Bluing your gun and cleaning it is one of the most surefire ways to protect it for the long haul. Besides, good bluing provides a firearm with a distinctive and impressive aesthetic quality that is unmatched by just a generalized oiling.
But what exactly is bluing, and how to blue a gun? Bluing is essentially a finish. You don’t actually change the molecular composition of the gun or anything of that nature. This finish application is highly corrosive-resistant, at least for a time.
It will also keep your firearm functioning and looking as if it’s brand new, pulled out of its gun case for the very first time.
How to Blue a Gun
Tools and Supplies Needed
There are two ways to blue a gun—hot and cold. Cold bluing is by far more common, especially amongst firearm owners that are not gunsmiths. That’s because hot bluing requires incredibly hot, acidic chemicals and is difficult to set up and conduct.
However, there are also multiple ways to hot blue a gun.
To hot blue a gun, you will need the following:
- Naval Jelly
- Sodium Hydroxide
- Potassium nitrate
- A source of heat
- Cleaning tools
To cold blue a gun, all you need is a cold bluing kit, and that’s it.
Bluing a Gun – Step by Step
Although a cold blue is much faster, it lacks the strength of a hot blue and won’t last anywhere near as long. Cold bluing kits, like the one linked above, include everything you need to cold blue your gun.
A cold blue kit includes a cleaner/degreaser, a blue & rust remover, and a perma-blue finish. You simply apply each one in order, starting with the cleaner and degreaser. It’s better to remove any wooden parts, as you would with a hot blue, and start wiping the metal down with the cleaner/degreaser.
The rust remover comes next, wiping down and going over everything that you already did with the cleaner/degreaser. Your cloth will come back black after your first few wipes but be sure to wear gloves for this, as the rust remover (naval jelly) is acidic.
Use steel wool in cold water to clean and rinse the parts you plan on applying perma-blue on, and allow them to dry. Once the steel is completely clean, use a large cotton swab, dipped in perma-blue, to wipe everything down. Be sure to cover every square inch of the metal.
This is much harder to do, and you will need a large, iron vat for mixing the water, potassium nitrate, and sodium hydroxide. You’ll also need a large burner, not just one of those small, portable ones.
The mixture needs to boil. You can see how this would normally function here. Nitre bluing is a method of hot blue that is more doable at home. It requires much smaller pots and the ability to heat the water mixture to 600°F. It creates an incredible look, especially if you do it for knives.
Heat Bluing and Charcoal bluing are two more types of hot bluing, but neither is very strong, despite the pretty cool looks they produce in the metal.
How long does Gun Blue Last
For the longest-lasting blue, the traditional hot blue method of dipping the various gun parts in a caustic mixture is easily the best. It lasts far longer than any other blue method and anything else a cold blue has to offer.
Depending on how often you use the weapon, hot blue could last well over a year, perhaps longer. Cold blue, on the other hand, will last a little longer than it takes to go from one cleaning to the next cleaning.
Hot blue also has the advantage of providing the metal with an absolutely uniform coating. That’s difficult to do with cold blue, as you have to apply it by hand, and some tight spots may not get as much as the rest.
Hot Blue vs Cold Blue
Cold blue can produce a fine look on the metal but it’s not as long-lasting as hot blue. For a truly unique and long-lasting look, nitre blue is the best way to go. It’s not quite as immersive as a standard hot blue, but it’s pretty close.
Comparing charcoal blue to cold blue is about the same. Neither is any more or less good than the other.
There are a lot of advantages to bluing your firearm. It provides an exceptional layer of protection and durability and protects the metal from corrosion. Although a cold blue isn’t as long-lasting as a hot one, it’s still an effective, short-term solution.
No matter what way you decide to do it, you should ensure that you turn it into a routine. You’re not required to Blue your firearm 100 times a year or anything but a routine hot or cold blue will provide long-lasting results in the metal.
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