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"Rust removal on antique gun"

An ongoing discussion beginning back in 1998 ...


Q. My Grandfather was a farmer and had a shotgun which he used primarily for killing off small animals. The gun is at least 50 years old - other than that, I know nothing about it. I received the gun about 3 years ago and thought that it was being stored in the attic. We recently moved and found the gun in a storage shed - very rusted! I am not concerned with functionality but would like to know the best way to remove the rust so that it could be displayed in my home. Thanks for any suggestions.

Kerri Painter

Naval Jelly

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Brownells Oxpho-Blue

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A. Kerri, other than chemically removing the rust, an economical solution to your problem would be to have the item sand blasted then you can paint it. Check your local yellow pages for Sandblasting, Beadblasting, etc.. Good luck, Jeff

Jeff Mills
metal finishing shop - Gorham, Maine


A. Kerri,
I recently purchased an old Winchester 22 pump, and I ran in to the same problem with this gun. I talked to several people and the recommended sand blasting, but I didn't really like the Idea of that so I decided that I would try to clean it up myself. I took the whole gun apart and I bought a tooth brush type wire brush and some naval jelly rust remover =>

I did it piece by piece and purchased a bluing kit =>

and it turned out looking pretty good. If you don't like that idea, and would rather just have it done there is a company that will completely re do it for a reasonable price. [Hotflash Gun Refinishing Service, Paynes Creek, CA]. I hope some of this information is helpful to you.

Philip D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Milan Indiana

Norton Bear-Tex wheel

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A. Kerri if you still haven't finished that gun try a "BEAR-TEX' wheel by Norton =>

They can be picked up at most autobody supply shops. Take down of the gun may be necessary. If you chuck the wheel up in a typical 3/8" drill or bench grinder, And work all affected parts gently , as to not remove any identifying marks or structural integrity, all rust and pitting will easily be removed. Along with an extra fine wire wheel to get in those tight places and final finishing, you'll be ready for a new bluing. Or if you choose to go for an antiqued finish cold blue it yourself.

jeremie johnston
- Missouri

February 3, 2012

Cleaner-Lubricant-Preservative at Brownells

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A. Kerri,

Please don't sandblast or use a power tool/grinder/sandpaper/wirebrush on an antique weapon. My advise is ordering some CLP (cleaner, lubricant, preservative) =>
...covering the surface and scrubbing at it with an AP brush (tooth brush, same thing) over and over again wiping off the rusty liquid with a dry cloth as you continue the process...

If the weapon is VERY rusted it might be a long process... but would you really want to go at it with any other process than this? Wire brushes are a no go, no, they probably won't do much damage but still this is the direction I would go... used the same process with my grandfathers newport model cn (1910-1926) when I pulled it out of storage after getting out of the marine corps... I'm a firm believer in CLP! haha. steel wool would be a reasonable option if you chose to do so. Im not sure when you posted this and I might be too late... if you chose any one of these options and it worked great then I'm glad. either way just thought id throw in my input... and by the way, not saying you will... but please don't sell this antique weapon... it saddens me knowing people do sell things like this that should be passed down as an heirloom. Thanks for reading!


Seth Phelps
- Conroe, Texas USA


Q. This gun was given to me by my father it is 54 caliber with model #OF1865 rn16245 with a bullet or ball and a flint to make it fire it looks like an army rifle the strap is missing it has a sight on the end and also by the end of where the bullet goes it has a round pull back and a hammer that pulls back as well. I also have a Winchester 12 gauge double barrel full model 1897 made in 7/26/1896 plain w/no silver on it or fancy stuff either. Anything you can tell me I would appreciate it. Thank you.

Ed Karinski
Lehigh Acres, Florida


Q. A good friend of mine found a gun in his attic. I do not have the first clue an how to go about identifying it. IT is a single barrel with a hammer. I took some pictures and would be happy to share them with any one who could help me identify it. If you know how or where I could go about identifying this gun, please contact me.



Matt Asch
- Portage, Wisconsin


Hi, Ed. Hi, Matt.

You posted your letter at a metal finishing site, and I unfortunately don't know much about identifying guns. But I'd give odds that your public library has books that show you how to proceed in the identification. I see "Modern Guns: Identification & Values", and note that there are at least another half-dozen books in the same genre available. Good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. My name is David. I am from Mississippi and I recently went on a pheasant hunting trip in North Kansas. It was a wonderful experience until I opened my gun case after getting off the plane. The airline (Southwest...be careful) had allowed my brand new 12 gauge shotgun, in the case, to sit in the pouring down rain while changing planes. Now they will not stand behind the incident. Does anyone have an idea on how I can restore the barrel of my new gun. It has spotted rust up the entire barrel. Thanks very much!

David Mitchell
hobbyist - Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Remove rust without damaging bluing on antique 1864 Springfield

March 30, 2020

Q. I have a Model 1864, .38 Caliber, Springfield Trap Door that was found along the Bighorn River in Montana (30 or so miles from where Custer Battlefield lays). It was found in the 1930's and has been setting inside after that. Dirt all over and all pitted with rust. Rear sights are about to fall out as well as the trap door. I am just trying to figure out how to clean off the rust so I can display it in a shadow type box. My father played with it as a toy! I have a letter from the Buffalo Bill Museum using the serial number. I can't take it apart as the stock is banded to the barrel. It is blued. Will a Dremmel tool and CLP ruin the bluing that is left?

Russell Ostwalt
- Havre, Montana USA

April 2020

A. Hi Russell. Unfortunately, bluing is millionths of an inch thick at best, not thousandths. No way will it survive rust removal with a Dremel tool.

You might investigate the value of the gun, as well as consider its sentimental value to you as your father's childhood toy, and consider having a metals conservator look at it. D-I-Y doesn't sound appropriate for a 150 year old item like this. An alternative if you want to display it is to have a gunsmith re-blue it. There may be some accepted way to remove the stock and then repair/replace bands. Good luck with it.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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