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Finish for Carbon Steel 1911 project?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Rockrivr1, Feb 16, 2016.

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  1. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    So I'm in the beginning stages of having a 1911 built using a Carbon frame and slide from Caspian that I purchased many years ago during a group buy. I have a good idea of the parts and bbl I want for this build but I'm still on the fence on what finish I want to have done.

    Options I've seen so far is bluing, parkerized, hard chrome, black chrome, NP3, etc. and all the differences between them. This is being built as a shooter so it will get a lot of use in all seasons so need something durable and functional.

    What has been your experience with finishes on custom builds? Any recommendations that fit what I'm looking for? I can see pics of the options but nothing stating how well the finish wears.
     
  2. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    If it were me I would have it polished and blued.

    Edit: sorry I just saw you mentioned being used in all seasons, etc. bluing is still great but will require more maintenance. Perhaps a hard chrome finish?
     
  3. jmtgsx

    jmtgsx Member

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    I am a big fan of IonBond DLC (Diamond like coating). I have my 4th 1911 at my gunsmith's prepping for that very finish. The first gun that I bought with it already was about 2 and half years and 3000 rounds old, and the finish was indistinguishable from new. It looks like a really nice blue, but it is blacker. I take great satisfaction from having an every day carry gun, or a match gun that you can take home and clean up and it still looks like new.
     
  4. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Member

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    I vote for the NP3 finish. I am having my Ruger 22/45 upper done in that so the carbon will wipe off with a Q-tip.
     
  5. redbullitt

    redbullitt Member

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    I am in the same boat. No finish on mine now, just bead blasted. Will go with something eventually. That DLC coating sounds pretty nice to me.
     
  6. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    I wasn't aware of this finish until now and I have to say the finish looks really nice. From the google pictures I'm looking at it's a very deep satin black. Definitely something to consider.
     
  7. farscott

    farscott Member

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    In the past twenty-five years, I have tried pretty much every finish.

    The best compromise finish for people adverse to performing maintenance I have seen for steel is Robar's NP3 as it is fairly abrasion resistant and very corrosion resistant. I am not fond of NP3 on aluminum as the underlying anodized layer can be removed and/or compromised, and raw aluminum alloys are very soft. The various vapor deposition finishes, like IonBond DLC, are extremely abrasion resistant and average for corrosion resistance. IonBond needs oil to stop the metal from oxidizing under the finish. Same for hard chrome, but hard chrome is less expensive than NP3 or IonBond and harder to get an even coating layer. If one chooses hard chrome, I highly suggest using Metaloy in Arkansas as they have a ton of experience in applying hard chrome to 1911-pattern pistols.

    I like nickel boron (NiB) for handguns as it wears better than NP3, but it is easier to discolor. The costs appear to be comparable to NP3 but none of the NiB providers have the track record that Robar does. As such, I tend to favor NP3.

    I also like the melonite finish if applied by the OEM. When applied on a finished gun by an aftermarket provider, one can experience dimensional changes due to the elevated temperatures required of the process. I experienced this myself with a custom Springfield Armory 1911 that now has a very tight spring plug tunnel opening in the slide. That gun also had my smith in fits refitting the gun after the finish process was performed. In addition, the QPQ process is applicable to carbon steels but not recommended for many stainless steels. This is not applicable to the OP but may be of interest to others.

    If you are willing to do some maintenance, Parkerzing, especially zinc parkerzing, is an outstanding option at low cost. Just keep the gun oiled and corrosion will not be an issue. It can also be done at home and done locally. I like Parkerizing as it is easy to redo if one has to replace or reshape a part. Any of the coatings requires the part to be sent out to the vendor, for a period of weeks to months. Parkerzing small parts can be done at home or at many small smiths.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
  8. Winkman822

    Winkman822 Member

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    I've been VERY pleased with the NP3 finish on my 1911. It started its life in black Armor Tuff from Wilson Combat and that's also a fantastic finish. If the silverish finish of the NP3 doesn't do it for you, I'd recommend Robar's Poly T2.
     
  9. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Big fan of Ron Mahovsky's Metalife finish.
     
  10. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    If I were having a custom1911 made by a Caspian I would have it sent to Doug Turnbull for color case hardening. IMO super classy and a great finish too.
     
  11. stoky

    stoky Member

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    I've had Robar's rendition of an Officer's Model for a couple of decades. The NP3 finish has held up very well.
     
  12. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    For general use I'd probably opt for hard chrome. I've had guns that were hard chromed back in the '80s and the finishes look new. Mahovsky's does good work at very reasonable prices, they hard chromed a revolver build for me and it came out great.

    DLC, whether it's Ionbond's or someone elses, holds up extremely well also, especially if you want a polished black surface. It's one of the few black coatings that doesn't have a texture of it's own so a polished surface is still polished after being coated with DLC. I have a custom 1911 that I had coated by Ionbond and they did an excellent job and it has held up very well.

    NP3 is a quality coating but I personally don't like the color or the look. I have a revolver with a cylinder that I had coated in NP3, it does the job but in retrospect I think I'd rather have had it hard chromed.


    If I were doing another build today and wanted a rugged finish and color wasn't an issue I'd go with hard chrome. I'd probably choose either Metaloy or Armoloy, they are a couple of the originals and the guns I've had that were coated by them back in the day have held up incredibly well over the years.
     
  13. Drail

    Drail Member

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    If you can stand having a silver gun - hard chrome is the best option - bar none. It will not wear off, it makes the gun much easier to clean and makes everything run with less friction. If you can't stand having a silver gun - Parkerizing is the No. 1 choice. Black chrome is not worth messing with. It is beautiful but will NOT wear very long. ALL of the spray on shake and bake finishes will not wear very long either in my experience. They look great when they are new. I want to see what they look like after 5,000 rounds.
     
  14. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    Pics please
     
  15. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    Yeah, what he said!
     
  16. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    Metaloy hard chrome, applied in mid-'90s:
    IvMwD2y3aBybBQ28d6Rt3mmjyRoEeVdy33cOpyjXnQnHa9us5xulAgUjS6jBHEWT1JMoVC2nBjXGJ_eke1U=w963-h651-no.jpg


    Ionbond DLC. When this pic was taken it had about a year of carry and 8 or 9 action pistol and 3 gun matches on it plus general range use:
    3SpO-yGb4dH-gJXesIQ9qoE4KcZY96OcOZC9jTd6KtDGb-DazMs-Bvk3XEs2bLTetRgX2TpGfzRD4cLR8f1=w901-h651-no.jpg


    Armaloy hard chrome, applied in the early '80s:
    E54oo5sbrNQ13aPbRpeN5jvvt3zLtiULTPMcv9OM8aevlYjlTOBvlO8UEVruBAhuY7gBvK6ECGcsiKsTJae=w892-h651-no.jpg


    Mahovsky's Metalife hard chrome. This gun was someone's abandoned project that I purchased and had finished:
    OujKwYtUTTFaB7Vy1JCCjNmDHtSoGArIsV1Qx3VuiWYoRAEDisarXf6-2SBPTGqdzm-iuHooBiqxxToX0y=w1366-h620-no.jpg
    Before-
    lPmk80Fo6P1cRflyBRKWUT5vkE6DDcduwXmlOAs6vxZjtEUEDvU-Gx3PXnTUaxT_H0hl3D6zQ1bKAvshQ3b=w826-h475-no.jpg
     
  17. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    WOW! Very nice pics. Question for you on them. Which one do you think the markings show best with. I have some custom scripting on one side of the slide that I'd still like to see. Looks like the DLC would be good for that, but I do like the look of the hard chrome as well. Tough choice.
     
  18. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    Roll marks and engraving need to be nice and crisp to show up well regardless of finish but, as a general rule, I think they really pop on a clean blue/black gun, especially one that is polished, though any good quality dark finish shows the guns lines better than sliver/gray. That is one of the reasons I went with the polished flats and black Ionbond DLC on the Colt Super, I wanted the appearance of polished blue but the hardness and durability are similar to hard chrome. And, of course, when looks count, nothing beats a classic blue but with good surface prep DLC can come close.

    Satin black (30 year old finish, don't know what it is)-
    s-VOjm1D0yf5pIH7OSlfYyypEAAJY9zZXFWLYzTEDPfNCcH2qV0IDsvF076jg32cuxNNMF-QvpIpCQGBwc=w1366-h623-no.jpg


    Polished blue-
    4UBV_FXNdAGNO3tHMnEj-hoVuxCUoBODzC2vfe8r-EK_RqXTJylC22X7cys5N_mCSXdZoJvFa-ptFSAHf8Q=w956-h651-no.jpg
    YzV8IIFT_EXn-Vzj-g7_u2NYUBxtrdd2PmoX8u7FogUN1t33ce-nyXI2el-j6FMp8F-u4cLSoCmMLjkfJHF=w987-h651-no.jpg


    Ionbond DLC-
    Mgi8Pr1W_wyb6irVuHdRE3KykPj7TcKc6-KfIPsKJ6aySl5ZDiJ0tDttZLui8UFyozU9yUAh4065txUlIN=w1002-h651-no.jpg
     
  19. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    Severns Custom Hard Hat (melonite-like)
     
  20. farscott

    farscott Member

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    Melonite

    kimber2_zps62ggecjo.jpg

    EGW E-Treat (melonite)

    SA_Mil-Spec_zps278f6cf6.jpg

    Birdsong Black-T

    Novak_SampW_915_4_zps0836f0e5.jpg

    Larocca-642-03.jpg

    Blue over color-case

    Turnbull-03_zps4f160d34.jpg

    Roguard over NP3

    robar_series_70-2.jpg

    Hard chrome

    Gemini_Customs_SP-101_2-22.jpg

    NP3

    Glock_29_001.jpg

    RobarAE002.jpg

    Parkerized

    SA9x19Mil-Spec001.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
  21. JDR

    JDR Member

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    50_tactical_ss_HC.jpg

    I wish my STI Trojan was hard chromed
     
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