A few weeks ago I was exercising a periodical look and touch of my shooting equipment and noticed some shiny metal starting to show on a few of my firearms. You know the kind of wear I am referring to, those places where the blue has worn thin.
I noticed some shinny places at the end of the barrels on a couple of my long guns and when I looked along the angles on the receiver of my automatic shotgun I could see where use has worn through the blue there also. It just must be my imagination, but the blue job on my newer guns does not seem to hold up as well as that on the older models. Certainly the manufacturers would not trade off quality of finish for more cost-effective, mass production methods. Before my sarcasm starts to show through let me move on.
After checking over my guns it came to my mind that I should suggest that it is a good idea to periodically perform a complete inspection on your firearms and not just forget about them until next fall right before hunting season.
As you are checking the metal parts of your firearms, beside the worn blue areas that are starting to show, you may also see some rust starting to peak through the blue finish in a few areas. This is more apt to occur if you leave your long guns in a closed case like the type used for transporting them on hunting trips and moisture can accumulate creating an environment favorable to the creation of oxidation. A similar situation can occur on handguns left in holsters or carrying cases and hunting knives if they are left in a sheath.
On the areas where the rust is just starting to peak through the blued surface you might try a little toothpaste on a soft rag and gentle rub the affected area. Toothpaste has a very fine abrasive in it and will usually remove the rust without damaging the blue. Of course if the rust is too far advanced or if you put a little too much muscle into the rubbing you can remove the blue, especially on newer firearms.
Now if you have an old firearm with a badly worn finish rebluing can easily cost more than the gun is worth and it will also ruin the value of a collectable firearm. What I am addressing is simply trying to offer a quick fix on a few shinny areas of the steel portions of you gun.
One thing a person has to remember when trying to touch up the finish of a modern firearm is that not all-metal parts of a modern firearm are made of steel. In fact they may not be metal at all. Plastics are being used more every day in making everything we come into contact with, including gun parts. The best way I know of to check to see if a part is in fact steel is with a magnet. Unless a magnet sticks to the part there is no point trying to use a touch-up blue made for steel.
There are a number of good products on the market that will help to blend those shinny spots and areas that time and use have caused. The one I have had the best luck with is Brownells 44-40 instant gun blue. For touch-up all you need to do is remove the grease and blend in the color.
One of the most important steps is the cleaning process. For best results remove all of the grease, oil, and crude from the area to be touched up before applying the instant blue. To accomplish this there are numerous products on the market that will help, but one that I have found to be the quickest and easiest is automotive brake parts cleaner. It is a trichloroethane-based solvent similar to Brownell’s degreaser and a whole lot easier to find locally. Any automobile parts house can accommodate you. Of course it will give you cancer in California (it says so on the container) but I have safely used in for years in Texas. Whatever you do, do not use a rust and blue remover.
Another product that works is denatured alcohol, but it will not remove silicone-based oils. Hot soapy water is hard to beat, however some dishwashing soap have lanolin or some other oils in them nullifying the cleaning process as far as our purpose is concerned.
So I would suggest you get some brake parts cleaner and clean the area real well by spraying it on and wiping off the area with a clean cotton cloth or cotton ball. If the area is a little rough lightly go over it with 0000 steel wool and clean it with the brake parts cleaner a final time. Then you can apply the blue according to the instructions, oil it when finished and you should be good for a few more years before you have to address the area again.
When you see how good the touch-up will look you will undoubtedly go through your gun cabinet and become a touch-up fanatic, but that is Ok too.