View Full Version : What to look for in a good blueing?

August 25, 2007, 07:28 PM
I am having 5 rifles and 2 pistols hot blued.On one of the rifles it was blued by the same guy before,the floorplate had alot of scratches left,so he is redoing it for free.The cost is very reasonable at $415 but I still want a good job.I dont want to have to redo at a later time. I need to know what to look for in a good blueing job?
Also,what to do after to protect a freshly blued firearm?

August 25, 2007, 10:53 PM
To judge good bluing work, pretty much ignore the color and how shiny it is.

Look UNDER the blue at the base metal.
Look for flat surfaces that are FLAT with no ripples or wavy appearance.

Screw holes and pin holes should not be "dished out".
Poorly done polishing will "pull" metal out of holes leaving them with a slight funnel-like depression around them.

Look for sharp edges and corners that are rounded off.

Look for places where one surface transitions to another surface for blurring of the area.

Look for logos and lettering stamps blurred or partially buffed away.

About 98% of a good blue job is in the polishing done BEFORE the bluing.
You'll see guns with a nice dark color and that are glossy and shiny, but are ruined by a ham-handed polisher.

The real difference between the satin black of a Ruger and the mirror-like deep BLUE of a Colt Python is the polishing.

August 26, 2007, 01:51 AM
All of the above PLUS even color with no spots.

Actually, polishing and bluing should always be evaluated as if they were two different things, which in fact they are. Polishing things with wheels is the lazy way to polish, and has ruined more firearm reblue jobs than anything else I can think of.

To protect fresh blue, keep the gun oiled well, or better yet use Outers Gun Grease or RIG gun grease on it. Apply the grease with an old washcloth or a piece of sheepskin. Do not use synthetic cloth to apply anything to a dry, unoiled gun.

August 26, 2007, 08:46 AM
The best guys ususally hand sand and do a good job of it.

August 26, 2007, 09:26 AM
Thanks Dfariswheel and Scorch,That was the info I needed.4 of the 5 rifles are custom mausers being built by a gunsmith friend mine.He is not set up to do the blueing himself,so he recommended another guy.He agreed to work with the bluer to do the polishing himself.

Also,thanks for info on protecting.I didnt know if there was a "curing" time.I was worried about putting on something that may react with the salts.I had noticed on the rifle that was blued before that white specks came up in the mounting holes on the floorplate.The blued parts were oiled and stored in a gun sock with rust inhibitor plates,still got the specks.I will do a more thorough job of oiling,grease for long term storage in a hard case.

Two of the mauser are getting hand carved custom stocks made.Should I store the stocks seperate from the metal so the wood will not stain from the oil and grease? Stocks are getting linseed oil finished.


August 26, 2007, 05:07 PM
The white stuff oozing out of cracks and crevices is NOT "aging" blue.
It's a sign the blue job wasn't boiled long enough after the bluing bath to neutralize the bluing salts.

After the metal is boiled in the bluing tank, it's boiled in another tank to "kill" the bluing salts and prevent exactly what you're seeing: White powdery looking stuff creeping out from tight areas.

Talk to the smith about making sure the guns are processed properly. The bluing neutralization step is just as important as the bluing step.

Personally, I soak a new "green" blue job with CLP Breakfree.
Every few days I soak a fresh patch with CLP and GENTLY rub the metal down.
You'll notice some slight brown stains on the clean patch.
This is oxidized bluing.
As the metal is soaked and gently rubbed down, the finish will get brighter and shinier.

To get a "super blue" job some custom gunsmiths put a new "green" blue job in a tank of warm oil and soak and rub down for a week.
This brings out an even shinier finish.

August 26, 2007, 07:43 PM
Brownells used to sell a water-soluable oil to kill "bleed-out", which is the bluing salts trapped in crevices you cant reach (ex: the threads in a barreled action). When we would blue we would let the parts sit for a few days and address any bleed-out issues. Break free and a toothbrush was also our weapon of choice.

MOST shops these days use powered equipment to polish parts, since polishing is very time consuming to do. A 4-station powered polishing rig works pretty well, and you can have all four wheels rigged up with 240, 400, 500, and 555 wheels ready to go. I spent a lot of "quality" time in front of one.

Smith and Wesson estimates it takes 10-15 years to get a polisher up to speed. I did it nearly every day for four years, and I can tell you its hard to do well, even with the right gear. It really demands attention to detail.

If you want to really get picky about polishing, start looking closely at new or like new guns, and then look at someones sporterized Mauser that bubba did. Look down the length of the barrel with some light coming the other way- look for waves, and irregular patterns. Look down the flats on a Winchester '94 receiver for dished out screw holes. Look at the trigger guard on Auto-5's for pitting that someone didnt address since they couldnt figure out how to get in there. Polishing isnt so much about being "shiny" as it is the proper grit and straight lines.

Like anything else, you get what you pay for. Find someone who really knows what theyre doing, not just someone who CAN blue. I'd also ask to see examples of whats about to be picked up. Cheap bluing is like cheap body work on a car- not worth it.

James K
August 28, 2007, 10:56 AM
Most gunsmiths use soft polishing wheels which need very careful attention to prevent dishing. Factories use hard wheels, shaped to the part to be polished, often a couple of dozen different wheels just to polish one frame or receiver size.

Wheel polishing, done right, is entirely satisfactory for 90 percent of bluing jobs. But if a special treatment is wanted, or an original finish is to be matched, hand polishing gives the best results; the polishing grit can be varied to give different effects from a "hard" deep black to a "soft" blue, similar to rust blue.

One big mistake most gunsmiths make in trying to "restore" an original factory finish is to heed the books that talk about a "mirror finish" being a must. But factories (with few exceptions) didn't polish to a "mirror finish" for the simple reason that they didn't have time. So the gunsmith does the "mirror" bit; the result bears no resemblance to the factory finish, and neither the gunsmith or the customer can understand why.