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Old December 5, 2005, 01:32 PM   #1
Te Anau
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What causes gun steel to turn "plum" color?

You've seen guns that have various parts that have turned a "plum" color over time.My Makarovs safeties exhibit this and I've seen it on lots more European guns than U.S. made stuff. My S.A.M. 1911's frame has turned "plum" on me and it's only a few years old.It seems to me that I read sometime-somewhere that its caused by the nickel content of the steel but I cant remember for sure.Searches are proving more futile than I had hoped.Anyone know for sure whats going on?
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Old December 5, 2005, 02:12 PM   #2
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I'm no metallurgist, so I don't know why steel will TURN plum or red colored, but most off-color steel is the result of a bad blue job.

Sometimes you get off-color from the steel itself.
A classic case were the early post-1964 Winchester Model 1894 rifles.

Winchester had so much trouble with red colors, that for a short time, they resorted to iron plating the receivers so they would "take" bluing properly.

This little booby trap made for some really angry re-bluing operators when a refinish came out a bright red.

In most cased a plum or red color is the result of a bad chemical mix or incorrect temperatures in the bluing tank.

When the tank is "off" for some reason, the parts come out with a plum or reddish color, and as the finish ages, it turns redder.

This is simply a problem with the bluing operator failing to control tank chemical mix and temps.
It's not necessarily a sign of a cheap operation. I've seen S&W revolvers with "off" color bluing.
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Old December 5, 2005, 02:23 PM   #3
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It's frequently seen on P7 slides. I have heard as well it's the nickel content.
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Old December 5, 2005, 02:28 PM   #4
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Combo of metal and bluing technique

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Old December 5, 2005, 08:47 PM   #5
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On the Ruger #1's it is a function of the alloy in the steel that causes the metal to turn blue over time.
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Old December 6, 2005, 03:04 AM   #6
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I was always told that it was a high iron content that did'nt take the blueing that well. But then again most shops that do blueing do it in an iron tub to accelerate the process, and I've even heard of some that throww an old piece of iron in the tank too.

So I guess, I don't know either!
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Old December 7, 2005, 01:46 PM   #7
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guns turning color

I dont know if this applies to your gun but i was reading last night in a Amer. Rifleman mag. that the Krag's that were used in the Philipines and Cuba turned the color you described, even with plenty of gun oil used. It was/is just a matter of type of steele and climate conditions combined. hope it helps see ya
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Old December 7, 2005, 01:48 PM   #8
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Why does regular steel turn rainbow color when heated excessively??
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Old December 7, 2005, 02:34 PM   #9
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I've got a Springfield 1903 that I built from a never-barreled nickel steel receiver. The receiver turned plum color when it was blued, but the barrel and floorplate didn't.

Must be the nickel.
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Old December 7, 2005, 03:41 PM   #10
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When mine do that, I just figure they are embarrased by my shooting.

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Old December 7, 2005, 04:53 PM   #11
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