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To Blue or Not To Blue - Unique Finishes that Customize Any Gun

by Larry Weeks

When Bob Brownell started bluing guns nearly 65 years ago, there weren’t a lot of options to preserving the finish other than bluing for most folks. That’s not the case today.

Looking around the gun shops, gun shows and matches today there are almost as many different finishes as there are guns. Brownells has been a leader in providing the products you need to do the job right. From the traditional hot salts bluing products to the new spray-on, bake-on finishes.

If you don't want to or cannot do hot salts bluing, there are still many new and popular ways to refinish your guns' metal. We'll start with the spray-on, bake-on finishes and move to ones that require a heat source. As with any finishing operation, whether it be metal, wood or plastic, the secret is proper surface preparation and getting the part clean before applying the finish.

SPRAY-ON, BAKE-ON FINISHES
All these finishes provide excellent protection by themselves and can also be used to add another layer of protection to blued and parkerized finishes.

Baking Lacquer
Brownells Baking Lacquer provides one of the best, most durable small shop alternatives to re-anodizing aluminum. Highly resistant to oils, solvents and acids, it can be used on literally any metal that can take baking in a 325° F. oven for twenty minutes without damage. This includes cast iron, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and most non-ferrous metals used for gun parts. Brownells Baking Lacquer is available in many colors to blend with blued and stainless steel parts, parkerizing and also in Matte Clear for “French Gray” finishes or protecting color case hardened parts. Apply over rough sanded, bead or abrasive blasted surfaces for best results.

Teflon®/Moly Gun Finish
Brownells Teflon/Moly Gun Finish is just that, Teflon and molybdenum disulfide in a baked-on, phenolic-epoxy base. The resulting finish is self-lubricating and extremely resistant to corrosion and the everyday abuse a working gun goes through. Ideal as an exterior finish and to protect internal parts where a slight thickness buildup won’t cause “fit” problems. Available in several colors to blend with blued and stainless steel, parkerizing and more. Apply over rough sanded, bead or abrasive blasted surfaces for best results. A very “forgiving” finish that’s pretty easy to apply, and get a good job.

Brownells Gun-Kote
Gun-Kote is the long-time, industry standard, now available in an aerosol can. It gives a thin, extremely tough, bake-on finish with the lubricating qualities of molybdenum disulfide. Thickness buildup is minimized without sacrificing abrasion or chemical resistance. Recommended for application on aluminum-oxide-blasted surfaces only. Slightly less forgiving than Baking Lacquer or Teflon/Moly where cleaning and spraying techniques are concerned. If you take the time and care to do it “right” you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest finishes available.

Aluma-Hyde™ II
Brownells Aluma-Hyde™ II is a high-grade, air-dry, epoxy paint for use on aluminum alloys, steel, fiberglass and plastics. Available in aerosol only, it gives a very tough finish, resistant to scratches and dings and is not affected by the solvents and oils used in the firearms industry. It even stands up to most of the new “miracle” bore cleaners. Aluma-Hyde II does give a thicker finish than Baking Lacquer, Teflon/Moly or Gun-Kote. Available in colors to match blued and stainless steel parts, parkerizing, stocks, etc.

Metal-Coat Epoxy
Brownells Metal-Coat is a clear, tough, air-dry, epoxy paint that’s the ideal choice to protect polished or bead-blasted steel, aluminum or brass surfaces. One coat from the aerosol can provide superb rust resistance, plus additional coats bond into the base coat for more scratch protection. Holds up well to gun oils and solvents although some of today’s most aggressive, “super” bore cleaners may damage it. The soft lustre looks great and maintains the beauty of color case hardened steel.


PARKERIZING, COLOR CASE HARDENING, PLATING & BROWNING

Parkerizing
Parkerizing is ideal on most steels (but not aluminum or stainless) as an alternative to bluing. It is ideal for hunting and law enforcement firearms due to good weather resistance, low light reflection and durability against wear. Due to slight surface etching, Parkerizing is not recommended for match-grade barrels. A Pre-Dip Blackener can be used to change the finish to black, or the parts can be blued, dyed or sprayed with Brownells Baking Lacquer or Aluma-Hyde™ after Parkerizing. Application is by immersion in a glass, ceramic, fiberglass or stainless steel tank of heated solution (less than 200° F).

Color Case Hardening
This classic finish is found on the receivers of Colt Single Actions and many shotguns. The brilliant, swirling blues, grays and golds are the result of packing steel parts in a mixture of wood and bone charcoal, heating them to roughly 1400° F. then quenching in water. The surface of the steel is also hardened in the process. Because of the high temperatures, warping can be a problem and parts where a specific hardness is critical should not be color case hardened. Application requires a heat-treating furnace, a steel crucible to hold the parts, plus high temperature handling gear and a 55-gallon drum of quenching water.

Electroless Nickel Plating
This is an attractive, very durable, extremely hard, metal surface plating often used to color carbon steel parts to more closely match stainless steel, or to provide more weather and wear resistance to parts. Nickel Plating can be applied to matte surfaces for a dull finish or to polished metal for a bright surface. A nickel-plated surface is extremely hard, relatively frictionless, and is so tough that removal requires chemical stripping or sanding. Application requires tanks, heating units and tank agitators.

Browning
Traditionally reserved for muzzleloaders, slow, rust browning can be quite attractive. True, rust brown finishes are usually more durable than the quick, heat process browns, although they take much more time to do. Varying techniques can give anything from a smooth, slightly glossy finish to a “rough”, non-reflective one. Since it is a rust process, bores and critically fitted parts must be protected. Application varies but may include damp cabinets, hot air guns or propane torches.

For more information on any of our metal finishing products, call and talk with our Technical Support Staff.