Gun Restoration and Bluing FAQs

Colorado Gun Restoration can assist with any of your firearm restoration projects, whether it’s bluing, checkering, stock repair, or barrel boring. Restoration of a rifle, shotgun, or handgun is a very personal decision and most customers have a lot of questions. We’ve answered some of the more frequently asked questions below for your convenience.

How bad does a gun have to be before cannot be restored?

If a gun was sitting at the bottom of a lake for 100 years then restoration is probably not a viable option.  With the right tools, a laser engraver, new barrel liner, and machines to re-make worn or broken parts, most guns can be restored.  The limiting factor is usually the cost vs. the value of the gun.  Most chose to restore because the gun has personal value and is to be retained for generations to come and enjoy.

Is a pitted barrel dangerous to shoot?

Generally the gun fires fine and the bullet exits the barrel without the pitting causing a safety concern for the shooter.  I have test fired 44-40’s that send bullets end over end, only to keyhole in the target.   Although generally ok to shoot with light to moderate pitting in a barrel, the location the bullet hits is often a mystery there for it cannot be said that this is a safe practice.  It’s always best to reline a bore if the gun is intended to be used as a shooter. 

Is cold bluing the same as hot bluing?

No.  Hot bluing is exactly that, hot.  Only this process gives the even, long term protection of a true bluing job.  The salts are 280F and 305F respectively in the 2 tanks.  Most guns that were factory blued between the 1930’s and today, were hot blued.  With the 2 tank Dulite system we operate, all parts go in the lower temp first to initiate the bluing process.  As we move them to the hotter tank, the hardened steel and nickel steel parts, such as all early Winchester barrels, will be purple/red in color.  The 305F tank will turn this purple/ red to a consistent black so that all parts match.  Running a bluing room is nasty job and the reason it’s becoming harder and harder to find gunsmiths that provide this service. Additionally, the salts are very expensive, especially when you have 2 tanks.  Each tank takes 50 pounds of special bluing salt mixed 7 gallons of water.  The oil used to seal gun after bluing is $50 a gallon.  Often you can find guns with red parts that look a little bit out of place.  This is because they were blued with a 1 tank system to save money.  We put every part through our 2 tank system which is considered the Cadillac of bluing.

Is restoring a gun expensive?

The cost generally starts at $150 for a simple bluing with no refinishing work.  The average cost for refinishing a gun is between $300-$800 when using original parts but can trend higher when custom features are added, barrel relining required, or when extensive laser engraving is needed.  Every gun is different and requires a break down to evaluate the true condition.   Detailed pictures are a great start towards creating an estimate of costs.

How long does it take to restore a gun?

One of the most limiting time factors of a restoration is refinishing the wood.  Sanding wet coats of oil and letting them properly dry is a time consuming job that requires patience, a keen eye and lots of practice.  This take between 3-6 weeks depending the level of finish requested, therefore is most often the determining timeline when refinishing a gun.  As noted before, bluing is a terrible job for anyone stuck in an acid vapor filled area that is about 130F; therefore is only done once or twice a month.  Combined, 6 weeks is a good estimate of restoration time required once the project is started.

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