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Preferred finish for new Colt with BP loads

Tom Bullweed

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I am looking into a new set of Colt SAA's dedicated for BP and BP-subs in .38WCF.

I like the look of nickel but I want some experienced cowboys to send some wisdom my way about how the nickel finish will hold up versus the blued/CC. Any difference in how these two finishes are cleaned?

I typically shoot APP powders with regular lubed bullets.

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Never liked Nickle,,, for guns ,,,,,,,,, but polished Stainless has the shine of Nickle with-out the chipping ....


I perfer Blued and Cased ....



Jabez Cowboy

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Modern blue is very robust. It is much more robust than the blues used on steel 100 years ago. As long as you clean your guns in a reasonable amount of time, you will have no problems with Black Powder and blued guns. Black Powder fouling is not as corrosive as many shooters believe. Once we stopped using corrosive primers much of the problems of corrosion with Black Powder fouling went away. The colors of Case Hardening are a bit of a different story. The colors are actually a bit fragile. They tend to fade with time. They can also fade from harsh chemicals and sunlight. You can even remove the colors with vinegar. The steel will still be hard, but the colors will be gone.


Here is a photo of the case colors on one of my Colts. This is a late 2nd Gen Colt, made in 1973. I have shot it with nothing but Black Powder for the last 5 or 6 years. I also do not clean the gun right after shooting it, so it has been a bit of a Black Powder torture test gun. You can still see the colors, but they have faded a bit. They were not brilliant when I bought the gun, but they have faded a bit more with heavy use. The blue also has a little bit of wear at the muzzle, but that has nothing to do with the Black Powder, it is just honest holster wear.


Colt Case Hardening


I don't have a whole lot of experience with Black Powder and nickel plated guns. I have shot my nickel plated S&W New Model Number Three in two matches so far, and intend to shoot it more. But I baby this gun and clean it immediately after shooting it.


New Model #3


New Model #3


One thing to be aware of with Nickel Plated guns is to stay away from any solvent that has ammonia in it. The ammonia can attack the copper layer underneath the nickel and cause the nickel to peel.


As far as cleaning is concerned, it makes no difference what the metal is or what the finish is. Clean them the same. Just use a water based BP solvent and you will be fine.


Let me add that there is a misconception that Stainless is easier to clean than blued guns. Not true. What matters is how polished the finish is. Any texture to the finish gives fouling a place to cling, requiring more elbow grease to remove it. But if the surface is highly polished, it does not matter if it is blued steel, stainless, or nickel plated. They all require the same amount of elbow grease to clean.

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