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Nickel for CCW?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Arp32, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. Arp32

    Arp32 Well-Known Member

    Anyone have firsthand experience with nickel plated carry pieces? What kind of lifespan should one expect with nickel in an environment like Arizona (low humidity in general, but half the year the gun would be sitting next to a sweaty individual...).

    I'm not concerned about maintaining a museum piece, just wondering how long before the finish wore off to the point I might consider refinishing it in something else. I'm only familiar with stainless and anodized aluminum and was hoping to hear from folks with firsthand experience.
  2. BossHogg

    BossHogg Well-Known Member

    I have no problem carrying a nickel gun for cww duty. They hold up just fine. Try a holster with a sweat shield and the problem goes away.

    RKRCPA Well-Known Member

    This is my nickle plated Taurus that has been kicking around since 1985. Generally it gets carried in a pocket or an ankle holster or sometimes just a hip grip. It has seen no extraordinary maintenance, I don't wipe my guns down with oil on a regular basis and they hold up just fine.


    There's a little freckling but I don't worry about it.
  4. Arp32

    Arp32 Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys, not sure where I got the idea that nickel wouldn't hold up. I guess I just associate it with "pretty" guns that sit in a display box.
  5. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Well-Known Member

    I have a 1911 and M29 in bright nickel. Neither sees CCW but I wouldn't exclude nickel for carry, but I would not use ammonia based solvents for cleaning. Actually, I find KROIL does better cleaning bores than either Sweets or Barnes, especially on lead fouling.

    Back in the day we had an officer who carried a nickel M27 with genuine ivory grips for his career w/o any problems.
  6. mdauben

    mdauben Well-Known Member

    Note that there is a difference between industrial "hard" chrome (typically dull finish like the gun in post #3) and old fashioned "soft" chrome (typically high polish). The "soft" chrome is much more suseptable to scratches and wear.
  7. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    It's not that it wouldn't hold up, just since I was a kid I have had an affinity for parkerized finishes, I don't like things that might flash when I might not want them to.
  8. Spike_akers

    Spike_akers Well-Known Member

    i have no experience with nickel finishes on guns, but i've been restoring cars and motorcycles since i was 12, and i have to say, nickel isnt that bad on durability (everything that gets chromed first has a nickel base) but if not taken care of, it will tarnish, and will pit. humidity/sweat will increase the tarnish/pitting.. just get in a habit of wiping it down every week or so, and it should hold up fine.. as far as wear from holsters and such, i'd say it would probably hold up better than some of the other finishes... but once again, i have no experience with firearms finished in nickel. only automotive...
  9. Deer_Freak

    Deer_Freak Member.

    I have a nickel plated Charter 357 that was made in the 70's (can't find the exact date). My uncle was a state trooper. He carried the gun so long in CA that he literally wore the nickel off the gun. I carry the gun quite often today. The exposed steel stays nice and shiny from regular care and holster wear.
  10. Baldy

    Baldy Well-Known Member

    I carried a nickel plated S&W M-36 for about ten years. It had holster wear just like any of the others would have but that's all.
  11. browningguy

    browningguy Well-Known Member

    It doesn't hold up as well as a good hard chrome finish, which by the way can come in a high polish to a dull matte finish, but it's generally good enough.
  12. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member

    I have had a Colt Combat Commander in bright nickel for well over 30 years and it has seen plenty of use, both at the range and concealed carry. Nothing to report on any wear or changes to the plating; still looks great after all these years.

    I don't use Hoppes on the gun because it's a copper solvent and many nickel plated guns have a thin layer of copper plating applied first to the metal so the nickel plate will go on properly. The concern here is that the Hoppes will work its way into the copper plate and cause it to peel away from the metal, taking the top layer of nickel plate away with it. For regular cleaning and polishing of the nickel plating I use Flitz.
  13. Spike_akers

    Spike_akers Well-Known Member

    in most processes there is almost always copper under nickel, and then chrome goes over top of it.. and to Browningguy, nickel in most cases is just as strong as chrome, and the high luster decorative chrome, it is very soft. this so called "hard chrome" that is dull, is actually just a thicker coat of chrome, and since chrome reflects the mirror finish of the nickel (thus the nickel base on all chrome) it becomes dull with thicker layers (ever seen chromed plastic? no shine, because it has no nickel base, or other base). and chrome tends to chip where as the nickel is less likely to do so. nickel is going to be a better and longer lasting finish then chrome. now i know this is about nickel, but theres alot of misunderstanding about chrome and nickel. you will never find anything that has straight chome flashed onto it (except for a few plastics thanks to modern engineering). there will always be a nickel, rhodium, or silver base... also, hard chrome is good when you have two sliding parts put together, as the thicker layers (about 1 mil vs .02-.06 mil on decorative) increase strength, but hard chrome is hard to keep a perfectly uniform finish, and you will see that the layers are thicker on edges.. there are reasons that we do chrome the way we do, the copper provides corrosion resistance, and ductility, the nickle provides the luster, and ductility for the chrome, the chrome provides tarnish protection for the nickle, and reflects its luster.

    so tot he OP. your nickel plated firearm should be fine for carry, but could tarnish because there is nothing besides cleaning to protect it from tarnishing, and pitting. any questions?
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  14. Dr.Zubrato

    Dr.Zubrato Well-Known Member

    Out of curiosity..
    A lot of people report skin irritation and discoloration upon prolonged skin contact to nickel, like in rings and jewelery, has this been a problem for anyone?

    Or is the nickel plating on firearms somehow different?
  15. Spike_akers

    Spike_akers Well-Known Member

    Some individuals have a nickel allergy... I personally do not, but my wife does... Its something each owner will have to find out themselves. So no, guns (shouldn't) be different, since its a reaction to the nickel plating rather then other chemicals

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