Waving the flame from a lighter over a rifle sight

Why would a rifleman take a ligher and wave the flame over the sight of his rifle? Is it merely to burn away grime? Superstition?

I assume you were watching Band of Brothers tonight.

WAG, but I think that he was attempting to blacken his sights via the carbon from the lighter flame. You might remember Winters (or somebody) saying something to the effect of “Nothing shines or rattles, so no helmets.”

Correct. We learned VERY early in the Army that if you take an ordinary Zippo and let the flames stay about an inch or so away from the sights, the residue will coat the bare sight with carbon.

This summer I shot in one event of the National Matches at Camp Perry Ohio. We competed in the Garand match where all the competitors used an M1 Garand rifle, the same type of rifle used in WWII.

As I was waiting for the match to start I was watching the other competitors and I noticed one waving a lighter around his sights. While I was new to competing I do know more than a bit about rifles so I had a good guess at what he was trying to accomplish. When I walked over and asked he comfirmed my suspicion and said that blackening the sights cuts down on sun glare and makes it easier to aim.

They sell carbide fueled lighters for just that purpose since they produce a sooty flame.

Yes, black455, that’s what sparked my question. I had never seen that before. Thanks all for the informative replies.