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I have been accumulating guns for over 50 years. I have never had a nickel plated gun. I have aquired a couple of SSAs in the last few years. I saw a nickel one recently and was tempted. I shoot all of my guns and clean them with Hoppe's #9 and then oil them with Breakfree. I have heard that Hoppe's is very bad for nickel. So I worry that I might inadvertently get some on a nickel gun, even if there is a little hoppe's on my cleaning mat or rag. I also wonder how durable the nickel Colt uses is, I have seen some old nickel guns that look very good and some that look awful. Of course, I can say the same about blued guns. I am just wondering if this is something that will cause me a lot of extra work and if it is worth the effort. Any thoughts or experiences would be welcome. Thanks.
 

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Any cleaning solution...or any solution for that matter...that contains ammonia can be bad. If it gets under the plating it can cause the plating to separate from the copper underneath it. If there are no breaks or openings in the nickel it won't occur but it's recommended by most to avoid it. Hope's does make a non-ammonia cleaner as do others.
 

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I’ve see a hundred SAAs this year.
Never once felt any need to use anything harsh.
its the orange can KROIL that I get at NAPA for cleaning any SAA as good as needed.

For a shiny bore I use FLITZ metal polish.

Nickel is awesome.
It preserves the metal under it very well.
And if it gets hazy from use you can polish it while watching amovie.
 

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Nickel? Easy to clean with most anything but ammonia. Breakfree would work just fine as will hot water and soap. One reason they were do popular in the BP era. Gives a good bit of protection to the steel underneath the nickel. Some glare on the sights in bright sun. Also makes the sights easier to see in bad lighting.

I like nickel SAAs. But given the choice it likely wouldn't be the only finish I'd want to own in a SAA.
 

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I’ve got eight or nine nickeled 2 nd and 3rd Gen SAAs with no problems so far. In fact the one I used in a 5,000 round torture test in 1998 never lost a speck. I had a 1980s 7 1/2 inch .44-40 that nickel blew off with the first cylinder full fired. Go figure.
 

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The biggest problem I have with any modern Colt SAA that has a nickel finish is the quality of the underlying metal polishing. I believe the First Generation Colt’s were polished with a different method. That allowed the flats to remain flatter and the screw holes to not be dished. Some are better than others, you just have to look at them before buying, if it concerns you. I shoot my Colts so if I got a good deal I’d buy a poorly polished Colt in a heartbeat.
 

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I’ve got eight or nine nickeled 2 nd and 3rd Gen SAAs with no problems so far. In fact the one I used in a 5,000 round torture test in 1998 never lost a speck. I had a 1980s 7 1/2 inch .44-40 that nickel blew off with the first cylinder full fired. Go figure.
Was that a black powder frame CFSS that came in a wood box? If so, I saw it in 1988 and really liked it. And it was for sale.
 

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The problem with nickel is that a 75% gun in blue looks great not so much for a 75% nickel gun.

Jim
 

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I shot this pair of late '70s 44 Specials a lot, including a couple of seasons is SASS. 12 months of SASS matches is going to be at least 1200 rounds for most clubs just for the pistols. 600 rounds per gun in matches a year plus what ever practice a gun does. By far more rounds shot in practice than ever shot in matches. No damage to the nickel as of yet. I do how ever black the front sight on occasion.

716139


And there are options as to what nickel finish you prefer. Couple of them shown below.

716140


716141
 

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I love my nickel SAA 45/45ACP. Pete
Screws by Lever Action Bill!!!

716158
 

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I'm with Cozmo I need to blacken (I really use a silver sharpie) on the front sight, Otherwise I lose it. My 3rd gen is just to darn shine. My older nickel SAAs are just fine.
I like a nice nickel Colt for twirling ever since Jim Martin told me that he was advised to use a nickel gun and slow down a little.
Happy Shooting.
 

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Depends on when and where I am shooting. I use a black marker. Wipes off easily with alcohol. I black the front edge of the front sight and occasionally black both the front sight and hammer slot on the rear sight.

Most can't hit what they can't see. I'm one of the "most".
 

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Purty one Pete. You shot it yet?
No but this one gets a lot of action in 45 ACP with 230 grain ball. No lead residue anywhere and the FMJ bullet at low speed doesn’t even leave copper in the barrel. An easy clean up. Pete

716175
 

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I have a nickel plated Colt SAA I bought two years ago, (photos below). I have never had problems with the plating. I use only Ballistol on this gun; I don't shoot it that often because cleaning the forward face of the cylinder is quite a bit of work (to get ALL the residue off), using FLITZ metal polish with a small cloth and a wooden pick
Colt Ni SAA 1 OK.jpg
Colt Ni SAA 2 OK.jpg
. For now have to be content to leaving the flat forward face of the cylinder less than perfect; if I ever want to sell it I will give it a"3rd degree" cleaning.

I was hesitant when I saw it in our local gunshop, but since Colt SAA's are so hard to find here, I decided to go for it. Having a bit of the "Old West" is a treat well worth the purchase price!
 

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So what are the disadvantages of nickel finish? Aside from aesthetic preference among those who only like blued finish, is there any downside to nickel finish?

The increased protection is obvious, but do they scratch more or less easy than blue? Do they resist holster wear better or worse than bluing? Do they cause more or less barrel heating. Say you shoot 100 rounds, would your barrel be hotter, cooler, or the same?

I think a big advantage is resisting surface rust in humid or damp environments where a blued finish would develop surface rust overnight if you are not diligent wity cleaning the gun down right away.

Thanks.
 

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does nickel scratch more or less easy than blue?
Nickel is pretty hard (in actual use) compared to modern gun steel with a blue finish.
But both will scratch up fairly easily given the right conditions. Dust in a leather holster for example will destroy either finish but the nickel will last longer and offer more protection to the gun. 4140 steel is tough but it is not hard. HRC of heat treated 4140 steel can be as high as 40 or on the low end @ 10.

a bright Nickel finish is 50

Hard chrome 72

Do they resist holster wear better or worse than bluing?
Yes by a good measure. The 40 to 50 numbers really don't show how much longer a nickel finish will hold up compared to blue but it is substantial. Years of use with no signs of holster wear instead of weeks or even just days for blueing.

Do they cause more or less barrel heating. Say you shoot 100 rounds, would your barrel be hotter, cooler, or the same?
same

I think a big advantage is resisting surface rust in humid or damp environments where a blued finish would develop surface rust overnight
correct
 

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from my childhood I think it was Hop-along Cassidy that said never buy a shiny gun. This was when he almost walked into an ambush but the sun bounced off the nickle finished SAA. ever since then I could never abide a shiny gun. Bought a new SS 1911 years ago and finally took it to my gunsmith and said paint it. Blue finished wears, nickle flakes.

And the comment "I think a big advantage is resisting surface rust in humid or damp environments where a blued finish would develop surface rust overnight" just ain't so. I live in the SE coastal, I've yet to have a blue gun rust. I oil them after shooting and put them in the safe. Some I don't shoot for a year or so. I guess if I left them on the beach it wouldn't be good.
 

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beemermark said:
"I think a big advantage is resisting surface rust in humid or damp environments where a blued finish would develop surface rust overnight" just ain't so.
It happens. Seem it many times. Most typically after a wet rainy SASS match. By the time I drove home (an hr drive plus a dinner stop) in a warm car both rifle, shot gun and pistols had rust forming. Blue on nice dbl barrel shotguns seem to get hit the worst.
 
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