Identification of this old rifle sight?

I am attempting to identify this sight which I found in my grandfather’s old collection. I know this is a cartridge collector sight but I am hoping someone out there could nail this down for me. Also, first time trying to upload a foto from photobucket so this might be a total bust.

That’s a Model 1884 Buffington rear sight for a 45 Caliber Springfield. I can’t say exactly what particular arm it’s for - rifle, carbine, etc - since I cannot see the markings. The marking will be stamped on the upper right side of the leaf.

These sights used to be very common and sold for only a few dollars. But, as the supply dried up they became more valuable although I have been out of martial arms collecting for several years so cannot say what they are worth today.


Thank you, Ray,for the input. It is nice to know what the sight is called. I couldn’t find any additional markings on it. Any idea why the moveable leaf was constructed so as to go up and to the left as it was elevated? The bars which entrap the leaf seem to be tapered.(At the knurled knob the bar on the right is thicker than it is at its base (3/16" vs 1/8") which would seem to force the sight to the left as it is elevated. On the left, the bar is a little thinner at the top than at the base. I can’t figure out why the bars wouldn’t be of equal thickness.

The movable bar was designed to copensate for “drift” - the natural tendency of the bullet, to go off to one side slightly as range increases. How it drifts has something to do with the direction and rate of twist of the rifling, I believe. Never being a long-range rifle shooter of note, I never fully understood “drift.”

The later M1903 Springfield sight for the .30-06 cartridge had the same sort of “drift” compensation built into it.


John explained the reason for the tapered slide. Drift is caused by a small aerodynamic sideforce on the bullet resulting from the yaw of repose. (It’s OK if you want to call it a result of the rifleing twist, although it’s a little more complicated than that.) Right hand twist = right hand drift. Even the modern day, high Ballistic Coefficient bullets, will drift a significant amount at long distances.

Bullet movement caused by wind or air movement is called deflection. The Buffington sight is constructed to compensate for deflection by turning the bottom thumb-screw.

The upper right side of the leaf next to the thumb-screw should have a letter stamped on it. “R” for Rifle or “C” for Carbine. There are other markings but those are two most common. In addition, the uppermost graduation for the rifle is “14” while for a Carbine it is “19”. If your sight has none of these markings, or something different, I would like to see a close up photograph.


Herky- current retail on these is around $75-100.

I will delete this thread in another day or two as it is not cartridge related (other than the fact that the ammuniton performance caused the drift feature in the sight.)


Quick! Try to ID that sight by the letter stamped on the slide. It does affect value. “R” is the most common. “C” is a little more valuable. “XC” is worth a lot more.

If you want to sell it I can PM you the address of a guy who could handle the sale for you.