Skinner Sights Aims to Please

How to take a good levergun to great

A Skinner Sight on a Marlin Model 39A .22. — It looks good and shoots good!

There are several ways to equip a lever-action rifle with sights and most shooters, at least those of us who have been around for a while, need something better than the stock sights.

Receiver sights are perfect for those who wish to keep the slick handling properties found in traditional leverguns. My original .22 Marlin Model 39A I purchased as a teenager in 1956 wears a receiver sight. This particular one is an old Redfield and has been on this rifle for well over 50 years, probably closer to 60.

Such sights are available today from both Lyman and Williams and provide an excellent option to a scope as they are based on the fact an aperture with a round hole in the eyepiece forces us to concentrate on the front sight and place it in the middle of the dot. While not as obtrusive as a scope or a tang sight, receiver sights normally bolt to the left side of the frame and protrude there and also across the top of the receiver.

Lineup of Skinner Sights, from the 860 Reliable (left) all the way to the Skinner Express.

A Better Mousetrap

Andy Larsson of Skinner Sights has come up with an excellent idea which gives us the benefit of a receiver peep sight without the protrusion on the side of the frame and top of the receiver. Andy’s company motto is: “We aim to Please.” This motto is twofold as the company is designed to provide us with satisfaction while also giving an excellent sight which allows us to aim without losing the slick handling property and inherent smoothness of a levergun.

These sights are about as compact as a sight can be made and still work. Andy says of his sights: “Skinner Sights are handcrafted in my shop in St. Ignatius, Montana. Machined from a solid steel, stainless steel or brass bar stock, the parts are hand-fitted to close tolerances. We have worked hard to design sights which are not only extremely functional and rugged, but to also complement the firearm. I make high-quality sights at a reasonable cost to the customer. Skinner Sights are not expensive, but not cheap.”

Notice these are not aluminum sights! They are not only extremely well made but quite attractive, especially as the brass versions are to my eyes.

Skinner Sights consist of a base which accepts an eyepiece. The base is adjustable for windage, while the stem of the eyepiece, which is locked in place by an Allen screw, can be rotated to adjust elevation.

Skinner 860 Sight on a Ruger 10/22, turning it into a tack-driving machine without the use of a heavy optic.

The Sights

The base itself can be small, such as what is called the 860 Reliable sight, which is barely over 1″ long with two holes spaced 0.860″ to fit in holes drilled and tapped for a scope base on such rifles as the Ruger 10/22. This is about as small as a sight can be and still work properly. It is also very handy on the Ruger .44 semi-automatic Deerstalker. This Ruger .44 could well be the ultimate feral pig rifle and if one wants a larger opening the eyepiece can be removed to give a “ghost ring” style sight. Different sized apertures are also available.

Another version especially for Marlin Models 336 and 1895 is the Express Sight, which basically is the full length of the receiver. A Skinner Alaskan is basically the same sight with one-half inch more sight radius. The Guide Set comes with the rear sight and a ramp front sight. The Reliable is an abbreviated version. Skinner also offers a sight for open-top lever actions such as the Winchester 1894 which fits on the back of the receiver right in front of the hammer, along with a Barrel Mount version which goes into the rear sight dovetail found on most rifles.

John sighted in the Skinner Sight on his Marlin .22 by shooting just two groups.
The results speak for themselves.

Mounting Up

I have mounted Skinner Sights on approximately a half-dozen of my leverguns plus an 860 on a Ruger 10/22. You may or may not have to replace the front sight to match up with the Skinner Sight. For example, on a 24″ Marlin 39A I did not have to change the bead front sight at all as there was enough elevation adjustment in the rear sight. With a .35 Remington Marlin levergun, groups were 9″ high at 25 yards making it necessary to replace the front sight and I had one 0.530″ tall in my parts box. With this in place the rifle now shot low, however 1-1/2 turns of the rear sight put groups right to point of aim. Skinner also offers varying heights of ramp-style front sights.

I find the sights exceptionally handy on leverguns and should be just the ticket for hunting in brush country or heavily forested areas for such as deer, black bear and feral pigs. One can even remove the aperture and as mentioned above have a larger peep sight for fast handling especially when hunting feral hogs.

Other Fun Stuff

As well as offering these excellent sights, Skinner Sights offers several other very interesting items. One is the “Bush Pilot” which is described as a Carbine Survival Kit. This consists of a Winchester 1892 replica in .44 or .357 Magnum, with a 16-1/2″ octagon barrel, stainless hard chrome finish, walnut butt stock and forearm, and of course Skinner Aperture Sights. This is a takedown model and comes packed in a folding case along with such survival items as a knife, firestarter, 50 feet of rope, stormproof matches, compass and a space blanket tent. It is also available in .45-70 on a replica Model 1886.

Many churches are going to Security Teams to protect their parishioners and Andy offers a unique item for carrying a concealed handgun — the Concealed Carry Bible Cover. It looks quite innocent as it appears to only hold a Bible, however it is constructed to also house a concealed handgun. For many decades I had always sat in the front pew at church. However, with the spread of church shootings I now sit way in the back where I can see everything and I am not only armed but several other people are as well. This makes a very easy way to be armed with instant access to the firearm.

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