The Hobby Gunsmith

Product Test-

Marbles and Lyman Tang Sights

Several months ago there was a lengthy discussion amongst cowboy shooters about which tang sight is better; the Marbles or Lyman tang sights.  The Hobby Gunsmith decided to order one of each and compare them and determine which one is best.

   The object of a tang sight is to create an aperture for the shooter to look through that forces the eye into proper alignment with the front sight.  This is done on a normal open iron sight by allowing the shooter to move the head in order to center the front sight post between two blades of the rear sight.  This arrangement is fine when the shooter has plenty of time to align the sights and carefully break the shot.  It is not as good when the shooter is trying to shoot fast.

   The basic problem with lever action guns is that the front sight is forward of the receiver and proper alignment while attempting to rapidly acquire the target becomes very difficult.  The rear sight blades are only used to allow the shooter to properly align the eye with the front sight.  A better solution would be to allow the shooter to hold the eye in the correct position relative to the barrel alignment and not need the rear blade sights.

   Another problem with the rear sight blades is that they can partially obstruct smaller targets.  If the shooter's eye can be forced into the proper orientation relative to the barrel, then the traditional blade rear sights can be removed to give the shooter a clearer view of the target.

   The traditional solution has been to switch to either a receiver or tang mounted peep sight.  The peep sights have a small aperture that the shooter must view through, which forces the eye into the proper alignment with the barrel and the front sight blade.  With a properly adjusted peep sight, there is no need to have any other alignment mechanism and the rear sight blades may be removed.

Figure 1.  Marbles tang sight on the left and the Lyman sight on the right.

   Marbles and Lyman make competing products that are designed to be mounted on the tang behind the gun's hammer.  This places the peep sight near the natural location of the shooter's eye.  Although the tang is not far removed from the barrel, this is not a problem at the close range shooting of Cowboy Action Shooting.

Figure 2.  A complete kit.

   Both products come as a complete kit and ready to install on the gun.  Both included instructions, screws, and different screw-in apertures that can be used to force the shooter into a tighter group. 

   Although the two sights are very similar, the most significant differences between the two are the price and the windage adjustments.  The Marbles tang sight is listed at $125 while the Lyman #2 tang sight is listed at $77.50.  Both prices are from the Brownells catalog and only for comparison between the two.

   The price difference seems to be because of the difference in windage adjustment.  The Marbles tang sight comes with a knob that allows lateral movement in the base for windage adjustments.  The Lyman tang sight requires the installer to shim the left or right side of the mount with paper.

   Another difference important to many shooters is that the Marbles sight has click adjustments while the Lyman sight has a continuous adjustment with no reference as to how far the shooter has adjusted the sight.  I find this to be important as will anyone who wants to adjust the sight and be able to quickly put it back.


Figure 3.  The tang of the Winchester 94.

      Installation of either brand of sight begins by removing the tang bolt that holds the stock in place.  We are installing the sights on a Winchester 94 Trapper and a Rossi Puma 92.  The Winchester was was not drilled for the second screw that secures the sight, so the front hole had to be drilled and tapped.  That will be covered in a future article.


Figure 4. Screws removed from the Rossi Puma.

   The tang sight is put into place and secured with the longer tang stock screw that comes with the kit.  Both kits came with a longer tang screw that is properly fitted to the flange of the new sight.  Completing the installation of the sight on most guns simply requires us add the shorter front screw and tighten down the screws to secure the tang sight.

Figure 5. Marbles sight mounted on the Rossi Puma.

   Figure 5 shows the Marbles tang sight on the Rossi Puma 92.  Elevation is adjusted by turning the lower portion of the vertical shaft while windage is adjusted by turning the windage adjustment screw on the right side of the mount.  The Lyman sight below is similar for the elevation adjustment, but it does not have a windage adjustment. 

Figure 6.  Lyman sight mounted on the Winchester 94 Trapper.  The front screw  had not been installed at the time of the photo.

   Either sight was screwed into place quickly and easily, but that's where the similarities ended for the installation. On the Rossi Puma with the Marbles tang sight, it was a simple process of adjusting the elevation and windage until the original sights came into the proper orientation.  Since the original sights were properly sighted in, they could be used to adjust the tang sight for proper alignment.

Figure 7.  The ring of the tang sight showing the original sights through the peep.

   Figure 7 shows the Marbles sight installed on the Rossi Puma.  After turning the elevation and windage knobs, it is clear that the sights are almost in alignment.  The camera lens was slightly off-center so it appears the front sight is slightly high and to the right.  If the camera lens had been well centered, the way the eye might be, then the front blade sight would have been perfectly centered between the rear blades and the top of the front sight would have been aligned with the top of the rear blades.  This Marbles tang sight is ready for some fast shooting.


Figure 8.  The Lyman sight was not in alignment when first installed.

   The Lyman sight also installed easily even though the front hole had to be drilled and tapped.  That was an issue with my particular Winchester and not with the sight itself.  As can be seen in figure 8, the Lyman is not in very good alignment.  The ghost image of the ring is visible in the photo as are the rear sight blades.  The front sight is a slight shadow on the left side of the opening of the rear sight blades.  This will require a shim under the sight mounting plate to swing the peep hole to the right and correct the misalignment.

Figure 9.  The Marbles tang sight as viewed from the rear.

   Both sights are similar in function once they are in place and properly aligned.  Although both brands come with a set of screw-in apertures, they are not needed for shooting at normal cowboy action distances.  In the faster paced sport of cowboy shooting, most shooters do not use the screw in apertures.  This provides a faster target acquisition.

Figure 10.  The Lyman tang sight as viewed from the rear.

   To protect the sight while it is not being used, it is folded down parallel with the stock.  This prevents the sight from becoming caught on loading tables, gun carts, or clothing.  Just remember to raise the sight at the loading table.  In the testing with either gun, we found no problems with the alignment of the sights returning to their proper position after being folded down.

Figure 11.The Marbles tang sight folded down for transport or storage.

   The proof of the effectiveness of the tang sights was determined by a trip to the range.  Both sights performed well in the speed race of Cowboy Action Shooting.  It was much easier to acquire the target quickly when not having to worry about getting quickly onto the next target while trying to keep the the front and rear sights properly aligned.

   I was able to shoot much faster using the tang sights than I have without one of these great sights.  I found the addition of a tang sight to be worth every penny of the money spent in purchasing them. 

   If the shooter is not on a limited budget and wants a good tang peep sight, the Marbles sight is the one to buy.  The Marbles tang sight is well-built and adjusts easily for the shooter.  For the shooter who is on a budget and who is willing to spend a little time shimming the site into proper alignment, the Lyman tang site is also a well-built performer.