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Education / Training Blue Wonder cold blue – Part 2

Blue Wonder cold blue – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The first report on the Blue Wonder cold bluing system sparked a nice discussion of cold blues in general. It was fun to read all the accounts of experiments with various cold bluing solutions. And, at the end of that report I promised you that I would return with more examples of what Blue Wonder can do. Today, we’ll see what else I was able to do with this stuff.

I tried to make the point in the first report that I’m not a good craftsman. I rush jobs, and I sometimes don’t follow all the directions to the letter. In the case of Blue Wonder, I did try to make an exception, but some of you felt I shouldn’t have used acetone as a degreaser before applying the blue. Still, I did it and the results stand.

Two different projects–let’s start with the first one
For today’s report I have two very different bluing projects. The first is a spot-blue job on an old rifle that is otherwise 98 percent blued. I own a nice little Remington Model 24 semiauto that I bought for $175 in a local gun store. The gun had been stored in a place where it was in contact with something hygroscopic that wicked moisture out of the air. According to the gun store salesman, the former owner had stored the rifle in a gun safe, so I will assume the safe has notched holders that are lined with open-celled foam. It’s a common story.

The barrel had rusted more than a little where it touched the foam. The former owner had removed all the rust, but the bluing went with it. The barrel has two large, unsightly areas of shiny metal surrounded by good, even bluing. The job is to cover those spots and bring them to the same deep blue as the area around them.

When the rust was removed from the barrel of this Remington model 24, the blue came with it.

The fix covered the shiny spots, but doesn’t blend into the rest of the rifle yet. Area coverage doesn’t work for spot jobs.

For this job, I tried something that I don’t recommend. On the BB gun job I did in Part 1, it appeared that the blue blended in with the blue that was already on the gun so you can’t tell where I worked. I had hoped that would also happen on this rifle, so I spread the blue solution much farther than just on the bright spots. That turned out to be a mistake, because the Blue Wonder mixed with the blue on the gun and darkened it. I would recommend using a cotton swab for a job like this and try to stay inside the spot.

To fix the job that now looks better than before but not yet good, I can try to blend the area in with the rest of the gun by carefully applying more solution at the edges of the patched part. Or I can try to remove the Blue Wonder with 0000 steel wool and start over. Or I suppose I could just darken the whole rifle to a much deeper shade. The value will not be affected no matter which course I take because the original two bright spots lowered the value of a $400 rifle to about $175. No amount of careful restoration can change that. But it’s always nice to have a smart-looking rifle, so I’ll try to fix it.

On to job No. 2
The second job is much larger. It involves bluing a brand new rifle barrel. A friend rebarreled an old .22 rimfire of mine with a .17 HM2 bull barrel he bought on eBay. He actually bought three barrels at the same time, and the first rifle he built for himself is a real tackdriver. He has managed a sub-0.20″ group at 50 yards and I have managed a 0.21″ group at the same distance. We both hope the barrel on my rifle will be as accurate.

The new barrel has no finish yet.

The barrel was polished fairly well when installed. I didn’t have to do a thing.

New barrel has a target crown.

Heating the whole barrel was a chore. I’m sure I didn’t get it as hot as it should have been, but it was warm to the touch when I went to work.

Once again, I used acetone to degrease the barrel and once again it seemed to work fine. As the blue went on, the barrel started out very splotchy and uneven. Some parts were still silver while others were getting black. But I kept on applying more and more bluing liquid, always remembering to shake the bottle before each application.

The front sight was a chore to get around, so I brought out the cotton swabs, which worked fine. The liquid really has to be forced into the corners to work evenly.

Have faith in the directions
The instructions say to use between 5 and 15 coats of bluing solution. I’m sure I used at least 15 this time. After the overall finish was dark, the metal started turning dull as the application dried, just like the other cold blues will do. But I had faith in the directions and stuck with it. Finally, I came to the point that no more uneveness could be seen. When that happened, I stopped applying the blue. I let it stand for a minute, then I wiped down the barrel and applied the developer. I let it develop for a full three hours before wiping off the remaining developer.

This job turned out great. It’s not perfect–there are a couple of uneven spots, but I can always come back and apply more blue later. The barrel looks like it has received a professional blue.

It’s difficult to see how deep and even this barrel blue is, but take my word for it–this is the best cold blue job I have ever seen.

Here’s a closeup, but it’s still difficult to see the depth and eveness of this blue job.

Even the muzzle got blued.

For a product to work this well in my hands, it must be as dummy-proof as it can be. I don’t know how well it will hold up, but Blue Wonder is the best cold bluing system to apply that I have ever seen or used. I may report on it again, as I have a couple other dogs that could stand a refinish.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

43 thoughts on “Blue Wonder cold blue – Part 2”

  1. B.B.

    Interesting report, but I have an off-topic comment.

    I just finished reading your piece in SHOTGUN NEWS TREASURY about the Wham-o guns.

    Have you considered the theory that what you call the "pirate" gun is actually meant to resemble a dueling pistol and the name "Hamilton" might refer to Alexander Hamilton, the most famous American to die in a duel, killed by the sitting vice president of the United States, Aaron Burr in 1804?

  2. BB,
    The Blue Wonder looks like it does a good job on the new smokeless jobs. I would think about it for my BP rifle, but the weekly switch b/t corrosive salts and hot water is ideal for a rust-based finish:).

    That .17 barrel looks like the one on my Savage (except its a .22). That whole rifle will be a sweet setup (although .22LR would be nicer with the peeps:)). .20" is some good shooting — I broke 3/8" with bulk ammo the other day, so time to burn some money on the good stuff. What is that rifle?

    Good catch. That one would pass right over the kiddie's heads these day, huh?

  3. PurcHawk,

    I have since discovered that is exactly what Wamo meant by using the Hamilton name. I have discovered that that gun and the Wamo Tommygun were both sold to the public. The Tommygun was called a Powermaster, like the other single-shot pistol.


  4. BG_Farmer,

    The rifle is a Hungarian "trainer" single-shot that was sold on the surplus market about 8-9 years ago. It's not the same as the Romanian rifle that was smaller and perhaps a little better. I think I paid $55 for the rifle and the .22 barrel can still be put back, should I want to.


  5. B.B.,

    The Blue Wonder sure looks good in the pictures. I am guessing that you removed the front sight before bluing the barrel. The color match between the sight and barrel looks perfect.

    Mr B.

  6. Kevin,

    Thanks for the imput about TKO. Talked with Mike T over the weekend. I've ordered a Stage V muzzle break and will let you know how it compairs to my Talon SS.

    Mr B.

  7. Has anyone here ever tried the slow rust blue system? It would seem to be a way to get a nice finish without a great deal of equipment, although the special salts seem a bit high.

  8. B.B.,

    Good job. A dowel in the end of the barrel makes a good handle when blueing.

    I had the most fun I've ever had with airguns this weekend.

    I hosted an airgun shoot at my home in the City yesterday. Met some great guys that are as sick about airguns as I am. Revelation. Vindication.

    I counted more than 50 airguns that were uncased for the shoot and I know alot more stayed at their homes.

    I got to shoot an FWB 300S, a Daystate MCT, a BSA ultra carbine,
    a tuned FWB 124 with custom tyrolean stock (I have to have a custom tyro stock now for my 124), a tuned R-8 with custom claro walnut stock, a diana 75 (this was a shooting experience!!), a Webley Tempest and more. My head was spinning shooting and fondling so many guns.

    I posted a few pictures here:


    I really want to thank you B.B. for the catalyst that you were in making this experience happen but I can't since I'm fearful of what yesterday afternoon is going to cost.


  9. Kevin,

    All I can say is wow, what an assortment of fine air rifles. When you do the next one, please try for some individual pictures of the guns–pretty wood and blued steel, always a treat for the eyes.

    Mr B.

  10. Thanks BB. I need this info. When my dad died I took over a couple old single shot shotguns he had hanging on the wall. They are not without rust and it looked like he tried to do a bluing job on the .410 but it looks terrible now. I think I have a project to look forward to. It's going to be messy I'm afraid because it looks like there is a coat of shiny stuff that looks like shellac on it, too.

    I have shot these guns but I don't feel comfortable with them. One is a .410 and the other is a 12 gauge. They are both older than me. I wish my memory was better but…I vaguely remember reading earlier in this blog something about breech or receiver or barrel fatigue that could cause injury. Do shotguns suffer this also and can a gunsmith detect it? I found where Matt61 posed a question about a Springfield center fire but I'm not sure he got an answer on whether gunsmiths can detect fatigue.


  11. Chuck,

    SOME guns have metallurgy issues. Old shotguns are seldom among them, EXCEPT FOR DAMASCUS TWIST BARRELS.

    Early Springfields had a heat treating problem that left some of them brittle.

    Shotguns operate around 11,000-13,000 psi. that's less than even revolvers. Only black powder is less, and it's not much less.

    Have your guns checked by a gunsmith.


  12. B.B.,

    A cell certainly is an appropriate catagory since I think we all belong in one.

    WOW these guys have airgun collections that make you slobber.

    We're still working on the official name for this group. Gaylords Gunner's…..Gaylord's Goonies. HMMMM..


  13. Kevin,

    Gaylord's Gunners sounds good to me.

    You need to recruit Cowboy Star Dad cause he is a photographer by trade, I do believe.

    Colonel Lentz–has a nice ring to it.

    Mr B.

  14. Off topic question. Our 4-H group uses several of the Daisy sporter grade target rifles with Lothar Walther barresls. These barrels are choke bored. Can you explain how these barrels are made, how rifling is installed (cut, button, hammer forged etc) and how they estalbish the choke boring? Thanks!

  15. B.B.

    Bluing job looks good to me.

    Did you say that Dieter Anschutz was a friend of yours? Is there any truth to the claim that Anschutz sends lower quality guns to America and keeps the best in Europe? That doesn't seem likely.

    My impression of German guns is that they offer high value for a high price. Although the Germans invented the Volkswagen, offering good, low-priced deals does not seem to be their goal now.


  16. BB & TwoTalon,
    I think my muzzleloader barrel has smoothed out now, and I think BB might have been right about .490 balls — they don't fit as tight as they did just 70 or 80 shots ago, patches don't hang anywhere in the bore, and the fired patches are not cut. Does this sound like a good time to switch to, or at least try, .495's? Accuracy has leveled off or even fallen off a bit.

    I'm going to market my "Amazola" bore lube (vegetable oil) — the fouling buildup is almost non-existent:). It usually gets swabbed b/t shots, but I went several shots and couldn't tell a difference; this may be related to the bore wearing in too, although I won't put that in the ad pitch:).

  17. Choke bore,

    There are several different ways to choke-bore a rifle using buttons. One way is to put a constricting girdle around the end of the barrel before pulling the button. After the button passes through the barrel the steel springs back to a small extent. If the girdle doesn't allow the metal to flex outward, it will flex to the inside, making the barrel diameter smaller.

    Another way, also using a button is to swage the outside of the barrel at the muzzle after it has been rifled.

    Each of these ways requires balancing the alloy being used for the barrel with the desired dimensions until the process is perfected.


  18. A question that's an offshoot from today's article:

    We now know that foam isn't a good material with which to line metal-touching surfaces in a gun safe.

    What is a preferred material? Yes, I have an old safe I plan to repurpose as a gun safe, and haven't yet made any decisions on the interior.

  19. BG_Farmer
    If it is loading smooth and easy, and the fired patches are intact….go ahead and try .495.

    Sometimes it will be just over the course of a few dozen shots (when using real black powder) that you will suddenly feel the change.

    You may anticipate that the best powder charge will have changed some. The pressure curve changes because of a change in bore friction. This does not seem to bother black powder as much as it does with the "substitute" powders, but in general will tend to need just a bit more powder to keep in the best pressure range for a consistent burn.

    Start with the same load with the larger ball. You may need to use a slightly thinner patch. If adjusting the load for test, try up and down by 10 gr. , then by up/down 5 gr. to fine tune.

    It will continue to "season" and polish over time, but I think you have the worst of it rubbed out.


  20. TwoTalon,
    Thanks, I'll keep powder charge in mind when I try the .495's and (if necessary) different patches. Last time I tried, 60, 65, and 70 gr. were best and pretty much identical groups from the bench, although I convinced myself that 60 was slightly better (and noticeably milder than 70). I hope my new best load isn't 110gr…:).

  21. BG_Farmer
    No, it won't be a max load. In fact your loads would be a bit low for black powder. Have no idea what you are shooting, but all the powders are different.
    Also how hard you seat the ball makes a lot of difference too….try to remain consistent.


  22. Anyone,

    do you know if pyramid air ships to massachusetts or not? there is really no legal reason to prevent them, but a lot of companies still won't due to the stricter gun control laws.


  23. pbandj,

    You can figure this out. Look at any page, including the home page. Scroll down the page and look on the left side for the Warning sign.

    "Warning! You Must Be 18 Years Or Older…"

    The link to the state-by-state restrictions is at the bottom of the box around this warning.


  24. I just read the state by state airgun restrictions BB referenced. Wow. Interesting how our current 'leaders' have interpreted "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" to mean no slingshots! Dennis the Menace had better watch out, lest he end up in the pokey. People will willingly give up every freedom for the illusion of security.

    To All: Join the NRA and VOTE!

  25. Slinging Lead,
    You know all those places had laws against doing bad things with slingshots and (gasp, horror) dart guns, etc., before, but they were "unenforcable", so they just outlawed everything. I'm sure everything is safe in those area's now. I, on the other hand, can hardly sleep at night knowing there are kids nearby with arsenals of BB gun "assualt rifles" and stockpiles of "lethal" darts and slingshots:).

  26. Kevin,

    It looks like you had a terrific time in your airgun meetin'. My 'airgun gang' is celebrating soon its 1st birthday 🙂

    C'mon, tell me that you have a closer photo of that famous Tyrolean-stocked Fwb 124 ! !

    Greetings from the land of tequila and wide-eyed women

  27. BB,

    Nice work with the bluing. It really does look like a hot blue. Please let us know how it hold up and if you get any of the rusting that's so common with other cold blues after a week or so. It'd be interesting to see if it holds up on a break barrel.


    Looks like a great time. Thanks for sharing the pics. What a great idea to ruin your bank account and max all your credit cards! Actually a really cool way to shoot some guns you'd otherwise never get to try.

  28. Anthony,

    No close ups of any guns. My fault. Too distracted with shooting, guns and bs. Great guys.

    I'm not a fan of laminated stocks but the grey laminated stock on that daystate was stunning. FT stock with numerous adjustments, led read out on the gun, beeped all the time while shooting, star wars type rig. Beyond me.

    Won't publish a picture of the fwb 124 with tyro stock since it's one of a kind and might be recognized. I don't need any competition trying to wrangle that from his hands. ;^)


  29. derrick38,

    Ahhh, you figured out my plan. Everyone was so courteous and grateful for the event but as I told them one and all it was a selfish venture on my part to get to see, hold and shoot guns.

    It backfired though. I want a few more guns now.


  30. Why aren't any barrels being made of stainless steel? I know that the hardness and brittleness of the steel is important in a barrel, but surely this is less of a factor in airguns?

  31. Good question. Don't know the answer. Maybe cost is a factor, as airguns do cost more than firearms to make.

    It might have to do with the lower volumes of the build with airguns.

    And there would be no advantage to stainless, since airguns don't need to be cleaned and don't typically rust as much as firearms. But maybe for the pneumatics?


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