Brownells 75th Anniversary - A Shooting Heritage

Cold Bluing Touch-Ups


I recently purchased a Remington 870 at a local gun show. It had been well maintained, but with every gun that sees a lot of use, there were some wear marks and imperfections that detracted from its appearance. I wanted to touch up the shotgun and get it back to “show-room” quality.
To get this done, I turned to three of Brownells cold bluing products, Formula 44/40® Instant Gun Blue, Oxpho-Blue® Creme, and Dicropan T-4™ Touch-Up Creme. I wasn’t sure which one of these products would be best for the job at hand, so a side-by-side comparison was in order. I chose to test these products on the magazine spring retainer, which was pretty well worn and most in need of a touch up. Upon closer examination, there was some rusting in the knurled area of the cap, so I decided to bead-blast the retainer in order to get a completely clean, rust-free surface to work with.
Once this was done, I carefully read the directions on each of the products to make sure I had all the materials I needed. All three recommended the use of rubber gloves, eye protection, and an apron. This precaution should never be ignored. The other materials I needed were cloth patches, cotton swabs, and steel wool. Once I understood the application procedures, I was ready to see how they performed.
Formula 44/40® Instant Gun Blue
When we say “instant”, we aren’t kidding! This product works very quickly! I put some on a cloth patch per the instructions, and applied it to the retainer. The metal immediately turned black and I began wiping it off. This turned the patch black, so I got a new one and continued wiping until all of the liquid was removed. I blued half of the retainer to do a comparison.

The color was very nice, and with a little practice, controlling the liquid was not overly difficult. On a piece like the retainer, there were some issues with making sure that the grooves on the knurling were completely covered and that the coverage was equal to give a consistent finish. I applied two coats and gave it a once-over with the steel wool and a light coat of gun oil and found the results to be satisfactory.
The Formula 44/40® Instant Gun Blue worked well, gave a very nice, dark blue/black finish, and was not difficult to work with. It takes patience and a steady hand to control the liquid formula, so it would be best utilized when the whole piece needs to be blued. When needing to do a large area, the liquid would get the job done quickly with very good results.

Oxpho-Blue Creme®
After a quick trip to the blasting cabinet, I was ready to test Oxpho-Blue® Creme. The recommended application device for this is a cotton swab. After double-checking the instructions, I dipped the swab into the jar and applied it to the retainer. The immediate noticeable difference was that this is not an instant bluing agent. You will see some change in color right away, but it takes 30 – 60 seconds to see the complete change. One advantage to this is the ability to closely match the surrounding areas if you are doing a touch-up to a receiver or barrel.
Once the colors match, you can wipe off the creme. I covered half the retainer and waited 60 seconds. I wiped the retainer, but noticed that the crème tended to remain in the crevices, so I had to work a little more to make sure that it was all wiped off.
The Oxpho-Blue® Creme gave a very consistent coloring and a nice, deep black/blue. It was very easy to control and the creme stayed put without worry of it running over onto areas that didn’t need to be blued. For small areas, this product was easier to work with than the liquid.

The creme would take longer than the liquid to do a large piece since the waiting time for results is longer, but it definitely has its advantages when control and precision are a primary need. If you are not concerned about the time differences, this would work equally well when doing an entire gun.
Dicropan T-4™ Touch-Up Creme
I wanted to compare Oxpho-Blue® and Dicropan T-4™ Creme to see what made them different. The Dicropan T-4™ differs in that it can be rinsed off with water and wiped with a sponge while still wet. This quickens the cleanup time and especially useful when doing touch-ups on small parts. I applied it to the retainer with a cotton swab, and it was just as easy to use as Oxpho-Blue®. It stayed put and darkened slowly, allowing for me to decide the color I wanted.
I applied two coats, rinsing each with water, and got a very nice finish that was lighter that with Oxpho-Blue®, but was very acceptable and had a nice luster to it after a light polishing with steel wool. Dicropan T-4™ also contains a rust preventative and blended nicely with areas that were already blued.

Overall, all three of these products produced results that were very nice and matched very well with the rest of the shotgun. The decision of which bluing agent to use would rest with the size of the object and the need to match other surface areas in color. The Formula 44/40® Instant Gun Blue gave instant results but was a little more difficult to control in regard to color density and ease of application. Oxpho-Blue® Creme and Dicropan T-4™ Creme were very easy to control during application and color matching, but were not as quick to produce the color change. For a quick touch-up to a portion of a gun, or to blue an entire barrel, all of these products deliver on the promises they make.