Defarbing a Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 4

Defarbing a Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 4 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Sliding into home, almost…

By Dennis Adler

 “Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”

– Ralphie Parker, A Christmas Story

One little problem

Birchwood Casey Perma Blue works on most alloy components as shown with the frame. But…the slide on the Swiss Arms 1911A1 is a different alloy composition than the frame and the Perma Blue won’t color it. Now, I have not had this happen with other alloy slides going back to the Gletcher Makarov TT-33, which turned out perfectly. But whatever alloy combination Swiss Arms uses for the slide doesn’t work with Perma Blue, it just beads up into little blue droplets and does nothing. read more


Defarbing a Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 3

Defarbing a Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Antique or battlefield worn finish

By Dennis Adler

When we ended Part 2 the frame, slide and small parts had all been polished out. It is not a perfectly polished finish like a nickel gun; it is a gun in the white, a canvas upon which you can paint a picture of a much older and battle worn 1911A1.

Everyone says that you cannot use cold blue on aluminum alloy. And you can’t if you want a like-new blued finish. But if you want a worn, almost grey finish with blue tones, and some high edge wear, or a faded look, then you can use cold blue and a little gun oil to create a weathered finish. It works on steel, and it will work on a polished out zinc alloy air pistol.

Birchwood Casey Perma Blue worked perfectly on the polished alloy parts of the frame. I tested it on the grip safety first, and this is after one application and a light coating of gun oil to set the color.

The mix and the application

I used Birchwood Casey Perma Blue cold blue and gun oil on the polished grip safety as my test area to see what the finish would look like. If this finish remains consistent for the entire grip frame, then this combination will work as expected. Using cloth patches I applied the cold blue to the grip safety and watched it turn dark blue black and then haze to a dark grey, at which point I applied another patch with gun oil that set a rather well aged grey tone to the piece. It also left a little gloss. After rubbing it out with a clean patch I had a variegated blue grey part that looked old and faded. At this point I was satisfied with the look and completely disassembled the gun again to work on the individual parts. read more


Defarbing a Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 2

Defarbing a Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 2 Part 1 Part 3 Part 4

Taking off the matte finish, detailing small parts and cleanup

By Dennis Adler

Well it is a dirty job when you’re sanding off the matte black finish on the Swiss Arms 1911A1. I used a variety of sanding medium but mainly the 3M O11K Fine emory paper and 0000 steel wool, in that order. Here I am working off the finish on the grip frame.

The hardest part of this defarbing project with the Swiss Arms 1911A1 is the frame which takes the most time and effort to work around small corners, edges, and parts that are attached to the frame, such as the thumb safety. Once you have cleared this hurdle there remains only a few small separate parts to strip the finish from, and then it is time to do a thorough cleaning of all polished out parts, before removing the blue tape and cleaning out any debris that may have gotten past the tape and into moving parts. read more


Defarbing a Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 1

Defarbing a Swiss Arms 1911A1 Part 1 Part 2

Creating your own battlefield finish

By Dennis Adler

I picked the Swiss Arms 1911A1 because like several other blowback action models it is very close to the design of the c.1926 Model 1911A1, which still had the small thumb safety and original small military sights and spur hammer. The big change was a smaller trigger, checkered raised mainspring housing and longer grip safety spur. WWII models also were built with brown plastic grips, so the checkered plastic Swiss Arms grips are good. It is also a very affordable blowback action pistol at around $80.

Battlefield or weathered finishes are not nearly as desirable on collectible firearms as they have become on CO2 pistols copying vintage firearms. In fact, it would be safe to say that if every 19th or early 20th century based CO2 pistol was offered with a weathered finish, they would all be top selling airguns. Alas, only a few select models get the ageing process and the rest are produced in like new (or matte) finishes that seldom look like the originals except for nickel plated models. Defarbing is a term used for removing all modern markings from a reproduction black powder gun and replacing them with the correct period marks (and often ageing or applying a custom finish). Manufacturer’s markings are also removed so all that remains are the serial numbers required by law. Over the years I have antiqued my share of black powder guns (and a few cartridge models) for articles in Guns of the Old West. The same process on a CO2 pistol is actually a little more difficult because even the best air pistols are made from cast alloy parts, which are a softer metal. This is great for engraving (as evidenced by the series of Colt Peacemaker and Schofield models engraved by Adams & Adams for Pyramyd Air over the last couple of years), but polishing out and refinishing an alloy pistol is a dirty job. And bluing a zinc alloy gun is no simple task, either. read more


Umarex S&W 586 Stocked Part 3

Umarex S&W 586 Stocked Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

The revolving Carbine-Pistol goes to work

By Dennis Adler

It is a totally different feel for a revolver when you mount a shoulder stock behind it. As a Carbine-Pistol you have a more secure hold and stable target picture.

Time has the effect of diminishing some things. Wear and age are not the same and most gun finishes wear unless meticulously stored, age is relative to the gun, what materials were used in its construction and the quality of the finish; some seem to be impervious to time, others can deteriorate whether they are used or not. Heavy use almost always brings about wear. Still we find 100 year old and even 150 year old pistols in excellent condition and similarly dated examples with worn finishes, broken, lost or replaced parts. This is not news to anyone who collects firearms or even follows the gun collecting hobby by looking at auction catalogs. Airguns have similar issues with the passing of time and most mechanical problems can be repaired. One of my original Umarex Walther CP99 pistols had to be sent in to have the seals replaced after 15 years. Another, now 18 years old, is as good as the day I got it. Both were stored the same and had about equal use. But, the diminishing effects of time on the finish and performance of a gun are not what I am most concerned with for this final chapter on the Umarex S&W Model 586-6; rather what happens to a model when it remains in production for an extended period of time. read more


Umarex S&W 586 Stocked Part 2

Umarex S&W 586 Stocked Part 2 Part 1

Lock, Stock, and Barrel

By Dennis Adler

When period era designs collide you can often get an interesting result. The idea of a shoulder stock on a revolver goes back to the Colt 3rd. Model Dragoon and 1851 Navy. Putting a shoulder stock on a contemporary revolver, however, is unusual, on a CO2 pellet-firing revolver, unique. The S&W combination is made in Germany by Umarex. MSRP for the 6-inch 586 is $269 and the shoulder stock $39.95 Total package MSRP comes to $308.95 but an “open box” gun and shoulder stock can cost as little as $240.

The S&W licensed Umarex S&W Model 586-6 is a hefty CO2 revolver based on S&W’s centerfire Model 586 Distinguished Combat Magnum, which was manufactured from 1981 to 1999. Just as the 586 Distinguished Combat Magnum was being phased out of the Smith & Wesson lineup, it was being introduced as an S&W licensed Umarex CO2 model. While this is counter to today’s manufacturing strategies which have centerfire and matching CO2 model at the same time for training purposes (or simply to make the airgun more desirable), this was seldom a driving force behind CO2 models back at the end of the 20th century. In fact, it was more common for a discontinued centerfire pistol to be resurrected as an airgun, but times change. And that occasionally leads to more interesting products. Such is the case with the Umarex S&W Model 586, a near 20 year-old design that is getting a new lease on life with the availability of an adjustable shoulder stock. read more


Umarex S&W 586 Stocked Part 1

Umarex S&W 586 Stocked Part 1

The revolving Carbine-Pistol has a history

By Dennis Adler

In 1855 the U.S. Cavalry was issued a large caliber, single shot U.S. Springfield pistol with a detachable shoulder stock. It was intended for combat at longer ranges than pistols, but more efficiently than the Model 1855 U.S. Springfield rifles being carried by the infantry.

When is a handgun not a handgun? When it is a Pistol-Carbine. The idea of taking a handgun and attaching a shoulder stock to the butt, thus making it more suitable for shooting accurately at greater distances goes as far back as the mid 1800s. One of the earliest and most successful designs was the .58 caliber, single shot, U.S. Springfield Model 1855 Pistol-Carbine, which was derived from the 1855 U.S. Springfield Rifled Musket. The Pistol-Carbine was designed by the U.S. Ordnance Department specifically for use by the cavalry, as it provided both a saddle pistol and, with the detachable stock, a carbine that was reasonably effective, both on horseback, or for dismounted cavalry. read more