Clapp on Handguns: Bullseye Shooting and Black Sights

posted on February 14, 2017

Old-fashioned Bullseye shooting—NRA Outdoor Pistol—is my choice for the first type of handgun competition that a new shooter should take up. That's because bullseye is pure marksmanship, a game that develops great self-discipline. It is a grand old sport, with all kinds of time-honored rituals. One of them was the procedure by which the competitor blackened or smoked his sights. 

Most commonly in the 1960s, this was done with a carbide lamp, the same device a miner clipped to the front of his helmet for light. Everybody had one of these little pots, into which he placed a few stones of carbide and spit. A sparking device ignited the gas produced from the carbide and a fine black soot was the result. We painted our sights with the soot and this gave them a totally non-reflective surface. This really worked, producing a sharply defined sight alignment. I guess the carbide lamp went the way of the dodo when optical sights were introduced.

But blackened sights did not. I was in Mark Fore and Strike, a Reno, Nev., gun emporium a few weeks ago and saw sight black in an aerosol can on the shelves. I'll be using it again for gun review shooting. It conjures up old days of pouring through the Gil Hebard catalog to see if he had re-stocked the little bottles of sight black that you painted on like fingernail polish.



The Winchester Model 94: History & Disassembly

Compact, reliable and powerful, Winchester's Model 1894 lever-actions may not have the popularity it once had with Western settlers, prospectors, law enforcement officers, hunters and ranchers, but its legacy remains today and is a fan favorite in Winchester's current product line.

NRA Gun of the Week: Fabarm USA Autumn

On this week’s “Gun of the Week” video preview, American Rifleman examines a first from Fabarm, a side-by-side break-action shotgun called the Autumn.

The Armed Citizen® Sept. 17, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

EOTech Launches Anti-Counterfeit Measures

EOTech has launched a campaign targeting those who create and sell illegal copies of its military sighting systems.

The .405 Winchester: History and Performance

Now largely a forgotten footnote in cartridge development, the .405 Winchester was once the most powerful rimmed cartridge capable of use in a lever-action rifle and was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt.

Colt Mustang .380 ACP: The Pocket-Size 1911

Based off the classic 1911 design, the small Colt Mustang chambered in .380 ACP is easily concealable and shares the same classic look in its tiny frame.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.