Stainless Steel Vs Blued Guns: Which Is Better?

When gun shopping, we are often overwhelmed with not only the different calibers, types of guns, applications, but also the materials. One such option is whether the gun has a stainless-steel finish, or if it is blued. Not only that, but there are now options to coat our guns even further with cerakote and durakoat!  

But what exactly is the difference, and which one is better? Let’s explore the differences and determine what might be best for our needs.

What Is a Stainless Steel Gun Finish?

First, lets define Steel. Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon containing less than 2% carbon and 1% manganese, with other trace amounts of silicon, Sulphur, oxygen, and phosphorus.  

Steel is a powerful alloy that has enabled us to build some of the most important infrastructure projects, buildings, and other engineering feats.

There are 4 main different types of steel:

  • Carbon Steel
  • Alloy Steel
  • Tool Steel
  • Stainless Steel

Stainless steel, is steel that contains between 10% and 20% chromium. This helps make the steel very resistant to corrosion. Stainless steel is about 200 times more resistant to corrosion than regular steel.

Can Stainless Steel be Blued?

It is a little more complex to blue stainless steel vs regular steel. 

It is possible, but only with a hot bluing process and specific chemicals.

It is also likely not necessary since stainless steel already offers solid rust and corrosion protection.

stainless steel vs blued gun

What are the Benefits to Stainless Steel on a Gun?

Stainless steel guns were first introduced sometime in the late 1920s to early 1930s.

Funnily enough, men began to notice how easy it was for their significant others to clean their stainless steel cookware, and thus it began to find its way on to firearms.

The main benefit to owning a gun with a stainless steel finish is the strong resistance to heat erosion, and pesky rust.

Stainless steel is nearly rust proof, even in somewhat humid environments. It is important to note that while they are very resistant to rust, it is still possible for a gun to rust if left wet or improperly stored.

Stainless steel has become a great all around and popular choice for hunting, military, tactical, and marine environments.

What is a Blued Gun?

Bluing, is a process in which steel is protected against rust by using a black oxide coating.

We call it bluing, after the process blued steel will have a beautiful black / blue shine to it.

We blue steel guns specifically to prevent them from rusting.

Do Blued Barrels Rust?

While the bluing does offer some protection, it is still possible to rust.

One issue with blued guns, is that once the bluing has been compromised or corroded, it is a lot easier for the rust to reform.

So what do you do then? Most of the time you will have to get it reblued.

stainless steel vs blued gun

Ok Great, So Which is Better?

Looks:

One thing to consider when purchasing your gun is the aesthetics. Some people just love that blue finish look, and others prefer stainless.

Personally, I could go either way, I kind of like the look of both finishes.

I will note, that in hunting applications some people believe stainless steel is shinier and thus less camouflaged.

Winner: Tie

Durability:

While bluing definitely adds an extra layer of rust protection on top of carbon steel, it does not match the durability that stainless steel offers.

If you live somewhere humid, or expose your firearm to the elements whether in tactical training situations, hunting, or military/police applications, the general consensus is to go with stainless steel.

You will get less finish wear overall and it is more rust resistant than a blued gun.

Winner: Stainless Steel

Cost:

Stainless steel guns are generally more costly than their blued counterparts.

Stainless steel is not cheap to manufacture, but does have good value for the right user.

Winner: Blued

Summary:

Because of the different benefits for each material, it is worth asking yourself what you need the firearm for, and whether or not the increased cost of stainless steel is worth it.

Doing some plinking at the gun range? Maybe opt for a blued finish.

Regularly hunting waterfowl? I would choose a stainless steel gun.

What is Cerakote on a Gun?

Cerakote is formulated to specifically be resistant to corrosion.

Not only will it protect against rust, but also abrasion, and it is resistant to a number of different chemicals that could affect the average steel gun.

While it is possible to cerakote your gun yourself, I would recommend having it done professionally.

If you are a serious hunter or someone who takes their firearm out into the elements quite a bit, I highly recommend getting it done.

If you are just somebody who wants the piece of mind, and does not have the time or patience to regularly clean, maintain, and properly store your gun, I would also recommend doing it!

Another thing that I like about coatings is that you can get a cool finish on your gun like a camo, snakeskin, etc., or really any colors you like!

Just keep in mind having this done is definitely not cheap, but it will likely increase the value of your firearm if you should ever decide to sell in the future.

Duracoat is another manufacturer who has their own proprietary coating system, similar to CeraKote.

I hope this article helped clear up any questions you had about stainless steel vs blued guns. Happy shooting!

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