686 finish question


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Backpacker33
March 11, 2010, 01:01 PM
I recently purchased a S&W 686 with a serial number showing it was made in 1988, "one of 1559."

It has a "blue" finish. When I saw it, I questioned the model number but the frame is clearly stamped "686-3." I looked it up in the Supica / Nahas "3rd Edition Catalog," which called the finish "black stainless steel." It looks like a flat or matte blue finish. The seller thought it was blue carbon steel.

I've not heard of that before and can't find any information about it.

Is it an applied finish, like paint?
Is it something mixed into or alloyed with the steel?
Is it a treatment of the surface, the way blueing is to carbon steel?

The revolver is in excellent condition - somebody's pet. No holster wear, only slight ring around the cylinder, apparently original grips of beautiful wood.

Can anyone enlighten me about the finish?

Also, it is a "six-shooter." A number of 686s are 7-shooters and I wonder if this one can be economically converted, especially with a "black stainless" cylinder. If anyone has done this, please let me know. I'll contact S&W for a price.
-Backpacker

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Occam's Razor
March 11, 2010, 01:39 PM
It is not like paint. It is a chemical process. You will probably find that it is not as wear resistant as blued carbon steel though.
I believe Smith & Wesson called the "Black Magic"

W.E.G.
March 11, 2010, 01:41 PM
I believe the "Midnight Black" 686's were produced into the early 90's.

Finish has a reputation for being easily marred.

I would not modify that gun.
If it is not what you want, sell it to a collector, and get exactly what you want elsewhere, or modify a gun that is in less pristine condition.

A guy was asking $950 for one on GB.
(it didn't sell)
http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=153543947

Here's another one that's a current auction (asking $600 w/ no reserve - no bids yet)
Looks very good, although some scratches can be seen.
http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=160207256

Google has a lot of info on this model.
http://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&channel=s&hl=en&source=hp&q=686+black+stainless&btnG=Google+Search

Baphomet
March 11, 2010, 01:57 PM
[You can] ... blacken stainless steel through the use of oxidizing type blacking compounds. The process produces black coatings on stainless steel and alloy steels by a "conversion" process. The chrome in the stainless steel is involved in a chemical reaction with the oxidizers in the solution producing chrome-sulfide ... Dimensional changes involved in blackening are extremely small, less than 0.0001 Mil. This thickness of the black oxide type coating ranges from 0.00006-0.0001 Mil depending on the type of alloy being treated.

So sayeth the experts at Robar Guns.

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