Anyone have tips on artificial aging?


March 21, 2011, 08:30 AM
Hi all. Someone on one of the forums gave me a recipe once for artificially aging reproduction revolvers. I thought it was to let the gun soak in a plastic back with onions, salt and ketchup...or something like that. The poster claimed it would give you nice pits in a pretty short time.
Anyway, has anyone here tried their hand at artificial aging?
Some gun companies have been making guns artificially aged for a while now but they never look real. They always look artificial.
Some of you might remember the snubnose that I aged. I just beat the hell out of it in my basement. Hammered sandpaper into it to simulate pitting. Stripped and reblued it several times until I sort of achieved a patina.
I'd like to see if anyone else has tried this and if so how they went about it.

Here's mine:

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March 21, 2011, 08:59 AM

Carl N. Brown
March 21, 2011, 09:13 AM
That looks like a bobbed cap'n'ball as carried by the oldtime "regulators" as a backup weapon.

March 21, 2011, 10:11 AM
artificial aging - I was going to say just have a teenage daughter, but that wouldn't have been a helpful answer to your question, so I'll just sit by...
March 21, 2011, 10:23 AM
Tell me what you know Mykeal, Our daughter turns 13 next month. Is this the year Paulette's shooting goes to hell?

Loyalist Dave
March 21, 2011, 10:27 AM

OK well I have one too and the man is right!

Now as for metal products..., acetic acid is a good source, as it is slow, so doesn't get away from you. Acetic acid, which is vinegar, beads up, so you need something to help hold it in place..., and I like plain, yellow mustard. Just finished aging a flintlock using it.

Bleach makes a pebbled surface and can get away from you fast. Plumb brown, nitric browning solutions, and other chemicals are very toxic, so I prefer something less dangerous.

The metal should first be properly polished as it would've been for bluing, or in my case for sale "armory bright". It bothers me when I see flintlocks sold "browned" and the maker left the lock and other parts as they came from the manufacturer with a surface that was obviously cast, not forged. :banghead:

You then simply apply some mustard (the cheapest you can find - no need to use Grey Poupon) with a cotton ball or cotton swab, and allow it to dry. It will go blackish brown, and you take a tooth brush and water to remove it. It will "stain" the metal, and you then repeat this until you get the desired effect. Go too far and simply polish off the stain, and you can reduce the amount of staining where the gun wears against the holster or your hand, with a little polishing.

For brass, just some BP mixed with water applied with a cotton swab. Darkens pretty quick.


Foto Joe
March 21, 2011, 12:21 PM
artificial aging - I was going to say just have a teenage daughter

Never a truer statement made!!!:neener:

My youngest daughter is 26 and the oldest is 32. My prayers go out to those of you who have yet to experience a teenage daughter for yourselves. I won't spoil the surprise but I will give you some hope. For the most part, their brain cells will start to grow back sometime in their early twenties. Be patient and try to limit your alcohol intake to only 7 days per week during this time.:banghead:

March 21, 2011, 12:23 PM
Salsa with hot peppers, onions and garlic.

45-70 Ranger
March 21, 2011, 12:58 PM
Funny, I've spent my whole life trying to keep my weapons as clean and sharp as possible. I never gave it a thought as to how to age the surface and such. This is a real learning tool for me here. I would have never thought that food products would age the metal. Thanks as now I know yet another thing today that I didn't to age metal, I would have never thought of that......fasacinating!

Steel Talon
March 21, 2011, 01:05 PM
Another vote for mustard

March 21, 2011, 02:26 PM
for carbon steel you can apply a patina with plain old yellow mustard, the kind you put on hot dogs. it works well on knives that are carbon steel, so it shoudl work with carbon steel gun parts! for hammers and triggers and such you can give them a nice finish by heating them up with a blowtorch and then dropping them in oil, however don't do this to anything that will need to keep it's temper like barrels, cylinders, springs, etc. especially parts that will contain an explosion otherwise you will have a grenade with no timing mechanism :what: then again why on earth would you want to do that to a spring? it's not like it is visible! haha! take care and God bless America ~Levi

March 21, 2011, 03:53 PM
Thanks all for the helpful techniques. Now I just need to go find a cheap used cap and ball gun and go to work!

March 21, 2011, 05:01 PM
Funny, I've spent my whole life trying to keep my weapons as clean and sharp as possible.

LOL, me too, to each his own.:)

March 21, 2011, 06:36 PM
Phil - if your daughter's friends, especially the male ones, don't know by now that your wife is a national champion with a pistol, and you're no slouch either, now would be a very good time to start publicizing it.

As for your daughter, well, just be comforted by the fact that tens, in fact hundreds of thousands of fathers have made it through this time intact and are actually better off. As the man said, their brain cells WILL grow back. All you need to do is remain calm no matter what, and learn to smile when the urge to scream comes on. It will get better. Beer helps. Bourbon is better.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I have no children myself, but all my brothers, sisters and in-laws do. I therefore qualify as an expert. We've been host to several 'cooling off' and 'He/she doesn't understand me' sessions.

March 21, 2011, 09:00 PM
Vinegar is very popular and so is bleach.
There are some good tips along with some photos in these threads below:

"antigue-ing" a repro revolver?


antiquing BP revolvers

I've also read that bluing a part and then dipping it into household bleach will make it rust nicely. I read about it on a knife forum, where the guy was using it to get a heavily pitted surface on his blades.
Maybe a shorter bleach bath would cause a nice thin film of rust instead of pitting...

Bleach works on brass too:

45-70 Ranger
March 21, 2011, 11:19 PM
Ya know. come to think of it. Around my place the only thing aging here is me! And I don't go anywhere near mustard!!

March 22, 2011, 01:03 AM Ant no ageing going on round here till it's time. I'll just set on the back porch and wait for the fellow to come looking. :neener:

March 22, 2011, 06:06 PM
Twaits, not being disrespectful here but you posted the picture so that give's permission to people to comment on it...That piece of s*** 'snubby' picture you posted is absolutely the ugliest and and most useless piece of s*** I have EVER seen on the THR and believe me I have seen some total wrecks on here....

March 22, 2011, 07:16 PM
I don't think I can do that to one of mine.

March 22, 2011, 07:50 PM
See the experiment that Ferret did to an 1860 Pietta in his thread Experiment with "curing" and rust!!. He ended up creating what in his own words was "One trashed Pietta!!! Nicely trashed, even though I do do say so myself...."

Make sure to see the photos of it in posts #12, #20 & #21:

March 22, 2011, 08:13 PM
A well aged piece of junk there.

Black Toe Knives
March 23, 2011, 06:39 AM
Wow, How do you aim it. I would put a laser sight on it if I was you. :)

March 23, 2011, 04:51 PM
wrapped up the barrel in thin cotton string, plugged bore and nipple threads with wax, sprayed down the cotton string with bleach and let it sit for an hour and a half, removed string, lightly washed barrel in warm water with baking soda to stop rusting, heated barrel lightly and then oiled it down with Barricade.

March 23, 2011, 05:30 PM
Frontier ,

THAT is pretty. Did you wrap it solid or did you leave spaces between the string wraps?

Looks like an old damascuss barrel in many ways. Neat.


March 23, 2011, 05:57 PM
tight and then you go through by hand and just pull apart the rings of string. The dark spots are were the string/bleach made the tightest contact and allowed deeper rusting.

March 24, 2011, 05:32 AM
Dear Frontier !!!

Nice Rifle !!! GREAT JOB !!! You did a BEAUTIFUL job of finishing it up like that !!!

Is that one of the 50 Cal "Tennesse" Rifles, Spanish make, offered by Dixie and others for an "Affordable" Price??? Just a wonderin... Cause I have a flintlock version on mail order for a rifle that looks almost EXACTLY like that, except for the great Finish you put on it !!!


ElvinWarrior... aka... David

A. Walker
March 24, 2011, 08:37 AM
Why would you want to do this?

March 24, 2011, 09:19 AM
Dear Walker,

To each his own right? Some people like the look and feel of old antiques and can't really afford to lay out 7 grand for an actual real antique, so, they go for something that makes them happy and they can afford.

In the case of the first weapon photo posted, as many pointed out, it looks to be a modern reproduction of a commonly executed modification in prior times, snubbing the barrel off of the revolver, to give you a small pocket pistol which, would be wildly inacurate at any distance, but, it could hide on your person easily, and at close range, would be DEADLY... And, in the case of the example, it was aged, to look like, it actually did come from that time period, and was used.

It is actually a very clever, well informed, and rather sophisticated piece of work, if you know what you're looking at, that is.

In my case, I do precisely the OPPOSITE, of these kinds of things, but the kinds of finishing steps I use, can, from time to time, have overlapping methods and techniques... I plan on taking my flintlock 50 caliber tennesse carbine full stock rifle, and, I am going to tripple chrome plate every single piece and screw on it. Then, I am going to cover the entire stock, with thin, strecthed white patent leather, the thin leather typically used to line things with... The bottom edge of the gun, running the length of the gun, will be where the two pieces of leather will meet, and be spiral wrapped with spiral interlocking fringe, running the entire length of the gun, streching the leather covering tightly, and hanging down, 4-1/2 to 6" of leather fringe allong the bottom of the gun. The entire gun, will be, mirror silver metal finish, and white patent leather... It should be STUNNING, when I am done with it all. I plan on naming it, the "Chief Joeseph"...


ElvinWarrior... aka... David

March 24, 2011, 09:48 AM
:D:D:D This thread just keeps getting better and better :D:D:D

March 24, 2011, 10:44 AM
Well, it's not for everybody but I've actually had far more positive feedback on my fake Colt snubnose than negative.
To each his own, that's what makes us individual :)

royal barnes
March 24, 2011, 08:32 PM
I think it looks great. Dallas Stoudenmire, lawman and Porter Rockwell, a Mormon Avenging Angel, carried similar pistols.

March 25, 2011, 06:56 AM

I like the little snubby and have several. Not sure why some folks don't like them (Maybe they just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.) but for me they fill a need. Here is one of mine.

Do I cut all of my barrels, of course not but if I need to, why not.

March 25, 2011, 07:53 AM

Yours looks good Twaits looks 'hacked'.

March 25, 2011, 10:54 AM
Yours looks good Twaits looks 'hacked'.

That's because it IS hacked :)
I never intended for it to look professional. I intended for it to look like a gun a random gambler back in the 1870s cut off with a hacksaw and stuffed in his pocket. Simple as that.

By the way, that gun above does look beautiful. Nice work!

March 25, 2011, 11:13 AM
Here's an "Avenging Angel" for sale on GB:

March 25, 2011, 11:56 AM
I never intended for it to look professional.

In that case, you met your objective PERFECTLY!

45-70 Ranger
March 25, 2011, 11:58 AM
Not everyone will agree on what is a good mod and what is not. This thread was about aging weapons to look the part of being from the period. I learned that food products like mustard can do this. I never knew that. :scrutiny:

Now if one cuts the barrel down a might, cool by me. Shuck, the first BP revolver I got in '63, an Old Spesco import '51 Navy had been shot so much I hadda rebuild it twice. The second time I bobbed it to 5", removed the trigger, and ground the serations off the hammer spur and made a slipgun. I like it. My son thinks it stupid, but he likes modern autoloaders. My Dragoon is a cannon to him!:what:

I kinda like short pistols. Maybe not that short, but it ain't my gun and thus it suits it's owner. Good by me. I've seen such super-short cut down pistols in collections and thus I know that this kinda thing was done more than once.

In closing, I'm not going to say that this or that is wrong. The only time you'll hear me get serious about stuff is when it challenges SAFETY! How it looks is not that big a deal to me. In reality, if it's not my gun, I'm not worried:)

March 25, 2011, 01:35 PM
Also, remember, that brass framed Pietta from the '80s was a $50 gun at best to begin with. Nothing was lost.

Indian Outlaw
March 26, 2011, 10:50 AM
Antiquing a gun in such a way that it looks "natural" is a bit of an art. Some people are great at it, and some ... well ...

As for me, I prefer to lightly age my cap & ball guns. This entails little more than stripping the grips, refinishing them in Danish oil, and either: (1) thinning the modern black finish on the steel with something like rubbing compound, or (2) entirely stripping the finish with vinegar and then cold bluing the gun.

I think, with antiquing, that less is often more.,5505.0.html

March 26, 2011, 12:47 PM
brand new gun just starting machining for the kirst cylinder
nice new grips.
frame is stripped.
close up of RUST BLUE FINISH
almost done
finished product.

March 26, 2011, 06:35 PM
daaaaang now that looks like a fun project!

What caliber does it use now?

March 26, 2011, 06:36 PM
Elvin, Thats Lyman Great Plains rifle in .54cal

Heck of a fun build but i sadly sold it so i could buy a deer tag in new mexico.

March 26, 2011, 06:52 PM
Mine 45 colt and wow its fun to shoot

March 26, 2011, 11:50 PM
Try an organic gardening shop. Look for horticultural vinegar. Supermarket vinegar is 5%, horticultural vinegar is 20%. It works fast and you can use a tissue paper wrap to hold it in place. I did a tomahawk head with that, along with mustard and ketchup and it looked like faded color casehardening.

August 3, 2011, 10:59 PM
Does anyone know of a commercial operation that will age a weapon for you? I've got a newer Marlin lever action I'd like to age up a bit and I'd feel more comfortable having someone who has done many of these to take care of mine. Many thanks.

Also, I've seen lots of talk in this tread about the steel. How about aging the wood? Is there a certain stain you apply?

P.S. I'm proud of myself for first checking to see if a thread like this already existed and it does.

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