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Old July 30, 2010, 10:24 PM   #1
blackdog_507
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Pros/Cons: Nickel vs. Stainless???

I've been wanting to add a 357 Mag to my collection for sometime. After much research I've settled on a 4" barrel L frame S&W, either a 586 or a 686. It absolutely has to be an older square butt with factory target grips, no round butt, no aftermarket grips. I live in IL where there is not currently a law permitting concealed carry, not that this is much of a carry gun anyway. The point being, I won't be carrying in a holster. I do plan to shoot it a few times a year, probably 3 or 4 times a year, maybe 50 - 100 rounds per outing. Realistically, no more than 200 rnds per year. It will probably live in a pistol safe on my wife's side of the bed. I suppose what I really want is the Nickel version, as I just like the looks. I've never owned a nickel gun, but I have the impression that the finish wouldn't stand up to frequent handling like stainless. I'm affraid I'll be to scared of scratching it to enjoy it. Can I get some input on the durability of the nickel finish vs the stainless? Which will serve my purposes better?
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Old July 30, 2010, 10:26 PM   #2
5.56RifleGuy
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Get the stainless, the nickel finish does not hold up to well. It can start to discolor and many other bad things. I dont think you can use certain types of solvent on it either.
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Old July 30, 2010, 10:47 PM   #3
Sport45
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I suppose what I really want is the Nickel version, as I just like the looks.
Then by all means that is what you should be trying to get.

I don't own a nickel handgun, but would if the opportunity presented itself. They're sure pretty.
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Old July 30, 2010, 10:51 PM   #4
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Stainless will last longer. Much longer. Nickel will discolor and crack evenutually. I think the name of the game is longevity.
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Old July 30, 2010, 11:03 PM   #5
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I don't know if the quality of nickel finishes has declined over the years, but I have an 80-year old nickel S&W, and the finish was almost perfect until about two years ago when it developed some rust blooms and pitting from being stored in a damp safe.

So while I don't think that nickel finishes are necessarily destined to degrade over time, stainless will still be more corrosion-resistant regardless.
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Old July 31, 2010, 12:12 AM   #6
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Stainless will scratch just as readily as nickle. The difference is the marks don't stand out as much and you can buff out the scratches on a stainless gun.
While stainless looks kinda sterile to me it is certainly the easiest to maintain and clean.
I think high polish nickle is very attractive but as others have said, it requires more care to keep it looking good.

Jim
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Old July 31, 2010, 01:02 AM   #7
Bill DeShivs
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Overall, nickel is a very durable finish-certainly moreso than bluing. It requires the same amount of care that a blued gun does, but it protects against rust much better. A properly maintained nickel finish will not crack or discolor. If that's what you want, get it!
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Old July 31, 2010, 05:25 AM   #8
CarbineCaleb
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I haven't owned a nickel gun. But certainly stainless will be more "durable" in the sense that with no plating on the gun, the material is homogenous, so any blemishes can just be polished right off, since there's just more of the same material underneath.

Nickel is nicer looking though, I agree. If you're really want the nickel, and you get a quality factory plating job, then so long as the gun won't be put through rain or sweat much, I wouldn't be too worried about it. Nickel and chrome are actually what they add to conventional steel to make it stainless, so nickel has anticorrosive properties. And if worst comes to worst, it could always be sent back to S&W for replating if need be.
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Old July 31, 2010, 07:52 AM   #9
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The 586 and 686 are stainless guns -- they aren't available in nickel as far as I know.
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Old July 31, 2010, 07:57 AM   #10
brian45auto
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Quote:
The 586 and 686 are stainless guns -- they aren't available in nickel as far as I know.
the 586 is not stainless, and could be refinished in nickle.

the 686 could be polished to simulate a nickel finish. though it would show scratches easily.
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Old July 31, 2010, 08:08 AM   #11
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One thing I would anticipate about plating on a handgun would be the possibility of glare making sighting down the bbl difficult if shooting outdoors in bright sunlight. I've never owned one but in the old days Colt and Smith did some high quality plating. Holster wear can be an issue as with a blue gun or a stainless for that matter.

As a previous poster said, you have to use the same care as with a blued gun. It is a tougher finish than blue of course when applied correctly. A friend of mine had an old Colt Python with a nickel finish that had holster wear in the usual places you'd expect and it still was a beautiful thing. Honest wear was attractive on it.
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Old July 31, 2010, 09:51 AM   #12
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First, the 586 was finished in nickel as well as blue.

If I wanted nickel, I would get it. Most of the problems you see on old nickel guns are due to lack of care.

Here's my one of my Pythons (nickel) from 1976:



On the other hand, you CAN shine stainless until it's very bright. This is what Colt called their "ultimate stainless::
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Old July 31, 2010, 09:56 AM   #13
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Nickle well last a long time if properly cared for. Stainless is a more durable finish that still requires some basic care.
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Old July 31, 2010, 10:00 AM   #14
darwins
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Nickel

This gun came from the factory with nickel finish in 1914. It very possibly served in two world wars. Regardless, I think the finish is holding up quite well after 96 years.
FN 1900 Factory Nickel 001.jpg
FN 1900 Factory Nickel 004.jpg
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Old July 31, 2010, 11:07 AM   #15
Straightshooter629
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The main thing to remember that "Nickle" is a finish, and Stainless Steel is the actual material...it can not flake off or wear off. For that reason, SS is far more durable and you can polish SS to a mirror finish almost as bright as nickle. Also, scratches in SS can be polished out without concern about removing any "finish".
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Old July 31, 2010, 11:17 AM   #16
brian45auto
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Quote:
Also, scratches in SS can be polished out without concern about removing any "finish".
just removing material from the gun.
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Old July 31, 2010, 11:34 AM   #17
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I wouldn't be worried about removing a few microns of material from the surface of the gun. I'd be worried about my (lack of) ability to do so while making the repair match the rest of the original finish.

I suspect that I'm not alone, and that's one reason so many stainless guns end up polished all over.
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Old July 31, 2010, 12:11 PM   #18
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Blackdog...you're being way too paranoid about the durabiltiy of nickle. I have owned several nickle and SS guns for many yrs...one of them for 40+ yrs and it isn't a safe queen. While nickel isn't as durble as SS it only tales a little more care than SS so don't worry about it.
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Old July 31, 2010, 01:43 PM   #19
blackdog_507
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Quote:
The 586 and 686 are stainless guns -- they aren't available in nickel as far as I know.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_%26_Wesson_Model_586

In reference to the 586 from wikipedia.....

It was manufactured in either blued or nickel-plated versions. A stainless steel version exists as the Model 686. Other variations, such as the Model 686+, chambered for 7 rounds are also available. In the late 1990s, Smith and Wesson discontinued production of all but a few blued revolvers, thus the Model 686 and its variants are the only models currently produced.

And, as seen here on Gunbroker......

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=175327857

Thanks for all the advice on this, sounds like as long as I take care of the gun Nickel should be fine......
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Old July 31, 2010, 06:35 PM   #20
los
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It's nickle for me...

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Old July 31, 2010, 07:17 PM   #21
Bill DeShivs
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los,
That IS an exceptionally beautiful gun.
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Old July 31, 2010, 07:55 PM   #22
CajunBass
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I've never cared much for stainless steel guns for some reason or another. But a nickled one is different.



Now I gotta admit, I don't shoot it a lot, but that's more because I don't get to the range as much as I used to, but I wouldn't worry about the finish if I did. Just a reasonable ammount of care is all that's needed. '

If you want nickle, by all means, get it.

(BTW. That dark, blotchy look is the sky and trees reflecting.)
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Old July 31, 2010, 09:56 PM   #23
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Look at the photos and compare......particular the one of Los's gun.....and tell me that nickel isn't classy compared to stainless, which, by the way, is common.

Common. Stainless is common.

Nickel is classy.

It's like comparing those stag grips on Los's gun to something by Uncle Mike's and saying that UM's are more "durable".
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Old August 1, 2010, 11:31 AM   #24
los
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THANKS for the kind words. The subject Model 40 is my EDC. It's my first carry revolver.

The photos were taken on an old wooden plank I placed on my patio table, using natural [shaded] light. The green colored reflection on the frame is created by trees in the backyard.


Last edited by los; August 1, 2010 at 11:37 AM.
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Old August 1, 2010, 01:03 PM   #25
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Think I'll have all my stainless guns nickle plated. The best of both worlds!
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