How to Prepare Gun Bluing

Written by barry index
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How to Prepare Gun Bluing
Gun bluing keeps your firearms in top shape, and preparation is the most important step. (a gun image by timur1970 from

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

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  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    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.

  4. 4

    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.

  5. 5

    Repeat Step 4 again until you achieve the desired darkness. It may take up to three coats of bluing.

  6. 6

    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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