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Shooter Solutions™ Rugged Gun Blue
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.

Corrosion is a firearm’s worst enemy.  Gun metal needs to be protected from corrosion.  Moisture from the air, moisture and oils from our hands, even salt in the air if we live close to the ocean can all contribute to the formation of Fe2O3 iron-oxide, otherwise known as rust.  Over the decades firearms manufacturers have devised various methods to protect the metal.  Today, the most common protection is called bluing. 

Bluing is a process in which steel is partially protected against rust, and is named after the blue-black appearance of the resulting protective finish.  True gun bluing is an electrochemical conversion coating resulting from an oxidizing chemical reaction with iron on the surface of the metal.  The resulting black oxide provides minimal protection against corrosion, unless also treated with a water-displacing oil to reduce wetting and galvanic action.  This explains why blued firearms must also be oiled, and why surface rust appears on blued firearms that are not kept oiled.

Shooter Solutions™ Rugged Gun Blue
Modern firearms are typically hot blued; something that I, as a home hobbyist gunsmith, am not set up to perform.  Both "cold" and "hot" bluing are oxidizing processes, but only the "hot" process provides any significant rust and corrosion resistance…until now thanks to Shooter Solutions™ Rugged Gun Blue. 

Shooter Solutions™ ( Rugged Gun Blue is a cold bluing solution that actually reacts and converts the base metal similar to hot bluing making it more rugged than other cold bluing products that just apply a coating to the surface.  With Rugged Gun Blue I can now blue an entire firearm, or touch-up small areas where factory bluing has worn off or metal has been exposed from milling, filing, or cutting, and get virtually the same protection as hot bluing.  The instructions that come with the product are a little bit difficult to plow through and understand, but the basic formula for success is fairly easy. 

I have a Marlin 1894 Cowboy rifle that I purchased used many years ago.  The previous owner had wrapped the lever with leather, which must have been chrome-tanned because it corroded the metal and ate away the finish.  Chrome-tanned leather leaves tanning salts behind which will corrode metal.  Leather that will sit against metal – like holsters – should be vegetable-tanned.  A new lever costs about $60.00 but I can restore my existing one for much less using Rugged Gun Blue.

  1. Wear vinyl or nitrile gloves – this product is an acid so gloves should be worn at all times.  Gloves also protect the prepared metal from becoming contaminated by the oils from your skin.


  1. Bead/sand blast or sand the part if necessary – When I am building a new gun, or restoring an older gun I bead-blast the parts with glass bead media to get a soft, matt finish.  If I want a smooth finish I polish the metal with progressively finer grits of silicon/carbide wet/dry sand paper.

    For a gun with factory bluing, you do not have to remove all the old bluing; Shooter Solutions™ instructions state that Rugged Gun Blue can blend with factory bluing.
  2. Degrease – I use acetone.  It is important to remove any grease or oil from the metal so the Rugged Gun Blue can work on the base metal itself.  It is also important to remove any metal dust from sanding, cutting, or milling; otherwise the solution will react with the metal dust and not the base metal making the result less rugged.

Note:  The solution is milky because I have been using it and it has some impurities in it.

  1. Dip or soak the part in the Rugged Gun Blue solution until it is dark blue/black – properly prepared metal only requires a few seconds, contaminated metal may take longer.  If you leave the part in the bluing solution too long it can start to eat away the base metal and change tolerances and specifications.  If you can wipe off a black pigment/powder from the part, then you have left it in too long.

    You can also apply the Rugged Gun Blue using a brush so long as you keep the part wet so the base metal has enough time to react.  Never apply the solution with a cotton swab, rag, or paper towel as these contain chemicals that can interfere with the gun blue solution.
  2. Rinse the part with water to remove the excess acid solution
  3. Dry with a hair dryer, heat gun, or air compressor – You may see some orange rust appear; this is normal and will disappear when oiled.


  1. Apply gun oil – I use a cotton swab soaked with gun oil to get into all the corners, crevices, pin holes and screw holes.  Do not use Breakfree CLP or metal polish as they will remove your newly applied gun blue finish.

The solution can become contaminated over time, but you can filter out many of the impurities by straining it through a coffee filter.  This is good to know to extend the life of the solution.



I have used other cold gun blue products in the past and have never been pleased with the results.  This is because most of them do not react with, and convert the base metal so they are neither dark enough, nor rugged enough.  This product absolutely amazed me by the color, depth, and evenness of the result as you can see by the 1911 frame in the above photo.  I built a dedicated 1911 .22LR using an Advantage Arms .22LR conversion kit and a 1911 frame that I built up from parts.  The conversion kit already came blued, but notice how the frame matches it perfectly.  I blued the frame, thumb safety, grip safety, and mainspring housing using Rugged Gun Blue; I could not have asked for better results. Refer to my article Building a Dedicated 1911 .22LR Pistol.

Any time I expose bare metal I use cold bluing to protect that exposed area.  This is especially important when polishing the internal area of a blued firearm.  Polishing removes metal, and in so doing, also removes the protective bluing.  These polished areas need to be re-blued to provide some protection, and cold bluing is the least expensive means of providing that protection.  Cold bluing also can enhance the appearance of an older firearm.  I have thrown away all my other cold bluing products in favor of Shooter Solutions™ Rugged Gun Blue.  This is my go-to cold blue solution (pun intended) from now on.

Rugged Gun Blue comes in 4-ounce, 8-ounce, quart, and gallon sizes and can only be ordered online from  I keep a quart handy in my shop at all times, not only for guns and gun parts, but for tools as well.

I want to extend my thanks to Jonathan Doege, owner of Shooter Solutions™, for taking the time to talk to me and helping me to understand the chemistry of his Rugged Gun Blue and important do’s and don’ts of using his product.  By the way, Shooter Solutions™ also makes a black manganese Parkerizing solution with which I have refinished five 1911’s and they all came out beautiful.  I highly recommend both of these excellent products.


   © Copyright 2013 Roy Seifert.