The Firearms Forum banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
259 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I was bored last night, and began oglin' some sweet lookin' case-harden lever action rifles and revolvers, but it soon occurred to me that I haven't seen this finish on other long-guns, or handguns (i.e bolt actions) Why is that? Does it have to do with the process of case-hardening itself, or something else? Any knowledgeable people out there I would really appreciated the info.

Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,066 Posts
In a time before we had all the alloys of steel we have today (many not invented until WWII), the steels then used were not hard enough to do the job in wear areas. So the trick was to case harden them. Case hardening is the process whereby carbon (the major ingredient in making steel harder) is infused into the surface of the steel a few thousands of an inch. It allows the outside of the part to be very hard and be backed up by a tough interior that is not brittle. Case hardening was mandatory to make the guns that first used smokeless powders since the pressures greatly exceeded those of black powder.

Some high wear parts in guns today may still be case hardened (like trigger system parts). The finish you see on receivers is color case hardening that is done to make the surface more durable and if done right give a rainbow of colors in random patterns.

The color case hardening is tough to do especially on large parts. The parts are sealed (air tight, I believe) into a steel box with carbon sources (like strips of leather and charcoal) and heated to a critical temperature for a set time. The parts are then cleaned leaving a mottled rainbow colored surface. The process is more art than following a procedure. Colt has it down near perfect on their Single Action Army revolvers!

Modern "color case hardening" is often just a paint (like on Ruger guns) and the parts are hard naturally by modern steel alloy choices.

LDBennett
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
259 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
In a time before we had all the alloys of steel we have today (many not invented until WWII), the steels then used were not hard enough to do the job in wear areas. So the trick was to case harden them. Case hardening is the process whereby carbon (the major ingredient in making steel harder) is infused into the surface of the steel a few thousands of an inch. It allows the outside of the part to be very hard and be backed up by a tough interior that is not brittle. Case hardening was mandatory to make the guns that first used smokeless powders since the pressures greatly exceeded those of black powder.

Some high wear parts in guns today may still be case hardened (like trigger system parts). The finish you see on receivers is color case hardening that is done to make the surface more durable and if done right give a rainbow of colors in random patterns.

The color case hardening is tough to do especially on large parts. The parts are sealed (air tight, I believe) into a steel box with carbon sources (like strips of leather and charcoal) and heated to a critical temperature for a set time. The parts are then cleaned leaving a mottled rainbow colored surface. The process is more art than following a procedure. Colt has it down near perfect on their Single Action Army revolvers!

Modern "color case hardening" is often just a paint (like on Ruger guns) and the parts are hard naturally by modern steel alloy choices.

LDBennett
I didn't think about metallurgic processes. I always thought case-hardening was just a type of finish; then again, the name should be self-explanatory.:eek:

Are the modern "case-hardening" paint durable? Just curious?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,066 Posts
BulletArc47 wrote:

"Are the modern "case-hardening" paint durable? "

They are paint and can be scratched just as any painted surface can. But a real color case hardened surface can be scratched as well but not as easily as a painted surface.

In today's new gun market it it is all about automated production. There is no room price wise for hand finished or the very difficult to do color case hardening. With no other option than custom gunsmithing, we are stuck with painted guns rather than real case hardening. In some cases we can not even get polished blue jobs (most are brushed and then blued because brushing the guns' surface takes little skill). Cheap labor means little skill and price drives the cost of guns today. Even then the pricing has become astronomical probably because of all the legal costs to assure a company is not driven out of business by lawsuits for dumb things.

So it is what it is. Take it or leave it is the motto of gun manufacturers today as they sell out of all their guns as people rush to buy new guns before Obabma outlaws them or regulates them out of existence. So we get plastic guns at huge pricing points.

LDBennett
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
603 Posts
There are still a few production guns out there with true color case hardening. I have one: an Italian repro of an 1874 Sharps. It's beautiful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
259 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
There are still a few production guns out there with true color case hardening. I have one: an Italian repro of an 1874 Sharps. It's beautiful.
Firearms of the past were really a work of art IHMO. Not saying the guns of today aren't; they are in their own way. But there is a romantic element to the guns of yesteryear. A mysticism that draws you to them in way no modern firearm can.
 
G

·
Just get antlers and grind them up put some in a steel container put your part in to it and cover it with the rest then heat that baby up till every thing turns red...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
538 Posts
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top