Classic Firearms Resoration
Before photos of the Stevens 520 take down shotgun
These are some photos of the process required to properly restore a collectible shotgun. Often times there are blemishes that blend with the grey/silver color of worn steel that can’t be seen until the metal is blued. This can cause these pits, blemishes and other defects to stand out like a sore thumb but a valuable collector shotgun deserves the work.
The first photo below of the barrel is what you see after draw filing all pitting and deep scratches off. Sometimes a choice has to be made between keeping writing or stamping intact and getting good clean up of pitting. In this case the printing was hard to read to begin with so the decision was made to clean up as much pitting as possible. You can also see the receiver in this case was bead blasted prior to polishing. In cases where there is excessive pitting as with this nice old Stevens, bead blasting can provide a nice base to start with. It also cleans inside the pits making it easier to see them.
After the rough clean up as above, there is a lot of work to be done with many restorations. This includes polishing all parts carefully keeping and sometimes on really rough jobs reshaping the original lines. With really poor condition firearms as in the case of this Stevens, you often cannot see all the pits until you have done some polishing. Then it’s back to the files and courser paper. Below you can see the barrel after draw filing and the receiver after the first coat of bluing. In this case I had missed a couple of defects and the blue made them really stand out. Below those pictures you can see the parts all polished and ready to blue.
Next you can see why they call this “Rust Bluing”, you can see what the bluing chemical does to the steel. It is then put in a hot tank to cure before carding. This process may be repeated several times until the finish is properly coated and colored..
And finally the finished parts with several coats of rust blue and nicely carded to a bright finish.
Often the hardest part of the restoration is knowing when to stop. In this case the barrel had plenty of steel but there were concerns with taking off too much steel on the receiver and making the screws stick out from the sides. With careful work most firearms can be brought back to a beautiful condition if not like when they were new. Many antique firearms were not cosmetically perfect from the factory often with machining marks and imperfections. The goal of a restoration is get the firearm to the of being as close to like new as possible without taking away it’s character. Removing all the defects can give some older firearms an artificial look and take away from their character. Some older collector firearms should not be re-blued or restored as in some cases this will take away from their value. If you are restoring the family heirloom and you want it in the condition it was in when Dad or Grandpa used the firearm years ago, then sentimental value can be far greater than collector value. I will be the first to discourage someone from restoring an old gun if it’ll adversely affect it’s value.