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Thread: refinish or leave it alone,colt 1908 hammerless 380

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    Chad5005's Avatar
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    refinish or leave it alone,colt 1908 hammerless 380

    I have one in good firing order,all the factory finish is gone,with a few small spots of minor pitting

  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    If it were mine, I'd refinish it. But I'd use no wheels, only hand polishing to keep the edged and lettering sharp. The slide looks like it might be challenging to get all the pitting, but keep the lettering.

    I would also rust blue it, hot blue can look good with a proper polishing job, but a rust blue is way classier.

  4. #4
    Vendor Sponsor Bantou's Avatar
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    I second the rust blue. IMHO an old gun looks better when it shows a little wear and tear.


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  5. #5
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    refinish is my vote... in my eyes, it doesn't look aged, it looks deteriorating.. time for some work on a fine weapon... no offense meant
    Any technology not understood, can seem like Magic!!!

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markopolo View Post
    refinish is my vote... in my eyes, it doesn't look aged, it looks deteriorating.. time for some work on a fine weapon... no offense meant
    none taken,it was in this shape when I got it,ive just kept it oiled and put up mostly but its time to do something with it,i do like the rust bluing and im in the process of redoing a boy scout jr 14 1/2 and was planning rust bluing on the barrel and action on it lol I ment little scout
    Last edited by Chad5005; 03-08-2020 at 01:30 AM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Hi Chad, all good advice given in previous posts. One of my favorite subjects, "To re-blue or not to re-blue, that is the question", as I used to be in the business. Your photos show what I would term "serious pitting". A true restoration of the gun by a professional would run more than the gun is worth, so unless you have some extra uncommitted dollars in your savings account, you're pretty much forced to do it yourself.

    So, the question arises, what do you want it to look like when finished? It will all depend on how much effort you are willing to expend. For the most part it is a relatively simple job, but as previously noted it will require a lot of hand sanding and polishing. The object should be to remove all of the pitting, and that can only be done by taking the surface down to the bottom of the pits, which involves removing quite a bit of metal. As the gun has mostly flat surfaces this makes it easier, but the rounded edges of the slide are the exception. You can remove most of the pits by draw filing the surface, then finishing up with various grits of wet & dry sandpaper until you have the level of polish you desire. Of course you'll want to stay off of the lettering and markings, so if pitting exists in those locations there isn't much you can do. Once you start one of these projects you pretty much have to see it through to the end. It's very labor intensive and if you stop short of doing a complete job it will be very noticeable.

    Rust bluing would present a better appearance on this firearm than would hot bluing. But, whichever type you choose it will accentuate any pits that are remaining. Bluing will not hide pits. Some of the modern spray and/or bake finishes will fill in pits with material, but the end result appearance is not like bluing. It is inevitable that the pistol will look refinished to a knowledgeable person who looks at it closely, and that usually reduces the value of the pistol significantly, but yours is at the point that there isn't much to lose and you might actually increase the value a bit.

    You can expect to spend about 2-3 hours after work on most days for about a month working on this if done entirely by hand to get good results. That's how long it took me to do this Luger, which was in similar condition to your Colt. This was hot blued after hand polishing. There are many curved and rounded surfaces that proved to be tricky to polish.

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    Here's an Argentine .45 that was hand polished. The surfaces, like your pistol, are mostly flat.

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    Be sure to come back with a couple of photos of your finished project.

    DG

  8. #8
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    I'd say if it came from a family member...or has some sentimental value...then leave it as is, clean it up, make it functional and have fun with it.

    If you purchased it this way and have no emotional attachment to it's history...make it pretty with a restoration job. That's how I fly with my firearms.

    I've got some family guns that will never be refinished...they are sweaty...and have some dings...but they are part of my family history. I have others that I purchased and use hard...these get refinished when they start looking a bit rough.

    redhawk

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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I bought this gun this way and have no attachment,ill probably rust blue it,im retired,got ran over on my Harley and it paralyzed me so I have plenty of time to sand and polish on it when im not loading boolits,casting,hunting or fishing Thanks for all the advice

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    If you tackle the project and need some pointers feel free to ask. Many will be willing to help.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Der Gebirgsjager View Post
    If you tackle the project and need some pointers feel free to ask. Many will be willing to help.
    Thank you Sir,ive always found great people here

  12. #12
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    I had one like that I found in my great aunt's house when she died.

    I took it apart and put it on a surface grinder at work. I precision ground .001" off of each side of the frame and each side of the slide. When I got thru the serial number was intact but the rampant pony was wiped out.

    The surface grinder put a better surface on the frame and slide than the original finish.

    I used it a while like that with it left un-blued. A gunsmith traded me out of it and turned it over to his wife who was an engraver. It got about a 50% engraving coverage and then it was silver plated. Someone wound up with a pretty special old Colt.
    EDG

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy Randy Bohannon's Avatar
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    You will ruin any kind of collector value despite its worn finish. It’s an honest gun leave it alone and it’s worth more.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Personally I would polish and brown it. It would look aged with the freckles, but it would look better than it does. And shoot it a lot, because it's a shooter grade gun.

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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    it does shoot good for a 380,it likes round nose bullets,i haven't loaded or cast for a 380

  16. #16
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    I have an alternative idea. I got two CZ82's in a deal a few years back. CZ's are all painted and the paint had chipped off beyond repair. There was some minor pitting here and there in the places where the paint had been missing for along time.

    After complete disassembly I steel grit blasted all the parts. This stripped the paint completely and blended the pitting into the surrounding areas so that you really couldn't tell where they were.

    I then painted the parts with Cera-Kote. It came out perfect and the finish is "on there!"

    I realize most would rather see a blued finish on your gun, but really it is too far gone for a reblue without some serious TLC that you probably aren't capable of doing and can't afford to have done.

    If the gun has sentimental value then clean it up as best you can soak it in oil and leave it alone. If it doesn't then the Cera-Kote Treatment is very doable, adn will look nice when done. It is VERY EASY to apply !

    Randy
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  18. #18
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    I'm with the refinish. When done with the rust blue or commercial reblue it should be 100% nicer. Frank

  19. #19
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    I would refinish it.

  20. #20
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    Back in 1993 Des Moines had a major flood. Out of that I picked up a Colt MkIII Trooper, 6 in that had been under water for some time. It had pitting. To restore it the previous owner had it blasted and parkerized. I like how it turned out and it made a fine addition to my collection at that time.

    Just another option.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check