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Will the "colors" of case hadening fade over time?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by JellyJar, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. JellyJar

    JellyJar Well-Known Member

    I know that if exposed to sweat and moisture that the bluing on guns will turn either gray or plum or some other color over time but what about the colors found in case hardening? Will they fade with use over time or not?

    Also, what may be a good way to preserve bluing and such?


  2. InkEd

    InkEd Well-Known Member

    Any type of finish is going to get some wear and damage. Also, alot of case-hardened guns you see nowadays are not really case-hardened.

    In regards to regular blueing, just normal care like you've always done. Don't worry so much about preserving the blueing. (Unless it is a collector's gun.) The REASON for blueing, parkerizing, duracoat, etc is to PRESERVE the actual METAL. It is designed to take the abuse and can be reapplied.
  3. Dave Workman

    Dave Workman Well-Known Member


    I think it depends upon how the finish was applied.
    I had a revolver with a "color case hardened" finish on the frame that did fade a bit, but I spruced it right back up by carefully dabbing on a little cold blue here and there, on the spots that originally WERE blue, and it really looks great.

    The trick here is to degrease the frame first, give it a very light rub with a very very fine steel wool, add the "spot" blue, rub it again with the steel wool, check your results and if satisfied, hit it fast with a light layer of oil, then wipe with dry cloth.

    Good luck!!!
  4. Werewolf

    Werewolf Well-Known Member

    A good paste wax will go a very long way towards preserving a case hardened finish or bluing.

    If you don't want to do that then take a paper towel soaked well in Breakfree CLP (well shaken) and generously swab down the areas you wish to protect. Let it dry for 24 hours.

    I've done both. The CLP trick worked well on a coupld of Ruger Vaqueros and a SIG P220 that had developed some rust spots. Got rid of the rust and soaked in CLP... After 6 years no rust has reappeared.
  5. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member


    I don't remember where I read it but I seem to recall that extended periods of exposure to direct sunlight could fade color case hardening.
  6. owlhoot

    owlhoot Well-Known Member

    Yes, case hardened colors will fade. And there is no way that I know of to prevent it other than not using the gun. I have a couple of first generation Colt SAA's and there is zero case color left on the guns. I have some second generation guns and the colors are faded but still there. However, I have one second generation (60 years old) that is boxed and virtually unused and the colors are still bright.
  7. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    There is actual case-colored hardening, and then there is the look applied via methods like cyanide (chemically). On finer guns, a clear lacquer finish is applied to help the coloring
  8. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    Case colors will fade with time, direct sunlight exacerbates this. That said, the real thing is as durable as bluing. Faux finishes like Ruger's case color finish, not so much. Many of them rusted despite careful maintenance.

    Actually, the cyanide method IS true color case hardening. Cyanide is used for its carbon content and heated to impart carbon into the surface of the part.
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    During the 19th century, color/case hardened parts were sometimes given a thin coat of lacquer to help preserve the colors. Today you can use a stock finishing product such as Tru-Oil or Lin-Speed (available at www.brownells.com) for the same purpose. With use, the coating will wear off, but what remains can be removed and a new coat applied. As long as the coating is thin it won't be noticed.

    The only way I know to completely preserve the colors is to not use the gun, and keep it stored in a dark place. If you decide to use wax, one with a U.V. blocker might be a good one to pick.
  10. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member

    Another alternative to cyanide based color case hardening was to heat the steel part to red hot while it was embeded in a mass of carbon-based material. This could include anything from particular hardwoods, coal, bone, antlers, or even leather. Once the part was properly heated in this bed, it was then taken out and quenched. Depending on the material in the bed, the quench, and the size of the part, you could get fairly deep and distinctive colors, ranging from blue, gray, brown, and red. This process also gave the metal part its surface hardness.
  11. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Well-Known Member

    One enemy of blueing (and case hardening) is contact with the felt padding that's often found in gun safes and display cases. Even though the felt padding might feel dry, it attracts just enough moisture to start spot rusting at the point of contact. When I realized that this was happening, I ripped out all the felt padding from the inside of my gun safe. The wooden rests don't hurt the finish, and they don't attract rust.

    Another thing that's (surprisingly) highly corrosive -- especially relevant to those that own early muskets -- is the white buff leather in early slings (or reproductions thereof). Apparently the chemicals used in tanning the leather to that white color are much more corrosive than those used to make regular leather. A white buff sling will turn your sling swivels (and any other iron part it touches) to rust in no time. Take the white sling off any time the musket is not in use.
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    There was a popular lubricant accused of bleaching case colors, too.
    I guess you can use them or baby them but not both at once.
  13. awgrizzly

    awgrizzly Well-Known Member

    I learned about case hardening the hard way. True case hardening will fade over a long period of time. True case hardening color comes from carbon and impurities purposely impregnated into the metal during the case hardening process (they heat it up in a sealed carbon or chemical environment). The stuff you find on cheaper guns, like many of the reproductions, is often not from case hardening but a coloring applied to the surface of the metal. Like paint, this surface layer can be affected by cleaning chemicals (even Hoppe's 9 I've been told) and from excessive rubbing.

    I have a new Uberti Colt Navy that I applied EEZOX to and it decimated the case coloring. I emailed EEZOX and they called me. They were quite concerned because their product isn't supposed to harm finishes. We reached the conclusion that the finish used by Uberti was fake. Ruger apparently had a similar problem and stopped making case hardened color guns as a result. EEZOX is otherwise safe with the possible exception of some bluing touch up products.

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