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How to I "bead blast" a buffed and polished stainless steel pistol slide (the sides are like mirrors) to get a matte, non glossy finish? I've run a search and posed this question in several threads, but not seen a response!

I assume this is not a custom gunsmith task.

I need to find a local shop to do this and need to know what the recommended "blasting" media is so I can be semi-intelligent when I talk to them. I don't know why they polish these things...

-- Chuck
 

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Chuck,
With this being a stainless steel slide, you probably don't want to go to the local garage to use their bead blaster. Those guys typically stick anything inside that will fit and the glass beads are really a mix of paint chips, carbon, rust, and carbon steel particles. When they are sprayed into your stainless slide under pressure, some of them will imbed in the slide and stay there. What you may experience is tiny black specs forming in a few weeks/months where the little specs of carbon steel rusts.
You won't know anything has gone wrong until you see the little specs turn dark. :scratch: I would at least try to find someone who doesn't use their machine to clean dirty parts and who has just loaded a fresh batch of beads.
 

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Chuck S said:
:scratch: :scratch: :scratch:


How to I "bead blast" a buffed and polished stainless steel pistol slide (the sides are like mirrors) to get a matte, non glossy finish? I've run a search and posed this question in several threads, but not seen a response!

I assume this is not a custom gunsmith task.

I need to find a local shop to do this and need to know what the recommended "blasting" media is so I can be semi-intelligent when I talk to them. I don't know why they polish these things...

-- Chuck
Hi Chuck.

Mirror polished stainless steel flats should give the base for a beautiful glowing finish. If I were doing it I'd use Fine glass bead media (170/325 mesh) at about 40 PSI and keep the blasting gun moving to get a uniform finish. If I wanted a bit more matte to the finish I'd increase the pressure to about 60 PSI and move the blasting gun more slowly.

My current taste is for that kind of finish, one that takes down the glare and provides a lovely soft glow on the flats. Assuming that the rounds are already matte, the above technique retains the matte quality but gives it a little glow too. That's what I like.

If you want a rougher matte finish the blaster can change the medium to Medium (80/120 mesh) or even Coarse (50/70 mesh) glass beads or even to another medium altogether.

But were I in your position I'd approach the situation differently.

First, I would work through a custom pistolsmith. I'd want someone who knows what not to do with a pistol. You don't want the interior of the slide or frame blasted, for example, and you want the holes plugged and the internal areas masked carefully. It's specialty work and I'd want someone who knows how the finishing operation fits into the overall scheme of things. I wouldn't want someone who says "Yes, yes, yes" and blasts everything in sight. I'd also want someone who is sensitive to the essential crankiness of gun cranks--not, of course, that you or anyone else here is a crank. I'm talking about the other guys. And I'd want someone who hasn't used really coarse media for other jobs in his cabinet, because it will mix with the good stuff when he blasts your job, unless he himself is enough of a crank to clean, vacuum, and blow out the cabinet and the blast gun. First rate pistolsmiths are gun cranks too, so that's who I'd want.

Second, I would not specify how to do the job. I would bring in an example of the finish I want, look dumb (easy for me to do), point at it and say "I want that." My own experience is that whenever I tell an expert (or someone who should be expert) how to do his job I wind up getting blamed for anything unsatisfactory: "Yeah, well, I wouldn't have done it that way but you told me how you wanted it done so I did it your way." With an experienced pistolsmith it's not even necessary to give him an example of what you want--unless you want something unusual--because it's easy to say "Make it look like the finish on a stainless steel Les Baer" or whatever.
 

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Yikes, a gentleman in a gunstore just did a little 1911 work for me and said that he had a guy who could bead blast it for me. I'm a little worried about chips of things getting imbedded in the steel now that I read this thread. If this happens, how do I fix it? Get a professional to re-blast it?

Precision GW, what would you suggest?
 

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Here's my Springer that I media blasted (slide only). I stripped everything out of the slide, carefully masked the inside of the slide - but did blast the rails. I also masked (with 7 layers of clear packing tape) the Springfield name - my ingraving under the Novak & the other side name plate area.
I didn't like the shiney buffed sides - that ALL the gun makers do. I wanted to be a little different. If I do it again, I'll just mask off the inside & my ingraving. BTW: the blasted slide nearly matches the factory finish on the frame. Thanks...
 

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I typically use A/C beads for about every thing. Varying the PSI for the effect wanted or the job. With this, depending on the base metal, you can get anything from a blush, to a very warm and pleasing satin, on to a semi-matte if you prefer. It just depends upon the skill of the operator.
Whoever you have do it, you want to be sure that they use fresh beads, and not some that have been used for anything else.
A lot of shops, to try to save a buck or two, will instead of striping and cleaning properly, will reuse beads that they have used for these purposes. So beware there.

Good luck,

Don
 

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Another caution: most repair shops with bead blasters use the coarser sizes of beads, and blast at very high pressure. This will not give you that "frosted" appearance most people want. Stainless steel blasted this was usually comes out a darker gray, about Ruger target gray, with a really rough surface. Be sure you know what you're dealing with before you commit.

Bob
 
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