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Why get a rifle in the white?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by C Younger, Dec 28, 2020.

  1. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    I’ve recently got the itch to buy a Winchester or replica 1873 in .357 magnum. Been looking on gun broker and found some beautiful rifles in blue, color case, and in the white. I like the looks of the bare steel, but wonder why it is offered. I could understand if it was sold as a kit or something where the finish could be applied later as part of a project. However, these are beautiful guns with perfectly finished wood, and usually cost another $100 or $200 over a color case or blued gun. It seems that leaving them in the white would be asking for rust. The only thing I can come up with is allowing the bare steel to develop a patina over time which, I have to admit, has some appeal to me. Do any of you have experience in this that could maybe offer some perspective on why one would pay more for a seemingly unfinished rifle?
     
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  2. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    For some reason, this is a thing. I never understood it and would only ever order a gun in the white to have it engraved and/or finished in a way that they do not offer.
     
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  3. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    I've seen some Pietta cap 'n' balls marketed under an OLD SILVER moniker that were left in the white with a high polish. In fact I have an 1851 like this. I believe they are given a surface treatment to help maintain the pretty, but I suspect they're still likely more prone to tarnish or rust than blued or nickel plating.
    I think CraigC might be right; they're a good base for some nice engraving, or similar surface treatment that a buyer might do himself.

    I've never seen any lever-action rifles in the white myself. I've seen a photo of a stainless steel Rossi R92 here and it is a nice looking gun .... but not really my "cup of tea" ("to each his own").

    As to being pricier.....maybe extra polishing costs more? I don't really know. Sometimes niche market products just do cost more because of supply and demand laws.

    In the 19th century, Winchester, and some other, would happily produce a gun to a special order if the customer paid. Teddy Roosevelt ordered rifles like this. One offering was nickel or silver plating which gave the rifle a nice bright reflective ability.

    As an aside, I recall watching a tv western when the main character got in a gunfight with an opponent with such a nice shiny rifle. He didn't kill the bad guy, but snarkIy explained to him how easy it was for him to know where he was; the nice bright sun reflecting off his pretty 1892 Winchester.
     
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  4. George P

    George P Member

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    You sure it is in the white and not a silver nitride finish? Many shotguns are done that way.
     
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  5. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    For the record I wouldn't want one in the white. But I can understand the appeal for some people. Over time carbon steel will develop a patina and look quite attractive. There are ways to speed up the process.

    I'm more familiar with this on knives. I actually like the appearance of many older knives and have seen newer knives treated with a mixture of mustard and lemon juice to speed up the process. I have attempted it on a couple, but they didn't turn out as nice as these examples.

    I don't think this would look bad at all on a rifle. Depending on how you apply the mixture of lemon juice and mustard you can get some interesting patterns. It is really just another form of bluing. When you blue a rifle it is a form of rust.

    smith-and-sons-honcho-original-patina-d2-natural-micarta-fixed-blade-32.jpg


    maxresdefault.jpg

    P1010001_5a245ef2-9094-4326-8367-2167681c0d3c_1024x1024.jpg
     
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  6. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    its for the same reason that some car makers a few years ago were selling cars in primer finish, and thats that they like the look. Some people will try to do the old browning finish, some people with just take it to be painted, others want it to look pretty, but most don't appreciate how much rust is a problem. Stainless is better, but ultimately some people just want their life to be harder than it needs to be. I believe the origin of this was that you would have it professionally polished and blued by a gunsmith, and the factory didn't want to establish the channel to do this.
     
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  7. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    CDNN offered several high-grade levers in the white over the years... they do cost a bunch!

    I’d like a stainless .44, lever to compliment my 1894 Trapper .44, but I’m not in any real hurry to fill that niche.

    Stay safe.
     
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  8. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    "in the white"
    polished steel?
    stainless steel?
    white finish (like silver nitride mentioned by George P)?
    A link to an ad might help.

    The only time I have seen a gun offered "in the white" (steel with no finish) was for users intending to do a custom finish on the steel.
     
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  9. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    Not the OP but example: https://www.gunbroker.com/item/887446893

    Uberti has always offered them, special order or something. They at least are normal guns, that then get disassembled and the finish buffed off. I know nothing of the Winchester made ones.

    I also never quite got /why/ people do this. Best I can surmise is people like the stainless look, but it's not available so they just go with no finish. Much like oil blue, you have to keep it regularly oiled and wiped down, or it'll rust, but that's (reportedly) little difference from factory blue so... I guess?
     
  10. George P

    George P Member

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    That seems like one good reason; another might be if someone wanted someone like Turnbull to do a bone and charcoal case coloring job
     
  11. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    I have no idea, pure guess. But, it was common for muzzle loaders to be browned rather than blued. I have a rather expensive Hatfield replica finished that way
     
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  12. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    If they are disassembled and the finish removed, that would explain the higher cost. Sounds pretty labor intensive.
     
  13. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    I love the look of browned guns. They really look more antique.
     
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  14. Mars5l

    Mars5l Member

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    I think that 1873 Winchester on Gunbroker looks damn good that way. Id totally get one like that if upkeep wasn't so involved
     
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  15. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    Here are some screenshots. The top one is clearly an unfinished gun as it doesn’t include sights. It is also about the same price as a finished gun.

    The second one is finished but advertised as a “white rifle” rather than “in the white”. I visited Taylor’s and Company’s web sight and they say it’s a heat treated finish that requires the same care as blued steel. It is more expensive than other 1873 replicas.

    So I guess that explains it; the Taylors is finished but the Winchester is incomplete, probably for custom finishing like some of you have suggested.

    I like stainless guns, not for their looks, but for their lower maintenance. If they made a stainless 1873, I’d be willing to pay a little more.
    067AAECA-2F8C-42C0-AEC3-606F637878D1.png C7A035ED-09FD-4FE2-8A94-DAEB64521F9F.png
     
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  16. Offfhand

    Offfhand Member

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    There are very practical reasons for getting a rifle or any other firearm in the "white." As mentioned in previous posts. One main reason being that the final finishing, especially fitting stocks, may mar or damage, a final blue finish. Custom stockmakers almost always prefer unfinshed metal as it is difficult to avoid touching metal with wood finishing rasps, files and sandpaper. This "white" barreled action will not be blued until the new stock has been final fitted. . DSC_1562 (2).JPG DSC_1567.JPG DSC_1545 (2).JPG
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2020
  17. Bill Raby

    Bill Raby Member

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    Not sure about Winchesters, but many older guns were sold with no metal finish. That was very common for early military guns. Highly polished steel is no more likely to rust than blued steel. Browned steel is a finish that is just plain old rust with the loose rust removed and is very durable.You have to remove any polish before doing it. You have a hard time getting it to rust if it is too polished. Over time will naturally develop a patina that is fairly rust proof. These guns are likely sold with intention of being left bare instead of having customer put a finish on it. If intention was for the customer to finish the metal I would think that the wood would also be unfinished.
     
  18. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    As much as I like the looks of a good brown patina, I’ll probably end up with a color case finish, which is my absolute favorite. The only thing better is a color case finish with some holster wear around the edges.

    Thanks for the different perspectives on why they might sell these in the white or with a white finish. It’s just been something I’ve been curious about.
     
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  19. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    The top image looks like those in a CDNN ad.
    Stay safe.
     
  20. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    This is slightly off-topic, but there are also historical reasons for some arms being in the white, like the US 1861 Springfield rifle musket or the French M1873 Ordnance Revolver. That's just the way they were issued.

    German Gewehr 98 rifles (and many Mauser contract rifles for other countries) also originally had receivers and bolts with a white case-hardened finish, though many were later blued during refurbs. This is an actual finish, like the 'coined' finish found on many fine shotguns -- basically a polished variation on color case hardening. The result looks like bare metal but possesses some measure of rust-resistance.

    http://www.hallowellco.com/coin_fin...h generally refers to,, dull gray steel color).
     
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  21. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

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    If it’s really in the white, the natural oxidation will give it a dirty grey patina eventually. If you were to hurry this up by judicious applications of a cloth soaked in something mildly acidic, the result might be a gun that looks like it’s in fantastic original condition after having been well loved and used for a hundred years.
     
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