The object is to make the pattern of the twist barrels show a vivid contrast. Rust bluing or   browning will be one solid color unless special procedures are followed. This method works by stripping or loosening the color produced by bluing or browning using an etchant. (Ferric Chloride Solution) The rust is removed or loosened easier on the harder steel used in the twist pattern.


What you will need:

  • abrasive paper (preferably cloth backed) 120-400 grit

Remove pitting with files and or abrasive paper. Your metal preparation will probably begin with a coarse grit abrasive paper, but should be completed by using 320 or 400 grit.


What you will need:

  • detergent (Simple Green)
  • scrub brush
  • tongs or wire hooks
  • air compressor or paper towels
  • clean cotton gloves
  • rubber stoppers for plugging barrel

Degreasing is essential in getting fine results. Parts should be soaked in hot soapy water using a cleaner such as Simple Green. Scrub parts with a brush during the cleaning process. Remove parts from the cleaning solution with tongs or hooks. Rinse thoroughly with hot water, and dry with compressed air or blot with paper towels. Do not touch cleaned parts with bare hands as the oils from your body can contaminate the metal. Wear cotton gloves while handling degreased metal parts.


What you will need:

  • vinyl or latex gloves
  • cotton gloves
  • natural sea sponge, cellulose sponge, or cotton swabs
  • small glass or plastic container
  • oil-free steel wool
  • container for etchant (Ferric Chloride Solution)
  • container for boiling distilled or deionized water (tap water can be used in many parts of the country but it depends on the mineral content in your area)
  • etchant (Ferric Chloride Solution) available from Radio Shack

Apply a coat of Express Brown #2 diluted 1 parts of distilled water to 1 part Express Brown #2. Warm barrels to about 150 degrees. Apply as evenly as possible using a sponge cut into a 1 inch square. Let barrel cool to room temperature and dip in the Ferric Chloride etchant for 5 seconds. Dip in room temperature water and rub with oil free steel wool under water.  Dry the barrel and repeat the sequence of warming the barrel, coating with diluted Express Brown #2, dipping in Ferric Chloride etchant, rinsing in water and rubbing with steel wool. It may take 10 to 15 repetitions. After you are satisfied with the pattern soak for 5 minutes in baking soda and water to neutralize any acid residue. If a darker plum brown is desired, barrel can be boiled in water and removed when the desired darkness is achieved. If a black and white pattern is desired use Express Blue #1 undiluted and boil in water after every rusting operation. Rinse in clean water, dry, and apply Rig gun grease and set aside for 24 hours to cure. Some finishers also apply a coating of wax or lacquer to the finished barrels.


The Radio Shack Ferric Chloride Solution is 35%. Dilute this solution 8 parts of distilled water to 1 part Radio Shack Ferric Chloride Solution. If this solution removes the color too easily it can be diluted further.

Rubber stoppers are needed to keep the etchant from getting inside the barrels. Chemical stoppers with a thru hole work well for double barrels. Thread the ends of a brass rod that is the correct size for the stoppers and attach using washers and nuts. These will not blow out in boiling water. The rods also make good handles. Check for leaks in clean water before starting procedure. Bores can also be oiled before installing plugs.

During the whole bluing or browning operation don’t touch the metal with your bare hands as you can leave contamination spots in the finish.

If you use steel wool for carding make sure to buy oil free steel wool. It is available at fine wood working stores. Start off using the finest grade available but have medium on hand as you might prefer it.

If you don’t have a boiling tank and are only going to do a few guns you can buy a piece of PVC pipe, glue a cap on one end, hang your barrel in the pipe and fill the pipe with boiling water each cycle. The PVC pipe will also work well for the Ferric Chloride etchant. A plastic wall papering tray can also be used.

After initial cleaning, a light scrub down with a 3M Scotchbrite pad while in the water rinse is often helpful to insure that all cleaner residue is removed.