Gun bluing is a finishing process originally intended to reduce the brightness of a firearm's surface while sighting a target and to prevent rust. Now it is standard on most firearms, and gunsmiths charge premium prices to restore old guns to a factory-fresh blue. The most crucial step in a bluing a firearm yourself is the preparation.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Rubber gloves
- Sandpaper: 600, 800 and 1200 grit
- Soft lint-free cloths
- Metal trays or clean rags to hold gun parts
- Rust/old blue remover or naval jelly
- Gun cleaner/degreaser
- Acetone or denatured alcohol
- Bluing liquid
- Ultra-fine steel wool, grade 0000
- Gun oil
Take apart the firearm according to the manufacturer's instructions. Sand each part using 600-grit sandpaper to prepare the steel for bluing. Smooth out pits, scratches or rust spots, sanding in one direction. Then use 800-grit sandpaper to cross-sand each part, sanding at a 90-degree angle to the previous sanding.
Pour a small amount of rust/old blue remover into a separate container and swab each gun part with a soft lint-free cloth. Use naval jelly to achieve the same result. Pouring the rust/blue remover into a separate container prevents contaminating the bottle of remover.
Swab each gun part in cleaner/degreaser fluid using a fresh lint-free cloth. Wipe away all remnants of blue remover or naval jelly.Use a fresh lint-free cloth and acetone or denatured alcohol to wipe up the cleaner/degreaser. Let the gun parts dry for 15 to 30 minutes, then sand each part to a shiny finish. Start with 800-grit sandpaper and finish with 1200 grit. Use the same cross-sanding technique described in Step 1.
Apply bluing liquid to each gun part with a fresh lint-free cloth. Use a bit of pressure to get a uniform coating. Wipe off the bluing before it dries, then polish the piece with grade 0000 steel wool. This process is known as carding.
Repeat Step 4 again until you achieve the desired darkness. It may take up to three coats of bluing.
Apply gun oil to each part when it has reached the desired darkness. This stops the chemical reaction in the metal caused by bluing. Wipe each part clean with a fresh rag and reassemble the gun.
Tips and warnings
- To avoid cross-contamination, use separate cloths and cleaning trays for each fluid. Cross-contamination is the main culprit in inconsistent bluing and streaking that many people encounter when they try bluing at home.
- Wear protective gloves while using gun chemicals and work in a well-ventilated area.
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