Where has all the bluing gone?


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osteodoc08
July 18, 2007, 02:17 PM
I just returned from my local gun store looking for an affordable rifle. I am quite depressed to say the least.

I started out looking at new rifles. I was really looking for something with good shiny bluing and a nice wooden stock. Unless I spent megabux, it just isn't going to happen. The closest to what I want was a Ruger Hawkeye in 270 it was $600 or so, but I don't like the "new" safety. I preferred the old tang safety. Even the Browning A-bolt didn't have a classic bluing on it. It was more like a bake on finish in matte black. I did like this the best out of all the 'finishes'. The bluing I did see was not the classic bluing that I'm accustomed too. I guess it is too labor intensive and expensive to produce i the range I was looking at. I also looked at Howa, Tikka, Browning, Savage, Ruger, and Remington. I didn't care for these due to one reason or another. The Remmy CDL was nice, but I can't justify spending that kind of coin. The Weatherby and Sako models were just too expensive, but boy they looked nice!!! They also had a Remmy 798 that was very nice, but I didn't like that safety, either. Oh well, my shopping continues.

I then ventured to the used rack. A couple of nice shotguns and lever actions, but no rifles with good wood and bluing. There were a few, but they had been either bubbafied or had some rust on them.

I guess I'm going to have to do one of a few things.
1. Get the Ruger and accept the safety.
2. Get the Browning A bolt and accept the finish.
3. Wait until I have more money for a new gun.
4. Wait and find a used gun in good condition for a reasonable price.

Oh well, just wanted to share my (un)happy experience with everyone.

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grafsk8er
July 18, 2007, 02:27 PM
you should take a look at CZ. very nice guns. But i know what you mean about the bluing. i don't think any companies short of very high end still do a hot blue process anymore.

Gewehr98
July 18, 2007, 02:34 PM
If you want nice wood and polished blueing, you're gonna have to pay for it.

Smith & Wesson extracted themselves from polished blued carbon steel revolvers a while ago, moving to stainless steel for all but their custom shop offerings.

Polishing carbon steel gunmetal, prepping it, firing up the blueing tank, and all the associated work takes time and skill. Unfortunately, that's something that is not cost effective for gunmakers these days, when they can just as easily turn out a stainless steel gun, or do a quickie matte and/or bake-on finish on a carbon steel gun.

Woodworking is also an extra labor cost, especially compared to a synthetic stock. Some split the difference, and get laminated stock blanks from Rutland Plywood in Vermont, but they still need to inlet and finish them.

That's not saying you can't get a nice blued steel and walnut rifle - just that you're going to have to shop a little more, and pay a little more for what you want.

CWL
July 18, 2007, 02:42 PM
Polishing carbon steel gunmetal

That's the reason why classic hot bluing isn't offered much anymore. The labor costs to do the all metalwork on a hot blued firearm just costs too much. Most gun owners are not willing to pay this expense nowadays.

It is so much easier to hide imperfections by spray&baking paint onto a gun.

ArmedBear
July 18, 2007, 02:50 PM
There are blued guns. They're not THAT expensive, but you do pay extra.

Weatherby's Vanguard Deluxe is beautiful, especially for a gun that's way under a grand, but they sell a lot more of the lower-end versions.

I think gunmakers found that, at the more price-conscious end of the market, shooters will sacrifice polished blue in favor of accuracy, especially in a hunting rifle.

trbon8r
July 18, 2007, 02:51 PM
I brought this topic up once and was called an elitist and a snob for wanting quality blueing and wood that is fit for more than the fireplace.

Oh well, I agree with you 100%. ;)

ArmedBear
July 18, 2007, 03:03 PM
It's a mixed bag.

Weatherby's Vanguard series can be had with nice polished blueing and a nice stock, for a bit extra, but still way under a grand.

http://www.weatherby.com/_images/products/rifles/vgd_deluxe.gif

Marlin's lever guns are still blued quite well. My Ruger 22/45 has nice blueing on it, as well. Not as shiny as my trap single, or the old BP revolver I polished myself before having it hotblued, but not bad.

I think it's supply and demand. Also, it's getting hard to find someone to re-blue a worn gun these days.

Stainless does have its advantages, for some applications. In hot places, it's awfully nice not to worry about sweating a bit.

trbon8r
July 18, 2007, 03:11 PM
Armed Bear,

Where are the Weatherby's made these days? I remember them being made in Japan a few years back, but then I also recall seeing some ads in the various gun rags that they were again being made in the U.S.

I don't know much about Weatherby's. Is there a "best quality" Weatherby in terms of where and when it was built?

By the way, I miss California (formerly from Long Beach). I wish I was in San Diego right now. It's been hot as hell here lately. :)

ArmedBear
July 18, 2007, 03:16 PM
It's nice this year. Last year was nasty hot here, too, even at the beach.

Weatherby Vanguards are made by Howa in Japan. I have the Vanguard Sporter (satin blue and satin finish on walnut), which I picked up for a great price because it had a superficial scratch in the stock finish. Puts bullets right on the crosshair at 100 yards. Not a light gun, though.

Weatherby Mark V's are currently made in USA, in the midwest somewhere AFAIK. Steep, as always, but now available in standard calibers, at least some models, with the neat-o short-throw bolt.

WRT "best quality", I'm not sure. Some people like the German ones. Some people seem to hate them in general. Seems like Howa guns, under whatever brand name, are well regarded, especially for the price. Similar to Remington action; even take the same scope bases.

Gewehr98
July 18, 2007, 03:17 PM
Also, it's getting hard to find someone to re-blue a worn gun these days.

I love nicely polished and blued guns. I don't even know if I could get a new Browning BAR in the same deep polished blue and French Walnut as my 1969 Belgian Grade 1.

However, when I restored my 1906 Remington Model 8, I sent it to a place not too far from you (Whitmore, CA) for one of their beautiful and deep Grade 3 Belgian Blue jobs:

http://www.hotflashrefinishing.com

http://mauser98.com/rem8-3.jpg

I was so impressed with the finish on that Remington Model 8, that I had them do my Remington Model 11, too.

http://mauser98.com/rem11safety.jpg

strat81
July 18, 2007, 03:22 PM
I'm a product of my generation... I prefer black stocks and stainless barrels over blue and wood. Just seems like I'd have to be too careful with the weapon.

Except in a Colt Python.

cracked butt
July 18, 2007, 03:55 PM
It is so much easier to hide imperfections by spray&baking paint onto a gun.

...and slap a cheap plastic stock and call it their "All Weather Special" and charge the same while phasing out the nice walnut and blueing.

osteodoc08
July 18, 2007, 04:33 PM
So how much are these Weatherby Vanguard Deluxe models going for these days) I've seen plenty of the regular Vanguards. It was nice, but I still wanting a decently blued gun. As of right now, I think I'm going to wait until I can save $800 or so and start shopping again or just going with either the Remmy 798, Ruger Hawkeye, or the Browning with the bake on. I passed up on a post 64 Model 70 for $750 that was exactly what I was looking for. It had the most beautiful wood stock I'd ever seen and perfect bluing. I'm still kicking myself for that one. I just didn't have the coin at the time.

I also know what everyone means by the price of rebluing. My father has an old Browning Citori, I think from 1976, that has been through countless hours in the field all over and deserves another good dip in the ole hot bluing tank. He will give it to me if I pay to have it reblued. By the time I reblue it, time the action(although it functions fine now) and have screw in chokes added, I can almost afford another field grade Citori!!

grafsk8er
July 18, 2007, 04:33 PM
i'm with most of you on this one. i love a gun with a blued barrel, and a nicely figured walnut stock. the aesthetics are a big part of what makes a gun a gun, imo.

mpmarty
July 18, 2007, 04:34 PM
Many years ago, around 1985 I bought a barreled action from Howa, it was a model 1500 in 7mm Rem Mag. I put it in a cheap Ramline stock, mounted a Tasco Euro Class 1.5 X 6 X 44 scope on it and took it to the range with some 160gr Noslers in front of 80 grains of H870 and Federal 215 primers. From the bench it put five in half an inch. I've still got it, pretty is as pretty does.:neener:

Gewehr98
July 18, 2007, 05:01 PM
Are you saying that rifles made of blued steel and walnut cannot be accurate? ;)

http://mauser98.com/236super-1.jpg

ceetee
July 18, 2007, 05:06 PM
For everything there is a season... I enjoy the sheer purtyness of a rich wood stock holding a deeply blued barrel and action. I also enjoy the thrift of plastic and bake-on. Since thrift is more important to me these days than art, I'll take the plastic. When I have more disposable income, there'll probably be some horse-trading going on...

TX1911fan
July 18, 2007, 05:14 PM
The Thompson Center Icon has an MSRP of $800. It looks like a gorgeous gun. I was going to get a Weatherby Vanguard in plastic and stainless and ended up going exactly the opposite way. THis gun has great bluing and fantastic wood. It just wouldn't let me leave the store without it. I paid about twice what I would have paid for the Vanguard.

http://www.benelliusa.com/firearms/large/r1Walnut.jpg

Anyone know how to make this picture smaller? It's from Benelli's website.

bill larry
July 18, 2007, 05:39 PM
Sounds like you need a surplus K-31. It will shoot as well as any 600-800 dollar rifle and look better doing it.

3 c-notes will get you the nicest one on earth. Have fun.

jefnvk
July 18, 2007, 05:41 PM
What about CZ's?

grafsk8er
July 18, 2007, 06:35 PM
i just bought a cz. it has beautiful american walnut. but, i do not believe that it is hot blued. here's some pics.

http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=288997

cracked butt
July 18, 2007, 06:51 PM
1970-ish remington 700 ADL. BTW, the ADL was the low grade rifle of the line;)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v635/brimic/Picture011.jpg

TnBigBore
July 18, 2007, 07:02 PM
Marlin still has a wide selection of blued rifles with hand checkered American black walnut stocks. They are made in the USA all the way. They can be had for a decent price as well. Many will turn up their nose at leverguns, but Marlins especially can be very accurate. With the new 308 Marlin Express round, they can be considered a long range rifle as well. Unless you are strictly and ultra long range fanatic, there is not much the bolts guns can do that the Marlin leverguns cannot. I have sold all but one of my bolt rifles and use leverguns exclusively for my hunting now.

Caimlas
July 18, 2007, 07:02 PM
It's a toss up. My Tikka T3 has what appears to be a parkerized (or some sort of non-gloss bluing, I'm not sure) receiver and a blued barrel with a wood stock; it's the Hunter variant and I got it for $460 a couple years back. For $100 more in the "new" department you can get one with a really, really nicely done wood stock, too. ($700 new I think). IMO some of the best bang for your buck available...

They each have their benefits, I s'pose. The bake-on and dull coats, (synthetic stocks) are far more utilitarian, and make a lot more sense for a field gun. But the aesthetic quality thereof is quite lacking (unless you're going for 'tacticool'). No, it's not the kind of thing you'd put in a glass-face gun cabinet, but it will do the job just as well, and possibly even better: it'll stand up to moisture and rough treatment better than blued metal and wood, and you won't care as much if the plastic stock gets damaged as you would a nice wood finish.

Caimlas
July 18, 2007, 07:04 PM
TX1911Fan - that is a NICE gun! Some of the best contours I've seen on a long gun, ever... Now I want...

AJD
July 18, 2007, 07:14 PM
Tis true that blued guns and nice wood don't stand up to as much abuse.

However...

I worn blued finish and a wood stock with a nice grain and some wear on it will still look 100x better than mint condition matte black finish and plastic stock. Just my 2 cents.

TX1911fan
July 18, 2007, 07:26 PM
Caimlas, I'm not much of a hunting rifle person either, but I was in the market for something big for a hunt in Alaska next year. When I picked this up, I just couldn't let it go. I got a good deal on it, comparitively speaking, so I got it. It shoots like a dream. I can tell it is recoiling hard, as it is a 300 Win Mag, but I can't really feel it. The ergonomics and recoil reduction of the gun are fantastic. I've now got my scope on, so I'm off to the range tomorrow to sight it in and see how she groups.

redneck2
July 18, 2007, 07:43 PM
I had a chance to buy a NIB Browning 12 gauge auto, maybe 1960's vintage about three years back. I mean NIB, never even removed from the packaging. Could get it for about $700 IIRC. My local dealer said it was an OK deal, nothing special. I about flipped.

Dealer says new buyers want stainless and plastic. Something they don't have to take care of or worry about.

Pride of ownership is pretty much gone. Everything now is disposable or something you don't really have to take care of.

cracked butt
July 18, 2007, 09:48 PM
Tis true that blued guns and nice wood don't stand up to as much abuse.

However...

I worn blued finish and a wood stock with a nice grain and some wear on it will still look 100x better than mint condition matte black finish and plastic stock. Just my 2 cents.

Agreed to a point- especially the second point.

It depends on what one defines as abuse?
If abuse means dragging it down a muddy gravel road behind a 4-wheeler and then leaving it lay out in the snow for a week at deer camp or for a person who doesn't pay much attention to care and maintenance an synthetic stocked stainless gun might be the best for them. If a person takes reasonable care and doesn't outright abuse a rifle, it will last for generations and still look good. The Remington 700 that I pictured has been used every year for deer hunting for nearly 40 years (first by my dad, then by me) it has a few scratches and dings in it, but then again it has been used in driving tag alder marshes, tamarack swamps, and thick stands of young poplar trees more times than I can count, and Its been used plenty of times in the rain. Rust has never touched it. The model 12 that sits in the cabinet at my grandmother's house was used by my grandfather for decades- he hunted waterfowl every possible day of every season for decades- the gun looks a bit worn but is still beautiful. I really feel that the 'weather resistant' idea of rifles is really vastly overblown- they may have their uses in salt marshes and along coastal areas, but for the most part don't offer any real advantages.

Most guns simply don't get enough hard use toeven begin to worry about wood stocks being damaged or blueing ruined.

cracked butt
July 18, 2007, 09:52 PM
Dealer says new buyers want stainless and plastic. Something they don't have to take care of or worry about.

Pride of ownership is pretty much gone. Everything now is disposable or something you don't really have to take care of.

Could be that guns are actually cheap.

A Winchester Model 70 or Browning A-5 might have cost a working man a month's salary at one time, but something like a Benelli nova, or a remington 710 can be bought with a week's pay from Burger King.

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