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Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

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  • #16
    Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

    Looks great to me. You are now a metal polisher.

    Richard

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    • #17
      Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

      Looks great. Welcome to hell.

      Laters,
      Ken
      Once over dust, Twice over rust. ~USN

      Comment


      • #18
        Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

        Originally posted by Jycorro View Post
        Looks great. Welcome to hell.

        Laters,
        Ken
        Mwaaaahahahahahahahahahaha!

        Comment


        • #19
          Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

          It really is a kind of hell isn't it? After all, who in their right mind would spend the energy and the time doing what we do? The hell of it is that it never ever turns out as good as you would like it to.

          Richard

          Comment


          • #20
            Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

            This thread turned out to be both interesting and amusing. Pepsi has bought a gun that I've recently purchased, a Springfield Armory, XDM. His is a 9mm and mine, a .45.

            I'm here because I'm interested in performing the same job as pepsi. The crazy part of it all is that I can send the barrel out to be professionally polished (presumably the gunsmith is a professional/experienced metal polisher) for roughly $50, not including shipping. Having said this, here's my question: can the job done by pepsi be achieved with a 4.5 inch grinder and/or a power drill? Of course I'd buy the buffing/polishing wheels and compounds but I'm not inclined to buy additional tools. Please share your thoughts. BTW, from what I understand polishing a handgun barrel provides no performance value. It's purely aesthetic. I'm up for the challenge but, wow, it seems like a LOT of work just to say "I did it myself". I'm sure, however, that if I do a good job saying those words will be VERY gratifying.

            BTW, pepsi, how's the gun shooting? It not only looks well polished but, it looks like some of the hard edges may have been smoothed. Is this the case? If so, has the operation of the weapon been negatively affected?

            Thanks for your responses.

            Mark

            Comment


            • #21
              Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

              High speed grinders have no place in metal polishing. An electric drill can do the job. As you get from Pepsi's process, most of the work is in the sanding, and it must be done right. The final buffing is easy.

              Richard

              Richard

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

                Originally posted by MarkJaey View Post
                This thread turned out to be both interesting and amusing. Pepsi has bought a gun that I've recently purchased, a Springfield Armory, XDM. His is a 9mm and mine, a .45.

                I'm here because I'm interested in performing the same job as pepsi. The crazy part of it all is that I can send the barrel out to be professionally polished (presumably the gunsmith is a professional/experienced metal polisher) for roughly $50, not including shipping. Having said this, here's my question: can the job done by pepsi be achieved with a 4.5 inch grinder and/or a power drill? Of course I'd buy the buffing/polishing wheels and compounds but I'm not inclined to buy additional tools. Please share your thoughts. BTW, from what I understand polishing a handgun barrel provides no performance value. It's purely aesthetic. I'm up for the challenge but, wow, it seems like a LOT of work just to say "I did it myself". I'm sure, however, that if I do a good job saying those words will be VERY gratifying.

                BTW, pepsi, how's the gun shooting? It not only looks well polished but, it looks like some of the hard edges may have been smoothed. Is this the case? If so, has the operation of the weapon been negatively affected?

                Thanks for your responses.

                Mark
                First off welcome to the madness of both customizing your XDM and looking into polishing your barrel.

                If you're not already a member of xdtalk.com head over there for darn near anything you'll ever want to know about your girl.

                I too was debating whether to send it for around $50 or DIY. I'm glad I went the latter for a number of reasons, most importantly this: If you ever plan on using your hand gun the top flat part of the barrel will eventually get slight marks from rubbing against the slide. It's not often you'll have to do it but to keep it polished uniformly you'll have to touch it up once in a while.
                It's "mostly" aesthetic but there's a very slight increase in smoothness of the slide against the barrel. Nothing you'll notice - just technically. The drawback to that is since you're going from a smooth surface to an extremely smooth surface oil won't stay on the barrel: you'll have to use grease instead. I solved that annoyance by completely switching over to Frog Lube (I highly recommend). The other drawback to getting that mirror finish is that you'll never be able to fully appreciate the full polish except in the middle of cleaning because you're putting lubricant right back on there.
                All in all yes it's a lot of work and yes seeing my daily carried XDM - knowing I did it myself - is very gratifying.

                The edges may appear smoothed because of the zoomed in views of the pics but for all intents and purposes they are just as straight as when the barrel was coated. Despite the numerous range trips she still shoots better than I so the "M" in XDM still holds true. Zero malfunctions, zero problems, no regrets on my end.

                Grinder? Eh I'm not sure about that one. But a drill? Yes. I'll suggest two things if using a drill: Use one with variable speeds if possible (use the lowest setting you can); Clamp the drill down so you can keep both hands on the barrel (manipulating the angles of the barrel is going to be a lot easier than doing it when holding the drill). Other than that get some sandpaper in varying grits (optional), bobs, wheels and polish and you can do it. If you want to make this job a whole heck of a lot easier use a rotary tool (cheap from Harbor Freight) and fitting bobs for the initial stripping down to metal, and getting those hard to reach places. But I think it can be done without.
                I bought almost everything from Caswell - if you want me to come up with a shopping list let me know.


                Lastly I'll say that the steel is VERY tough. The bad news is it does take a lot of work to mirror it, but the good news is it would take a lot to screw it up. Worst case scenario you give up half way through and end up sending your partially-polished barrel to your preferred gunsmith. But as long as you're patient you shouldn't have a problem.
                Last edited by pepsi; 02-13-2012, 03:56 AM.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

                  I should have been more clear regarding the use of the grinder. Your response may not change (thank you for sharing your thoughts) but for the sake of clarity: I would use the grinder, not to grind but to buff. Caswell has an adapter/extension which would fit my grinder and - as I understand how it would be used - allow me to use the grinder as a hand-held tool for polishing. It is a high speed grinder and the rotational speed may make it an inappropriate tool for my needs.

                  What are your thoughts?

                  Mark

                  Originally posted by Rasper View Post
                  High speed grinders have no place in metal polishing. An electric drill can do the job. As you get from Pepsi's process, most of the work is in the sanding, and it must be done right. The final buffing is easy.

                  Richard

                  Richard

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

                    Thanks for your reply, pepsi. I'm a member of XDTalk and will look for you there. I'll also take your lead on barrel polishing.

                    Originally posted by pepsi View Post
                    First off welcome to the madness of both customizing your XDM and looking into polishing your barrel.

                    If you're not already a member of xdtalk.com head over there for darn near anything you'll ever want to know about your girl.

                    I too was debating whether to send it for around $50 or DIY. I'm glad I went the latter for a number of reasons, most importantly this: If you ever plan on using your hand gun the top flat part of the barrel will eventually get slight marks from rubbing against the slide. It's not often you'll have to do it but to keep it polished uniformly you'll have to touch it up once in a while.
                    It's "mostly" aesthetic but there's a very slight increase in smoothness of the slide against the barrel. Nothing you'll notice - just technically. The drawback to that is since you're going from a smooth surface to an extremely smooth surface oil won't stay on the barrel: you'll have to use grease instead. I solved that annoyance by completely switching over to Frog Lube (I highly recommend). The other drawback to getting that mirror finish is that you'll never be able to fully appreciate the full polish except in the middle of cleaning because you're putting lubricant right back on there.
                    All in all yes it's a lot of work and yes seeing my daily carried XDM - knowing I did it myself - is very gratifying.

                    The edges may appear smoothed because of the zoomed in views of the pics but for all intents and purposes they are just as straight as when the barrel was coated. Despite the numerous range trips she still shoots better than I so the "M" in XDM still holds true. Zero malfunctions, zero problems, no regrets on my end.

                    Grinder? Eh I'm not sure about that one. But a drill? Yes. I'll suggest two things if using a drill: Use one with variable speeds if possible (use the lowest setting you can); Clamp the drill down so you can keep both hands on the barrel (manipulating the angles of the barrel is going to be a lot easier than doing it when holding the drill). Other than that get some sandpaper in varying grits (optional), bobs, wheels and polish and you can do it. If you want to make this job a whole heck of a lot easier use a rotary tool (cheap from Harbor Freight) and fitting bobs for the initial stripping down to metal, and getting those hard to reach places. But I think it can be done without.
                    I bought almost everything from Caswell - if you want me to come up with a shopping list let me know.


                    Lastly I'll say that the steel is VERY tough. The bad news is it does take a lot of work to mirror it, but the good news is it would take a lot to screw it up. Worst case scenario you give up half way through and end up sending your partially-polished barrel to your preferred gunsmith. But as long as you're patient you shouldn't have a problem.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

                      That's correct; it's the speed. For buffing you want a machine that turns no faster than 4000. I think 2500 is the maximum for a hand held tool. When a buffing wheel grabs on a corner or an edge of the work, and it will, a high speed machine is very hard to control. It will injure you, and the work.

                      Richard

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

                        Got it, Richard. Thank you.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

                          Well Mark, I just did a Cerakote job for a guy and I polished out his barrel and extractor on my bench grinder in an hour or so. It wasn't a mirrored finish but close enough for a little extra. I had two hours to kill while the gun was cooking. I am looking for the before picture and will post the end results in the powder coating section.

                          Laters,
                          Ken
                          Once over dust, Twice over rust. ~USN

                          Comment

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