View Full Version : Bluing wear on old firearms

September 5, 2008, 09:07 AM
I've noticed that on older firearms, especially rifles, that the bluing looks like it wears off evenly, like down the length of the barrel, not just where it may rub off due to handling, like the trigger, bolt handle, safety, etc. Does bluing wear, fade, or somehow become less effective over time?

44 AMP
September 5, 2008, 01:36 PM
And the exposed surfaces of a gun will fade an change color over time. Modern techniques do it less, and of course, more modern guns have not had as much time pass either.

Look at a lot of old guns and you see the blueing has turned brown (to some degree), and really old guns were "browned" as their original finish, before rust blueing was understood and widely used. The "Brown Bess" British musket is a famous example of browning as a gun finish.

Put your blued gun in a nice safe for a hundred years and you probably won't notice much change in the color of the blueing. Exposure to light, air, human hands, weather, rubbing, different solvents and oils, and everything else you can think of over the life of a used gun can, and does have an effect on the finish.

September 5, 2008, 03:29 PM
What I've noticed is that the wear seems even - places where the weapon is not normally handled seems to be consistent with where it is handled, so I thought there must be a time element at play, too.

September 5, 2008, 07:36 PM
Yea but take that gun out of the stock and see if it disappeared in out of reach areas.

James K
September 5, 2008, 08:39 PM
Bluing will wear from handling and also from cleaning (or maybe I should say over-cleaning). Rust blue is particularly susceptible to being rubbed off with even an oiled cloth and some of the new "blitz" cloths can really do a job on it after a while.

After all, bluing is nothing more than controlled rust. Anything that will remove or penetrate into rust will do the same to bluing. If left totally alone, bluing should not change, but also note that light refraction can totally change the appearance of bluing, depending in part on the intitial preparation of the steel (degree of polish).

More than one collector has used a Maglite to look into his safe and nearly had heart failure on seeing some of his most prized guns turned into a mass of rust. But it was just the way those lights penetrate rust bluing, and after the EMT team left and he looked at the guns in normal light, he was OK.


September 8, 2008, 08:55 AM
Yea but take that gun out of the stock and see if it disappeared in out of reach areas.

I'd like to, but these are photos of dealers' and seller's guns.;)