Good afternoon everybody - I am a frequent reader and a new member on the forum. I have a question in regards to polishing stainless steel.
I own a Springfield Armory 1911A1 Officers model in stainless. The stainless is a matte finish and the enitre pistol appears to be machined smooth, just not a gloss shine. I do not believe that any of the finish is bead blasted as it does not have the tiny 'pitting' appearance of bead blasting. Due to wear from a Kydex holster, as well as a few scratches, I would like to polish the entire pistol to a mirror finish. I have heard both ends of the argument, that polishing can potentially damage the slide and frame, that it should be left up to the pro's, and also that it is not a problem to do at home with the proper materials and the time and patience to do it right.
I am a DIY-er and if at all possible I would like to do it myself. I am fairly familiar with the disassembly of a 1911A1, short of removing any cross pins or 'rivets'. Any suggestions, methods, concerns, warnings, and feedback will be greatly appreciated.
I look forward to all answers and also to my membership in the online firearms owner community.
In my opinion if you intend to use any type of an electric tool to assist in your quest to polish your gun there is a 90% chance you will loose value of your gun. For my stainless guns that I want more luster I us an old wash cloth and a product called Mothers and while it takes awhile it works well. If you decide for some reason to take your gun apart, what looks like a screw in the face of the oposite side magazine release button is not a screw at all. Rather it is a lever lock that is operated with a screw driver and how it works is that as you press jn the button and gently turn the screw a quater turn until it stops. If it doesn't turn very easy you don't have the button pushed in the correct distance or you are turning it the wrong way. Be patient while doing this as that lever lock is very dainty and eaisly broken. Removing the magazine release will allow you to remove the trigger assuming you have removed the other internal parts. If you decide to take the gun all apart and you for some reason cannot put it back together contact me and we will get on the phone and get it running again.
Altering the factory finish WILL devalue your gun, no matter who does it.
If you try it yourself, it might come out looking OK, but it probably won't. Polishing guns is best left to a real professional.
Thank you gentlemen for your answers to my question. I really appreciate the honesty on the DIY approach, I will definitely take your recommendations about leaving the polishing up to the professionsionals. Would you happen to know an approx. amount on what a professional polish job would run for a slide and frame?
In regards to the 1911 itself, I am planning on switching out the GI style grip safety for a full width extended beaver tail grip safety, therefor I am going to need some machine work done to the frame. Is this going to effect the overall value of the pistol as well? I would assume so, if that is the case then I am not too worried about altering the finish. My Springfield is my first 1911 and definitely not going to be my last (especially considering future high-cap mag bans, plus I really do not have an intrerest in another poly frame auto pistol). I got a good deal on the pistol and wouldn't mind using it as a basis into further customization. My other firearms are great (Glock G22, S&W 9mm, Taurus .38, ASA AR15, etc.), but not anything that I will be interested in investing the time, effort, and money into.
I think the advice you were given about devaluing your gun, and leaving polishing to the pro's is correct. That said, if you want to experiment with polishing, you can buy steel stock at your local hardware store and practice on it.
This is a low risk method of learning, and you will find out what effect stones, paper, and lapping compound have. You will also learn how easy it is to achieve an undesired ripple effect on the steel. This is an excellent way to learn, and can be done very inexpensively.
Once you learn here, you can answer your own question about polishing your pistol.
Any time you do work to a gun that alters it, you should go into it knowing that you will lose money on the resale. I have a S&W 28. Nice N frame 357. Goes for around 400 nowadays. I got it for 280 and spent another 400 having it converted to a 38/40. If I can find some other damn fool that wants a 38/40 N frame Smith, I might get 600 of my 700 dollar investment back. But most likely I'd be lucky to get 200 because, "Well, I've got to replace the barrel and cylinder to change it back."
Machine the frame and install the beavertail. Polish the gun. It's your gun, so do what you want to make it the way you like it. But realize that if you are ever going to sell it you will lose money.
as a person who does alot of metal polishing a few tips. you can get polishing kits at sears and other stores. you need a good high speed bench grinder and correct buffing wheels, the gun will have to be taken apart to do the job right. make sure to polish away from all corners and edges or your parts can go flying, that can get ugly. minimize contact around lettering or you can deform them easy. keep the part cleen and cool, heat is your enemy. i never wear gloves when doing delicate pieces, i want to feel every thing and not drop any thing. from what you described about the pistol it should polish up pretty easy. as for the value, ive seen polished ones sell for more than original and just the opposite.