Rebluing firearms

by Jim Green, Gunsmith on October 26, 2011

This is a Colt .22 caliber revolver that was recently reblued in my shop. Usually I don’t reblue an antique firearm as it ruins the resale value, but in this case a new finish would definitely help an older gun.

 

 

Actually ” blue ” is something of a misnomer. Bluing a gun is nothing more than a chemically accelerated form of rusting the surface of gun metal so that it takes on a backened finish. The true term is black oxide. The accelerated rust oxided surface prevents further rusting of the metal. It is a protective finish on modern firearms.

 

 

This is the shed out back of my shop that I do the gun bluing process. From left to right…. the first tank is a heated detergent bath that helps degrease the metal parts to be blued. The second tank in the line to the left rear is a cold water rinse to rid the metal of any detergents. The 3rd tank across the back is where the heated bluing salts are at. After the proscribed amount of time, the parts go into the 4th tank on the right. It is a heated water rinse to help neutralize the bluing salts. Seen high on a shelf in the upper right corner is the water displacing oil. I soak the parts in it for a while to ensure all the water from the hot water rinse is forced out of the gun parts.

 

 

The frame of a .22 caliber revolver is shown as it leaves the hot salt tank, and just before it goes into the hot water rinse tank. The cylinder and all the other parts are still going through the process.

 

 

Freshly blued parts are still ” tender ” for at least 2 – 3 days after the bluing process. 

 

The gun is ready to be reassembled….. 

The biggest chore for the bluing process is properly polishing and preparing the metal surface for the bluing process. You have to completely clean and remove all traces of old oil from the gun parts. You have to wear rubber gloves, as any finger prints will show up in the final finish. You have to polish all the parts by hand, as using a buffer wheel will cause ripples in the metal’s surface. It also elongates screw holes, removes or fades the factory lettering, and rounds off sharp edges that SHOULD NOT be rounded. It is time consuming to refinish a firearm, but the end result is it looks like a brand new gun.

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