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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an old standard 12 (circa 1952) that I'm cleaning up and I chose to rust blue the shotgun. It was in bad shape, and so far, I've took it down to bare metal, removed a couple scratches and dings, and worked through a series of polishing exercises. I've completed the receiver and barrel so far and it looks very nice, but not the same as a couple other FN auto 5's I have. As I compare the other FN auto 5's to other guns (just plain old hot bluing from Marlin .22's, Ithaca 37's and a Savage .270), the FN finish looks "blue'er" than those others... a shade closer to blue than to black. Can someone offer to me some background information on FN Browning's original finish?

Thanks
 

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Your gun was slow rust blued. The resulting color was more of a dark blue gray than the current caustic bluing process renders. In addition the rusting process leves a softer sheen....more of a soft shine.

Caustic blue is dark black as a glossy as a new car. It's not the original finish and think it looks out of character on the older A5's.

In addition, if you do the wood you should avoid the later high gloss finish (fullerplast). Use an oil modified varnish and you'll get the soft glow of the earlier factory finish.

If you want your gun to look "right" consider either Midwest or Art's for the rebluing. They both specialize in Brownings and offer the original style of blue.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
...thanks Jeff. So, if I understand you correctly, I shouldn't compare my 1964 light 12 and my 1962 sweet sixteen finishes (or any of those other hot blued guns i mentioned) to this standard 12. The correct finish on the steel for that standard 12 was indeed a slow rust blue?

Thanks again
 

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If your gun was originally rust blued, it could not have had the traditional Browning mirror finish. Rust bluing will not produce a high polish finish. Typically, the only post war, production line guns that were rust blued were double barrel shotguns because of the soft soldered barrels.

Hot salts bluing came into commercial use in the 1930's in Europe. After WWII when commercial gun manufacture resumed, virtually all major manufacturers had converted to it because of the much lower costs.

There are lots of different salts formulas. They all produce slightly different colors on different steel alloys. The color can also vary depending on the degree of polish before it goes into the salts. I'll bet your 1952 Browning was hot blued at the factory.

RWO
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
...does anyone know of publications that offer different hot salt recipes? With full effort, I'm confident I can acheive the mirror finish on the metal, but as to the hot salt, I would have to read up on the recipe, otherwise it would be that typical heavy black look that I want to avoid. If Jeff Mull posts again, maybe he can confirm that the early 1950's Belgian Brownings were not slow rust blued, but were indeed hot salt blued. I have to do all the work myself because I am obsessed with the DIY attitude. Anyone can write a check and send this gun out to the best restoration guy in the country, send the furniture off to the best of the best, and end up with a beautiful restoration, but if I did it all myself and put full effort into it and when it's done it rates a B+ or even an A-, then I will be proud of what I did. I bought this gun for $100 last summer and it looked horrible, so there's nothing to lose other than the $100...not the end of the world.
 

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RWO seems know what "virtually all major manufacturers had converted to". I don't know abouot everyone but I can tell you what FN did with the Browning A5.

From 1903 through the early 60's FN used a slow rust blue technique to make the A5. The transition from slow rust to hot dipped caustic blue happened over a couple of years in the early 60's as inventories were used up etc. According to Shirley and Vanderlinden the change occured around 1963 but with some caustic blue showing up earier and some slow rust blued guns still shipping in 1964.

As your other A5's were made in the transition period I'd hesitate to tell you what process was used on them without looking at them.

AND, keep in mind as rust blue wears and becomes thinner it tends to look more blue and less black. So you may be comparing a well worn rust blued gun to another with little wear so it looks blacker. You need to see a late gun that you know was caustic blued up close to get a basis for comparison.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
...thanks Jeff, I'm going to march on with the rust bluing on the remaining parts. I think you hit something when you spoke about this transition period. My other 2 auto 5's may well be hot caustic blued and I'm wrong for trying to compare all three side by side.

Thanks to all for their input. I'm new on this site and love the level you guys operate on.
 

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TPL,

If you like this site then also visit the shotgunworld browning forum, there are a lot of fans of the a5 there and a lot of useful information changes is exchanged.

Kind regards,

Jeff
 

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If you mix your own blueing. Amonium nitrate is when you want it black. Sodium nitrate is when you want it blue. I have not tried it yet but I have seen this in print.
 
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