Slow rust bluing


Mauser lover
May 3, 2012, 11:17 AM
I was looking to rust blue a .22 barrel, and was wondering if anyone had any tips or tricks on how to this well.

What solution should I get? (don't want to make my own)

What can I use to boil it in? (don't want to buy a tank from Brownells for $60.00)

Do I need to build a giant humidifier?

Do I really need to plug the bore? Or is it better if I didn't?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

If you enjoyed reading about "Slow rust bluing" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
May 3, 2012, 12:57 PM
I've done a little bit of rust bluing. Brownell's Classic Rust Blue ( is cheap and gave me much better results than I probably deserved. (Though I did try VERY hard to follow the instructions.)

The problem with the barrel is the length. You can boil it in any stainless pot you can fit it in, but that's why they sell the tanks they do. I bought a $5 stock pot from WalMart to do my small items, but sure couldn't have fit a barrel in it.

As far as the rusting process, you don't strictly HAVE to have anything special for humidifying. I put a couple 9x13 baking pans of water in the oven and set it on extra-low and hung my items on tie-wire from the baking element supports inside. Easy and fast rusting. But, again, it'd have to be a fairly short barrel to fit in an oven. You could get much the same effect, probably, by hanging it in your bathroom while your family does the morning shower routine.

You don't want to over-etch the metal, though, so letting the item sit and rust for 24 hours+ isn't a good idea. You can get frosty looking results if you let the rust get too deep a hold.

I'd plug the bore. It really shouldn't be hard. Any 3" piece of wood dowel you could whittle to a point and tap in tightly will do just fine and give you something to hold onto while you're handling it.

Mauser lover
May 3, 2012, 03:11 PM
Okay, thanks for the hints, Sam 1911. I had my "grandfather" (adopted by my mother) offer to give me some sheet metal and let me use his welder to make a trough.

Brownell's is out of stock of that product, do they get it back into stock often? Is it a 3 month wait?

So..... I can pick up a dowel at Wal Mart and chuck it in a lathe and attack it with some sandpaper to give it a nice taper? Does it have to be some special wood? Softwood fine?

May 3, 2012, 03:20 PM
The instructions that come with the bottle of bluing are very good. A softer wood would probably work even better than a harder wood. "Softwood" (coniferous/evergreen tree) isn't usually used for dowels, but Poplar often is. And though it is a "hardwood" (deciduous) it is softer than some "softwoods" like Southern Yellow Pine.

That's odd that it is out of stock. Probably will have it again soon. There are some other rust blues listed there (like "Belgian Blue") but I've not tried them.

May 3, 2012, 05:18 PM
Another option is the Pilkington's solution available from Brownell's. The solution itself may or may not be better (I suspect they're all about the same), but the instruction pamphlet that comes with it is VERY detailed. It gives you guidance on polishing, degreasing, troubleshooting, water requirements, etc. If you follow the instructions, you will be able to achieve fine results the first time.

May 3, 2012, 05:23 PM
If you make your own tank, I'm not sure but doesn't it have to be stainless steel?

Jim K
May 3, 2012, 05:57 PM
The tank can be ordinary sheet iron, it doesn't have to be stainless.

I recommend you make those muzzle/breech plugs so they stick out about 6 inches; that way you can use them as handles when holding the barrel and not touch the barrel.


Mauser lover
May 3, 2012, 09:36 PM
Well, the "Belgian blue" is in stock, but that is kind of a huge container, and Pilkington's solution is out of stock. After seeing the prices on those things, I really like the first suggestion best.... Anyone know where I can get some?

May 4, 2012, 04:43 AM
Gun goddes rust blue solution is very good, also. He also sends a really good booklet with his product.

Rust bluing is really dependent on metal prep. You want to sand up to about 400 or so, and you need to get rid of any oil. That part has to be repeated, get rid of any oil whatsoever. You'll need to use gloves to prevent finger oils from messing up the process. If you're cheap like me, a puff of talcum powder in the gloves will let you reuse the same pair of disposables a few extra times.

If you're using a buffer to prep be careful not to gouge out your screw holes, cartouches, engravings, ect.

It depends on your humidity whether you need a cabinet or not. Unless you're somewhere really arid you should be ok, might just take a bit longer.

If you use steel wool to card you need to be sure to degrease it, too.

With the exception of oil contamination, its actually not all that hard, and can be a somewhat forgiving process.

May 4, 2012, 07:50 AM
You want to sand up to about 400 or so
Oh...forgot that point (though it will likely be covered in the great instructions many of these solutions are packaged with).

You DON'T want to polish the steel up to some insane luster. IIRC, the Classic Rust Blue I've used said to go to ~320 grit or so. Too fine a polish will make it harder for the rust to propogate.

Mauser lover
May 4, 2012, 10:45 AM
Alright, where do I get Gun Goddess rust blue?

Is 600 grit sandpaper okay to use?

May 4, 2012, 11:36 AM
600 might be a bit finer than you want. Read the instructions.

May 4, 2012, 05:18 PM
Laurel Mountain Forge Barrel Brown and Degreaser is also a rust blue solution, it works well and you can touch the barrel with bare hands while it's rusting. It has a detergent in the formula to cut fingerprints. Around $10 for a bottle big enough to do 2 or 3 complete guns.

Mauser lover
May 4, 2012, 05:45 PM
Okay, 400 it is.

Is this the stuff?

Sorry for the long link, it seems like this is a browning, not a bluing solution. Is the only difference between the solutions the boiling part?

If it will work, will it be as good of a finish?

May 4, 2012, 06:45 PM
That's it. Their solution is good for either, it comes with instructions for both. The process is identical except for the boiling. I've seem some guns done with it and they look just as good as any other rust blue solution. I used it to brown an old pump (don't ask) and the stuff works great. I handled the barrel/receiver with my bare hands a few times to test the stuff and there were no marks.

Mauser lover
May 4, 2012, 07:42 PM
SWEET! I like the price, but more than that, IT'S IN STOCK! okay, enough excitement for one day, thanks for all of the help everyone. Oh wait, one more thing; a review on that browning stuff said that I needed a carding wheel.... is 0000 steel wool still fine?

May 4, 2012, 08:20 PM
0000 steel wool is perfect. It'll give you a great finish, just take a little longer.

May 5, 2012, 12:29 AM
Alright, where do I get Gun Goddess rust blue?

Jim Baiar, Half moon Rifle shop. 406 862 4409. He has no internet presence, hes about as "old school" as you can get. The formula is his own. Smart man, very courteous and helpful. His solution gives a deep lustrous dark blue. Ive heard that Pilks is more of a bluish color, and I'd like to try that, but Gun goddes gives such beautiful results that I'm hesitant.

May 5, 2012, 01:31 PM
I've actually rust blued stuff before.

You need a humidity cabinet. Wood is preferred. You need something to make it humid in there, like a hotplate with a bowl of water. If it gets too humid, and condensation forms, you will ruin the job. You want to not start a fire, so be careful with your heat source.

You need boiling water to neutralize the reaction. This does not require a stainless tank, or titanium, or anything like that. Pouring boiling water over the work would work in theory. Anything that can stand boiling water and hold your work is probably fine. Change the water (when it cools down) after every couple of uses.

If you plug the barrel, and the plugs blow out when you boil the barrel, hot boiling water will blow all over you. Its up to you, but I prefer not to be spashed with lots of boiling water. The rust blue solution will not get into the bore unless you put it there.

You want to watch your metal prep as the solution does not take well to highly polished surfaces. Think 320 grit as a maximum. 220 grit is good enough so long as it is even. Media blast is best.

Your skin oil will ruin the process. Wear nitrile gloves, then wash your hands with gloves on to remove any oil from the gloves. Soak your steel wool in acetone to remove the oil that comes on the steel wool. I cannot overstress the importance of careful decontamination of any grease or oil.

Wire wheel or steel wool the oxide off ("carding") with just enough pressure to remove the crumbly stuff. Dont get overeager and buff off your actual bluing. I use steel wool that is still damp from an acetone dip.

Oil when complete and enjoy.

May 8, 2012, 07:02 PM
I use PVC pipes for pouring boiling water into.

Mauser lover
May 8, 2012, 11:03 PM
Too late buckbrush, I already have a trough thingy to boil it in :P

Lathedog, would it be alright if I just hung it over a pot that was being warmed on the stove? Meaning the stove is on the lowest setting, and the barrel is suspended above it, with no cabinet or anything?

May 9, 2012, 07:58 AM
Lathedog, would it be alright if I just hung it over a pot that was being warmed on the stove? Meaning the stove is on the lowest setting, and the barrel is suspended above it, with no cabinet or anything?

You might get condensation, which is a no-no. You don't NEED a cabinet; it's only important if you live in a really dry area. My parts rusted fine in the open air.

May 9, 2012, 08:36 AM
Yes, turtlephish is correct -- if you get condensation, that's not good. However, if you don't, it's about perfect.

Your parts may rust fine in the open air.

May 9, 2012, 10:25 AM
The Laurel Mt. product works very well but is a bit on the aggressive side. Since you're not using a chamber, this will be less of an issue, but apply in a very thin coat. Also, as you near the desired color, it's often better to dilute the agent with distilled water. This will rust a bit slower, but will also give a finer grain to the finish. BTW, a simple rusting cabinet can be built very simply and inexpensively. A shelf down low, cut out to hold a steel bowl of water, with a light bulb below the bowl, will give you some extra heat and humidity without causing condensation. According to Angiers, and based upon what I've found via experience, heat is fairly critical in getting an even rust. I've found optimum temps to be 85-90 deg. F, which is exactly what Angiers had to say on the subject. Anything above normal 70 deg. or so room temp helps however. Too hot and you get a VERY AGGRESSIVE rust. With the simple cabinet I've desribed, using a 100 watt bulb, and that will not be an issue.
I could probably ramble on endlessly, but I'll stop here, unless you have further questions.

Mauser lover
May 9, 2012, 11:07 AM
I don't think that having a pot of water on the stove is going to be a problem with condensation, I don't want to boil the water, and having the stove under the barrel will give it some heat, hopefully the right amount. Right?

I don't live in an extremely dry climate, but I don't live in Missouri either... Hope it works.

JimfromTrafalgar, no, please ramble on indefinitely! I need all the help I can get.

How long should I boil it after I let it rust?

May 9, 2012, 11:19 AM
How long should I boil it after I let it rust?

That should be in the instructions. IIRC, the Brownell's Classic says 20 minutes.

May 9, 2012, 11:48 AM
The recommended boil time is 5 min. I always boil for 10,[to be sure, to be sure], in DISTILLED water. Hard water can sometimes cause color problems. Also, your idea on using the stove for humidity may very well cause uneven rusting. The underside may rust much more than the top. You may prevent this by turning the barrel once in a while during the rusting process. I just don't know on that. I'm an HVAC/ REF guy by trade, so I built an electronically controlled box and have always used that.
A couple of other things... In my opinion, don't bother with the wooded plugs. If you don't build vents into them, the pressure increase in the barrel as the air heats will cause leaks anyway. Use some baling wire attached to the barrel wherever convenient to get it in and out of the boil. Blow down the bore after you bet it out, and the combination of moving air and the great amount of residual heat will evaporate any water left in there quite quickly.
Use latex gloves when handling the barrel during carding and reapplication of rusting agent. This will keep from adding any fingerprints to the finish and keep your hands from staining black. I use heavy nitrile gloves for handling things when hot.
Don't card and reapply solution when the barrel[s] are anything much above room temp. This causes a completely different action to the rusting agent which may give you unsatisfactory results.
Be as aggressive as you like with the 0000 steel wool. Any actual finish will not come off with steel wool, but the stuff that's needs to be removed will, and it tends to give you a nicer final finish.
If you're wondering about my experience and/or credentials. In other words, am I just blowing smoke up your rear end. I refinish higher grade English, Euro, and American SxS's and custom rifles/ pistols for some gunshops and collectors in the Indianapolis area. While there is always room to learn and for improvement, I've seen a good many of the potential issues in successfully refinishing barrels of both fluid and damascus steels. I feel that this type of art is in danger of dying off completely and am more than happy to help and encourage anyone interested in this delightful form of alchemy.

May 9, 2012, 02:59 PM
When I rust blued during the winter and there was lower humidity here I would sometimes boil water with the parts in the kitchen. But putting them over the pot isnt a good idea. If the ambient humidity in you area is over 60% you should be fine. If not, boil some water in the kitchen, put the parts in the bathroom, or make the cabinet if you wish.

Thinking on it, there are probably several way to make a serviceable one shot rust cabinet. Barrel suspended inside a length of heating duct, using a cardboard box, garbage bag with some wire supports, ect.

May 9, 2012, 03:12 PM
When I've left things to rust in the oven, I set it on "proof" setting which is around 100 degrees on ours (IIRC) and left big pans in there just to keep things moist. Boiling water under them would be a bad idea.

Mauser lover
May 9, 2012, 06:40 PM
JimfromTrafalgar, okay, no plugs. What if I put a cleaning rod through the bore, and hung it from that?

I don't see why it would be dying off, it seems so easy...but a lot of people that I talk to haven't even heard of slow rust bluing. (LGS employees included, not all of them, but some of them)

Sams, okay, no putting the barrel over the water, just in the same room as the pots of water being boiled.

May 9, 2012, 07:17 PM
Hi all,

I just completed a rust bluing project on my CZ82. It was my first time to do that and like others, I spent some time asking a lot of questions and reading everything I could find on the subject.

Mention has been made of Brownells and I went with the Laurel Mountain product. It's listed as a browning rust chemical but it will blue if the boiling step is added.

A few comments on the process. The info with the chemical suggests to let the metal rust for three hours. It's a bit misleading. It should hang in the humid area until it rusts and three hours aren't going to be enough. A second coat should be applied after about three hours. I'm not yet convinced that the three hour time set for the second application should be three hours after the first application, or three hours after the rusting starts to be visible. Or maybe it doesn't matter.

As to the environment for rusting, I hung the parts under my covered patio so it was outdoors. I had also considered using one of the bathrooms and run a hot shower beforehand to build a humidity chamber affect.

The instructions also state to boil for five minutes. I found this to not always be enough. I watched for the reddish coloring to actually turn black before stopping the boiling. How quickly this occurs may actually be related to the condition of the rust when the part is put into the boiling water.

I had one fright when after putting the parts into the boiling water and two of the parts which had hung longer (overnight) did not turn black but became more red even after a longer boiling. All was ok though as after carding off the layer, the metal had indeed darkened and matched the other parts which did not react the same way.

At least with the Laural Mountain chemical, the end result may not be as blue as it turns more black or if not run through that many cycles, it may be more of a deep but dark charcoal gray color. Close to black though.

I plugged my barrel ends with hand made wooden dowl plugs. Someone asked about the wood for those. I bought a half inch dia. wood dowl rod from Home Depot. It's hard wood and worked ok.

The image lighting shows it with a bit more of a blue tint than it actually has. The darkness is about right but the coloring is not so blue. This was done with four or five (I forgot exactly) cycles. I could have done more to reach a darker more black but when I looked at it at this stage I liked the way it looked so I stopped.


May 9, 2012, 07:41 PM
Jim, what do you finish the process with? What do you use to stop the acid affect and what do you do in the way of oil treatment?

I've read a number of suggestions as to how to stop the acid process (neutralize it) and I settled on one which was to use Formula 409 which is supposed to be alkaline and be just as good as the baking soda method. As to initial oil treatment, I read (and thus tried) soaking the parts in WD40 which is supposed to be a good water displacement oil. After that, I wiped the metal dry and applied a coat of gun oil and heated up the metal with a heavy duty heat gun to "bake" the oil into the metal. I went even further (I read this somewhere but now can't find the resource) put on a coat of artist linseed oil and heated the metal again. Of course then all of that was wiped off and just normal moving parts lubrication added.

So, always looking for good suggestions and tips. :-)

Mauser lover
May 9, 2012, 11:33 PM
danwdooley, looks like you did I good job on that Makarov-thing. Got any pictures of the gun before you refinished it?

May 10, 2012, 07:41 AM
Thanks. Yes, I did take pictures beforehand. These guns were originally painted by the manufacturer. Even though they may not have seen a lot of physical use and thus are generally in very good mechanical condition, they were regular sidearms of the Czec. police and the holster wear eventually took its toll on the paint finish. The slide and frame were painted. The other parts such as internal mechanisms, trigger, hammer, trigger guard, etc. were all blued. My goal was to have the rebluing job result in as even a coloring as I could get. In other words, I wanted the items which had been originally painted to be of the same color after bluing as those parts which had originally been blued. The old bluing was stripped off of them as well. As there is a difference of metal, I was not sure I would be able to achieve that sameness, but it did turn out to be ok. The slide is an alloy while the frame and other parts are steel.

The magazine butt plate turned out to be aluminum and did not respond to the paint stripper nor of course the bluing process so I mechanically stripped it down and polished it to leave polished shiny.

By the way, this gun is a great shooter. I love the feel of it in the hand and it's a darned accurate gun for its size.


May 10, 2012, 07:49 AM
Here are the parts following the removal from the boiling water after one of the rusting cycles. They're ready to be carded. The receiver and barrel are masked off to keep them from any of the rusting affects and the barrel ends plugged. The plugs probably did not keep everything out but at least they isolated it somewhat. I had also run an oiled swab down the bore beforehand. I also put a piece of masking tape over the surface of the polished feed ramp. Though I had to de-gunk these areas after the job was finished to remove the sticky residue of the tape, they came out intact.

Ok, one more. The metal parts to be blued have been stripped and shined.

Mauser lover
May 10, 2012, 11:53 AM
Did you punch out that pin and take the barrel out, or just leave it in when you blued/boiled it?
What about the sight?
And did the serial number need any special attention?

What is the frame an alloy of?
Iron, carbon, manganese, chromium, vanadium, etc....
I just love that people that sell guns tell you that part of the gun is an alloy, but always seem to forget that steel is an alloy, and that people care what is in the special alloy....

I like the color that the bluing turned out a whole lot more than I like the paint color, even if the "bluing" turned out a little black.

May 10, 2012, 03:05 PM
I left the barrel in place. I did not apply any of the rusting chemical to the barrel or receiver. In fact, note in the pictures that those parts are covered with masking tape to help avoid contact with the rusting chemical. I oiled the inside of the barrel as well (just ran a swab dampened with gun oil through it a couple of different times during the rusting process) and kept the wood plugs in place through the time the part was hanging to rust as well as during the boiling steps.

The front sight I was able to remove easily enough. It is affixed with a small rolled pin. I rust blued the sight along with the other parts. The rear sight I could not get to come out. I was afraid to hammer too hard and did not want to use a steel hammer to avoid dinging it up. I worked hard to clean and degrease around it as much as I could so that any grease between it and the slide would at least be minimal if not entirely removed. I do think with the soaking I had done in the degreaser as well as the subsequent boiling steps, it should be clean. Carding around it on the slide was not easy but with the help of fine textured wire brushes and degreased 0000 steel wool, everything blended in ok.

As to the serial numbers on both the frame and the slide, the initial paint stripping chemical application as well as subsequent wire brushings and the use of the steel wool left the impressions pretty clean.

I have no idea what the ally might be that the slide is made of. I've just read that it is an ally. Mostly steel though as it took to the bluing quite well. It just seems to have a slightly different surface look and feel which does suggest that it is not exactly the same material as the other parts which are steel such as the trigger, trigger guard, hammer, etc.

As to the coloring of the bluing, it is not quite as blue looking as the pictures suggest. That's just the result of the color of the lighting reflecting on the metal. The images were shot under tungsten lighting which is warm color and during my photo processing I may have gone a little too far toward the cooler side on the picture of the finished product. Though the "darkness" is about right, the color of the metal is a little more dark charcoal gray. Not black. Certainly not like the original paint but very close to the darkness of the original blued parts if not slightly more charcoal. I think it looks better than the picture suggests.


May 13, 2012, 08:41 PM
For rust bluing,[hand blacking], I simply use a heat gun at 500 deg.F and apply petroleum jelly. This opens the pores and adds good protection to metel that you have basically taken all of the oil out of during the process. No need in this case to neutrlize the acids and salts used to rust as the boiling did that. In the case of browning metals, such as in damascus, you will need to neutralize. I do this in a baking soda solution, then follow with a good rinse and the vaseline/heat treatment.
Remember that you never get a true blue. It's all varying shades and depths of black. You're turning ferous oxide into ferro ferric oxide, which is black rust.

Mauser lover
May 13, 2012, 11:32 PM
Thanks all of you for your help, but I still need more:neener:
Any hints on how to do the magazine tube? Should I plug that? What about getting a dowel the diameter of the inside of the tube and putting that in there, since the tube will leak, and I don't think that the residual heat will be enough to just blow it out, because it doesn't have enough mass to retain enough heat.

May 14, 2012, 05:12 AM
Don't worry about it. You will get some very light rust, but no real pitting. When you're done, break the handle off a cheap cleaning rod, chuck it in a drill, and spin a bronze brush through a few times. Clean with a few dry patches, and oil. Good as new.

Mauser lover
May 14, 2012, 01:01 PM
Why break the handle off when I can unscrew it?

Ok, thanks for all of the help. I will let you know how it turns out whenever I get it done.

Mauser lover
May 14, 2012, 04:40 PM
WAIT, one more question.

It has already been mentioned that I should not use hard water, and that I should use distilled, but what would happen if I don't use distilled, but instead use some water that has been softened using a normal water softener ion exchange process. The one that the house is hooked up to.

I don't really know what will happen if I use hard water, what exactly is the issue? Do the minerals build up on the part and cause the rust not to take? Or is it something else?

Jim Watson
May 14, 2012, 05:03 PM
Minerals in hard water can cause spotting in the blue.

Ion exchange softened water has just substituted sodium for magnesium. I don't think that is good enough. Buy a few jugs of distilled.

May 14, 2012, 06:10 PM
The reason I had to brown the pump I mentioned earlier is because I can't find distilled water anywhere in my area. :o

May 15, 2012, 07:19 AM
You can't find distilled water? Every grocery store I've ever been in has it in gallon jugs right next to the "spring water" for $0.89 - $1.00 a gallon.

Mauser lover
May 15, 2012, 10:46 AM
You could make your own...... Takes a (long) while, but you could... Theoretically.

Mauser lover
May 18, 2012, 04:09 PM
Alright, time for an update. I finished the magazine tube, it only took 3 coats for that, but the barrel is rusting away right now, because it needed another one or two coats.
Anyway, the magazine tube came out beautifully, I can still see where there is some pitting (minimal), but it looks great.
Thanks all of you for your help, and suggestions on which product to use. Hopefully, if I can figure out how to post pictures, I will put up a couple.

Anybody know how to post pictures?

May 18, 2012, 05:05 PM
Anybody know how to post pictures?

You can either attach them in the "Go Advanced" menu or you can host them from a site like Photobucket. If you host them, click the little insert image icon and paste the URL of the photo (not the page) in there.

Mauser lover
May 19, 2012, 12:34 AM
Turtle phish, thanks for the help, I will see if I understand later, as I don't have any photos yet. I hope I can get it to work.

Mauser lover
May 19, 2012, 11:10 PM
Lets see if this works.

Mauser lover
May 19, 2012, 11:13 PM
Anyway, thanks all of you for your input, the bluing turned out great, as far as I am concerned, you can still kind of tell that there was some minor pitting, but not without looking very intently at the exact spot.

May 20, 2012, 09:59 AM

May 20, 2012, 10:16 AM
Pretty awesome results! Congratulations!

Mauser lover
May 20, 2012, 06:03 PM
Thank you!

May 26, 2012, 07:28 AM
After many typical poor experiences with cold blue, reading this thread gave me the inspiration to learn something new. We have a few projects that are best suited for "student" work.
A couple of older - but not collectible- 22 rifles, and I recently found a FN made Mod. 98. The Mauser is in pretty bad shape, no 2 parts have matching serial #s, and some previous owner was fond of using a hammer to punish the bottom metal for some imaginary sin. ???? Anything I do to this rifle will help it survive and function as it should.
Found a bottle of Brownell's Belgian Rust Bluing solution, took off the magazine floorplate for a test piece, used 220 grit, got most of the ugly off of it, cleaned /degreased, boiled and swabbed it 5 or 6 times and WOW. I am hooked!
Working on setting up a boiling tank big enough to fit a barreled action.
Would it be wise to re-finish the barrel separate from the receiver?
A new barrel will be fitted regardless, so should I index mark it after setting headspace, unscrew and reassemble after bluing?
I'm concerned about lube from the threads muffing up the process, or corrosion/galling if assembled without a bit of something on those threads.

May 27, 2012, 11:29 PM
After many typical poor experiences with cold blue, reading this thread gave me the inspiration to learn something new. We have a few projects that are best suited for "student" work.
A couple of older - but not collectible- 22 rifles, and I recently found a FN made Mod. 98. The Mauser is in pretty bad shape, no 2 parts have matching serial #s, and some previous owner was fond of using a hammer to punish the bottom metal for some imaginary sin. ???? Anything I do to this rifle will help it survive and function as it should.
Found a bottle of Brownell's Belgian Rust Bluing solution, took off the magazine floorplate for a test piece, used 220 grit, got most of the ugly off of it, cleaned /degreased, boiled and swabbed it 5 or 6 times and WOW. I am hooked!
Working on setting up a boiling tank big enough to fit a barreled action.
Would it be wise to re-finish the barrel separate from the receiver?
A new barrel will be fitted regardless, so should I index mark it after setting headspace, unscrew and reassemble after bluing?
I'm concerned about lube from the threads muffing up the process, or corrosion/galling if assembled without a bit of something on those threads.

You can rust blue complete assemblys fine. I'm not sure what you're saying about the barrel-if you are going to blue the one thats on the receiver for practice, or if you're saying you're just going to rust blue the receiver and ignore the current barrel since it will be replaced. Either way, I'd just do what seemed easier. You will need to get all the oil out of the threads. If you're concerned about a certain area being exposed to the solution and the water you can lacquer it.

Mauser lover
May 29, 2012, 12:15 AM
I would take it apart to blue it since you are going to anyway. I don't really know that much about headspacing, so I won't comment on that. I wouldn't worry too much about the receiver threads, but make sure that you card off all of the loose rust in them. If you take the barrel off, you won't need a big tank for boiling, you can use a smaller, normal sized pot.

Let us know how your project turns out, post pictures if possible.

May 30, 2012, 12:24 AM
Great thread and posts. I've wanted to try slow rust blueing for sometime. One question? What about inside of the receivers like a bolt action. I assume this isn't coated with the compound and does not rust. Is this correct.

Mauser lover
May 30, 2012, 09:31 AM
Larry Potterfield uses a swab to apply the solution to the inside of the receiver.

August 15, 2012, 04:59 PM
Hi.. hope someone is still watching this thread...
I have a number of muzzleloaders that I want to reblue.. they were originally just quick cold blued, and have always looked bad... functional, but ugly.
I am going to spend this fall slow rust blueing the lot. but I have a few questions. Some have been touched on before, but with varied answers.
First, interior of barrel. Plug or no? of course the entire thing would be degreased, so no oil on the inside. My thoughts are, if no rusting solution gets inside, and it is dried quickly after coming out of the boil, it should not adversely effect the areas not being rust blued. ?
Also, I don't want to have to pull the breach plugs, so I will have to take extra care about rust creeping into those threads..
speaking of threads, what about the nipple threads? should those be protected somehow. I will be doing a c&b revolver as well, with lots of thead holes, etc..
Then there are the parts that are attached that I don't want to rust, like the barrel pins and pressed in brass sight (like front site on the revolver). Someone mentioned lacquer? what kind, etc? wouldn't the laquer remover, when finished, mess with the rust blue?

I will be using brownells slow rust solution, and be welding up a few tanks and making a couple of simple pipe burners.

anyway, hope someone wants to chime in on these questions..


August 15, 2012, 11:54 PM
I cant remember what type of lacquer specifically. I'd have to dig around, I havent done it in a while. Wasn't shellac. I used a lacquer and plugged the bore, but I put a very small amount of solution in the water, and don't change it. You can use nail polish on the smaller parts. Be sure to use a thick coat and check it, it can flake off. Acetone removes most lacquers and wont damage the bluing.

Mauser lover
August 16, 2012, 12:10 AM
No short cuts. At all. Pull that breech plug, and anything else that you don't want blued. Lacquer remover will not typically hurt rust, which is all bluing is.

Pipe burners.... you can make your own, or just go down to your nearest BBQ supply place (hardware store, Home Depot etc.) and get the long skinny ones...

What I did was boil the barrel with a cleaning rod through the bore, with a wire on the cleaning rod hooked over the edge of the trough. After I boiled it long enough, I took the barrel out, with welding gloves, and took the cleaning rod out, and just blew through the bore to get all of the water vapor out. What I didn't do, but should have done, is take a can of aerosol oil and just hose out the bore after boiling. I degreased with acetone every time right before I applied the acid anyway. After I blew out the bore, I scrubbed off the velvet, then degreased with brake cleaner and acetone. Then I applied the acid and just waited. Then repeated several times.

You should only put enough of the bluing solution on the rag/swab to get it damp. No drips. Because it doesn't drip, you won't have a problem with it getting into threads at all, and if it does get into some threads, it will not be a problem getting the parts screwed back in there, because you shouldn't be leaving it on long enough to pit it anyway.

August 17, 2012, 12:00 PM
I coat the bore with shellac. Comes right off later with denatured alcohol.

April 8, 2013, 03:56 AM
Bringing this old thread back to life, and an old rifle as well.
First two pics show the "good"- FN receiver, bolt turned down, scope base holes drilled and tapped.
And then the "bad"-magazine beat on w/hammer or?, bolt shroud lock missing, safety lever shortened poorly, and some other stuff.
Kinda hard to explain all of it, I'm going to skip the "ugly" parts.
Really not too bad for a surplus 98 made 60 years ago.
Got a short chambered 338-06 barrel- existing tube was 30-06, should feed cartridges just fine. Starting the overhaul on the mag; bolt will likely just get a good polishing, trigger upgrade parts on hand; receiver will need a bit of surface pitting buffed out and then my first "total" bluing job.
'Been setting up a couple of dual wheel buffers, and horsetrading for above mentioned parts.
Refinishing the mag. floor plate by hand last year reminded me of the value of a powered buff/ polish set-up!!
Progress is slow, I'll post pics as things get going.
There are some really great guys on this forum, any and all comments are welcome.

Mauser lover
April 8, 2013, 06:31 PM
Looks promising. Are you going to re-stock and do a full sporterization job, or leave the military stock on it?

Interesting choice for calibers. I didn't think .338-06 was ever going to come back!

April 9, 2013, 02:10 AM
The stock choices are so many for the '98. I've got a very plain black composite, equally plain Bishop walnut, and a couple of "GI" stocks that would fit to be able to shoot it. Boyds has a couple of laminated wood stocks that might look good, and add some weight to soften recoil.
Best option might be to wait and see what the barreled action looks like when finished.

The 338-06 has been a long-time wish list caliber.
I had a 338 Win Mag some time ago, but couldn't get a really accurate load worked up for it. My hunting partner had a nearly identical 338 and it could make nice 3-shot cloverleafs. Traded mine away shortly after leaving AK for WA state.
There isn't much game in WA that requires that much power. Still have a lot of 338 bullets, that gives me an excuse to build this rifle, to use up the bullets!

Spent some time draw-filing the magazine and smoothing the shape of the triggerguard a bit.

Mauser lover
April 11, 2013, 08:34 PM
Looks much better!

Do be sure to show us pics at several stages of the rebuild!

Jim K
April 12, 2013, 10:19 PM
If you want to see good rust bluing, look at any Luger pistol or Mauser rifle made before about 1935.


April 13, 2013, 07:24 AM
The light from the camera's flash revealed a rusty color on the floor plate.
Wondering if a finer grit final polish would eliminate that? That piece was my first use of the Brownell's Belgian rust blue. Others have recommended leaving the surface less than shiny- 220-320 max- to help the bluing reaction "penetrate" the surface.
Having no previous experience, a finer,-320 finish will be tried for the magazine/triggerguard.
If the brown color is lessened using a different technique, the floor plate would be the easiest part to re-finish!
Given this rifle's condition, and mix / match of parts, I'm not attempting a "restoration" and must have a flexible standard for appearance.

Jim K
April 13, 2013, 02:36 PM
One characteristic of rust blue is that in some kinds of light the finish will look brown and rusty. If it looks blue in normal, natural light, it is OK.

A man I know has a beautiful collection of German handguns, including Borchardts, Mausers and Lugers. One day the lights were off in his gun room for some reason, so he looked in his safe using a halogen bulb flashlight - and just about had a heart attack! His whole collection was a mass of rust!!

Well, no. Under normal lighting, the beautiful rust blue was back. The rust was a trick of the light.


Sun Tzu warrior
April 15, 2013, 10:06 PM
What a wonderful thread!
I have an ole shotgun that my father bought new.
he sold it to my brother in law, due to a hunting accident involving his son, he abandoned it. I asked to adopt it and when it was given up for adoption, it was full of rust, surface rust. I carded the rust off, and a few times, rainy hunting trips, rusted it again. Again I just carded off the rust after these incidences. Now the Shotgun has a very nice brown finish, which hasn't rusted for a long time. My questions are, what would you call this type of blueing, and why it is now (seemingly) impervious to rust? I have looked into plum blueing and though it may be similar, I don't think it is the same. An old man once told me that he had seen that finish on firearms many times. He said it was rust blueing done with a trough full of horse urine.
Anybody heard of this? Will try to post pics when the other half returns home from a trip, (she took the camera)
If this matters, the shotgun is a Mossberg model 500 bought new in 1971

Mauser lover
April 16, 2013, 01:08 PM
That is the same as rust bluing, but without boiling it.

When you let it rust to blue it, you boil it before you card off the velvet. This boiling converts the brown rust, or red ferric oxide to blue rust, or black ferric oxide. After conversion you card off the (now black) rust, and you get a rust blue.

Browning was very popular a long time ago, probably because it is so easy to get a good finish, that is rust resistant.

April 21, 2013, 10:29 PM
Stripped the bolt, it and the magazine got cleaned up with 120 grit on the buffer, thinking of leaving the bolt unfinished. The mag. will get some rust blue.

Mauser lover
April 23, 2013, 09:36 PM
If you are going to leave it bright, why don't you you polish it to 400-600 or something like that? It should rust less if you polish it finer. Anyway, nice and shiny now! Looking forward to more pictures!

May 15, 2013, 04:16 AM
Great idea, but as the finish was getting finer, the pitting became more obvious. The pics don't really show it as much as the eye can see it. There is quite alot around the locking lugs and at the rear. Removing all of it would require some aggressive polishing , not willing to go that far.
The extractor was mirror brite, and, along with the bolt and magazine is rusting at this moment. The bolt and magazine are taking the chemical well, not so much on the extractor. The polishing and different steel seem to nearly reject this bluing solution!
Will be adding photos soon!

May 15, 2013, 03:22 PM (

Work in a lab, so I made my own version of the old Whakon Bay bluing solution. < gun friendly bosses! > treated the metal in my shop applying the solution and carding the rust for a few days.. made up a boil tank from a piece of AC/Heating duct panel..and used a coleman camp stove on my front porch..

brought water to a boil and laid the parts in.. boiled them 5+ minutes and fished them out to 'wet card' the black fuzz off them:) then stuck them back in to reboil for another 10 minutes.. Out of the tank, dried em' off and sprayed with WD 40.. let that set for 30 minutes then re-oiled them with 20 wt engine oil,, cuz well it was on hand :rolleyes: let the parts sit overnight then used some brown paper hand towel material to rub n buff the parts..

put it all together and wiped her down like a regular cleaning??

Oh I plugged the bore n stuff while rusting but not when doing the boiling.. No after rusting occurred..

Respect Always

ps, the frame, on this Home Shop underhammer is heat blued!

If you enjoyed reading about "Slow rust bluing" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!