Colour hadening

Full choke

Well-Known Member
I have just purchased a nice boxlock with some colour hardening worn off the action most of it is a dull silver finish which looks fairly nice
I want to polish the test off to make it look the same
Any ideas what would remove this


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As CD says, please, leave it. There was a fetish to do this in the late 1960s early 1970s to give what one Lincolnshire gunmakers (who should have know better) termed Old English Silver finish. It looks bloomin' awful IMHO and was done to my late father's gun when it went there for sleeving.

The dull grey can't now be done as the chemicals in the mix to get it were mostly arsenic...I once had a litre and a half of the stuff made up "arsenical grey" it was known as...a lovely fine grey it was, so the only choice is Old English silver and it looks awful compared with just allowing the action to its own devices.

But...if you really, really want to do it use the very finest gauge still revolving brush. Such as you'd use for carding rust from barrels you were blacking. And that will do the job. If it is done well its very shiny and polished nature will mean it is rust resistant.

The problem then is you need to do it properly by stripping the gun and taking the action off the woodwork. And so you've not gut shiny action and dull worn parts to put back you need to re-black the metal furniture and the barrels and re-do the woodwork. Else the thing looks uncoordinated.

If you really want it done ask Elderkin at Spalding. But I'd urge you to take CD's advice and leave it be.


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THE best man in the UK, and possibly Europe to do colour case hardening was Ray St Ledger in Birmingham, who sadly passed away in tragic circumstances a few years back, but i believe his son is carrying on the work.

Not entirely sure of the chemicals involved, but i have seen people experimenting. The action is packed into a steel flask, 4"X4" and about a foot long. In the flask are substances like horse bone charcoal, various wood charcoals and urine. The whole thing is put into a furnace and the flask is then emptied into airated water.

Its a black art, and anyone who does it keeps their receipes secret.