polishing a handgun


September 10, 2011, 04:06 PM
I just went to a gun show here in my town, and a gentleman there(vendor), told me that if you polish a stainless steel gun, no matter how good of a job you do, you decrease the value of that gun by $100. Educate me.

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September 10, 2011, 04:09 PM
on one hand it is not "original" anymore.. on the other hand there is always that impulse buyer that reacts to shiny things.. just be careful of doing this to nice older guns that may have collector value

September 10, 2011, 07:27 PM
I polished one of my S&W 66's and it came out looking really good. But I have had a couple of people ask me if it was nickel, but with a puzzled look because it doesn't really have that cheesy appearance of nickel. But if in a couple of years I should decide to change it back to the original brushed look, it isn't a big deal and deffinitely won't be a major time consuming project, I've done it before.

September 10, 2011, 07:38 PM
There is no hard fast rule on what polishing a gun does to it's value...Take a gunshow vendor's words with a grain of salt.

Old Fuff
September 10, 2011, 07:46 PM
It's all in the eye of the beholder.

One person, expressing their opinion, and nothing else - which was what the dealer was doing - will say you ruined the gun. Another, again espressing their opinion, will be favorably impressed with "the look." Different people, different opinions.

As for the money involved, someone who is impressed may well pay you more for the polished gun, rather then less.

If you like the high-polished look go ahead, but do the work by hand, and not by using a machine driven buffing wheel - which can do too much of a good thing. Cover any places you want to leave matt with masking tape.

September 10, 2011, 07:56 PM
I like 'em polished. Did this one last winter. It was no handjob, though. The machine marks in most Rugers are too deep to get out without a little mechanical help...I don't care what it did to the value. I did it for me, not the next guy.

The Lone Haranguer
September 10, 2011, 08:58 PM
If a polish job is done poorly, with "blotches," uneven contours, stamped lettering blurred, etc., it will definitely reduce the value. :rolleyes:

September 10, 2011, 10:17 PM
As others have said, its more of a buyer preference than anything else. Yes a collector will pay less for a gun that's had its finish altered in any way. On the other hand your average Joe or somone who is just a shooter, may pay more for shiny little critter.

Ive got quite a few stainless firearms and just about every one of them is beadblasteted to a matte finish, the one exception is my match 1911, I polished the flats of the slide on that one. As we speak im in the middle of doing a full polish on a friends S&W 500. I hadtold him that resale and collector value will most likely take a dive because of the polished finish. Not to mention it'll show every single little scratch from even basic handling.

EVeryone has their prefered "flavor". Obviously the gentleman you spoke to at the gunshow prefers the OE finish. YMMV.

September 10, 2011, 10:57 PM
A lot of polishing jobs are the mythical Bubba putting a buffing pad on his angle grinder, and knocking off corners and edges, ruining markings, and doing a lazy and incomplete job.

If a polishing job is done correctly, it might not matter much.

However, refinishing or otherwise modifying a collectible firearm almost always reduces value, and usually WAY more than $100.

September 10, 2011, 11:52 PM
Thanks for the input-all of my polishing has been done to SS or a little on the nickel finishes of my handguns. I would never polish an older "collectable". I guess I should have stated that from the beginning. I had always thought that polished guns (done correctly), appealed to more people than not.

September 11, 2011, 12:14 AM
Taking a new gun out of the box and shooting it will affect the value, too. If you want to shine it up, it's your gun, not somebody else's.

September 11, 2011, 01:07 AM
I just bought this Ruger Service Six last week. It is like new. I like nickle
finish. I'm almost 70 and just like things my way. Well I polished it up with
simichrome polish. I like it. It's my gun. Looks better in person than picture.

September 11, 2011, 01:30 AM

Your Ruger looks very nice. I see absolutely nothing wrong with a little hand polishing to remove the yellow patina SS gets over time. I do it to all of my SS guns. (Well, except the ones I Bubba up with power tools) I guess if a guy wants to not polish off the age to keep the finish "original" that's, o.k., too. Personally, I don't care for my guns looking like they have jaundice.:D

Both of these old girls got a little had polishing. The shine looks far better than the dullness they had when I got them...at least in my eyes.


September 11, 2011, 02:10 AM
bling is good.....

September 11, 2011, 11:48 AM
A polished surface is a clean surface. Any rust or defect would be highly visible against the contrast of a polished background. Some may like to see this done while others don't really care.

Personally, I do not prefer a highly polished exterior surface because of the way it shows fingerprints so much. I find myself continuously wiping it down because I can't stand to see them.

However, I polish some internal parts to make the action smoother and reduce friction. I would argue that this increases "value" when done correctly, but others may not want the action enhanced in any way on their guns.

Remember that the "value" of any item is solely determined by what other people are willing to pay for it. Books are sold by people trying to tell you what the market generally bears for a given make/model gun so you have some place to start negotiating, but these are average numbers based upon what these items have previously been sold for. It doesn't matter how much I think my gun is "worth" if I can't find anyone willing to pay my price. I laugh at these guys at gun shows trying frantically to convince buyers of the "book" value of their guns when all the offers they get are lower than that. They don't get it - all that matters is the free market value - the price people are willing to pay at any given moment.

September 11, 2011, 12:16 PM
I like 'em polished. Did this one last winter. It was no handjob, though. The machine marks in most Rugers are too deep to get out without a little mechanical help...I don't care what it did to the value. I did it for me, not the next guy.
I like it!

September 11, 2011, 01:44 PM
Most likely he meant that if he is buying it loses $100.00 but when he selling the rare high polish finish ADDS $100.00 to its value.

September 11, 2011, 07:50 PM
It depends on the quality of the work done.

El Mariachi
September 12, 2011, 12:15 AM
Having owned boats my entire life (and having had ton$ of stainless parts either fabbed, re-worked, re-bent, welded, cleaned etc), I can tell you that almost any piece of stainless (at least the stuff we use on vessels) can be polished so bright that it'll look like chrome. Or any 'color' that resembles brushed nickel, polished nickel, pewtery, etc etc. But it ain't cheap...at least if done by a pro. My only concern with a firearm would be if perhaps too much material would be removed in critical areas during the process...so you may wanna keep that in mind before you bring out the big tools......

September 12, 2011, 03:13 AM
Yep, it isn't cheap to have a pro polish a handgun. Colt's Custom Shop will polish out a SS gun to a bright finish for $325. Of course after shipping each way, it will be more like $425.

Back when Colt made DA revolvers, the price difference between matte and bright was well less than 100 bucks. Today, the market difference between matte and bright in some models is more like 500 bucks. I sure like those factory bright polished guns, but hate paying for them.

I don't see me spending a few hundred on a gun that is only worth a few hundred. I'll just do it myself. I may not be a pro, but I didn't start out polishing on guns right off the bat, either. I got my SS start on motorcycle parts. One day, I thought if I can do a show worthy job on a brake rotor, sure I can do an acceptable job on an old plinker and gave it a try.


September 12, 2011, 08:04 PM
When I got my S&W 686 the finish was uneven between the barrel and cylinder (shiny) and frame (duller, with lots of swirl marks). A little Flitz polish, a soft terry towel and about 25 minutes solved all of that. It is not nickel like, but the finish is smooth and even.



September 12, 2011, 10:53 PM
When I bought my first revolver, a S&W 66, it was a little rough around the edges. I sanded some damage out and had to polish it to even out the finish.


I got tired of this and ended up with this:


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