Help with Choosing the Right Base Metal for a New Build

Discussion in '1911 Gunsmithing' started by zChambers, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. zChambers

    zChambers ........... Supporting Addict

    761
    Jan 21, 2015
    Now that my loooooooonnnnnngggg term DIY 1911 project looks like it will be coming to an end by the close of 2019, my mind has begun to wander and I've been thinking about starting a new build.

    I'm in the initial process of spec-ing out parts and using some of the lessons I learned from my first build.

    I want this to be more of a show piece than anything else. I’m again planning on doing the bulk of the work but I want to get some fancy-pants finishing done in terms of engraving, deep bluing, and color case hardening. Currently thinking that I want a deep blue slide with color case hardened frame. Right now it’s a toss-up between what finish I want for the small parts.

    So my initial questions now are focusing on the material I should choose for base metals of each component

    In regard to the base metal of the frame, slide and small parts: is there any advantage to carbon steel v. stainless steel when it comes to color case hardening or bluing? Can stainless steel parts be blued or color case hardened? Does one type of steel lend itself more to one processes than the other? Can smaller parts such as the main spring housing pin, mag release, be color case hardened without compromising their shape or integrity?

    Can aluminum be blued? Specifically talking about coloring the trigger to match the bluing of the slide. If it cannot be blued, is there a way of getting a close color match? Or maybe someone can recommend a steel trigger? (currently looking at using a 10-8 flat)

    thanks!
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
  2. tac45

    tac45 What me worry ? Supporting Addict

    Mar 4, 2012
    Holy crap , that’s a lot of questions :roflmaro:
    Just say no to MIM .
     
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  3. WC145

    WC145 Every day is Saturday and every night's a party!

    Jan 1, 2013
    You can't blue stainless and I don't think it can be color case hardened. You can't blue aluminum either, it has to be anodized or coated. Personally I would want my small parts and pins to contrast the CCH frame and would look at polishing and nitre bluing them.
     
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  4. Slapshot

    Slapshot Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2017
    You can Blacken stainless steel. Ive never used it so I don't know how it will come out but I have used their UB 400 on an old S&W and was happy with the results. I'd really like to try this out some day.
    https://www.epi.com/black-oxide/stainless-steel/
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
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  5. Jim w.

    Jim w. Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2016
    Stainless can be blackened by Robar chromium sulfide or other chemical process, or by Ionbond or Melonite metallurgical treatments. There is a product to blotch up stainless similar to case hardening. https://steelfxpatinas.com/color-case-hardening-photos/

    As said, small parts like pins and the magazine catch should probably not be case hardened, you would run the risk of too much case and too little core, giving you a brittle piece. Nitre blue looks nice on the small bits or polished stainless for a flashy style.
     
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  6. mlea5150

    mlea5150 Well-Known Member

    239
    Apr 22, 2016
    Bobby Tyler is the only one I know of that has figured out how to color case stainless, but there would be no advantage in choosing that over carbon steel. I agree with WC145 that nitre bluing the small parts is the way to go.
     
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  7. B81

    B81 Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2018
    What's wrong with Mim. I think she's cute.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Integrity Arms

    Integrity Arms 1911 Pistol Smith

    Mar 20, 2017
    Yes there is an advantage to Carbon steel over SS in that you cannot Blue SS. Aluminum needs to be Anodized or it can be Cerakoted, or PVD applied. Which will come out matte or satin or shiny depending upon the prep and will be a very dark gray near black.
     
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  9. wrmiller

    wrmiller The Tinker

    Oct 29, 2016
    I still think a well done blue job is the prettiest finish on a firearm. But then I am a bit old fashioned. :)
     
  10. tac45

    tac45 What me worry ? Supporting Addict

    Mar 4, 2012
    She only love you short time
     
  11. Slapshot

    Slapshot Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2017
    Agreed you can't beat an old Colt or S&W revolver from back in the day.
     
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  12. Integrity Arms

    Integrity Arms 1911 Pistol Smith

    Mar 20, 2017
    0306190822.jpg
    I love the bluing myself but, really ended up liking this PVD.
     
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  13. azpoolguy

    azpoolguy Well-Known Member

    Jul 4, 2013
    Your shop looks foggy. You need better air circulation. ;)

    To the OP Carbon steel for the frame and slide.
     
  14. Integrity Arms

    Integrity Arms 1911 Pistol Smith

    Mar 20, 2017
    Bad phone camera, and I probably just put out a cig lol..
     
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  15. zChambers

    zChambers ........... Supporting Addict

    761
    Jan 21, 2015
    Thanks for all the replies.

    Regarding stainless and aluminum's ability to be blued and case hardened: I was 99% sure that stainless couldn't be blued and suspected that it could not be case hardened, but its good to get (overwhelming) confirmation that it can't be done. The hard part now seems like it will be trying to find small parts like plugs and triggers that are in carbon steel. I know they exist but its just a matter of finding designs I like which also are made in those materials.

    I also like the contrast look and I think that I will ultimately end up having contrasting small parts. Just want to do the research into what is/is not possible so I don't end up limiting myself before even getting started. I've seen some color case hardened small parts (or at least LOOK like they have been case hardened) on a case hardened frame, and if done right it looks good as well.

    I'll have to look into Nitre Blue and Blackened Stainless a little bit more. One of the reasons I like deep bluing is because its more traditional and it can become *almost* black in color, which is more in line with the final composition that I'm imagining.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
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  16. mlea5150

    mlea5150 Well-Known Member

    239
    Apr 22, 2016
    The only carbon steel trigger I know of is by Cylinder & Slide and you can only get it through their website (Brownell's, Midway, etc don't carry it). It's only available in a long, solid trigger configuration and can be had in either traditional blue or nitre blue.
    https://cylinder-slide.com/Category/reprejec
     
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  17. WC145

    WC145 Every day is Saturday and every night's a party!

    Jan 1, 2013
    Consider DLC like Ionbond on stainless, it's black and on a polished surface looks very much like a deep black bluing. Plus it's wicked tough and scratch resistant.
     
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  18. zChambers

    zChambers ........... Supporting Addict

    761
    Jan 21, 2015
    Good call on the C&S website. I have used there stuff in the past and have always been very satisfied. I was actually browsing Brownells a few days ago and was surprised to see that a lot of the offerings from C&S seem to have gone away, compared to amount they had a few years ago when I was activly buying a lot of small parts.

    DLC is a good option too and honestly one that I had not considdered. It seems like a good solution in that I will have less restrictions on the parts I can choose and it will get me very close to the overall appearance I want. As stated above, I would prefer bluing because its more traditional, but I might be willing to compromise on that point if it will get me the parts combination I want. From what I understand about the DLC application process, its can also be used on small parts without without compromising their shape or integrity.
     
  19. rmac

    rmac Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    829
    Jan 26, 2016
    Amazed that so many say that stainless steel can not be blued. Perhaps you should research what can be done with Oxynate 84. Comes out especially well if the part is pickled before blueing.
    It's late, tomorrow I'll open the vault and show an example.
     
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  20. zChambers

    zChambers ........... Supporting Addict

    761
    Jan 21, 2015
    mmmm... pickeled 1911...

    [​IMG]
     
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