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Old July 21, 2016, 10:20 AM   #1
valkabit6
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Will a holster wear down a GOOD case hardening?

I'm considering sending a Ruger Blackhawk to Bowen Classic Arms. If I do, I'll have it case hardened, Doug Turnbull does their CH, will a holster wear down a quality CH like Turnbull's?
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Old July 21, 2016, 10:30 AM   #2
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If it's clearcoated, as they usually are from Turnbull, it will be more wear resistant than bluing.
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Old July 21, 2016, 11:39 AM   #3
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I guess the coating will help.

But casehardening by its nature, the colors fade, especially in sunlight as well as normal day to hay handling.

It's pretty but not particularly practical.

Beides aren't all modern steels casehardened and then blued.

The true casehardening that Colt used, for instance, was in the days when
the metal was more iron than steel and not particularly hard to start with.
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Old July 21, 2016, 11:59 AM   #4
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Case hardening isn't a finish like bluing. It's heat treating to about 50 thou into the steel. The steel literally gets baked in a 'pot' with bones and leather, et al. The colouring is just the result of that baking process. Case hardening is to reduce wearing of the steel. Isn't about being pretty.
Repeatedly rubbing steel on leather will polish any colouring off.
Isn't going to do much of anything for a Blackhawk other than make it pretty.
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Old July 21, 2016, 12:48 PM   #5
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I own three CCH guns (Turnbull) and they are really nice looking. However, the finish has a clear coat on it and it will wear off over time if handled and shot a lot. For a rifle it will probably outlast the owner. On a handgun going in and out of a holster, not so much. It looks great, but it's not practical on a handgun.....heck, it's not even practical on a rifle. It's just for looks. I don't know if you were quoted a price or not, but it can be very expensive. A rifle will run around 7-8 hundred just for the CCH. It just goes up from there.
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Old July 21, 2016, 04:19 PM   #6
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The original purpose of case hardening (surface hardening that "encased" the part) was to harden the old iron frames to resist wear from the parts rubbing against the frame and each another. Some kinds of case hardening produce a surface coloring that many people like for its appearance alone. But many modern guns are given a surface coloration that is neither deep nor hard. (The hardening, if done at all, is done by heat treatment of the steel, not possible with iron.)

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Old July 21, 2016, 05:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
I'm considering sending a Ruger Blackhawk to Bowen Classic Arms. If I do, I'll have it case hardened, Doug Turnbull does their CH, will a holster wear down a quality CH like Turnbull's?
Howdy

The simple answer is yes.

As has been stated here, the colors of true Case Hardening are pretty fragile. They will fade with time, they can fade from exposure to strong chemicals, they can even fade from exposure to strong sunlight. The metal at the surface will still be as hard as when it was first Case Hardened, but the colors fill fade. Repeated drawing from a holster will most definitely cause the colors to fade and eventually disappear. Not the first time, but over time it will happen. A clear coat of lacquer will help, but think about it for a minute. How resistant to wear is lacquer going to be if the gun is holstered and drawn a lot?

This 2nd Gen Colt was made in 1973. I bought it about ten years ago. The colors had already faded a bit when I bought it. Now, after shooting it regularly in CAS for about ten years, the colors have faded a bit more. Notice how the colors are completely gone from the recoil shield, where it has been rubbing against leather, and the colors are still the most vibrant by the cylinder pin latch, where they were protected from rubbing against the leather. Notice too that the blue has worn off the high points of the cylinder, from being drawn and holstered a lot.

And this is with a quality, calfskin lined holster, not some cheapo holster.






By the way, Case Hardening does not penetrate .050 into the steel. More like just a few thousandths, maybe .015 or .020 is probably more normal.
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Old July 21, 2016, 05:04 PM   #8
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Are you really talking about case hardening, or case coloring. Your revolver should have already been hardened. Case coloring WILL rub off from a holster and repeated use.
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Old July 21, 2016, 05:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Are you really talking about case hardening, or case coloring. Your revolver should have already been hardened. Case coloring WILL rub off from a holster and repeated use.
Ruger uses modern steel and heat treats it so the metal is hardened all the way through. Doug Turnbull does indeed have a process for bringing out colors on a Ruger, but I have no idea what his process is. There are plenty of photos of Rugers that he has worked on on his web site.
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Old July 21, 2016, 05:12 PM   #10
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I understand that. My point is, is that case coloring is different than case color HARDENING........
Turnbull does the best work there is - about the only firm that can add value to refinishing a gun. That does not change things.
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Old July 21, 2016, 05:32 PM   #11
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I was only considering having it CH for the appearance. I suppose I'll have to consider if I'd rather have a CH & blued gun fade, or simply a blued gun fade.
I think Driftwood's gun is still beautiful, faded or not, it has simply gained a little more character
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Old July 21, 2016, 06:31 PM   #12
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Old guns were made out of plain carbon steels. Millions of vintage handguns were made of steels that were not even hardened, the materials were adequate because the pressures were so low. It was, it is, common practice to machine dead soft billets because, hard steel is hard to cut. This ought to be obvious. The plain carbon steels of the era often were a very low carbon content, and this is not bad if the surface is case hardened. Case hardening increases the carbon content of the surface, older methods took hours and the case was at best hundredths of an inch thick. Might be thousandths, it depended on a number of factors. The combination of a soft, tough core and an artificially hardened surface actually provided a decent surface life.

Of course case colors are beautiful and I believe this was an unintended cosmetic effect. Humans have innate color preferences and the top two are blue and green. I find blue case colors very pleasing but unfortunately, they are actually very delicate. I did a quick search and did not find just what the chemical composition of case colors are, but this article provided good leads in that they are oxides of iron. https://www.doublegunshop.com/double...nal_v7i4_9.htmThe Color Case-hardening of Firearms

The case colors you see on Ruger handguns are a chemical treatment since the steels they use will not produce case colors. I talked with a custom action manufacturer Steve Earle. Steve makes this Frazier action http://www.steveearleproducts.com/fraser.html and I asked him why he did not make the whole action out of 4140 or 4340 since these materials have slightly better material properties. He told me it was because 4140 won't case color, but 8620 will, and the guys who buy these actions want the vintage look.

I would be very nice to any real case finish as they are delicate in my experience. Keep it oiled and don't expect it to last if rubbed a lot.
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Old July 21, 2016, 09:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
I was only considering having it CH for the appearance. I suppose I'll have to consider if I'd rather have a CH & blued gun fade, or simply a blued gun fade.
Let's try this again.

Blue is a chemical treatment of the surface of steel. The purpose of blue is to prevent rust. Blue is actually a controlled form of rust, or iron oxide. The parts are highly polished first, then they are dipped in a variety of chemicals that turn the steel blue. What is really happening is the surface of the steel oxidizes, forming a protective layer that prevents atmospheric oxygen from reaching the underlying steel to cause more rust. The components of modern blueing salts create a dark blue layer on the steel. It is actually a form of corrosion, but it is attractive and prevents the steel from rusting further.

Modern blue does not fade, it is very robust. It wears, but it does not fade. Old guns, from the 19th Century had blue that was not very robust and it wore off easily.

Like on this Bisley Colt from 1909. The only blue left on this revolver is on the sides of the grip frame and trigger guard. All the rest of the blue has worn off over time and been replaced by a patina that is actually dark rust.

You will notice that the colors of the case hardening on the frame of this old Colt also disappeared a long time ago.





Here is a photo of my 2nd Gen Colt made in 1973. You will notice that the blue is just as dark as the day it left the factory.





This is a close up of the muzzle. This is absolutely typical muzzle wear from being drawn and holstered a lot. Notice the rest of the barrel is still dark blue, it has not faded, but the blue at the muzzle has been worn away in a roughly triangular shape from being dragged past leather over and over again.





Here is a close up of the cylinder. Notice it is shiny along the front edge, where the blue has been worn away, again from being drawn and holstered many times. Notice too that the wear to the blue extends around the cylinder flute. This is typical cylinder wear on a revolver that has been drawn and holstered a lot. The high points, where the gun contacts the leather, is where the blue wears away, revealing the shiny steel underneath. Notice that where the blue has not worn away, it is still deep and dark blue, it has not faded.

You can also see the faded colors of the Case Hardening in this view. As has been said before, Case Hardening is an old technique for hardening the outer surface of iron and steel, it does not harden the metal all the way through, just the outer surface. The colors of true Case Hardening are just a byproduct of the hardening process. They add nothing to the strength or hardness of the steel. In the 19th Century, gun makers realized that the buying public liked the attractive colors created with Case Hardening, so each company developed their own methods for Case Hardening to produce vivid colors. And each company jealously guarded their process so other companies would not copy it. The colors are relatively fragile, they can fade due to exposure to chemicals, bright light, or just over time. Time and Black Powder residue have contributed to the colors fading on this Colt. But the surface of the steel is still just as hard as when it was shipped from the factory.





Now look at the photo of the old Bisley again. You will notice the patina has been worn away in the same places as on the newer Colt, near the muzzle, leading edge of the cylinder, around the flutes, and a line has been etched around the cylinder by the bolt because somebody did not know that you never lower the hammer of a Colt from half cock.

Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; July 21, 2016 at 09:46 PM.
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Old July 21, 2016, 10:33 PM   #14
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Wow- that's a lot of explaining for just one word.
The answer is "yes."
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Old July 22, 2016, 01:13 PM   #15
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A holster will cause wear on any finish.
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Old July 22, 2016, 04:40 PM   #16
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Civil War and western revolvers that traveled many miles being bounced up and down in holsters along with a mixture of oil, sand and dirt often show a muzzle that is oval rather than round. Even guns with barrels that were originally octagonal became worn almost round at the muzzle from that harsh treatment.

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Old July 22, 2016, 08:42 PM   #17
valkabit6
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Evidently I shouldn't use "fade" when I should be using "wear"

I did start this thread with "wear down from a holster". My mistake using "fade".
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Old July 22, 2016, 09:52 PM   #18
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As has been stated case hardening is adding carbon to the surface of low carbon steel. The process is still useful today for parts such as hammers and triggers in order to have a glass hard surface with a soft core and as such can stand the wear of use and not fracture from impacts and a lower manufacturing cost.
Color case hardening is actually a process of the quench in aerated water the differential cooling fixing the colors. There is an excellent video on youtube by Larry Potterfield of Midway USA showing from start to finish how it is done.
Turnbull does a great job but is expensive. More reasonable is Classic Guns L.T.D. out in Illinois. They do a great job at a much lower rate.

http://www.classicgunsinc.com/aboutus.htm

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Old July 23, 2016, 07:43 AM   #19
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Quote:
Turnbull does a great job but is expensive. More reasonable is Classic Guns L.T.D. out in Illinois. They do a great job at a much lower rate.
Keep in mind, you often get what you pay for. Take either finish in and get the gun appraised and see which one will actually add value to the gun.
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Old July 23, 2016, 09:55 AM   #20
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Turnbull does fine work and I have a gun with them right now but Classic Guns is also very well reputed. They do the custom finish work for Cimarron.
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Old July 23, 2016, 11:08 AM   #21
valkabit6
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Although I don't have a Cimarron, I'm under the impression their CH is inferior to Turnbull's?
Just adding that into the converation, if I go CH it'll be from Turnbull
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Old July 23, 2016, 12:35 PM   #22
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You are under the wrong impression then. The factory finish from Uberti for Cimmeron is not what was referred to. They offer as a custom finish bone charcoal color case hardening that is done by Classic Guns.
I have guns that have been color cased from both firms. If I didn't know who did which I would not be able to tell.
That said you can't go wrong with a Turnbull finish it's your gun and your money.
To your original question bone charcoal color case with a clearcoat is pretty darn durable. My SA's both cartridge and percussion have been shot a lot and the blueing show more wear than the case.

Last edited by denster; July 23, 2016 at 12:45 PM.
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Old July 23, 2016, 12:51 PM   #23
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No idea there where both custom & non custom CH finishes on Cimmeron guns
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Old July 23, 2016, 01:34 PM   #24
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The standard Uberti finish on base Cimarrons is a chemical finish. What they call the "US finish" is real bone charcoal color case hardening done by Classic Guns. I have no direct experience but their reputation is good, just not quite as well known as Turnbull.
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Old July 23, 2016, 03:05 PM   #25
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valkabit6

You will find it on their site click the product tab and go to custom shop, custom finishes handguns.
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