Stainless steel is rusting?


June 30, 2006, 01:26 PM
Iíve been carrying my Sig 229 lately now due to the warm weather. It has the stainless slide. Last night I noticed tiny dots of what looks to my untrained eye like rust. These dots are small and all smaller that the head of a pin, but they look nasty. The past few days it has been pretty hot and muggy around these parts, and to be honest I do sweat a bit.

My question is: Can a stainless steel slide rust? Iíve already applied a light coating of oil, but this seems strange to me, none of my other stainless guns have done this. Any thoughts?

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June 30, 2006, 01:33 PM
Stainless steel alloys, particularly the magnetic alloys used in firearms, are not rust proof, only rust resistant.

A couple of tips. Segregate your cleaning brushes and have one set for use only with stainless firearms running on smokeless powder. Also, DON'T use steel wool to take those spots off! You can embed microscopic particles of carbon in the stainless and they will act as centers for future rust to start.

June 30, 2006, 01:51 PM
Flitz metal polish. Lightly applied.

Leaves a protective barrier too.

Ace hardware carries it.

June 30, 2006, 02:10 PM
Can a stainless steel slide rust?

I bought my mom a stainless steel Security Industries 38 special to keep at her beachfront vacation condo in Florida. The gun wasn't attended to since there was nobody there except a couple months out of the year.

I was horrified to see it was pretty badly rusting. Next to the ocean and all.

Even stainless needs care.

June 30, 2006, 02:53 PM
Stainless steel alloys, particularly the magnetic alloys used in firearms, are not rust proof, only rust resistant.There are different types of stainless steel alloys - the most common "rustproof" alloys are 300-series, the "rust resistant" alloys are 400-series.

The 300-series alloys don't heat treat well, the 400-series do, so those are used in guns.

(Yes, there are OTHER types of stainless steels, but 300- and 400- series covers most of what's made.)

June 30, 2006, 02:57 PM
What makes you think SS won't rust?
It will. You have to put some oil on it.


June 30, 2006, 03:10 PM
My mega-dollar super tactical AMT .380 backup :p is stainless and has a little rust on it. I'll make sure not to use steel wool on it and try the flitz thing.

June 30, 2006, 03:26 PM
Last night I noticed tiny dots of what looks to my untrained eye like rust.
I had the exact same problem to the "T". I own a Sig 228 and noticed the spots starting to form. I used Turtle Wax and gave it a light polishing and it came right off no prob. Some people say not to use automotive waxes because the abrasives can damage the finish. BAH I say. While it is possible, your only going to be applying a very light rub and as long as you don't let rust form again you'll have no issues and you'll be happy to be rid of the rust. I polished the rust off a year ago and have no probs since.

June 30, 2006, 03:39 PM
Here in West Texas it is usually very dry, but I got caught out at the range one day when it began raining. I had a few other loads I was working up that I needed to try out before I left, so I put away most of my other guns and made sure I only had the stainless ones out. It wasn't raining all that much, so I natrually didn't think much about it.

The one gun I thought would just love an environment like that was my Ruger Super Redhawk "Alaskan". It is chambered in 454 Casull and has a 2.5" barrel. I shot 50 or so rounds through it and then wiped it down and put it back in the rug. When I got home a couple of hours later, it already had rust on the right side of the frame above the trigger and inside the trigger frame just in front of the trigger. I was aghast! I never would have thought a gun that was born and bred for that type of environment (I spent part of my childhood and later as an adult in Alaska) would ever show signs of corrosion, but it sure did!

None of the other stainless guns I had out in the rain that day (.44 Magnum Super Blackhawk and a 45-70 BFR revolver) showed any signs of corrosion either.

I learned my lesson. Wipe the stainless ones down with a light protective layer of oil just like the non-stainless ones!

June 30, 2006, 04:07 PM
I do apply a little oil, but maybe the sweat/holster combo removed it. I never thought about wax, but I'll try it. I just seemed odd to me. I know that stainless can rust, but I thought it would take a lot more than a little sweat. The strange thing, as I mentioned, was that none of my other stainless guns ever did this. Even my kimber 1911 that resides on my person about 9 months a year never showed even the slightest signs of rust.

June 30, 2006, 04:48 PM
keep in mind that sweat has a high content of salt and salt is highly corrosive to metals.

June 30, 2006, 05:44 PM
Stainless steel is supposed to get a "passivation" treatment but sometimes the gun companies 'forget' . It' makes a huge difference !! I would suggest that you also wipe down the outside with gun oil occasionally. For those who polish guns with abrasives or steel wool , you remove the passivated surface which is a layer of protective oxide.

1 old 0311
June 30, 2006, 08:08 PM
If you use Flitz you must do the ENTIRE slide. It is a polish and will leave a different finish on that spot. Try it under the grip first. I would rub with a CLP first and see if that clears it up.

June 30, 2006, 08:22 PM
Chances are that it is a very light surface rust. Sometimes, rust like that is so light that rubbing it with an oily cloth will remove it. If not, try the Flitz, rubbing *very* lightly.

Ezzox has a good reputation for rust prevention. I would suggest buffing a coating of that on your slide and see if that doesn't prevent the problem in the future. If not, then I might try a wax product.


June 30, 2006, 08:28 PM
Unspellable is right- any tools used on stainles are for stainless only.
I have a lot of experience polishing various metals and i have noticed over the years that if you polish SS with a cutting compound type product which has been used on nonSS it will become less so.
I don't know why it is almost as if the surface of the alloy is changed somehow (not a metalurgist).

June 30, 2006, 08:31 PM
FLITZ is incredible but a little expensive. I bought a large can on ebay for $40.00 much better value than the $10.00 tubes.

June 30, 2006, 08:58 PM
Watch out for rust under grips. I learned this the hard way. I always wipe my guns down with an oily T-Shirt before storing and after handling. Changed the grips on a stainless a few months ago and was horrified and what I discovered under there. It wasn't real bad but I was not happy. Scrubbed it off with a scotch pad before putting on new grips.

June 30, 2006, 09:22 PM
Many times it is not the actual stainless parts that are rusting but microscopic particles left from the carbon steel tooling used in making the parts that have become embedded in the stainless. Over time cleaning will usually remove most of the particles and even the rusting will "use up" the carbon steel and rusting will not return.

June 30, 2006, 09:50 PM
That's right . Machining , grinding , polishing , sand or bead blasting machines should only be used for stainless otherwise bits of carbon steel get transferred to the stainless steel. These carbon steel particles rust and the rusting then CONTINUES into the stainless. Passivation , in nitric or citric acid , removes carbon steel particles and produces a thicker protective oxide layer .Though passivation should remove s carbon steel particle s it shouldn't be depended on .

July 1, 2006, 01:23 AM
Stainless can be made more corrosion resistant by passivation. It uses acids and may not have been done. I makes a marked difference in the corrosion resistance of stainless steels.

Oh, citric acid can be used

These standards are exclusionary, you have to pay to get them. :fire:

July 1, 2006, 02:12 AM
As others have kind of said, it's the finish that the stainless is left at that determines how rust resistsnt it is. I grind knives (ATS-34) at 60 grit for the first stage, dipping them in water when they get too hot. When I'm done I set it down and start on the next one. By the time I go back to the first knife to grind it at 220 it's rusted pretty well - much more than you'd expect from "stainless". But you take that same knife to a polished 1200 grit finish and there'll be almost no chance of it rusting, depending on how it's cared for.

July 1, 2006, 02:25 AM
As others have shared , "Stain" - "less" is dependent on many factors.

Hence the reasons I and other are not concerned about Blued Guns, and why we prefer them over Stainless offerings ;)

RIG [Rust Inhibiting Grease] is time proven.
RIG + P was designed to prevent galling with stainless, and it too prevents rust. Gun Mfgs went to using a different alloy and all b/t frame and slide on stainless alleviate this galling.
Blued guns did not have this galling problem...

Johnson's Paste Wax is another.

Yep, that little yellow can folks have used forever found in the grocery store with the floor waxes, in hardward stores, where lumber is sold...About $6 a can will last a lifetime.

July 1, 2006, 02:44 AM
I had a Sig P232 in stainless that would rust with alarming ease.

Little specks of rust would show up all the time in the serrations on the slide....didnt matter how often you wiped it down with oil.

I always suspected perhaps the metal was "contaminated" with something from the start but dont know enough about metals to really say for sure.

No big deal, it was a carry piece.....not a show queen.

I wear rusty guns like a badge of honor - means they are being carried, not being shelved.

The hammer on my Kimber shows a few speckles of rust........

July 1, 2006, 09:43 AM
Stainless steel not only rusts, it can also be stained, YMMV. The Romance languages (French, Spanish, etc) call it some variation of what translates as "unoxidizable," which means won't rust. Bah!

Stainless steels are alloys of iron, chomium, nickel, & some other metals.
They rust if iron atoms are on the surface. Iron atoms get on the surface when it's freshly machined, scratched, or has had non-stainless steel or iron imbedded in it.

Passivation causes the surface iron atoms to dissolve off, leaving a layer of chrome atoms, which don't easily corrode. Sorta like chroming a barrel, only on the atom level. FYI, 300 series stainless (food grade, surgical) does also rust, I've seen plenty on my 308 kettles and 318 ball valves.

I happen to prefer stainless. Even if it does rust, it's far less likely to do so than blued steel, treat it like you would a blued gun and the instances of iron oxide will be much reduced.

Mister Kingdom
July 1, 2006, 10:11 AM
I have a stainless Beretta Model 21 that had some orange staining which I believe to have been rust along the top of the barrel when I bought it. It was used and had sat around for some years before the owner sold it off to a dealer.

A little Mom's mag and wheel cleaner took the staining/rust right off and the gun looks new. I haven't had any problems since.

July 1, 2006, 10:50 AM
Under the grips and on exposed inside frame areas is where it often starts on "stainless" handguns. And in addition to any case hardened parts like hammers and triggers - the fixed rear sights, inside trigger guards, under the cylinder latch etc on revolvers.


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