View Full Version : Stainless Scratch Repair

July 3, 2008, 10:38 PM
I have a Ruger M77 and a Savage 93r17 that have some minor scratching on the barrels that I would like to make go away. I really want to do something to make it look original . Although my first instinct is to take a Scotchbrite to them I have to admit to being very nervous about actually doing it. I am worried that a scotchbrite will leave that part of it looking differant. I read in one other place about using a a .006" strand scratch wire wheel and a #320 grit criteria. I would appreciate any advice anyone has on this.

July 4, 2008, 12:23 AM
You are right, a ScotchBrite pad wll make the area look significantly different. Try 320 or 400 grit wet/dry paper instead.

Bill DeShivs
July 4, 2008, 01:18 AM
It completely depends on the existing finish, and what it was finished with.
You will have to match the abrasive by trying several on a piece of metal and picking the one that matches best. That could be sandpaper, Scotchbrite, or other abrasive.

July 4, 2008, 01:51 AM
It completely depends on the existing finish, and what it was finished with.Exactly correct.

July 4, 2008, 05:04 AM
What the guys above have said.
The cure will probably be worse than the bite!
If they were bead blasted, you could remove the scratches and have them re-bead blasted to look good. Otherwise, you're building a sand pile I would think.


July 4, 2008, 10:03 AM
Thanks for the quick replies everyone. I will be contacting Savage on another issue about the r17 and it might be going back to them so I will see if they can clean it up I guess. As for the Ruger from what I am hearing it seems I need to contact them as well and find out what they do for finishing and then maybe I can replicate it. I will try to come back and post my results.

July 4, 2008, 03:01 PM
This assumes you want to do the work yourself.

Solution 1: One method that works well on unfinished or stainless steel items with a "brushed" finish (you'll be able to see the "grain" in the finish) is to use a steel brush with fine bristles. I bought mine at a hardware store (it looks something like a toothbrush with steel bristles) and use it when one of my brushed finish stainless guns gets scuff marks on it. It will also remove rust quite handily. Start lightly, brush with the grain and check frequently to make sure you're not doing something you won't like. If there is deep pitting or deep scratches you may have to go to solution 3.

Solution 2: For a bead-blasted stainless finish (matte finish with no grain) you can use 0000 (or maybe even a bit coarser--say 000) steel wool to remove rust, but when you're done, be sure to brush the area off thoroughly with a plastic brush and solvent to remove any small steel wool fragments as they can rust and discolor the surrounding area. Start slowly and watch how things are progressing so you don't do something that's undesirable or hard to undo. It's pretty easy to make the area look much different from the rest of the gun and then you'll have to go to solution 3. Again, if there is significant pitting or deep scratches this is not going to remove it.

Solution 3: If there's a mirror (or very shiny) finish in the damaged area or if the pitting is deep then you're going to have some work to do. (See alternative if that sounds bad or if there's significant damage/rust.***) Using fine grit sandpaper (I'd start with 600 grit or finer--if in doubt go finer first. It's easy to decide that it's too fine and you want to go coarser, but if you go too coarse right off the bat then you've made yourself a lot more work) sand off the rust marks and pitting. If there's deep pitting, you'll be busy for awhile and you may even need to go to a coarser sandpaper--I wouldn't go any coarser than 400 grit. If 400 won't do it, you need professional help. Be sure to sand so that you don't round off corners, don't take off metal except where it's visible and don't remove metal from "working" surfaces. (i.e. don't sand on the locking surfaces of a bolt). When all the rust/scratches are gone go to a finer grit and keep going until it's shiny. I'd probably go 600, 800 & 1000 but you may have to start with 400 if there are deep pits. Then finish with a metal polish like Flitz, following the instructions that come with the polish.

If you take solution 3, you're going to end up with a polished finish regardless of how it looked initially, which means you'll have to polish the entire visible area of the affected part to make it uniform. If it's a large area you've got a LOT of work to do although you'll probably like the effect when you're done.

*** The alternative to solution 3 is to have the gun bead blasted or otherwise professionally refinished.

The key in all of this is to go slowly and check your progress frequently. This kind of work tends to be very rewarding because it's not hard to get pleasing results if you don't rush yourself or get impatient. You can always get a piece of scrap steel and practice on it first if you want to build some confidence before you start on your firearm.

July 11, 2008, 09:29 PM
I haven't talked to Savage yet but I sent an inquiry to Ruger and they replied....

There is a brand of very fine steel wool called Scotch Brite Grade S-ULF N3051131-07522 that you can use with a light oil to take out the scratches.

So it looks like my first instinct that I was afraid to try was right afterall. All I have on my bench is the maroon pads so I will have to pick up some of the above and I will post my results.

July 12, 2008, 05:23 AM
Good info.
I have several different grades of Scotchbrite pads in the shop for working knives, but I don't know them by their grade number. The ones I have are different color. I have maroon, green, grey and white. Each one is a different degree of abrasiveness, with white being the finest, and green the coarsest, with marroon next and then grey, and white. Please let us know what the color of the one is that Ruger recommended, and where you buy it.
I think that's HIGH class of Ruger for passing along that info.. Kudos to them.


July 12, 2008, 05:28 AM

Excellent posting.. Very good info.


July 12, 2008, 12:33 PM
I am attaching a .pdf that covers colors, grits and recommended uses. I found it useful to laminate and post above my bench.

July 12, 2008, 12:55 PM
Sorry, I didn't finish my post. The Ruger recommended above is Light Gray,
Grade S-ULF N3051131-07522. The S is for Silcone Carbide. The ULF is ultra fine and the numbers are the upc code for buying it in a roll, probabely how they buy it, but I think its somewhere north of $100 a roll. You can buy the exact same stuff in the 6x9 hand pads. I found mine at a local body shop supply I normally do business with. I am sure they can be ordered online somewhere but I never tracked them down. Some places will sell individual sheets for a buck-ish but I normally buy the box of 20 for a little less then $20 I haven't gotten around to doing it yet but my plan is to start with the ULF and see what the results are. If it doesn't bring out the scratches I will move up to the dark gray light duty pads and see if it will bring them out then back to ULF for final finish. I will post my results. Might even try before and after pics if I am feeling froggy.

July 31, 2008, 01:44 PM
I finally got some time to work on this and I couldn't be happier. The top of the barrel forward of the stock had a few small scratches from what looked like some dunderhead leaning it against something. I was a little worried about one of them but all I did was wrap the above mentioned scotch brite around the barrel with my hand and spin the barrel in my hands a few time and it looked perfect. I could see an almost imperceptible change from the old finish and the part I worked but it looks to me that it might be nothing more then the new finish is CLEANER. The grit looks to match perfectly and finishing around the barrel stays with the grain. I almost pulled the stock off to do the entire barrel but then I decided to let it go and see what time does to it. I am thinking that after a fashion the shininess may fade and it will all look the same or at least so close you have to look for a difference (you actually have to look for it now). I will post if something changes drastically or if I try to do something with the Savage I spoke of in my original post.

August 19, 2008, 10:11 PM
I used the same S-ULF Light Gray Scotchbrite pad on my stainless bull barrel 93r17. Same as before, I just wrapped the pad around the barrel with my hand and turned the barrel. Works like a charm! One has to be carful to keep the pad moving radially around the barrel, don't let your hand move along the barrel or the grain will start becoming diagonal, (unless you would like that of course). This rifle was in a bit rougher shape then my .204 so I had to put some extra effort into a few spots but they all went away given enough time. I will post again if I run across something other then Savage or Ruger that needs some attention.

August 25, 2008, 04:39 PM
LongRifles, I contacted Ruger and they told me that the ultrafine scotchbrite is what they do for a final step. I even grilled them on it a little bit because I wasn't really believing. I asked about blasting or wheel polishing, both of which I can do here but they said to just use the S-ULF Light Gray Scotchbrite. On one hand, like I mentioned already, I was finding it hard to believe but on the other hand that was my initial thought just because thats exactly what it looked like to me, a scotchbrite finish. We do alot of metal work at my family business and I have used scotchbrite to finish alot of things so I was pretty sure in what I was seeing, I just had a hard time believing it until Ruger actually told me that is what they use. The Ruger was easy to do because it was only a bit of light scratching but it came right out and the slight difference in brightness from old to knew is already gone. The Savage on the other hand was a bit more work and at one point I was even considering backing up to a scotchbrite with more grit to work everything out and then work my way back to the S-ULF pad. I decided to stick with it and after a fair amount of work it looks great. I was considering setting something up to spin the barrels in the lathe and doing what you mentioned on the barrel spinner but things came out looking so good I don't feel the need. Now I do have a really old Sporter 23a that needs some serious barrel work and then re-blued just to get it looking decent. It looks like it has been used as a hammer/pry bar/battering ram/who knows what but the inside of the barrel is in good condition and it shoots great, its just far to ugly to ever be worth anything. You mentioned a barrel spinner? Is that something special or am I correct in my thinking I can use a center in each end and turn it in the lathe?

4V50 Gary
August 26, 2008, 08:02 AM
If you visit S&W (no one visits Ruger unless they've got a contact or are in armourer's school), you'll see big tumbling vats that the guns are place in. Many of their guns are tumbled finished with ceramic stone. S&W let me take a stone home. I bought a S&W tie tack, broke off the pin and glued the tie tack onto the stone.

I'm sure if you send your gun back, Ruger can toss it into the bin to refinish it.

August 27, 2008, 03:28 AM
Gary, are you assuming because S&W does it that way Ruger does also? The reply I received directly from Ruger indicated that they finished using the Scotchbrite and they even included the product number for the S-ULF in a bulk roll. I just bought a 3 pack of the same stuff because the bulk roll was more money then I needed to spend. I don't really have any reason to believe that Ruger is doing anything differant then what they are telling me and my results were so perfect that they confirmed it. I suppose it is possible that they do some type of blasting or tumbling and then just use the Scotchbrite for touch up work but thats not how it was conveyed to me and my experience with metal finishing has never been that you can get two identical finishes from two different processes. If I get a chance I will try and confirm this and maybe with Savage also since it worked so well on my 93r17. Bottom line is the end result was perfect. Both of my barrels looks fresh out of the box. Now if I can just get my .17 to extract reliably........