Polishing the Slide Flats on a 1911


February 15, 2003, 12:24 PM
I have a Kimber SS compact that has a matte finish and crystobal grips. I'd like to dress it up a bit by polishing the slide flats. I was thinking of using a rubber sanding block with 40/600/800 grit wet/dry sand paper and elbow grease. Will that be sufficient, or do I need finish off with something finer? I also have a Dremmel with felt wheels & jeweler's rouge. This is more of a range and HD gun than carry piece, so I'm not too worried about scratches. Anything else I should know? Thanks in advance.

edited for typos

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Jim K
February 15, 2003, 10:24 PM
With 800 grit you will get a shine. With jewellers rouge, you will get something like a mirror. It is tough to keep a consistent finish with the small wheel on a Dremel, though. You might want to use a regular polishing wheel with rouge for a better finish, or just use the rouge on a cloth, like a flannel patch, and polish with your finger.

IMHO, a mirror finish on a gun looks like heck, but everyone to his own taste.


February 16, 2003, 08:47 AM
I put a mirror shine on my stainless girl. That is a lot of elbow grease!!

I didn't have access to anything more than some rouge and rags, so I spent the better part of a day rubbing and rubbing and rubbing. Wow.

The downside is that a mirror finish shows scratches. I mean, thinks you didn't think would scratch it, like a pillow on the bed, will leave a mark. It's very frustrating to do all that work and then find a feather has ruined it!!

I'm thinking to apply some 600g paper to take the high shine off.

February 16, 2003, 03:29 PM
The hot tip (from 1911 Forum) seems to be using progressively finer grit papers taped to something large (1.e. 12" square) and rigid such as a thick peice of glass, a piece of polished marble or granite counter top, or steel plate. Lap the slide back & forth, turning every few strrokes to ensure even pressure. Clean slide well before reassembly.

I think I'll stop at 800, and forgo the Dremmel.

Thx to all. M2

4 eyed six shooter
February 16, 2003, 09:30 PM
The first thing to do is to grab your dremel tool and put it in the drawer. That said, what I have done with excellent results is take a piece of flat hard wood for a backing and polish with progressively finer grits of cloth backed sandpaper finishing up with 1200 grit. The trick to making the sandpaper last and producing a fine finish is to use kerosene on the slide and paper. It washes away the used grit and metal and really helps get a good finish. Wipe away the slurry and repluntish with fresh kerosene often. Be sure to clean the slide of all old grit and kerosene before moving to the next finest grit. You will be suprised how quickly the paper cuts with the kerosene and the finish will make your heart skip a beat.
Best wishes to all, John K :D

4 eyed six shooter
February 16, 2003, 09:50 PM
Mike, one other thing to add. For a really first rate job, prior to polishing the sides, mask off the sides and bead blast the top and scallops in the slide first, then polish the flats. This works great on blued slides also.

Standing Wolf
February 16, 2003, 10:17 PM
I hand-rubbed a (pre-agreement) Smith & Wesson model 60 to a mirror-bright shine, only to discover it acquired scraches just from being looked at hard. I sent it to Magnaport for bead blasting.

I don't know why stainless steel isn't more scratch-resistant.

February 17, 2003, 12:17 PM
Thanks for the tips, guys.

4 eyed- the gun already has a matte finish, so I'm thinking that the polished flats will dress it up a bit. Since it's mostly a range & HD gun, it spends most of it's life either in a zipped rug case or foam lined quick access safe in the bedroom, so scratches shouldn't be much of an issue (I have an Ultra Carry for carry).

After the cosmetics, the next add-on might be a set of night or fibre optic sights. I'll try & post some before & after pics when it's done (I've got a cast on my foot at the moment, dreaming up projects is how I'm dealing with shooting withdrawal):D

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