Best finish for a revolver

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First, stainless by far. No worries about corrosion. I have a 4", and a 6", The 4" is probably the best trade off, if you can only have one. The 6" makes a great range gun.


With even a minimal amount of care either blue or SS will hold up nicely.
It depends on how you define "minimal."

I would not say "minimal" maintenance, unless it is comparable to a Glock or M&P, etc. The blued guns I have dealt with certainly cannot be treated like a Glock without rusting, from my experience.
This is my GP100:


Love this gun, it's best full size DA revolver currently being made IMHO. I switched the ugly black Hogue grips out for a pair of the discontinued rubber/rosewood panel grips that I found on e-bay. I also changed the stock black front sight over to a red insert front sight from Ruger (that should come stock on this gun but I digress). I consider this to be the perfect setup for the GP100, including the stainless steel finish... except one thing...

I wish I'd gotten one with a 4" barrel.

I have a 6" bbl, and frankly I've come to the conclusion that it makes the gun too big and heavy for what I need it for. I got it as a defensive gun for the home/car and to carry on the belt in the woods while hunting. A 6" gun caught me at the right time and found it's way home with me one day, even though I was originally wanting a 4" gun.

Holding out for the shorter barrel would have been best. You do get benefits from the longer barrels, but if you plan on using your GP100 for defense keep in mind a few things: first, a 4" bbl'd gun will still give you an excellent sight radius and sight picture, and I'm read that the 6" guns are hardly more accurate at realistic defensive shooting distances of 50 yards and under. You do get velocity and energy gains with the long barrel guns, but remember that the formula for the .357 magnums reputation as a fight stopper came from 125 grain JHP/SJHP bullets moving at roughly 1450 FPS... coming out of 4" service barrel revolver barrels. For defensive purposes, a 4" barrel not only gives you enough velocity and energy, but were the foundation for the extreme effectiveness garnered to the .357 magnum cartridge in law enforcement use.

So basically, I recommend a stainless steel finished GP100 and HIGHLY recommend the 4" barreled versions.

Good luck!
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Handgun surfaces, styles....

Of the 2 factory types, Id get the stainless. It's easy to clean, prevents rust-wear & offers a sharp appearance. :D
Director & producer; Michael Mann used stainless & nickeled weapons on the popular TV series; Miami Vice in the 1980s because they looked better on film.
I owned a stainless steel Ruger 4" barrel GPNY .38spl in the 2000s. I had 0 problems with it. I used Ballistol, , to clean & lube it.

If you prefer black or dark colors you could add a after market service like Rocky Mountain Arms Bearcoat, 's Ceracote process. Bearcoat & Black-T/Green-T are popular with spec ops and US law enforcement units; HRT/hostage rescue, SOG Marshals/USMS, BORTAC/DHS, etc. Cabela's , reportedly did a long term T&E of different brands with several guides/hunting trips & said Bearcoat treatments worked best.

If you like the grey/nickel/stainless color but want top performance, you could also add Robar's high quality NP3+, or the well known Metalife surface application; . note; Robar shop times/service may be slow due to high demands and orders. Metalife like Bearcoat offers a lifetime warranty & only takes a few weeks.

Rusty S
On newer guns... stainless. Easy to clean and holds up better over the long haul.

On a nice older S&Ws or Colt, I'll take one of their beautifully deep-blued guns. The blue-ing on newer guns is not nearly as well done, so... another reason to go with stainless in new guns.
I prefer stainless, it also helps to hide signs of wear such as cylinder rings and holster wear and while I have heard that a SS firearm can still rust, I have never had that happen. I think a stainless is easier to sell or trade in as well down the road.
It depends on how you define "minimal."

After carrying either type for the day, a quick wipe down with an oil or silicone impregnated rag. That's it.

I carry blued guns in the hot and muggy southeastern US, and with the recent exception of some surface rust on a bare metal spot of my S&W Model 19 (right under the left grip panel), I have had zero rust issues. As I test, I even carried my well worn Ruger Service Six for a month in August with temps averaging in the mid 90s with high humidity without a single wipedown, with no problems.

Then again, I hear of others say they get rust in hours on their blued guns, so maybe some just have more caustic sweat than others. :confused:
Blued looks a lot nicer but stainless is more durable and easier to keep looking as good as new. It boils down to looks or durability.
Factors, body types....

Rust or wear can be different for different people due to a # of factors or reasons.
Body temperature, Ph balance in your sweat or humidity, rain, fog, smoke, dust, sea-spray, etc.
In the early 1990s, I had a strange patch where I somehow coded out 3 different bank cards(ATM) in a span of about 3 weeks. :uhoh:
I wasn't near any huge computers or machines and kept each card in my nylon wallet. This was before cell phones & PDAs too. :D
Blue or black handguns can be kept rust free or have reduced corrosion but you'd need to wipe it off with a well made CLP like Ballistol or FrogLube or Eezox everyday.
Poorly made holsters or leather can damage handguns too. Grit, crud or moisture can collect on the frame or slide.
While in the US Army in Panama, I saw a plain clothes MP investigator draw & clear a M9 Beretta 9mm. He had a cheap belt slide type holster & the M9 had brown rust spots all over it from the leather rig. I doubt the MPI was ever oiling or using any Breakfree on it. :rolleyes:

As noted, if you want extra protection or constantly work in a marine environment, Id highly suggest a good surface treatment like NP3+, Metalife,, Bearcoat or Cerakote.
I too like the deep blue on older Smiths and Colts. I also think the newer SS's are good looking, especially with rosewood grips. Looks like I just have to add more flavors to my collection. :)
Twenty years ago I swore I'd never own a stainless gun. Today if you look in my safe you would see there are more stainless that blue. Blue is the worst finish you can own in my opinion compared to any of the others.

Yup,couldn't have put it better I won't even try:D.
Sounds like the op should have done a poll. Hahaha

I love a nice blued revolver with nice dark stained wood grips. Pretty much all Smith and Wesson revolvers.
The best finish would be: stainless for fun, run, and range; blued for ccw - and depending on depth of bluing - the gawking factor.
Grips: nice wood grips can make a revolver pretty, when matched to the steel color, properly; however, if out and about in weather other than blue skies and butterflies, and not wearing tacticool gloves, rubber, in a monogrip, might function well for you.
Barrel length: a lot of ccw folks I have noticed, do like a 3-inch barrel. I have not seen pictures of a 2-incher, so that might be the least length limit per design. For fun, run, range, and handgun harvesting, a 6-inch would give you the most stable in the hand. However, if your eyes see a revolver with a 4-inch barrel as being 'squared', then 4-inch barrels would suit you, for your brain has already computed that size and how it would fit in your hand, and how it 'would hang out there at outstretched arm's length".
Stainless isn't a finish. It goes all the way thru. In the past 25 years the only blued gun I have bought was a SxS shotgun for my youngest son, and that's only because they didn't make one in stainless at that time. A stainless gun will NEVER take on the patina of a well used and well taken care of blued gun, but it also wont be ruined if you leave it in the truck overnight after hunting in the pouring rain all day.
acman - don't let others decide for you.
Only YOU know what YOU like!

My opinion? For me it's blue steel & wood.
But that's MY favoite. I don't know what you'd like.
For looks, a good color case hardening job on the frame, hammer, trigger, etc, and bluing for the rest.

For function, probably PVD over stainless. It looks OK on day one and wears well.

I vote SS. You just can't go wrong with that.
For me it depends on the type of grips you want. Blued and stainless will hold up if you take care of you revolver.

For me with nice wood grips blued gets the edge on stainless. With rubber range grips I would choose stainless, I tried the look on my blued Smith and they looked out of place and awkward.
If you have to have a GP100. The only one worth owning is the Royal Phoenix. That is Rugers stab at a classic blued 4" .357. If you want a truck gun beater get there junky looking standard blue. Or slice it down the center and get any SS GP100 you can get your hands on all at a fair price.

My .357 is a locked and mim Smith. And it fears no Ruger. It loves full house H110 mag loads and finds it's self at home in nuke land.

You will know when you find and tune you revolver. :)


Trigger Job, Hand polishing, detail bead blasting and other goodies. :)


Go get you some and make it your own. :)
Hmmm......years ago had Austin Behlert work on a S&W Model 19 and he also Armaloyed it.....beautiful finish 30+ yrs. later
I prefer blued steel and walnut stocks ... on rifles. But in revolvers I have a definite preference for stainless. If I could only have one handgun, it would be a stainless GP100 with a 4-inch barrel, which is an excellent compromise between concealment and field use. Mine wears the compact rubber grip with SP101 rosewood inserts.

Like the mirror finish, psychack. I've been tempted to polish my 3-inch GP100 to get that look.
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