Rust And Bluing

Dear Technoid,

I have a Remington 870 Express 12ga that I’ve had for about 1 1/2 years now and have used for informal clay target shooting and dove and duck hunting. Being in the middle of duck season here in Texas, I’m getting pretty frustrated with the quality of the blueing on the gun (it’s the all-black synthetic model). Unlike my old gun, an old Remington Model 11 20ga (yep, I meant “11”, not “1100”), this thing seems to grow rust at the slightest hint of moisture. Now, I realize that waterfowling is hard on guns, and this has been dunked once, hunted in driving rain a couple of times, etc.

I am religious about stripping it down, cleaning it and coating it with Breakfree CLP after it gets wet. If it doesn’t get soaked I usually just wipe down the exterior and run a Breakfree-soaked patch down the bore. This doesn’t seem to be enough, though. I hesitate to do as some of my more extreme comrades have done, which ranges from completely ignoring the corrosion and buying a new 870 every few years to annually painting every metal surface with black bbq grill paint. The old Model 11 didn’t have this problem at all. Just kept it coated in oil and you were good to go.

Do I have a lemon? Maybe they didn’t blue my gun at all, just dipped it in easter-egg dye. Is there some sort of treatment I could have done to it? Maybe pack a 12volt battery and an electrolysis tank in the boat and store it there between shots? Should I go back to the old standard 3-in-1 oil? WD-40? Vaseline? Seriously though, is it possible to have a “deeper” blueing done to it?

Yours in confusion, from Austin, Texas,


Dear Justin,

Once a gun has rusted, it’s really hard to stop it from rusting again by just pouting oil on it. You get all those corrosive “nooks and cranny’s” like an English muffin. You might try any one of the cold blue products on the market, but I don’t think that they will do the job for very long. A gunsmith’s hot blue is really the only way to solve the problem. A proper hot bluing will restore some measure of rust resistance. Did you know that most bluing methods are actually a form of rusting? It’s up to you whether the gun is worth rebluing.

Face it, if you are a company making a “price competitive” mass-produced gun, you try to save a few dollars so that you can sell it more reasonably. An easy place to save money is in the bluing process. One of the shortcuts is to bead blast the bright metal before bluing rather than polish it. It’s quick and cheap. This blasting increases the surface vulnerable to rust. If you notice, the more expensive Wingmaster model of the 870 has conventional bright bluing. It’s more durable.

You might try a stronger rust preventative coating. BreakFree CLP is a fine all-purpose oil, particularly good on gas gun actions, but it isn’t as good at rust prevention as some of the specific products.

One of the better sprays I have found is Birchwood Casey’s “Sheath”. Also, there is always RIG (Rust Inhibiting Grease). That is serious stuff, though it is more often used for long term gun storage. Pachmayr’s “PRP” rust preventative is another possibility, but you may not like the waxy finish it leaves. You might get the Brownell’s catalogue and look through their list of rust preventative stuff. Brownells, 200 South Front Street, Montezuma, IA 50171-1000, tel: 515-623-4001, <>.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

This entry was posted in Shotgun related, Shotguns and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Rust And Bluing

  1. There’s a lot of confusion on this side too.


  2. He’s the guy who has to fix things when people post in the wrong section.


  3. In the post “Rust and Bluing” Bruce makes reference to Sheath. Please correct me if I’m wrong – and I am a lot – but this product disappeared from shelves a few years ago and resurfaced as Barricade. Good stuff regardless of label. Terry in Springfield


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