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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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