View Full Version : gun in fire

August 3, 2000, 02:24 PM
If a firearm is exposed to a fire that gets hot enough and lasts long enough to completely burn the wood stock off, are the metal parts of that gun ruined. Would the steel parts have to be rehardened?

I saw a burned Rem 870 receiver and parts set for $20(no barrel). Just wondered if it was wasted or not.

Jon K
August 3, 2000, 05:32 PM
The 870 is junk. If the wood has burned off, the heat treat of the metal is gone. If you repaired a firearm such as this it would be unsafe to fire.
Rule of thumb is that if the wood is just slightly charred it may be able to be saved.
You would have to have the heat treat checked to be sure. John


old hawk
August 4, 2000, 09:46 AM
have it rockwell hardness tested, if it falls in at r37-42 its safe.as far as i can remember remington has used 4140 steels in the recivers and barrels.you may be able to have it retreated . abuddy had a house fire not too far back a charter arms bulldog was melted into the rug,it was hardened beyond safe shooting amazingly enuff,the glock melted into a puddle period.

[This message has been edited by old hawk (edited August 04, 2000).]

August 4, 2000, 03:42 PM
I helped salvage a Taurus 9mm, and a Rossi pump .22 that had their wood charred and partially burnt off. Both of the guns were nickled, and a very light buffing wheel removed the soot black w/o apparent damage to the finish. The hardness issue didn't occur to us, but it should have. I wonder if the knifemakers that do their own heat treating may be able to work something out with you?

August 5, 2000, 03:18 AM
You have to be extremely careful rehardening a reciever, because warping can happen. You need to be prepared to mill/sand it a bit to get the tolerances right afterward. It also depends on how much heat it takes when the stock burns off. I have seen a stock burnt off on a gun that was sitting close to a fire. It took literally hours and hours sitting there (it's owner stupidly left it beside the campfire all night). It only took 500 degrees or, but it took it for a very long time. This tempered the steel quite a bit, but the heat levels weren't so high that they warped it. So it was extremely easy to reharden it. Most recievers are probably nick-chrome, which usually requires 1400 degrees or so, then somewhat quick cooling for hardening(do not use water!!!!), then you need to stick it in a stove at about 375 or so for 1.5-2 hours and then pull it out, bury it in sand or preferably in ashes, and let it cool off very slowly. This should get you roughly RH 55-65 depending on the metal, so you have to do some tests first, and preferably some research to verify the type of metal exactly.
For a quenching fluid use vegitable oil, and make sure you quench it evenly, not at an angle (I have a little winch that lowers my blades in and out of the oil, very uniform).

Most of my experience comes from bladesmithing, but I have rehardened a couple recievers, and they work great. Best advice would be to have a professional do it though.

I twist the facts until they tell the truth. -Some intellectual sadist

The Bill of Rights is a document of brilliance, a document of wisdom, and it is the ultimate law, spoken or not, for the very concept of a society that holds liberty above the desire for ever greater power. -Me

August 5, 2000, 05:09 PM
For general info, a co-worker lost a S&W .357 to a fire, and S&W said they would replace/rebuild it upon return. This was 20 years ago though. They felt the fire was enough hardship, and they would contribute towards the families restoration. I'm afraid that may now be considered nostalgia.

Jon K
August 6, 2000, 12:15 PM
Dangus has alot of good info in his reply, however, I would not heat treat a firearm receiver in the method he describes. This sounds like a home method that would work great for knife blades, but I would not trust it on a firearm. Depending on the type of steel, the piece has to be heated to an exact temp and held at the desired temp for a very specific period of time. If it is quenched afterword, it needs to be quenched in the proper quenching solution. And finally, the part needs controlled cooling at a spicific rate. When dealing with a firearms and the high pressure they exert on the metal it must be done 100% correctly.
Myself, I would not do it at home for love or money. Dangus was correct in telling people to send it to a professional. I just do not want anybody to try and do it at home.
Even done by a professional, many times the part will warp and need machining afterwards.
870's can be had fairly cheep. I would buy a good used one if I were you. You would be money ahead in doing so.
Good shooting to you all-John


August 6, 2000, 03:41 PM
Since it has hardened the first time wouldn't a file tell you if it is lost ? The file will "sing" and not tear the metal away . Also I believe that the second time metal is heat treated it will not perform as well as the first time .
The quench is usually determined by the carbon content of the metal . As a matter of fact all aspects are governed by this . I will admit that I am not a gunsmith but had to take metallurgy for my Machine tool degree . If the gunsmiths here have re-hardened with no problems then it is worth a shot . The fella that said buy a new one is echoing my sentiments . If you are unsure at all then throw it away .


August 6, 2000, 05:28 PM
Wasn't there a metalurgist on this board a while back? Where are you?


James K
August 6, 2000, 10:20 PM
Cut the gun up and trash it. Depending on what happened (like water from a hose on red hot metal), it can be either soft or brittle. Further, the metal is rusted and pitted and can never again be made to look right on the outside or work right on the inside. The Remington 870 is a common gun and it is neither worth fooling with nor taking a chance in shooting it.


August 6, 2000, 11:15 PM
Jon is for the most part correct. I think in high pressure load weapons it is absolutely critical that you have it done to precision and even have the metal x-rayed and then traced with infrared ink then illuminated to check for stresses.

On a .22 or a 410, or even a 12 gauge, the tolerances must be observed with care, but not fretted over to perfection. I absolutely am not recommending though that you do this with a barrel. I am only referring to recievers. Anyone that tries my method above to treat a barrel has a deathwish. I know the methods for treating barrels, and they are not listed above. The process involves checking, double checking, and even tripple checking. It is very much an art if you do it at home, and very much a science in general. If you don't have your own rifling reams, and your own stock removal coolant feed drills, leave toasted barrels to the gun smiths, or leave them in the trash.

I twist the facts until they tell the truth. -Some intellectual sadist

The Bill of Rights is a document of brilliance, a document of wisdom, and it is the ultimate law, spoken or not, for the very concept of a society that holds liberty above the desire for ever greater power. -Me

August 7, 2000, 08:06 AM
Thanks to everyone that replied. I believe I will pass on the burnt receiver.

August 7, 2000, 07:59 PM
I believe you are making a wise decision.