View Full Version : Browning A-5 and Bluing

July 10, 2005, 11:58 AM
I'm looking to blue my Belgian 1958 A-5. My questions are:

1. Old steel, to blue or not to blue?

2. The barrel is patchy grey/black, any hints on how to blue and keep the look of age?

3. Birchwood Casey? Van's Instant Gun Blue? Formula 44/40?

I'm leaning towards Van's, because I read that its the best for old steel, any truth to this? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


July 10, 2005, 03:16 PM
STOP ! :eek: Take it to a good gunsmith don't cold blue it ! You have a valueable gun so don't mess it up with cold blue. I have done a few guns with cold blue but they were not very valueable guns. I had good results with cold blue but i would not do it on an A5. Save up the few hundred bucks and have it done right.Just my opinion. :)

July 10, 2005, 05:03 PM
I would leave it like it is unless you just want to ruin the value of the gun. With that said, I wouldn't attempt to cold blue the shotgun. I would think about having it slow rust blued or nitre blued. The rust blue leaves the gun with a blue that is very hard to beat. A hot dipped blue is great as far as price and good looks are concerned, but it won't compare to the slow rust blue. If you want to slow rust blue it yourself, I would suggest you get a copy of Firearms Bluing and Browning by R.H. Angier from Brownells to read before trying it. It gives detailed instruction on how to prep the gun and then gives different formulas to apply to the gun to get the blue you want. It takes time to go through the complete process, usually 2 weeks, but the resulsts are very much worth the effort. This process will normally run from $300 and up if you have it done, or you can do it for less than $100 if you have to buy everything needed to do the process.

July 11, 2005, 08:50 AM
I have just such an A-5, but mine's a little older. I've never thought of bluing mine, as the original bluing is still good, but I'd strongly suggest that you have a competent gunsmith do the job. I don't think there's much collector's value for your old A-5, but it sure would be a shame to screw up sucha nice shotgun.

July 11, 2005, 08:54 AM
Rust blue is what you want if you want anything at all. It is THE traditional shotgun blue. The fine rust formed during the first step in the process just breaks the polish of the metal, leaving a faintly satin sheen in the finsihed blue that won't be well matched by any other process. Brownells sells Pilkington rust bluing solution which I have used successfully on a number of small parts without having to build a steam cabinet. There was also a good article on the subject in American Gunsmith a year or so back, but I don't recall the issue specifics. I will have to try to find it and post the reference. Your main problem with shotgun barrels will be getting a big enough boiling tank if you are going to do this yourself? I use a Parkerizing tank.

Van's blue is a metal conversion process, like Parkerizing, and not just a selenium micro-crystal growing reduction reaction. I did an experiment once in which I treated the tips of several identical steel wire rods (saftey flag wires) with every cold blue I could lay my hands on (in my house, that is, which was about 8 different brands). I followed up by neutralizing the acids with Formula 409, then just rinsed them and left them exposed to air. This was winter time, so the humidity was below 50%.

After a week, all but the Van's had signs of rust. A month later, some were heavily rusted, but the Van's was still clean. Van's does not produce as deep a color as some of the others, but it is the best protective cold blue I tried. Brownells Oxpho-blue should be similar, but I didn't have any to try at the time. I also didn't have any Blue Wonder, which is a newer product with a degree of increased application complexity (pre-warm, pre-clean, apply bluing, apply developer) claiming to trade the lower convenience for overcoming the color depth and general shortcomings of the other cold blues. I have some now and will perform the same test to see what happens?


James K
July 11, 2005, 11:39 AM
If the gun has a rib, be very careful about hot tank bluing. Many of the older ribs were installed with soft solder and caustic bluing will dissolve it, with the result that you would expect. Reinstalling the rib is a specialty job and very costly.


July 11, 2005, 02:31 PM
Thanks Nick! Your information was very helpfull! All the points-of-view expressed have helped me. I don't know If I'll blue yet or not but I am greatfull for all the info. Thanks All!

Nick: Let me know how the latest experiment goes!