Over the years I’ve heard some pretty interesting methodology as to how to install and remove a sight hood on a German rifle. Needless to say, the talk of hammers and screwdrivers in relation to a collectible German rifle sends shivers down my spine. There really isn’t any secret to the methods here, as it is one of the few times I’ll advocate brute stength over finesse. But, just like any other job, the proper tools are critical to the successful outcome of your endeavors. I mean, sure you could pound a nail into the wall with a screwdriver, but there are better tools for the job.
The tools you need here are called internal snap ring pliers (sometimes known as internal lock ring pliers). A good, sturdy set can be found at most local hardware stores across the US. Don’t skimp on them either. Cheap lock ring pliers are cheap for a reason: they’re utter junk. Just shell out the $20 and get a good solid set that will last you forever.
To the right is a comparison of a reproduction sight hood (left) and an original sight hood (right). Notice the slight differences between the two. Pay particular attention to the bend angle for the bottom flats. Notice how on the repro, the bend is sharp and tight, while on the original piece, the bend is more of a gentle curve. Also notice the deep black finish of the repro versus the more faded metallic gray of the original. This repro is one of the better ones out there and is made of thick spring steel. Be wary of hoods made of thin steel that will easily fall off during the course of live firing.
First things first, secure the rifle in a vise. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m pretty fond of that vise. I think it cost about $15 and is available at Wal-Mart. Next get yourself a good, solid set of internal snap ring pliers. Notice how the jaws are thick steel flats, not just small pins. There are many different flavors of snap ring pliers and you should choose the right one for the job. For instance, the set seen here was useless in removing the safety lever snap ring. Likewise, the set used to do that would be nigh useless here.
With the rifle secured in the vise, insert the jaws of the pliers into the sight hood. The lower you get them, the more you’ll be able the spread the hood and the easier removal will be. Now, with brute hand(s) strength spread the sight hood.
While maintaining spreading force on the hood, begin sliding it towards the muzzle.
Continue drawing it forward away from the sight base while maintaining a constant pressure on the hood via the pliers. There is a potential here to scratch your rifle’s front sight base if you just let the hood drag along the sight base as you pull it off, so do your best to spread the hood as far as possible. It is likely that it will still be dragging on the front sight base a little bit, but that is unavoidable.
Once the sight hood is clear of the sight base, you can relax the pressure on the hood. Installing a sight hood is exactly the opposite of removing the sight hood, with the same concerns and the same nod at brute hand strength. I’d hate to be the guy in the factory that had to install these things all day long.