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I was wondering why does case hardening fade? Is it a result of exposure to light or does it wear off or what? If I left a new case hardened revolver in a dark room for 100 years would the case hardening look the same as new? THANKS
 

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good question.. being a colt single action and 22 Peacemaker/New Frontier collector, I have a range of it all. some with moderately dull on both sides, dull on just one side, and then some with very good and some with great brilliance. The one I have being the dullest.. I know that one was worn off by holster wear and removing some surface rust also. I have not had any of them long enough to know if they are usually dulled by just time, or a lubricant/protectant/grease over time, or what causes it. So I have the same question.
 

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I think it is caused by use. The colors aren't applied per se, they are formed when the metal heats up and changes colors. It's a fragile finish for sure! And drooling doesn't help either....The more you drool the more you have to wipe it down...;)
 

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well, google sez...

it's an oxide finish, thus acts and reacts with almost anything. yes, it's only on the surface.

A. Sunlight

B. Oxygen (more slowly than other factors)

C. Friction/Wear (i.e. you hands)

D. Solvents/cleaners

You can cover the surface with a clear fingernail polish or wax, but bottom line, if you use it, it will fade.​
 

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I believe UV rays fade case colors more than anything else.
 

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Shotgun receivers with case colors fade most where your hand rubs and carries the gun on the bottom of the reciever. The same gun will have vivid case colors in the protected areas. I beleive it wears and fades very similarly to blue.
 

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Time doesn't seem to affect case color. See it on the hammer of my 1902 New Service. It shows some wear and distress otherwise but the color case looks as good as the best new case-color.

 

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I believe UV rays fade case colors more than anything else.
That鈥檚 my thinking too; possibly along with not having any oil on the finish for many years.

In my opinion the only role that age plays is it represents a protracted period of time when all things that can affect a finish can take place; wear, etc. If time, itself, was a factor, then you wouldn鈥檛 still find 100+ year old Single Actions with almost all of their original case colors; granted there aren鈥檛 many out there, but there are a few.

I have a 110 year old Single Action with almost all of its case colors, but the very thing that protected it from the UV rays all of these years is the very thing that removed a strip of blue from each side of the Single Action; and that is the holster that it lived in for no telling how many years.
 

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I doubt UV has any effect on it. It's just a surface finish and can get worn off or corroded away, just like bluing. If not handled and used, not subjected to humidity, friction, and sweat from handling, blueing and case hardening will both last nearly forever.
 
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