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Thread: How important is stainless?

  1. #1
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    Default How important is stainless?

    After sorting through a bunch of inherited firearms, I've got some duplication in calibers/actions and will indulge a long-time desire to build a 500 yard gun in 25-06.

    Question is...is stainless a big deal for the action on which to base an accurate hunting rifle (i.e. not a BR rifle)? I've got both old and new Mod. 70's (some blue actions, some SS actions) and a couple of 700's (all blued) and one of the 700's would be a good donor gun for reasons other than the action....which is good and firm, but is blued.

    Maybe not a gunsmithing (versus hunting or shooting) question, but since this may end up with a regular poster on this forum, thought it would be a good place to start.

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    I went out moose hunting last Saturday with my Model 70 based .338/06 that has light bluing. It raining as we hunted and I put my gun in the case wet. The next day (Sunday) at noon I remembered to pull out my gun to oil it and wipe it down. I was shocked at how much rust was on the gun. I actually had to scrub to get it off. For that reason alone I'd go with stainless if its a gun that will be used in real world hunting situations.

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    I much prefer stainless for its real world benefit but I hate the aesthetics of it.

    I'm currently hunting with a stainless rifle that's been Cerakoted... about as weatherproof as they get.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishslayer View Post
    I went out moose hunting last Saturday with my Model 70 based .338/06 that has light bluing. It raining as we hunted and I put my gun in the case wet. The next day (Sunday) at noon I remembered to pull out my gun to oil it and wipe it down. I was shocked at how much rust was on the gun. I actually had to scrub to get it off. For that reason alone I'd go with stainless if its a gun that will be used in real world hunting situations.
    Or...have the gun finished in something like Black Nitrite. There seem to be about a thousand new gun finishes that will keep your gun from rusting.
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    I need to look into another finish for that gun, thanks for the tip. I still would go stainless if I had the choice.

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    I think it mostly depends on what you like.

    You can put a SS barrel on a blued action. I did, when I had my 280 Rem. rebarreled.

    There isn't much to a Rem. 700 action. It's quite easy to coat everything, on the action, top and BOTTOM with Rig. grease. Or perhaps that Floor Wax, that gets reccommended so often. (I'm not suggesting you put it on the inside of the magazine.)

    On a wood stock, I coat the inside with Birchwood stock finish. And seal the outside with a thinner coat, or wax. It's not something that lasts forever. I do it before a hunting trip. Then check the sight-in after having had the action out of the stock.

    In the evening, it's a good idea to unload and wipe out the action with paper towels, because they soak up moisture well. Also the rounds because they can get wet and corrode, or discolor.

    I have one rifle that is SS with a syn stock, and another with a SS barrel and Wood stock. SS isn't that big a deel to me, but I don't hunt, or hafta hunt in the conditions that others do.

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    There has been at least one other thread on this very same subject within recent history. I recall some good points made therein. Like Hodgeman, I like stainless but am more traditional in my aesthetic preferences. A stainless gun with an applied finish approximating the look of traditional blue is a reasonable compromise for me. I like the convenience and peace of mind stainless offers in our climate.
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    I know that scratches to the metal sure show up less on SS also - so even if the weather doesn't factor in just the daily use makes a blue'd gun look much worse.
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    For me the choice between stainless and blued CM is two fold, price being the predominant factor, and aesthetics being secondary.

    With that said, I don’t own a single rifle with a stainless barrel or action, although I do have two stainless revolvers. Regarding rifles, I personally cannot justify the added expense of a stainless barrel over Chromalloy steel, but I also don’t get too bent out of shape over the degradation of the finish on my blued rifles… I kind of look at it as “character” or “patina” that has been earned by honest field use. Now I do have a couple of safe queen rifles that never venture out into inclement weather for fear of damaging their beautiful wood and bluing, but these rifles are much more akin to a shooting toy than as a serious hunting arm or home defense piece. I also don’t buy into the theory that stainless barrels are inherently more accurate that a comparable CM barrel from the same manufacture, although it has been documented and proven to my satisfaction that stainless barrels do in some instances maintain their accuracy longer that CM barrels due to a grater resistance to erosion and corrosion. But to your question regarding the action, I don’t really see were it would make any difference at all. Both stainless and CM are going to be pretty close as far as hardness and stiffness are concerned, and any corrosion concerns you may have can be eliminated or mitigated by any one of a number of finishes, so the only real debate is going to be over cost I guess… and you might just find that by the time you have a CM action painted to your liking that you will have the same amount of money invested as if you had just picked up a stainless action to start with. But in your case, with an inventory of various CM actions to pick from, you will likely be better off leaving them blued or having them coated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    For me the choice between stainless and blued CM is two fold, price being the predominant factor, and aesthetics being secondary.

    With that said, I don’t own a single rifle with a stainless barrel or action, although I do have two stainless revolvers. Regarding rifles, I personally cannot justify the added expense of a stainless barrel over Chromalloy steel, but I also don’t get too bent out of shape over the degradation of the finish on my blued rifles… I kind of look at it as “character” or “patina” that has been earned by honest field use. Now I do have a couple of safe queen rifles that never venture out into inclement weather for fear of damaging their beautiful wood and bluing, but these rifles are much more akin to a shooting toy than as a serious hunting arm or home defense piece. I also don’t buy into the theory that stainless barrels are inherently more accurate that a comparable CM barrel from the same manufacture, although it has been documented and proven to my satisfaction that stainless barrels do in some instances maintain their accuracy longer that CM barrels due to a grater resistance to erosion and corrosion. But to your question regarding the action, I don’t really see were it would make any difference at all. Both stainless and CM are going to be pretty close as far as hardness and stiffness are concerned, and any corrosion concerns you may have can be eliminated or mitigated by any one of a number of finishes, so the only real debate is going to be over cost I guess… and you might just find that by the time you have a CM action painted to your liking that you will have the same amount of money invested as if you had just picked up a stainless action to start with. But in your case, with an inventory of various CM actions to pick from, you will likely be better off leaving them blued or having them coated.
    I agree and would add that going SS doesn’t mean the gun is all that much more corrosion proof anyway. SS will rust near salt water, just look at the 410s used on any halibut boat out there and you will see rusted hunks of SS. Beyond that SS guns are not all SS, there are always carbon steel parts in there so SS guns can’t be neglected any more than other guns. I like SS though because it looks cool, reminds me of old fancy nickel plated guns and I can buff out anything I don’t like quite easy but not for their “perceived” corrosion protection as they need the same care as any other gun does.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    I also don’t get too bent out of shape over the degradation of the finish on my blued rifles… I kind of look at it as “character” or “patina” that has been earned by honest field use.
    Good point Alangaq:

    That's how I feel about it, myself.

    Nuthin Rong with "Honorable Scars" on a rifle that has quality to begin with.

    I druther have a quality gun with a few dings on it than a PP quality gun thats shiny, and new.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Some of my pistols are SS as thats the only way they come,all of my rifles and shotguns are blue and never a rust problem
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    Under the hood of my 1999 Ford F-350, mounted on top of the radiator is the "Lug" Wrench for changing tires. The factory painted it Black. It has a rough life, and yet it looks new. About once a year most of my working rifles get a gasoline bath, dried, and a fresh coat of cheap flat black paint.

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    Default SS vs carbon steel

    As a class of metals the stainless steel alloys offer several advantages: corrosion and sometimes errosion resistance, easier to finish, and extreme low temperature strength. On the negative side they are harder to machine, have less tensile strenght at room and higher temperatures, are more expensive, and can tend to gall on bearing surfaces.

    From a firearm manufactors' standpoint the lack of finishing costs and consumer demand are the key points. Younger shooters tend to accept plastic and stainless more that those of a few generations back so I suspect the blued and wood guns will be a thing of the past in the not so distant future. To me a forged and nicely blued gun in a figured walnut stock is stil a pride to own and shoot but I am of the old school.
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    CM or SS will both work for hunting, but I find it a hard sell to suggest that a CM rifle is as good for a 5-15 day wilderness hunt here in AK. You can apply rust inhibitors until you are blue yourself and a CM rifle is going to have some rust to show after such a jaunt. I use CM rifles for such forays, and take time in the tent each evening (& often at midday as well) to dry and reapply some preventative maintenance. Without exception each rifle displays significant marks from such trips. SS is not immune to rust, but it is absolutely superior to CM. There maybe/are some CM parts on most SS firearms, but keeping a SS firearm looking good is much easier than CM in the field.

    If you hunt only a day or two at a time or if you spend every evening in a place where guns and clothing can be dried then CM is fine. However if you are in a tent and the AK weather everyday for two weeks there is simply no comparison between the two. There are coatings and such that greatly enhance corrosion resistance and I've tried only a few. Perhaps Electroless Nickel, NP, Nitride, etc. will allow the same corrosion resistance as SS, but at their cost it is cheaper to start with SS in the first place. I own and use both, but there is no doubt that SS is a better choice in some applications.

    The bottom line is that if you like blued guns then CM is your poison and if you hunt hard for weeks at a time rust is something you're going to have to live with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    if you hunt hard for weeks at a time rust is something you're going to have to live with.
    SS is a somewhat easier choice.

    I'm sure I haven't hunted nearly as much as you, or as hard. Besides, I don't like to go tromping around in the rain, although I know that's frequently necessary.

    Still, I think, and IM(limited)E, and with some water proofing, and reasonable care, rust is far from a certainty.

    IME, the greater problem, is with wood stocks, in which the finish on the wood didn't seal it.

    Both issues can usually be addressed, and there's no good reason to reject a rifle for customizing simply because it's not stainless.

    It's interesting to hear the experiences of others with CM and SS. Never had it happen on blued, but I had the sling swivels begin to rust on my SS, Synthetic stocked rifle. After that, I made sure they were oiled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I'm sure I haven't hunted nearly as much as you, or as hard. Besides, I don't like to go tromping around in the rain, although I know that's frequently necessary.

    Still, I think, and IM(limited)E, and with some water proofing, and reasonable care, rust is far from a certainty.
    I am certainly not trying to be boastful Smitty. Lots of guys have lots of experience, certainly more than me, but hunting where you can't get out of the weather CM guns are going to rust IME. This season I had a 6 day bear hunt and then followed that with a 12 day moose hunt. It rained probably half the time here in SW AK and for the record I carried CM rifles on both hunts. I can keep the maintenance up for 5-7 days, but I'll not try the 12 day thing again with a CM rifle unless it has a new wonder finish on it. Try as I did, I simply couldn't stay ahead of the rust. My Whelen will never look quite the same again...

    I agree completely with the stock issue and both rifles wear McMillan fiberglass stocks. They always shoot to POA, but they may carry a little rust as they do it.
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    I have used both types of rifles and now I use a rifle that has a blued reciever and a stainless barrel synthetic stock. I have been out in PWS with it and moose hunting in the rain for a few weeks and I will be sending it in to get it cerakoted after hunting season. there is nothing like seeing rust form on a expensive rifle that shoots well. This Rifle has to last for my life time and hopefully my kids life time so I figured that the money it worth it. I always end up taking it off the stock when I get home from hunting and seeing the little rust spots that you can't get to out int he field.
    I really like the looks of wood and blued. Just my opion is that they are very pretty to look at and fondle in the house, but I really don't like to hunt up here with them. There is a lot of maintance that seems to not get done while in the field. For being out in the bush for weeks at a time I would go SS hands down.

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    I like em all for sure and not picking sides, I have used both and I am not easy on a gun for sure. I saw another hunters gun that had taken a caribou and laid a bloody meat sack on his blued gun - next day he found it in the case and it sure was nasty looking - that blood had removed the blueing and some finish on his nice WBY 7mm..
    I can't ever remember getting blood on a SS gun so not sure what it may do to that???
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey View Post
    I saw another hunters gun that had taken a caribou and laid a bloody meat sack on his blued gun - next day he found it in the case and it sure was nasty looking - that blood had removed the blueing and some finish on his nice WBY 7mm..
    WELL, he shouldn't have done that Smokey.

    And, on a WEATHERBY too.

    That's almost as bad as puttin it on a Bible.

    Was that hunter from IL?

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