Alloy and plastic receivers and high start up costs have led to alternate methods of finishing a firearm but hot salts bluing remains the standard all the others are compared to.
by Paul Mazan
I’ve written several articles on alternative methods of finishing firearms but never covered traditional hot salts bluing. In this article I’ll discuss possible problems, start up costs, and an overview of the process so you can decide if this is a service you should offer. There are many alternatives to hot bluing giving hobbyists and small shops choices in finishing that don’t require the start up costs and hazards of hot caustic bluing. Rust bluing, accelerated rust bluing (Dicropan IM), baking lacquers from Brownells and Lauer, and epoxy paints (Aluma-Hyde II) have their place and fill a need. Their main advantages are low start up costs, ease of application, attractive surface finish, and resistance to cleaning solvents as well as their ability to be used on alloys that would simply dissolve in a hot salts bath. Their disadvantages include long cure times for epoxy finishes, looking like paint for most of the spray ons, labor intensive application (Dicropan IM), and extended application time (rust bluing.)
As a shop owner or serious hobbyist sees his need to reblue guns increase from an occasional bluing job to bluing jobs backing up with preparation and labor time eating up shop time, it becomes necessary to streamline the process. The answer remains in hot salts bluing. Unfortunately, the first hurdle for the cash-strapped hobbyist or small shop is start up cost. Anyone more than casually interested in gunsmithing knows that the tools of the trade are often specialty items made in small runs and can be expensive. A bluing set up is no exception.
Read more in the February 2016 issue.