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Nickel Plated Revolvers


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Hi All,

 

Wife and I are just starting to get all of our gear together to start CAS and we were looking at several types of revolvers as far as finish is concerned. I'm familiar with blued and stainless weapons, however, know nearly nothing about the durability of Nickel Plating. 

 

Is nickel plating viable as far as wear is concerned for this game/sport? My goal is to be competitive while my wife just wants to play the game for the time being, don't know if that would have an effect on the wear of the firearms as we will both be shooting the same guns for the foreseeable future. 

 

Thanks for the inputs!

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Nothing wrong with nickel plated guns. It's a hard, durable finish. Just use some caution when cleaning.  Some of the super oils will get under the nickel and lift it.  

 

1843495800_ColtFSSbullseyeNov2020.jpg.ec7c2b353523f657ac964ed8a0ec4d40.jpg

 

My Frontier Six Shooter 44WCF made in 1883.

 

684885606_ColtSAA45ColtxDec2018.jpg.07883a987d36901786293646b9a8525c.jpg

 

My second generation Colt SAA 45Colt made in 1977.

 

 

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Nickle plating was originally used as it was more resistant to rusting than blued or browned guns back in the day.  Originally, guns to be nickled were first copper-plated, with the nickle being applied over the copper.  As to durability of more recently nickled guns, I haven't seen any studies, but I would think that the kind of use to which we put guns in CAS.  If you like the shiny finish, why not go with stainless steel?

Stay well and safe, Pard!

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You will find old blued guns from the West often in much better shape than original nickel-plated guns.  Even without much use, the nickel was VERY prone to bubbling and flaking off.   If you find a nickeled gun, quite often it has already been re-plated at least once.   So, the reputation for nickel being very fragile and flakey has come from performance on guns from the late 1800s and 1900s.  That reputation means the value of nickel plated guns is lower than even blued guns.

 

In cowboy shooting, there's a lot of drawing revolvers and reholstering.  That will wear the plating pretty quick.   Just like it wears the bluing on blued guns.

 

Choose stainless for a low maintenance, shiny firearm.  Or take a blued gun and have it hard-chrome plated.  Not "bumper plating," but industrial plating which has better hardness and durability than the steel it's applied to.

 

If you absolutely want plated guns, stay away from EVER using an ammonia-containing bore cleaner (like original Hoppes #9) around them.  That attacks the copper under-plating layer and loosens the nickel plating quickly.

 

good luck, GJ

 

 

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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While SS, nickle & chrome plated Ruger, Colt & SAA clones are cool looking; in bright sunlight it is difficult to pick-up the rear sight notch.  I had to paint the rear sight black on my 3 SS Vaqueros.

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5 hours ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

 

If you absolutely want plated guns, stay away from EVER using an ammonia-containing bore cleaner (like original Hoppes #9) around them.  That attacks the copper under-plating layer and loosens the nickel plating quickly.

 

 

 

 

GJ beat me to it.

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5 minutes ago, Smokin Gator SASS #29736 said:

I'm just curious about what cowboy guns you are running across that are actually nickel plated? I know some are out there but you're really limiting your choices.

There are a few Ubertis online in nickel. I'm not locked in to nickel, although I prefer it over SS. SS looks unfinished to me personally. 

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Nickel plated was the most popular way to go at the turn of the century with firearms, (1900) and lasted until stainless steel hit the market. WD40 is not a rust preventative, just a lubricant. I did a test years ago putting a WD40 sprayed 40D nail in a water jar and a Rem Oil sprayed nail in the same manner. The WD40 started rusting within just a few days while the Rem oil never rusted in the water.

 

Edited by Highwall
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43 minutes ago, Highwall said:

Nickel plated was the most popular way to go at the turn of the century with firearms, (1900) and lasted until stainless steel hit the market. WD40 is not a rust preventative, just a lubricant. I did a test years ago putting a WD40 sprayed 40D nail in a water jar and a Rem Oil sprayed nail in the same manner. The WD40 started rusting within just a few days while the Rem oil never rusted in the water.

 

The WD means water displacing. 

OLG 

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Remember that repair work on the outside of a nickeled gun will stick out like a sore thumb unless the gun is stripped, rebuffed and replated.  Almost sounds like your wife could be well served by a nickeled gun (minimal modifications down the road), whereas you would be better off with stainless or blue.

 

The popularity of a nickel plated gun in the black powder era was due to trying to prevent rusting (when the guns were not cleaned well after firing).  Now I hope we all know that any gun shot with BP needs to be cleaned in a timely manner, then re-oiled.   Cleaning is actually better at protecting firearms from BP corrosion than nickel plating.

 

Stainless can be buffed to the same high polish as nickel.  Ruger produces revolvers in either matte or buffed stainless,   Nickel has a slight golden tone in it's color, while stainless does not.

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Other than the possible problems listed above with nickel plated firearms, there is also the resale value. Many people will pass up nickel plated guns due to the flaking issue as they have no idea as to how the firearm finish was treated. I, personally, will pass on a nickeled gun just for this very reason unless it's a steal of a deal.

I know, I know...."I'll never sell this gun". I've heard it many times, I've said it myself. Truth is, sooner or later, that gun(s) will be sold or passed on. 

 

Go with blued or stainless and don't look back.

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Okay, I use Simple Green and hot water to clean my nickel guns.

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12 minutes ago, DeaconKC said:

Okay, I use Simple Green and hot water to clean my nickel guns.

Well I used Simple Green when I rebuilt my motorcycle engine and got a whitish corrosion on many of the parts. It wouldn't start until I got rid of it all.

Although I don't think any of the parts were nickel plated.

 

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Simple Green cleaner is banned from US Military aircraft cleaning (and probably any aluminum cleaning) since it is corrosive to aluminum.  Has been known to be so since at least 2001.  Of course, Nickel plating is not Aluminum.  But I'd consider it off limits myself.  Use tested gun cleaners on firearms - they are too expensive to damage trying to save a few bucks a year.

 

good luck, GJ

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