I’ve never been a fan of restoring or refinishing guns. That’s because few people do it right. I’ve seen too many doubles wrecked by ‘smiths who’ve reblacked a set of barrels the wrong way or messed up a gun’s checkering by trying to recut it.
Re-coloring actions is another process very few ‘smiths do right. In this post on The Vintage Gun Journal, author Diggory Haddoke’s talks about why you should think twice before allowing anyone to do it to your gun:
“I’m likely to upset a few people with this article. There are businesses specialising in re-applying case colours to old guns and some of the proponents are quite high-profile. There are also collectors out there reading this who have paid a lot of money to have case-colours re-applied when having an old gun restored…”
I’m not a fan of refinished or “restored” guns. I say “restored” because old shotguns and rifles can never really be restored to their original finish — regardless of what gunsmiths or gun dealers may say. Original finish is like your virginity, when it’s gone, it’s gone.
But can’t you make old shotgun look new again? Rarely. Most of the time they just look refinished.
Simon Clode runs Westley Richards, and he’s a Brit through and through. Under his guidance, Westley has established itself as one of the world’s most successful gunmakers. After reading this post, I wonder if some of this success comes from Mr Clode having a different attitudes towards just how things should be done.
“I feel a good ‘follow on’ to the excellent post about patina, is a message about restoring guns and deciding if they are not ‘better off left alone” thus retaining their Patina.
I have always been very much against refurbishing guns for the sake of it. It actually takes a great deal of skill to work the finish of a gun and most of the guns I see at gun shows have suffered more financially as a result of a bad refinish, than if they had just been left alone…”
Refinishing shotguns is like golf: Lots of people do it, few do it well.
The 12 gauge VH-grade Parker shotgun you see here is up for auction now (ending March 17, 2013 17:15:00 PT). This double was made in 1902 and refinished by Parker in 1950 (owned by Remington and located in Ilion, NY, by then).
It’s a great looking gun, and it’s interesting to see what the factory did and how well they did it.
The first thing that JUMPS out are the screaming case colors. Those are cyanide colors. Originally this Parker came with bone-charcoal case colors, and when it was new they looked more like this. By the 1930s, Parker was using cyanide colors on all their shotguns. Take a closer look at the pics to see just how nice these colors looks.
Overall, I have to say that the refinish on this VH-grade Parker was done well — and right. If you would like to add a Remington-refinished Parker to your collection, this is the one to get.
Here are some words of wisdom for anyone who collects gun. This is from Leroy Merz’s website. Merz is one of the most successful antique firearms dealers in the country, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.
Should a gun be refinished or cleaned? Definitely not. You may have seen old cars or other antiques that have been restored and sell for a lot of money. The opposite is true for restored guns. There is no way to duplicate the original finish on a gun, especially after the metal has worn away or pitted. Once the metal is gone, there is no way to replace the lost metal. Some people do collect restored guns. That is a personal choice. But most people will pay a lot more for a gun showing honest wear and age, rather than one that has been cleaned, refinished or restored.