Stainless S&W: Passivation and Polishing

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Hammer059, Sep 15, 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    12,673
    Thank you both. I did put some time into that gun, and really like how it came out. It's the first handgun I ever bought.

    And correct on the Simply Rugged Holster. I really dig Celtic knot work, and incorporate it in subtle ways into my dress, whether it be a key belt loop, a ring, or a holster, since I'm of Irish decent. I'm also heavily tattooed with knot work, but it's almost always hidden under a shirt.

    I kind of want to put some Eagle grips and a gold bead front sight on that gun.
     
  2. Hammer059

    Hammer059 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    Messages:
    630
    Location:
    Lebanon County, PA
    Thanks for the input guys.

    As far as sitting in front of the TV and polishing… I don't have a TV so that isn't an option. However I can always listen to music or a sports game on the radio which will be sufficient.

    I'm still not sure if I'm gonna use scotchbrite then cloth, or just cloth to polish… either way I'm gonna test it on the grip frame first. What are those scotchbrite pads made of, anyway??

    Cajunbass, bannockburn, and Kodiak, those are all some sexy looking revolvers. This thread was lacking some good photos
     
  3. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    23,457
    Hammer059

    Here's one more for you then. Enjoy.

    2012-10-07_16-48-30_9231.jpg
     
  4. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    6,404
    What are those scotchbrite pads made of, anyway

    They're some sort of synthetic material.
    NOTE: Scotchbrite pads are abrasive. Use on stainless and they will leave fine scratch marks in the metal.

    Usually, you want to use the very finest "grit" IF you use them at all. Buy them at an automotive supply house. They sell them in very fine grades for use in car painting.
    LIGHTLY use a finer grade, then switch immediately to the metal polish and a cloth.
    Most people don't use the Scotchbrite at all, they go straight to the metal polish and cloth.

    You won't be able to get a true factory mirror polish finish because Scotchbrite and metal polish can't remove the fine machine marks that are left on standard satin finish stainless steel guns.
    To get a true mirror finish requires factory level polishing done by a real pro. who's experienced at doing fine metal polishing without rounding off the edges or leaving ripples in the flats.

    However, mostly working with metal polish and cloths you can get a shiny finish.

    If you ever want to go back to a matte satin finish, then you can use the Scotchbrite pads.
    One trick for that is, after using the Scotchbrite pads, use a cleansing powder like Bar Keeper's Friend and a stiff toothbrush to scrub the surface.
    Mix the powder to a thin paste and scrub away.
    This will even out the tiny scratches left by the Scotchbrite and give a more uniform satin finish.

    When using metal polishes you have to be careful not to allow it to get into the action or cylinder assembly.
    It's best if you can totally disassemble and clean it out after polishing.
     
  5. Bullet Bob

    Bullet Bob Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2003
    Messages:
    1,096
    Location:
    Piedmont, NC
    Finally, my natural laziness pays off, as I've never polished one of my stainless steel guns.
     
  6. Bama Drifter

    Bama Drifter Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2015
    Messages:
    518
    Location:
    West
    Not trying to pick a nit here, but I think the nickel, mirror-like finish is EXACTLY why folks wanna polish up a SS gun. Especially a Vaquero or other "hard run" revolver. Just my .02 :)
     
  7. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    23,457
    BamaDrifter
    Exactly! I have nickel plated guns and while I love the way they look, there aren't many plated guns being made anymore and cost a bit of premium if and when you do find them. Enter stainless steel, already silver in color and very easy for a do-it-yourselfer to turn the gun into a mirror-like finish with very little in the way of cost or effort. Just use some Mother's Mag Polish, a cotton cloth, and a bit of elbow grease and in no time you have yourself a nice bright shiny finish that stays that way for a fairly long time.
     
  8. Coyote3855

    Coyote3855 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Messages:
    2,568
    Location:
    Wyoming
    I'm in the minority here obviously, but I don't care for very shiny handguns. I shot a couple of stainless Vaqueros in SASS for many years. I liked the pair much better when they accumulated some wear and didn't loom up like an outhouse in a fog.
     
  9. edmo01

    edmo01 Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    I polished this S&W Model 60 "no dash" with Mothers Mag Polish.

    I've owned it since the mid 80s and haven't had any corrosion issues.

    Edmo

    image_zps8rp9igic.jpg
     
  10. il.bill

    il.bill Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,414
    Location:
    FOID Land (Illinois)
    I bought a corrections officer trade-in S&W .357 magnum stainless steel revolver off of GunBroker that had numerous scratches and several 'nicks' in the finish. After a thorough cleaning I went at it with some 600 grit wet-o-dry sandpaper saturated in gun oil and wrapped around a popsicle stick. I was surprised at how crisp the corners were and how nice that daily-carried revolver looked after three or four hours of gentle attention. After several more hours of Mother's Mag Polish on an old tee shirt, I marveled at the transformation. A real shiny SS finish may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it was just what I wanted.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 25, 2015
  11. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    12,673
    This is my 460V, which is the other gun I've spent some time polishing. It's not as nice as my SP101, but the finish was a bit more rough to begin with.

    [​IMG]

    I was playing with my camera last night and searching for a photo location in my new home. So I thought I'd share.
     
  12. Hammer059

    Hammer059 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    Messages:
    630
    Location:
    Lebanon County, PA
    Well last week I decided to polish my 617 and I'm very pleased with the results. I forgot to post pics, so I'll post them now. I used mothers mag polish and a microfiber cloth.

    The photos were taken prior to putting on my new Altamont rosewood checkered grips. With the wood grips on it looks even better!
     

    Attached Files:

  13. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    12,673
    Very nice man. It's pretty easy to do isn't it?
     
  14. Hammer059

    Hammer059 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    Messages:
    630
    Location:
    Lebanon County, PA
    Yup. It was easy, but tedious. I didn't mind it though, it was a nice day out so I sat outside with my dog and the radio on and polished it for a couple hours. Definitely not the worst way I could have spent my afternoon.
     
  15. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    12,673
    It does get a little boring. I can only handle doing it for about an hour or an hour and a half at a time. So several sessions are needed for me to get the shine I want. I'm not done with my 460 yet.

    That 617 looks nice. I've had a hankerin for one for the last few weeks, but my money is being put to other ends right now, and they aren't cheap. I even went looking last weekend for one at all but one of my local shops. Could not find a single one.

    I've actually started polishing my 686 PC Competitor as well. It has a glass bead finish from the factory, so I'm interested to see how it comes out. It has a lot of angles to the barrel shroud, so I'm debating polishing some surfaces more than others to see what kind of contrast I can create. I'll share when I get it to a point that is interesting. With winter coming, I suspect the polishing cloth will come back out again.
     
  16. Hammer059

    Hammer059 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    Messages:
    630
    Location:
    Lebanon County, PA
    I would be curious to see your 686 PC also.

    I too struggled to find a 617. I checked a bunch of shops, who all supposedly carry them, but NEVER have them in stock. Couldn't even get one ordered for me. So I went with gun broker, which I had never done before. If I was looking for a gun that I couldn't otherwise get, I'd definitely be happy to go with Gunbroker again.
     
  17. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Messages:
    9,827
    Location:
    SW Arizona
    I've used different methods, but the most effective process I've used, was with the white lapping compound block that comes in a valve lapping kit. One block is brown, the other is white. I tried the brown one, but it didn't seem to do as much polishing, it seemed too abrasive. So I used it to do the initial take down of the brushed finish S&W puts on them, then polished with the white.

    Anyway, I saturated a spot at a time on a cotton cloth with mineral oil, then I rubbed it real hard against the lapping compound block until I had a good transfer amount on the cloth. Then I just started the elbow grease process. It actually didn't take all that long to get it looking really clean. I used an ice cream stick with the cloth wrapped around it to get the nooks and canny's, and managed to polish every single nook and cranny.

    Something interesting though, I also polished the front of the cylinder and got it looking like new. Here's the interesting part, after running a bunch of 296 magnum loads, it now takes minimal effort to remove the circular black deposits that reappear, it's as if the polished finish doesn't allow the black carbon to stick as it did before.

    I had a gun smith buddy who asked to take a look at one I had polished, and he didn't believe me that it wasn't a nickel plated revolver until after looking at the model number. That;s how good it looked after being polished.

    I've also used the same process to strip guns for re-bluing.

    GS
     
  18. Hammer059

    Hammer059 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    Messages:
    630
    Location:
    Lebanon County, PA
    Nice! Thanks for sharing, gamestalker.

    I'm sure your polishing the front of the cylinder had something to do with burn rings being easier to remove there. Maybe the original finish wasn't quite as smooth and gave it tiny little pores to kinda sink into? I might have to give that a try, because I actually forgot to polish the front of the cylinder :eek:
     
  19. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2003
    Messages:
    839
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    So folks, for a S&W 66-1, what would you recommend to just brighten it up a bit/ It is in great shape, but I'm sure some polish would brighten it up a bit. I hear flitz might work, then follow that with some paste wax?
     
  20. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    6,383
    Location:
    North Chesterfield, Virginia
    That's what I do.
     
  21. Timtoolman

    Timtoolman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    113
    Location:
    Central Pa.
    My wife bought a used 629-4 44 mag. That the stainless was nicked and scratched ,I used 400gr. 1000gr., 2000gr. Wet sand paper ,Then mother's polish , the results were out standing. Then replaced all side plate screws
     
  22. brutus51

    brutus51 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2013
    Messages:
    1,143
    FYI all stainless firearms are made with martensitic or precipitation hardening stainless which is magnetic and can corrode.
    Austenitic or 300 series is used where no corrosion is exceptable, such as kitchen sinks and hospital equipment. It is non magnetic and not heat treatable.

    There are different types of stainless steels: when nickel is added, for instance, the austenite structure of iron is stabilized. This crystal structure makes such steels virtually non-magnetic and less brittle at low temperatures. For greater hardness and strength, more carbon is added. With proper heat treatment, these steels are used for such products as razor blades, cutlery, and tools.

    Significant quantities of manganese have been used in many stainless steel compositions. Manganese preserves an austenitic structure in the steel, similar to nickel, but at a lower cost.

    Stainless steels are also classified by their crystalline structure:
    Austenitic, or 200 and 300 series, stainless steels have an austenitic crystalline structure, which is a face-centered cubic crystal structure. Austenite steels make up over 70% of total stainless steel production. They contain a maximum of 0.15% carbon, a minimum of 16% chromium and sufficient nickel and/or manganese to retain an austenitic structure at all temperatures from the cryogenic region to the melting point of the alloy.

    200 Series—austenitic chromium-nickel-manganese alloys. Type 201 is hardenable through cold working; Type 202 is a general purpose stainless steel. Decreasing nickel content and increasing manganese results in weak corrosion resistance.[27]

    300 Series—The most widely used austenite steel is the 304, also known as 18/8 for its composition of 18% chromium and 8% nickel.[28] 304 may be referred to as A2 stainless (not to be confused with AISI grade A2 air hardening alloy tool steel containing about 5% chromium). The second most common austenite steel is the 316 grade, also referred to as A4 stainless and called marine grade stainless, used primarily for its increased resistance to corrosion. A typical composition of 18% chromium and 10% nickel, commonly known as 18/10 stainless, is often used in cutlery and high-quality cookware. 18/0 is also available.

    Superaustenitic stainless steels, such as Allegheny Ludlum alloy AL-6XN and 254SMO, exhibit great resistance to chloride pitting and crevice corrosion because of high molybdenum content (>6%) and nitrogen additions, and the higher nickel content ensures better resistance to stress-corrosion cracking versus the 300 series. The higher alloy content of superaustenitic steels makes them more expensive. Other steels can offer similar performance at lower cost and are preferred in certain applications, for example ASTM A387 is used in pressure vessels but is a low-alloy carbon steel with a chromium content of 0.5% to 9%.[29] Low-carbon versions, for example 316L or 304L, are used to avoid corrosion problems caused by welding. Grade 316LVM is preferred where biocompatibility is required (such as body implants and piercings).[30] The "L" means that the carbon content of the alloy is below 0.03%, which reduces the sensitization effect (precipitation of chromium carbides at grain boundaries) caused by the high temperatures involved in welding.
    Ferritic stainless steels generally have better engineering properties than austenitic grades, but have reduced corrosion resistance, because of the lower chromium and nickel content. They are also usually less expensive. Ferritic stainless steels have a body-centered cubic and contain between 10.5% and 27% chromium with very little nickel, if any, but some types can contain lead. Most compositions include molybdenum; some, aluminium or titanium. Common ferritic grades include 18Cr-2Mo, 26Cr-1Mo, 29Cr-4Mo, and 29Cr-4Mo-2Ni. These alloys can be degraded by the presence of \sigma chromium, an intermetallic phase which can precipitate upon welding.





    Swiss Army knives are made of martensitic stainless steel.Martensitic stainless steels are not as corrosion-resistant as the other two classes but are extremely strong and tough, as well as highly machinable, and can be hardened by heat treatment. Martensitic stainless steel contains chromium (12–14%), molybdenum (0.2–1%), nickel (less than 2%), and carbon (about 0.1–1%) (giving it more hardness but making the material a bit more brittle). It is quenched and magnetic.
    Duplex stainless steels have a mixed microstructure of austenite and ferrite, the aim usually being to produce a 50/50 mix, although in commercial alloys the ratio may be 40/60. Duplex stainless steels have roughly twice the strength compared to austenitic stainless steels and also improved resistance to localized corrosion, particularly pitting, crevice corrosion and stress corrosion cracking. They are characterized by high chromium (19–32%) and molybdenum (up to 5%) and lower nickel contents than austenitic stainless steels.

    The properties of duplex stainless steels are achieved with an overall lower alloy content than similar-performing super-austenitic grades, making their use cost-effective for many applications. Duplex grades are characterized into groups based on their alloy content and corrosion resistance. Lean duplex refers to grades such as UNS S32101 (LDX 2101), S32202 (UR2202), S32304, and S32003.
    Standard duplex is 22% chromium with UNS S31803/S32205 known as 2205 being the most widely used.
    Super duplex is by definition a duplex stainless steel with a Pitting Resistance Equivalent Number (PREN) > 40, where PREN = %Cr + 3.3x(%Mo + 0.5x%W) + 16x%N. Usually super duplex grades have 25% chromium or more and some common examples are S32760 (Zeron 100 via Rolled Alloys), S32750 (2507) and S32550 (Ferralium),.
    Hyper duplex refers to duplex grades with a PRE > 48 and at the moment only UNS S32707 and S33207 are available on the market.
    Precipitation-hardening martensitic stainless steels have corrosion resistance comparable to austenitic varieties, but can be precipitation hardened to even higher strengths than the other martensitic grades. The most common, 17-4PH, uses about 17% chromium and 4% nickel.
     
  23. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    23,457
    Matt Dillon

    I used just Flitz on my Model 686 as at the time I just wanted to brighten it up a bit but not go the whole "shiny nickel plated" look that I would get with Mother's Mag Polish.

    075_zpsa4cpqqlm.gif
     
  24. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,098
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    I have a stainless Uberti Remington 1858. It does not feel the attraction of a magnet. I have no idea what the specific alloy is, but it is not magnetic.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice