Posted 10 March 2011 - 03:42 PM
It is becoming harder and harder to find a firearms refinisher who does quality bluing and plating. I used to be in the business back in the 70s. The chemicals involved in bluing and plating are highly corrosive and toxic and the environmental regulations regarding use, storage and disposal have put most of the small guys out of business in the last 25 years.In bluing the temperature of the various baths are critical to the quality of the finish but the real test of a craftsman is how well he can polish metal. This is an art that is not easily mastered. Using compound and a polishing wheel to make the gun bright is only part of the equation. The real trick is to maintain the sharp lines and not dish out screw holes while polishing. Having a bad polish job round the sharp edges and dished screw holes is worse than having worn finish because it can't be repaired once the damage is done. Most plating on firearms is done by the electrolysis plating method which plates more evenly with less risk of changing tolerances critical to hand gun function. Prior to plating the gun must be cleaned thoroughly and then dunked in nitric acid prior to going into the plating tank so that the plating adheres well to the metal.Guns or parts made of alloy metal including zinc and aluminum can not be successfully plated using the above method as they tend to disappear in a cloud of toxic red smoke when placed in nitric acid. I know from practical experience.I would contact Brownell's and see if they still do bluing and plating. They will stand behind their work and not botch the job. You might want to look into some of the spray and bake finishes. They hold up well but they will never come close to that deep blue-black finish that came from the factory on your S&W 19-3. Regardless of who you choose to do the work, ask to see a couple of examples of his work. Look at the sharp edges around the cylinder flutes, the edges of the screw holes and any engraving or lettering. If the lines and edges are not sharp, find somebody else to do the work. If the gun is pitted and not just a little rusty or discolored, it should be striped and bead blasted and then re-blued or plated for a nice satin finish that won't show up any remaining pits. Be sure that who ever does the work glass bead blasts or soda blasts the work, not sandblast. Bead blasting actually dents the metal to achieve the satin look. Soda blasting is very slightly abrasive and leaves a light satin finish. Sand blasting is to abrasive as it actually cuts the metal leaving microscopic sharp edges. After bluing or plating, these fine sharp edges will burnish quickly from entering and exiting a holster and will leave bright spots in the finish.I would look into replacing the trigger and sear on your gun because they have probably been honed down to a dangerous state if the gun will go off when cocked without pulling the trigger. (Or if the gun won't cock the trigger and hammer may have been replaced, or came with a DAO set.) The mainspring tension screw may have been filed down and the trigger spring shortened to lighten the trigger pull. I you are not experiencing any light hits (misfires) then that is not a problem and is a common technique used to lighten the DA trigger pull.You just got my unsolicited 2 cents worth.
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