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Thread: Blued Steel,...or Stainless,... factors to consider ?

  1. #1
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Kodiak, Ak

    Default Blued Steel,...or Stainless,... factors to consider ?

    So, I'm just wondering as I consider new rifle material, and try to get past the aesthetics, and "Think Function."

    As a Coastal resident,'s been "All Stainless," for any purchases I've made for a long time, (well except for one)

    and I Really Hate Corrosion,...

    but as a boat guy,...I know there is significant difference in the hardness, of Stainless Steel and Black Steel

    Do any of you guys, who know a lot about Rifle Barrel steel, have knowledge of the factors that separate the two types
    Blued Steel, or Stainless ??

    I'm just thinking things like, if Stainless is harder (I know there are a wide variety of Stainless materials)
    wouldn't it also last longer, in the areas of Throat Erosion ??

    How does it affect cleaning issues,... the gathering of Copper Fouling, etc.
    Stuff like that

    It seems Stainless is such a superior product, to Black Steel,...but I must be missing something, or they wouldn't make anything non Stainless anymore

    and I really like the look of Blue Steel also, by the way,...just looking for more info
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  2. #2
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Apr 2006


    Just remember that stainless means stain less it is not impervious to corrosion, especially the alloys used to produce firearms.

    I know a little bit about various steel alloys. The thing to consider with any metal is there are various physical properties you need to be concerned with, and when you increase the value of one property, you typically decrease another propety or two. Adding various other metals and elements will change the ultimate strength, yield strength, hardness, toughness, abrasion resistance, corrosion resistence, strength at heat, ductility, brittleness and I'm sure a few other properties I'm not thining of. There is also heat treating an alloy that that will affect these propeties and can be used to tailor them.

    Stainless steel is a general term that covers a huge variety of alloys and it's important to do some research to better understand the various alloys and the affects of the alloying elements.

    As far as why stainless barrels don't seem to be vastly superior to blued alloy steel, to a large degree that comes down to having to choose an alloy that can be machined into a barrel using conventional tooling. One could choose a "super alloy" but both the cost of the base metal and the time and expense of machining it into a barrel and the heat treatments required would likely increase the cost of the barrel ten fold, and yet it would be unlikely that super barrel would last 10 times longer.

    As to why stainless hasn't completely replaced traditional blued alloy steel, one reason is tradition, the other is cost where the less expensive blued alloy steels and machining costs are passed on to the customer.
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  3. #3
    Member zpoehler's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Wasilla, AK


    You could always go blued and coat it. I had a Teflon coating done on my blued SBEII because I duck on the salt and I have never had to do anything other than wipe it down at the end of the day and it has never shown any signs of rust. I also coated one of my blued rifles and my stainless M77 280 rem as the stainless barrel was all dinged up, looks brand new now. Cost is around $150 per rifle (that is what it was 3 years ago anyways) and I sent in everything on the rifle that was metal.

  4. #4
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Nov 2008


    Stainless gaulds to itself meaning more than on stainless type used in each gun.Stainless rifling can cut very sharp on bullets.
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  5. #5


    I'm no expert on anything, but there are some that think stainless is more brittle (?)in very cold conditions.

  6. #6


    One thing to remember- Even though a gun is "stainless," that usually means that the big parts are stainless, while lots of smaller parts hiding away inside the gun are not. In revolvers it's a real good idea to learn how to disassemble them for periodic cleaning and lubing. And if they get splashed or dunked with salt water, sooner is not soon enough. Same for rifles. Look at all those springs and levers in the trigger and bolt. Stainless? I doubt it.

    As for galling, a good lube rated for stainless solves all problems. Back "in the day" I picked up a couple of jugs of RIG lube for stainless. Dandy.

  7. #7


    A few years back I had a stainless barrel that had a lot of copper fouling in it. I put a bore plug in it and poured it full of copper solvent and let it sit over night. I thought nothing would hurt a stainless barrel but I was very wrong. Next morning bore was etched and ruined. I like stainless a lot but it is not perfect.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    some stainless barrels will "flash" on a stalk. I have seen bright shinny barrels and some that are dulled.

    I have seen stainless with rust on it. I have seen more blued guns with rust on them.

    All of my "bargain" guns have been blued.

    I have my PWS guns coated and my other go to guns are stainless.

  9. #9
    Member Tearbear's Avatar
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    Jul 2012


    Quote Originally Posted by Cast Iron View Post
    A few years back I had a stainless barrel that had a lot of copper fouling in it. I put a bore plug in it and poured it full of copper solvent and let it sit over night. I thought nothing would hurt a stainless barrel but I was very wrong. Next morning bore was etched and ruined. I like stainless a lot but it is not perfect.
    What would be a good solvent for cleaning a stainless barrel? A ruined bore from cleaning sounds quite terrible!!!
    "Grin and Bear It"

  10. #10


    Stainless barrels really have no downside (other than initial cost) if treated like a chrome-moly barrel and have many advantages over chrome-moly barrels. The throats of stainless rifles exhibit less erosion ( they don't flame cut as easily, a torch won't cut stainless steel) and wear on calibers that are over-bore or near so. The barrels are just as accurate, maybe more so ;nearly all current match rifles have stainless barrels and match shooters don't have to scrimp on barrel costs one way or the other. Stainless barrels are cleaned just like a chrome-moly barrel, and usually clean up just as fast ; however they tend to lap/break-in somewhat slower. ALL barrels are shiny when manufactured, the difference is chrome-moly barrels are treated and the treatment is usually blueing, if you don't want a shiny stainless rifle a couple of cans of spray paint will make your rifle your favorite color and a couple of swipes with a rag soaked in acetone will make it shiny again so you can change the colors to winter camo. Stainlees barrels are made of different types of stainless and some will discolor and even to the point of turning brown; a "Lead Away" cloth will remove the discoloration and gunpowder residue (even on revolver cylinders) returning it to it's original shiny state. If you let your gun get past the turning brown stage a blued barrel is already rusted. Rust can be prevented on nearly all guns by mearly cleaning your rifle 3-4 days before your hunt and upon returning from a hunt.
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  11. #11


    Tearbear the solvent I used would of worked fine if I had not let it soak to long.

  12. #12
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Delta Junction


    In your neck of the woods, err'd probably find more downsides to a blued rifle than a stainless one. With that said, blued rifles with wood don't become useless just because a little salt is added to the equation.

    A good compromise, is a nice walnut stock with stainless.......good lookin guns they are.


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