How Durable is a Blued Finish on a Gun?
What is a Blued Finish?
A blued finish is a bluish tint that is “stained” into the gun. Before the bluing process can begin, the gun must be thoroughly cleaned and degreased. It is a very sensitive process, most of which has to happen without leaving any fingerprints on the gun. Generally a bluing solution, such as Perma Blue, will cure as quickly as overnight. A blue finish is attractive and often gives a gun a very unique look. A blued finish will wear quickly if it is a ccw, however, it can always be reblued. Many enthusiasts argue whether rebluing a gun will increase or decrease the gun’s value. Some people believe that refinishing the gun correctly is very likely to increase the resell value, while many more people seem to believe it will almost always decrease the gun’s resell value.
It is also worth mentioning that the bluing process can vary and result in different shades and tones of finish. Some bluing processes create a deeper, almost black finish. Other bluing processes produce a much brighter, shinier blue. There are also shades of gray lying all in between.1
How Does a Blued Finish Compare to Stainless Steel?
A blued gun requires a lot more maintenance than Stainless Steel finish. If a blued gun is exposed to moisture (even sweat), it will begin to rust quickly. Even blood can stain a blued finish.2Therefore, the usual recommendation is to keep a coat of rust preventative solution/lube or a special wax on the finish. Despite appropriate care and maintenance, daily carrying or keeping a blued gun in a holster will quickly wear away the finish. Though, many companies will refinish the factory blue finish. Regardless, Stainless Steel guns are far more forgiving when it comes to holsters and being a daily carry. They are very easy to maintain and wear, scuffs and scratches can be quickly polished out.
Conclusion: Is a Blued Gun Durable?
A blue finish on a gun is not typically very durable. This is the primary reason most people prefer Stainless Steel, as a blued gun is still quite pretty. In fact, the main reason people select a blued finish is almost always due to looks. Still, a lot of blued finish enthusiasts seem to prefer refinishing their blued gun many times, to replacing it with a Stainless Steel gun. The newer bluing processes are also producing far more durable finishes than even just a few years ago. Though there are absolutely still subpar bluing techniques that leave a gun only with a thin layer of finish. Depending upon the complexity of the process and the experience of the technician or gunsmith, a blued gun can be extremely deep and high quality. Ultimately it comes down to researching the bluing technique, manufacturer and model, and other variables to determine if a blued gun will hold up to the minimum acceptable durability standards or not.
1Ruger Forum. How durable is the blue or black finish on the GP100s? Retrieved from:http://www.rugerforum.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=115288
2Field and Stream. Blued Steel vs Stainless Steel. Retrieved from:https://answers.fieldandstream.com/forum/other/other-aa/32407-blued-steel-vs-stainless-steel
About the Author:
Mark Doberman, The Proprietary Gun Smith
The Proprietary Gun Smith is a marksman, expert gun handler, ammunition specialist, survival guru, and lifetime gun enthusiast. He owns (or has owned) nearly every legal firearm and ballistic available, has fired nearly every gun, and regularly consults professionally in the firearm world. He has studied firearms and similar tactical lifestyle for more than 40 years. In addition to writing for ArmoryBay.com, TheProprietaryGunSmith has guest written for more than a dozen other sites and/or magazines in the industry.
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