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Old July 24, 2011, 04:39 AM   #1
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refinish or refurbish

I recently inheireted my father's gun collection and I have questions about their condition. The three I'm concerned the most about are his 1916 Army luger, his 1944 Walther P.38, and his 1915 Colt 45 Single Action Army revolver. I'm new to taking pics of guns and posting them, so I hope it turns out ok.

Below is a pic of the trigger guard to show how the original finish is almost gone from the 1944 Walther P.38.

Next are pics of the right and left sides.

The pics give a polished look and make the pistol appear darker than it really is. This pistol is original and has never been polished or reblued. I feel these pics are a little misleading, but they were the best I was able to take.

Next are pics of the 1916 Army Luger.

That's not a scratch or crack on right side of receiver above the trigger, just a white dog hair that I didn't notice at the time.

The Luger is also original and I feel the pics are more accurate, they do a nice job showing the missing finish. Also, the DWM logo on the top of the receiver is almost worn off. Not sure how.

All three of the pistols are in great shape mechanically and in perfect working order. My question is since they were my fathers and I don't plan on selling them, what is the best way to honor his memory by caring for his pistols? Should I leave them as is, just oil and clean them now and again, have them refinished, or have them refurbished?

Last edited by StukaJU87; July 24, 2011 at 05:18 AM.
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Old July 24, 2011, 04:52 AM   #2
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Pics of the 1915 Colt 45 Single Action Army revolver

The first two pics are a little misleading about the condition, but the third and fourth pic show the real condtion of the finish. The last pic looks worse than it really is. There is some pitting and surface rust, but not nearly as much as the pic makes it look. Also, this was my grandfather's pistol, so I'm the third generation to receive it. My father told me that my grandfather changed the grips and added a longer barrel.
The fourth pic shows how the patent dates and logo are worn off, just like the "DWM" on the Luger. Is there anyway to restore those markings?
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Old July 24, 2011, 05:10 AM   #3
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Don't refinish or refurbish or polish anything. Just clean and oil.
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Old July 24, 2011, 05:27 AM   #4
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I'd never polish them, that would only ruin them. I'm more concerned with the markings and discoloration. I want to keep them looking as nice and original as I can and prevent them from deteriorating any further. Other than oiling, is there anything alse I can do to preserve them?
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Old July 24, 2011, 06:35 AM   #5
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On the two German guns, if the numbers are matching and there are no import or capture marks they have considerable more value in their current condition than refinished. Only if they are mix and match parts guns and you like a shiny shooter, have them reblued.
I used to love being able to hit hard at 1000 yards. As I get older I find hitting a mini ram at 200 yards with the 22 oddly more satisfying.
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Old July 24, 2011, 06:38 AM   #6
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Told you it was easy

Thanks for the photos. The camera surely does 'help' a worn finish sometimes. I think with digital cams we sort of forget how hard it used to be to get a really good photo under various conditions

On the P.38 and the P.08, I see no active rust. I see a 'patina' of rust, but that's not an active problem judging from the photos- it's not getting worse. remember that bluing is itself a form of rust, too, and before that 'browning' a gun was the norm. On the P.08 and P.38 I see well cared for time-worn pieces, that's all. Nothing wrong with that

On the SAA I see active rust. You want to stop the rust without harming the revolver further, of course.But you need to curtail the rust. A good cleaning is a start, just like Hawg mentioned. Then you can see how bad the rust problem is. I get if you clean really well, and oil as he recommends, then you're done. A toothbrush will be your friend with that pistol I think

On my firearms, I use a silicone impregnated cloth to wipe down and combat corrosion. Sometimes they are called 'gun and reel cloths'

Rollstamps can be re-stamped but they are never original any more, and are usually re-done as part of a restoration. There's no shame in those worn stamps
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Old July 24, 2011, 06:49 AM   #7
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I would detail clean these with Eezox. The Eezox well kill any rust you have, does a superior job of removing rust and is the best rust preventative I have used. Soft cotton cloth and q-tips should be the only thing that touches those fire arms.
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Old July 24, 2011, 06:59 PM   #8
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Thanks for the feedback, and yes the Luger and Walther are both number matching. They each have one period correct mag but they don't match the pistols. The Luger's mag has a "+" mark indicating it's the secondary mag, but the numbers are not legible. The Walther's mag is from 1943.

Luckily the only rust I can see on the Colt is limited to one area and it sounds like that can be fixed rather easily. I was worried it would either be costly or impossible to repair.

Thanks again for the help.
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Old July 24, 2011, 07:04 PM   #9
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Forgot to mention, no import or capture markings on the two German pistols.
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Old July 24, 2011, 08:23 PM   #10
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They have all been refinished at one time or another.
I'd just clean them up thoroughly and enjoy Dad's guns.
Real restoration would be hideously expensive, good refurbishment still pretty costly, and an ordinary refinish would not really help their appearance.
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Old July 24, 2011, 08:50 PM   #11
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Guns and classic cars are only original once. They can refinished as many times as you want but you just lost the collectors appeal.

Imo, keep them in the condirion that you inherited the.
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Old July 24, 2011, 11:09 PM   #12
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The two German pistols just need a good cleaning and de-oxiding as mentioned above. Don't refinish them.

Your granddad's revolver, I would look at it like granddad's axe, the one that's had three new handles and two new heads. That one I would personally have cleaned up and re-blued, give a good holster set, and use it for another generation or two.
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Old July 24, 2011, 11:17 PM   #13
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I agree with Jim. All three appear to have been refinished in the past.
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