How to Re-blue a Pistol | Our Guide to Protection From Corrosion and Rust

Bluing a pistol provides a protective coating to steel. Consider it a tiny layer of protection resistant to corrosion and rust. Longtime firearms enthusiasts know that gun bluing isn't comprehensive protection. Rust and corrosion can still develop on blued steel. However, they do so at a slower rate than on bare metal.

Rebluing a pistol is essential to keeping its feel, look, and function without affecting functionality or safety. Want to know how to reblue a pistol or give your handgun a blue finish? You must know the methods involved and what will not turn blue. Gun bluing might take minutes or hours.

How to Re-blue a Pistol: What Is Re Blueing?

Re-bluing or black oxidation is a technique of recovering the blue finish of steel to form a thin protective shell. The bluing process involves turning red iron oxide (rust, Fe2O3) into black iron oxide (Fe3O4) through a chemical reaction.

However, the shell will wear out and should be replaced to keep the pistol looking its best. You may have the pistol re-blued by a professional or restore the bluing yourself. You can use the bluing process on any sheet metal. However, the process is more popular for gun barrels and some firearms components.

a gun and the bluing equipment

What Are the Benefits of Re Blueing?

How can rebluing a firearm benefit you? Does it matter? Your firearm arrived with a small iron oxide layer when you purchased it. The chemical gives your pistol a sleek, professional appearance that will most likely lure you in. Nothing compares to your favorite firearm, not even a brand-new one. You can reblue your existing firearm instead of purchasing a new one.

Guns of sentimental value can benefit from this bluing process. The most crucial reason to reblue your pistol is to ensure that it retains its functionality after bluing. Gun rust will make it more difficult to retain its worth in the future. You can prevent gun rust by rebluing your firearm.

Rusted firearms can be challenging to handle and discharge properly. Considering this, you'll want to keep your pistol in top shape. These measures are critical for protecting everyone who uses your weapon, including yourself.

rgun restoring procedure

What Are the Steps Involved in Re Blueing a Pistol?

Several processes are available for applying this type of finish to a pistol. The cold bluing process and hot bluing process are the two primary bluing processes. Charcoal bluing, niter bluing, and heat bluing are some other processes you can use.

Rust bluing process is rare because it's so time-consuming. The bluing solution is dependent on the process. The work area should be well-ventilated. Most bluing solutions are hazardous and toxic. Below are the three common bluing processes. Let's get started:

Cold Bluing

The cold bluing method uses selenium dioxide at ambient temperature. Most individuals use this bluing process to polish up firearm parts they must recoat. Birchwood Casey super blue is a popular cold bluing kit. In addition, cold blue solutions are available from various vendors. Below are the steps involved when cold bluing:

Step 1: Getting Rid of the Old Bluing

Re-bluing a firearm may need the removal of all existing bluing. Use one of these chemicals:

  • White vinegar containing acetic acid

  • Naval Jelly - a phosphoric acid-based rust remover for automotive.

Step 2: Gunmetal polishing

Polishing removes surface corrosion, scratches, and pitting. You can polish with anything from 000 steel wool to 600 - 1200-grit sandpaper, depending on your preference.

Step 3: Gunmetal Cleaning

How you clean the gunmetal is up to you. You can either re-blue the entire pistol or the areas that need it, like the gun barrel. 

Step 4: Gently heat the metal

You can polish better by lightly heating the gun metal before applying the bluing. A heat gun, blow dryer, or the lowest temperature on a typical oven will work to heat the metal.

Step 5: Applying the bluing solution

Use a clean, dry applicator to apply the blue solution evenly. Smoothen using steel wool after applying the solution in sections no greater than 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) when gluing large areas. You can apply small regions in a single pass. By doing so, the blueing will not appear mottled.

Step 6: Apply the bluing solution more often.

Continue to use the solution until the desired hue of blue is achieved. Using a new applicator for each layer and new steel wool for each subsequent coating is essential.

Step 7: Add gun oil to the finish

Apply a new coat of gun oil after a few hours, wiping the old with a cotton ball. The cleaning oil will remove the blueing you applied, so don't use it for this process.

a gun in the person's hands

Hot Bluing

Hot bluing uses boiling chemicals. Potassium nitrate or saltpeter and sodium hydroxide or caustic soda are the most commonly used chemicals. Order these chemicals from a vendor that sells them exclusively for metal bluing if you intend to try hot bluing. Below are the steps involved in hot bluing:

Step 1: Polishing the pistol parts before bluing

To polish the metal again, try using 000 steel wool to 600 – 1200-grit sandpaper.

Step 2: Prepare the gun parts for the cleaning and bluing solutions.

The chemicals in the hot bluing process, sodium hydroxide and potassium nitrate, are caustic. You can thread the soft wire into the gun barrel to aid in dipping it. It will be easier to dip the smaller components if you place them in a wire basket.

Step 3: Place the gun parts into a cleaning solution

Remove any oil or grease that may impede the bluing process by soaking the gun parts in the water for 10 or 15 minutes while you clean the guns. The chemical cleaners listed in the cleaning phase can all be used for cold bluing. Read and adhere carefully to the cleaner's usage and handling directions and disposal instructions.

Step 4: Rinse the cleaning solution off with cold water

Rinsing should only take two to three minutes. Using hot water to rinse after dishwashing soap to remove cleaning chemicals may be necessary.

Step 5: Dip the firearm components in the bluing solution

A temperature range of 275-311 degrees Fahrenheit is essential for the hot bluing solution (135 - 155 degrees C).

Step 6: Use cold water to rinse off the bluing solution

Swirl the gun parts in cold water to help remove the bluing salts.

Step 7: Dip the firearm components in boiling water

Boiling will remove any remaining bluing solution residue. Smaller, simpler pieces can take as little as 5 - 10 minutes, while larger, more complex ones can take as long as 30 minutes.

Step 8: Dip the blued parts in a solution of water-displacing oil

It will prevent sweat, rust, and body oil from deteriorating the finish. Put the parts in an oil bath and let them cool for 45-60 minutes.

a pistol on the wooden surface

Rust Bluing

Your pistol will look brand new after using the easy-to-learn rust bluing technique. Look at the steps below to see how the rust bluing technique is used.

Step 1: Polishing the gun parts before bluing

Polish the gunmetal with 600- to 1200-grit paper or steel wool to remove any flaking color and loose rust.

Step 2: Clean any chemical residue left behind by dirt, oil, and grease

Unless the manufacturer of the rust-bluing solution you are using specifies otherwise, you may use any of the recommended cleaning agents in the cleaning step of the cold bluing process. Rinse the cleaning solution.

Step 3: Cover gunmetal components with a rust bluing solution

Nitric and hydrochloric acids are often used in rust-bluing solutions. The process causes uniform metal rusting.

Step 4: Dip the gunmetal components in boiling distilled water

Taking the acid solution out of the equation halts the rusting process.

Step 5: Remove the red oxide rust by scrubbing it away and exposing the black oxide finish that lies underneath

Using a soft, thin-wired carding brush or wheel, you can remove surface rust.

Step 6: Follow these steps until you achieve the appropriate level of bluing: Repeating the acid treatment process, scrubbing, and boiling.

There may be no point in attempting further bluing if the gunmetal has reached its maximum color depth.

Step 7: Apply oil to the gun parts

The oil prevents rust and covers the metal finish against wear, sweat, dirt, and body oils. Let the gun components soak in the oil for at least one night before assembling them.

a person holding metal parts of a gun

What Is the Purpose of Re Blueing?

Gunsmiths, arms manufacturers, gun enthusiasts, and firearm owners all use bluing to give their firearms a more polished finish while increasing their guns' resistance to corrosion. Likewise, machinists use bluing to protect and decorate the tools they make for their work.

Gun rust occurs when the protective coating on the weapon wears away over time. Rebluing your pistol is essential if you want to keep it from rusting and losing its luster further. You may reblue your firearm at home using a gun bluing solution, even if professional rebluing is recommended for expensive guns. However, you will need a solid grasp of the rebluing process if you want to accomplish this well.

What Are the Costs Associated With Re Blueing?

The price list includes a cost range for the great variety of gun designs. Of course, your exact model and make will dictate where the price falls on this spectrum. Prices listed include reassembly and disassembly of pistols in their entirety.

Individual part refinishing costs are available upon request. The most negligible fee is $25. You may be charged for the return shipment depending on the package's contents and insurance value. For instance, below is the average price list for bluing your pistol:

  • Matte and Custom Blue Satin $300 to $350 
  • The Master Finish in Hot Blue $550-650
  • Regular Finish Hot Blue $300 to $350
  • Premium Finish Hot Blue $400-$450 
  • Slow Rust Blue $550 to 650 
  • Parkerizing $300-$350 
  • Cerakote $300-350 
  • Blue Dip $75-125

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