Finishing a firearm is a difficult thing to do—you need to choose a material or a coating that can withstand repeated wear and tear and friction at high speeds. This guide to different types of firearm finishes will give you a better sense of how different finishes work to make guns functional.
When you picture most firearms, you usually imagine a black gun, not a blue one. However, that black finish you’re familiar with is actually known as “bluing,” even though it’s applied with black oxide. This process occurs through a careful electrochemical conversion in which the iron in the steel material oxidizes, causing the surface to turn blue-black.
Bluing can be applied in several ways to achieve various final looks, from a polished shine to a matte appearance.
Parkerizing, named for the Parker family, is a method of phosphating the surface of a firearm to provide a more durable finish than black oxide can provide. Parkerizing a firearm makes it tougher to nick or corrode and was perfected around World War II.
To achieve a Parkerized finish, metal firearm parts must be submerged in heated phosphoric acid. This process leads to a gray or black finish and works very well with an oil coating.
DLC coating is perhaps the toughest option for firearms today. DLC stands for diamond-like carbon, an option that combines two of carbon’s best forms: diamond and graphite. These forms both have their benefits—diamond is useful because of its high hardness, and graphite is great for its natural tolerance to friction.
Firearms with a DLC coating tend to require less oil than other coatings because the graphite reduces friction and resistance. While other coatings are difficult to apply to the interior of firearms, you can easily apply DLC coating to any part of a firearm as long as you have the right equipment!
After reviewing this guide to different types of firearm finishes, we hope you have a better understanding of the complex science that goes into producing firearms!