the screw to fail.

Give it a quick look to make sure that the front sight is straight and runs parallel to the bore. If you’re happy with it, let the thread locker rest for at least 15 minutes. Then clean off the excess adhesive. If not, loosen the screw, adjust the sight, and re-tighten the screw.

Glock Rear Sight Install

There are two ways to install a Glock rear sight; sight pusher or file to fit with a vise. Either way works just fine, it’s a matter of what tools you have on hand or are willing to purchase.

Sight pusher tools remove the possibility of accidentally scratching your slide by using a threaded bolt to move a pushing bit. Sight pusher tools are a mid-range cost option that don't take up a lot of storage space and allow for easy windage adjustments at the range. One issue with most sight pushers is the installation bit pushes high on sight, making the installation process more difficult. Our Inline Rear Sight tools solve this issue by placing the bit in the pistol's dovetail, reducing the installation force by up to 50%.

File-to-fit requires test fitting and filing to remove excess material from the sight body. This method reduces the force needed to install sights. You can scratch your slide if you don't pay attention. This method can get expensive and takes a large storage area. Portable vises have gotten popular, but they tend to move a lot.

If you’re willing to spend a bit of money on the tool, a sight pusher makes Glock sight installation an easy task for the DIYer. Just remember to read the instructions for the specific tool that you have and don’t try to rush through the install, especially if it’s your first time using the tool.

Steps to Remove Glock Factory Sights

Insert the stripped slide into the tool, line the rear sight up with the pushing block, and camp the slide in place. With the XS Inline tools, it’s a simple matter of lining up the dovetail and using the locking wedge to make sure the slide stays put. For our Eco series tool, line the sight up with the pusher bit and carefully tighten the drive bolt until the slide is against the tool body and the pusher bit is bearing against the sight. Once properly aligned, turn the handle and push the sight out. The direction of removal and installation doesn't matter with Glock sights. We recommend keeping your direction consistent throughout the installation process.

New Sight and Slide Preparation

Remove the slide from the tool, de-grease the new sight and the dovetail cut in the slide. Q-tips are a big help in making sure you get the nooks and crannies cleaned. We don't recommend de-greasing the slide while in the sight pusher, though, as it’s very easy to get de-greaser on the bolt. The bolt needs oil on the threads to operate correctly. An unoiled bolt will make the installation process much harder!

How to Install Rear Sight on a Pistol

Insert the rear sight into the pistol's dovetail and press it in place with your finger until it does not slide in anymore. Make sure the sight isn't canted. Then reinsert the pistol slide into the sight pusher and clamp it to the tool. Make sure the pusher bit is centered on the slide's dovetail and turn the handle slowly. As you install the sight, ensure the pusher bit doesn't contact the slide. Keep turning the handle until you believe the rear sight is centered.

XS's Inline Glock Rear sight tools have a measuring scale built into the pusher bit. Remove the locking wedge, place the slide flush against the flat side of the device, hold the slide in place with your hand, and slide the brass bit until it connects with the sight body. Read the hash mark on the brass bit that is closest to the white etched line on the sight tool. Flip the slide and repeat the steps above. The same hash mark will be on the white line if properly centered. The measuring scale is 1/16th of an inch. One-and-a-half bolt rotations is equal to 1/16th of an inch of movement.

Mechanically centered may not be what you need. It’s a good place to start, but we recommend taking the sight tool to the range to make minor windage adjustments for your shooting style. Make sure to use your defensive ammo when zeroing the pistol; standard range ammunition has more variability in velocity than defensive ammo.

For other brands of sight pushers without a measuring scale, you can use a pencil and ruler to mark the center of the slide for an easy visual.

Once you are happy with the sight location, apply thread locker to all sides of the sight. Let the sight rest for 15 minutes and then clean off the excess material. Once cleaned, re-oil your slide and the sights. Let the slide rest for another 15 minutes and then wipe off the extra oil. The steel will soak in some oil and create a protective barrier on the surface.

How to Install Sights by Filing to Fit 

Filing to fit a dovetail sight can be as fast as using a pusher but requires more tools and attention to detail. Ensure the vise is mounted correctly; you will need a set of padded vise jaws to prevent scratches. You will also need a gunsmith hammer and punch set. We recommend a brass punch set; brass is softer than slide steel and won't cause significant damage to the slide if struck.

Filling to Fit: Sight Installation Prep

You’ll start off by field stripping the pistol, just like you would for a sight pusher installation. Make sure that you’ve got the padded vise jaws installed on the vise, and carefully clamp the slide in the vise. Make sure that you can reach the rear sight with your punch. As an added precaution against scratching, you can apply masking tape to the sides of the slide and around the slide near the sight.

Removing the Old Sight

Select a punch that is slightly smaller than the slide's dovetail. Hold the punch horizontally with your weak hand and as low as possible on the sight dovetail. The low position reduces the force required to move the sight. If the punch is placed on the top of the sight, the force produced will not completely go in the horizontal direction needed for the sight to move through the channel, which will create more friction, and require more force to overcome the friction. Continue to carefully strike the punch until you can remove the sight by hand.

The placement of the punch and reduction in force to install the sight drove the development of our Glock sight pusher tool.

New Sight Installation

Degrease the new rear sight and the dovetail. Once the degreaser has fully evaporated, test fit the rear sight in the dovetail. The goal is to have the sight slide 1/3 of the way through the dovetail. Glock's dovetail is a bow-tie design and narrows at the center. If the sight doesn't slide through 1/3 of the dovetail, it will require filling. We do not recommend driving the sight into the dovetail without filing unless a cavity is on the bottom of the sight to allow for material deformation. If you don't file the sight, you risk damaging the tritium or marring the sight.

To file the rear sight, place a metal file on a flat surface and place the sight at the top of the file. Pull the sight towards you at a moderate pace. You want the sight to rest flat on the file for the whole stroke. After the stroke, rotate the sight 180 degrees and repeat the step. Repeat this process for three passes and then re-fit the sight. If more filing is needed, keep repeating the process. Go slow; you can always remove more material! As we say in the shop, “Miracle Grow won’t work on steel!”

Once the rear sight slides 1/3 of the way into the dovetail, you are ready for the hammer and punch. Place the punch on the bottom of the sight and lightly start tapping it in. Go slow and make precision hits.

Remove the slide from the vise and make sure the rear sight is centered. You may need to make minor adjustments. Once you are happy with the sight location, apply thread locker to all sides of the sight. Let the sight rest for 15 minutes and then clean off the excess material. Once cleaned, re-oil your slide and the sights. Let the slide rest for another 15 minutes, and then wipe off the extra oil.

That's it! The file-to-fit method is simple; going slow is key. If you want to go fast, we recommend using a sight pusher.

The XS Gunsmith’s Pro Tips for Sight Installation 

Brass vs. Steel Punches: What’s the difference?

Brass punches are soft and won't scratch the surface of the slide under most conditions. Many punch sets include steel punches. These are ideal for old iron sight removal like big Novak sights or MIM factory sights that have been driven in with a hydraulic press.

Sight Install Considerations

Apply pressure to the sight as low as possible. Imagine a tall glass of water. If you push with one finger at the top of the glass, the glass will tip over. If you push low on the glass, it will move across the table. The XS DIY and Gunsmith Series Inline Sight Pushers are designed to push as low on the sight as possible and their open top design allows you to easily see if the sight starts to get canted.

Use Thread Locker / Loctite

Loctite is your friend! A common complaint about using thread locker is that it prevents the possibility of adjusting the sight once the thread locker sets up. You can make adjustments, but you’ll need to break the seal first, which takes a good amount of force. We build fighting sights meant for fast shooting and hard use. For an EDC gun, we highly recommend using thread locker.

Installing Glock night sights is a great way to improve your accuracy and sight acquisition speed. At XS, we are shooters and tinkerers. Installing your own sights is a good skill set to learn and can help you learn more about your pistol. Glock sight installation is a straightforward process that, with some guidance, can be accomplished by most gun owners. Whether you choose to use one of our sight pushers or a file-to-fit installation method, we have your back through the whole process. If you get stuck, call our tech line, and we will happily walk you through it.

To learn more about our sight options, check our sight selector guide.