The Kitchen Table Gunsmith
Main menu  



Adding a Tang Peep Sight to a Lever-Action Rifle
by Roy Seifert

Click here to purchase a CD with this and all Kitchen Table Gunsmith Articles.

Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.

I have always preferred a peep sight to an open sight.  All of my lever-action rifles have one mounted on the tang.  For cowboy shooting competition, I remove the aperture and use the resulting large ring as a ghost ring.  I find I can acquire the target quicker with a peep sight than with open sights.  And, because the eye automatically lines up the front post into the center of the ring, literally wherever I place the front post on the target, that is where the bullet will hit.

I recently purchased and restored a Ted Williams model 100 .30-30 Winchester (refer to my article Restoring a Ted Williams (Sears) Model 100 .30-30).  This rifle is really a cheaper model ’94 made by Winchester for Sears.  I had to do a lot of smoothing and polishing to make the action somewhat smooth, but a friend of mine purchased a real Winchester ’94 .30-30 which was a heck of a lot smoother than the Ted Williams model!  Although I replaced the rear sight during the restoration process, I really wanted to put a tang peep sight on it.

There are three popular models of rear peep sights available for lever-action rifles:

  • Williams Receiver Sight – made to be mounted on the receiver and is adjustable for both windage and elevation.  However, I would not be able to fit the rifle into my saddle scabbard so I chose not to use this one.
  • Lyman #2 tang peep sight – made to be mounted on the receiver tang, this sight is not adjustable for windage, only elevation.  You have to drift the front sight the opposite direction you want the bullet to move.  However, this sight costs almost $50 less than the Marbles sight.
  • Marbles tang peep sight - made to be mounted on the receiver tang, this sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation.  Although more expensive than the Lyman, I wanted the ability to adjust windage without having to use a mallet and punch.  Marbles has been manufacturing tang peep sights for over 100 years.

I ordered item 174097 Marble's Tang Peep Sight Winchester 53, 55, 64, 65, 1892, 1894 Steel Blue and item 735034 Marble's Improved Tang Peep Sight Screw Set #3 Blue from Midwayusa.  A few years ago I purchased the same sight for my Rossi ’92 and it came with the screws.  Apparently, Marbles decided to sell just the sight, and sell the rifle-specific screws separately.

The base of the tang sight comes with two holes; one will align with the original hole in the tang that holds the butt stock in place.  I will have to drill and tap the tang for the front hole in the sight base.  First, I made sure my rifle was unloaded, then I removed the tang screw.  I installed the peep sight and new, longer tang screw with a piece of leather used as a shim.  This raised the sight above the tang, which helped me to mark the center of the tang for the new hole.  I placed a letter ‘C’ drill bit through the front hole in the sight base and turned it with my hand to mark where to drill.  Just to make sure I was in the center of the tang, I measured the width of the tang at the point I made the mark, then divided by two; the result was 0.276”.  I used the calipers to make a line on the tang, then used a center punch to mark where the line and drill mark came together.

I completely disassembled the rifle, including removing the magazine tube.  I placed the tang in my machinist’s vise, then used a #21 drill bit to drill the hole in the tang.  The screw kit came with two screws; 10-32 and 10-36.  Since I had a 10-32 tap, this is what I used to tap the hole.  To ensure I started the hole straight, I brought the quill of my mill/drill down to where the shank of the tap was inside the chuck, then tightened the chuck to where the tap would still turn.  I clamped vise-grips on the tap and started to turn it.  Once the tap was started, I finished tapping the hole with a tap wrench.

I cleaned out the hole with brake parts cleaner, then oiled and reassembled the rifle.  I installed the new tang sight using blue thread locker on the screws.  Finally, I tapped out the new front sight and replaced it with a dovetail sight blank.  Now my rifle is ready to be sighted-in.


This project is fairly easy, even if all you have is a hand drill.  The secret is to make sure you have the front hole properly centered on the tang.  Receivers are usually made out of softer steel so they’re easy to drill and tap.  And, even if your drill is not perfectly straight, or the tap is not started perfectly straight, the front screw will still hold the sight in place.


   © Copyright 2008 Roy Seifert.