A dovetail notch is typically cut into the front or rear of your firearm barrel, receiver, or slide. The notch sits perpendicular to the gun's bore, and secures a dovetail sight to the firearm. The notch is wider at the base, than the top and this is commonly referred to as the dovetail degrees. This allows the sight to wedge into the notch and stay in place.
There are several different types of dovetails and sights used by different manufactures. Usually the intended use of the 1911 determines the type of sight the manufacture installs. There are four main types of dovetails. Each style of dovetail (i.e. GI, Novak, Bomar, LPA TRT etc.) have a different dovetail degree and size. Essentually this means you will have to choose the correct sight to fit your existing dovetail, or mill the slide to except a new style. There are other specialty dovetails as well, (i.e. Kimber, Caspian Rollo, Glock, etc.) but these four main types are most commonly encountered.
The original 1911 cut is known as the GI, or Government, dovetail. Whlie these are the simplest design, they have limitations when it comes to sight features. If you have the standard GI dovetail and want to install an adjustable sight you would need to use a significantly higher front sight. This leads to issues with snagging and holstering. One of the most common dovetails is the Novak LoMount which is used for most Law Enforcement, Tactical Applications and CCW due to the snag-free low profile. Finally you have the Bo-mar and LPA/TRT which cater more towards the competition and target shooters with prominent rear blades and more finely tuned adjustment capabilities.
Not just "ANY" sight will fit an existing dovetail. For a direct sight replacement, you will need to determine the type of dovetail you currently have on your slide. This will be the determining factor on which rear sight you will need to purchase. For example: If you have a Novak style dovetail, you cannot install a Bomar, LAP/TRT or Government sight. The dovetail dimensions are not the same and it will not fit.
While it is not impossible the change the style of sight on a slide you must take a few things into consideration. The GI style dovetail can usually be modified to accept the Novak, Bo-mar, or LPA/TRT sights. However trying to modify a slide from any of the other cuts can be a costly and time consuming endeavor. It will require the welding of the previous cut or the purchase of a new slide entirely. No matter the choice we recommend a trained gunsmith handle any modifications to the slide.
Kensight offers a large selection of sights to fit many of the different firearm manufactures. We offer the common dovetails like Colt Government, Novak LoMount, BoMar BMCS, and LPA/TRT. We also offer less common dovetails from other manufacturers. These include Kimber, Caspian Rollo, Ruger, Glock, Beretta, CZ, H&K and more. We are going to focus on the most popular right now, and if your 1911 requires a different specialty sight, you can give us a call for more information.
If you are looking for a direct replacement sight for the Colt Government, Novak LoMount, BoMar BMCS, or LPA/TRT, compare the pictures below to your existing sight. Click the one that best matches what is currently on your 1911.
If you 1911 does not have a rear sight installed, you can match the profile of your dovetail with the images below. Choose the dovetail that looks closest to the existing cut on your 1911 slide.
Notice the Bo-mar and LPA/TRT are very close in initial appearance but there are a few key differences that will help in determining the correct option. First the Bo-mar cut will have a threaded hole drilled into the slide whereas the LPA/TRT does not. Secondly the dovetail on the Bo-mar is slightly smaller and is located more forward on the slide. Compare distances from the front of the sight, to the corner of the dovetail in the images above. Also notice the Bomar is also cut a little shallower than the LPA.
Pro Installation Tip: After installing your new rear sight, mark the position. Remove the rear sight and place a drop of Blue Loctite 243 in the dovetail and reinstall. The Blue Loctite will hold the sight in place under extreme conditions, while still allowing the 1911 sight to be removed in the future.