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Nickel vs. Chrome

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by SullyVols, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. SullyVols

    SullyVols Well-Known Member

    Looking to eventually track down a .50 ae Desert Eagle.

    General thoughts and opinions on the stengths or weaknesses of these two finishes as applies to semi-autos?

  2. Solo

    Solo Well-Known Member

    I have a nickel RIA 1911. I love it, but I would advise chrome. It is a harder finish which is better at resisting corrosion and damage.

    That being said, nickel looks great assuming that the manufacturer's nickel process is good. RIA's leaves something to be desired as the nickel tarnishes from exposure to sweat.
  3. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Well-Known Member

    I've had some nickel guns. I guess "tarnish" is the proper term, as mine did (one still does) darken somewhat with use from in thoe areas where my hands were in contact with the grip frame. That darkness is EASILY removed with Flitz, etc., with only light rubbing.
  4. JDR

    JDR Well-Known Member

    I have a hard-chromed Browning High Power and I wish that more pistols were available hard chromed. I'd much rather have HC over stainless.
  5. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member

    I think I prefer bright nickel over bright chrome. Just a personal preference of mine I guess. Hard chrome is a great finish that looks very much like stainless steel and will last a very long time without showing any surface wear.
  6. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Well-Known Member

    And, if you have trigger work done on EITHER before having the finish work done, the trigger will be slicked up even more by the nickel or HC finish...
  7. Jaywalker

    Jaywalker Well-Known Member

    It's been over 10 years since we had some knock down and drag out discussions over on a knife forum, but as I recall from them hard chrome does a good job on resisting scrapes and such but may be marginal on corrosion, possibly depending on how it's applied.

    If chrome is applied by a "physical vapor deposition (PVD)" process, it provides little corrosion barrier, IIRC, though it does improve wear characteristics measurably. I don't know how else chrome may be applied nor whether that makes a difference to corrosion resistance. Apparently, according to those old threads, corrosion continues under the chrome, unseen.

    Stainless steel may be problematic in cold weather, according to some internet threads, but I have no opinion as to its truth.

    Nickel is great for corrosion resistance.

    So, for me, the ideal slide/frame material is carbon steel with nickel coating - my late Nineties Kahr K9.
  8. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member

    I really like the satin nickel finish. However, hard chrome is much tougher.

    May be different now, but MRI's finishes have always been top notch. And they ought to be, with $250-$500 premiums...
  9. buckhorn_cortez

    buckhorn_cortez Well-Known Member

    Bright nickel is applied like chrome through an electrical desposition process. Electroless nickel is totally different and is more corrosion resistant than hard chrome. I have a rifle that has an electroless nickel finish applied in 1984. The gun has had a lot of hard field use, and the rifle looks as good today as it did in 1984.
  10. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    I have a 1994 Browning Hi Power, factory Silver Chrome model. It is one of my favorite pistols, and I really like the hard chrome finish. It still looks new, and cleans up very nicely. I prefer it to nickel finish, but still prefer a deep blue for firearms over the silver finishes like HC, Nickel or stainless steel. There is just something about a well blued gun.
  11. Shipwreck

    Shipwreck Well-Known Member

    Be careful with some solvents with ammonia - they will make nickel peel off the gun
  12. Torian

    Torian Well-Known Member

    Yep, got one of those Browning Hi Powers in HC too :) Very resistant to scratching and keeps everything nice and shiny. Nickel looks great...but just isn't designed to protect the weapon like HC.
  13. 481

    481 Well-Known Member

    Had a DE in matte hard chrome back in the 80s. It was a nice, even finish, kind of a "frosty" appearance to it. Wish I hadn't traded it, but the deal I got was too good to refuse.

    I'd have one again if the desire ever hits me. Hard chrome is definitely the way to go.
  14. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Well-Known Member

    That's only an issue with guns that have a copper undercoat under the nickel. That was once VERY common, but is less so, nowadays, and it's NOT generally used with Electroless Nickel finishes. My CZ, with a satin nickel finish doesn't have the copper undercoat. (I don't know if it's electroless nickel or not, but it's not as shiney as some nickel guns I've owned.)

    (The problem with nickel and ammonia or any solvent which attacks copper, is that minute cracks eventually appear in nickel, and the solvent seeps in and attacks and dissolves the underlying copper. Then the nickel has nothing to be attached to... This is common in older guns made by S&W and Colt.)
  15. wojownik

    wojownik Well-Known Member

    I have a two tone (satin nickel slide) Sig. The fnish is electroless nickel - which is very tough - is wearing better than the Nitron finish. I'd take electroless nickel over chrome, personally, but chrome over the older type of nickel finish.
  16. surjimmy

    surjimmy Well-Known Member

    Hard Chrome all the way, nickel will flake.
  17. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Well-Known Member

    I've never seen electroless nickel flake or fail in any way... The "flaking" is more common with traditional electroplated nickel, which is often plated over copper. (If there are micro cracks in the plated finish, and copper solvents hit the finish, the underlayer goes away, and the nickel finish fails.)
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  18. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Well-Known Member

    Chrome by itself is not waterproof. To get a finish that is expected to stand up to the elements, you often see nickel or copper plated under the chrome. To get a really really polished chrome, a chrome shop will plate with copper and then polish the softer copper and then put the shiny chrome on. (car bumpers etc).
    For wear resistance you cannot beat chrome.
    for appearance, I generally like the warmer look of nickel. Last night a LGS had a PAIR of matching 1911 Colt 70 series, government models in Nickel plate.. $1000 each.. $2000 for the set including the box. The really stood out from the case from all the other boring black oxide/ parker/ etc guns.

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