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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been searching for a discussion about what finishes work best on SAAs for engraving. I have seen some good examples but I don't really see a comparison of finishes with engraving.

I know from my parkers that I am not a fan of case hardening with engraving. I have seen lots of stuff about antiqued nickel but am unsure of between polished and matte finish on it. Also seen mention of carbonia blue for engraving but don't really get how it is better than regular blueing? Then there is also standard nickel and black nickel? Some of the threads discussing these finishes the pics have been eaten by photobucket so they aren't there anymore.

So I guess my question is if some of yall could post pics of your favorite finish for engraved SAA and why that finish.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

PS I have a cheap copy of steel canvas coming my way as well as a resource.
 

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A lot depends on your budget, & what era you wish to emulate. Black powder era guns mostly nickel, or nickel & gold. Very few b/ch from 19th century were engraved. Post 1900, you could go either way. If it will be a shooter, I dig the antique nickel, especially if the gun will have all current features & markings. You have the right idea by consulting a good coffee table book for ideas.
 

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Pre 1900 guns were generally bright nickel or nickel and gold combos. Or silver plate. Blue and Case engraved guns were more typically done later. Tradition ends there with bright nickel, silver, gold or blue, blue and cased.

"Antique nickel" is a modern (as in very recent), less expensive process because the metal prep is much less and only looks good from a distance IMO. Hard chrome is another modern finish that while more durable than anything mentioned looks terrible on a SAA IMO as does any of the modern finishes.

Buyers, myself included, wanted "antique nickel" on guns so they would look old and well used. More like a silver plated gun than bright nickel of old. Better now I think, that I have done it, is buy bright nickel and actually use it :) and simply forget about the resale value from the get go.

Well done engraved guns are some what expensive to start with (4 to 5K per gun) and will loose value when/as you shoot them. Sadly most never get shot.

Buy what you like for a finish be it a safe queen or a shooter.

Bright nickel, antique nickel and bright nickel again.


Same antique nickel gun shown in the middle above just brighter lighting....




A nice well used but well taken care of old gun with no finish has great appeal to me. Like Meldrum's original below.


Or a new copy of the same gun with some actual finish on it...which I find little appeal in.




Same effect on new guns... same pair in antique nickel and two different versions of a antique blued finish. I finally antique nickeled this pair because I got tired of rebluing the guns as I used them and eventually ended up with guns "in the white" again. Modern blue is a lot more durable but then also looks like "modern blue". Which looks like chit (blued or blued and cases) on these guns IMO. Certainly they don't look traditional in modern blue.







Modern hot blued pair.... and in the white prior to blueing. The plan on this pair is to eventually take a Birchwood Casey cloth to them as we shoot/clean them removing much of the modern blued finish intentionally and high lighting the engraving much as an ink bake would. Ink bake on bright nickel is another modern finish that has zero appeal to me. Way too contrived. Good engraving shouldn't need that kind of highlights to be noticed. The result I will be looking for, no surprise I guess, is something similar to Meldrum's original finish gun above.





 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have been doing that as well, but I get frustrated trying to discern depth and such on a computer screen. A photo book may not be any better. We shall see.

I know you aren't a fan of ink baked guns, but what do you think of black nickel?
 

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Kingcobb said:
...what do you think of black nickel?
Only thing that would interest me on a SAA is one of the original, traditional finishes Colt used prior to 1900.

But that means nothing. It is your gun...finish it in something you like
aesthetically, that suits your own use.

ink baked antique nickel...

 

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When I had these guns engraved in the 1980s I asked my engraver friend to nickel them. So he did his version of "antique nickel". As I recall, all that consisted of was he skipped the copper undercoat and put the nickel right on the metal. This made the nickel wear off faster in various places. Others would freak out about that but I loved it. They looked like older guns. The finish dulled slightly, too. Can't see all this too well in this picture, though.

 

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1901 original silver plate that has oxidized over the years to a "blue silver" patina. Silver by comparison to nickel is very soft and continued polishing would eventually remove the plating.

 

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Excuse my kicking over the traces with a couple different engraved finishes , my experimnents. First engraved thru the blue --


This on aluminum was easy --

Engrave thru blue on steel - a Philippine Colt repro --

The engraved cuts electroplated to avoid rust. If I do another one I'll make the cuts more prominent ---->
 

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As much as I love good color case hardening, the engraving seems to get lost in it. Same with bright polished nickel. If I ever do commission an engraved SAA it will be done in antique nickel. Yahoody's guns illustrate exactly how the engraving stands out with that finish.
 

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I agree with some of the comments above that engraving and color case hardening don't go quite as well together. They end up competing for your attention. Although I do like it on a nice double. In order of preference, I like full carbona blue (both the guns I pictured in the other thread are finished this way) with fire blued and color cased accents, inked & baked antique nickel, bright nickel and finally high polished modern salt blue. For me, these pics accurately depict the difference between modern hot salt blue (Colt) and carbona or charcoal blue as applied by Turnbull (USFA).



 

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I use this pic to illustrate the difference between nickel and hard chrome. As you can see, hard chrome is a much cooler, bluish white color while nickel has more of a warm bronze hue. IMHO, hard chrome doesn't belong on an SAA.

 

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I'm not a fan of heavy ink and bake. However, a light application looks great. It's just enough to make the engraving show, without making the gun look like some sort of fake antique.

Here are some close-ups of my Lombardy engraved gun. I specified a light application.









When you look at the whole gun, the effect is fairly subtle.



Here are close-ups of a John Adams, Sr. engraved Cimarron - bright stainless with no ink and bake. Notice the engraving doesn't show up as well. Still. a very nice looking gun.






And here's the whole gun.

 

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Member's posts in this thread are giving you the most realistic and best comparison of the popular finishes I've seen in photos. This thread should be considered for a sticky I think.





Missed electroless nickel as Craig showed with the hard chrome below. Both are modern finishes....




More electroless nickel on USFA guns (as is the white handled USFA gun)...cheap but durable finish on bead blasted steel. Better coverage than hard chrome but not nearly as durable as hard chrome.

 

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I agree with some of the comments above that engraving and color case hardening don't go quite as well together. They end up competing for your attention. Although I do like it on a nice double. In order of preference, I like full carbona blue (both the guns I pictured in the other thread are finished this way) with fire blued and color cased accents, inked & baked antique nickel, bright nickel and finally high polished modern salt blue. For me, these pics accurately depict the difference between modern hot salt blue (Colt) and carbona or charcoal blue as applied by Turnbull (USFA).



I am in LOVE!
 

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Hard Chrome can be polished to better resemble nickel. (Picture from Ford's website. Sorry, just took a quick look and didn't see a SAA).

 
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Hard chrome only mimics the degree of polish the base metal has. Mirror bright metal prep will come out mirror bright like the rifle. It will also be a bigger risk of chipping off the base metal if highly polished. Bead blasted metal will give a "frosted" hard chrome look like Craig's Ruger.
 
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