Sam Hoober writes [via ammoland.com]:
Today’s gun buyer can opt for stainless steel and similar alloy finishes, as well as Cerakote and other durable coatings. When it comes to gun finishes, do you pay a premium for a protective coating? Or do you skip the extra spending on finishes, like Cerakote, and throw precaution to the wind?
Keeping The Rust At Bay With Stainless And Other Gun Finishes
One of the biggest reasons a person would opt for a stainless steel or durable coating gun finish is to guard against rust. Guns are machines, after all, and rust is a direct threat to the long-term viability of any machine.
Rust is an oxide – an iron oxide, to be specific – which forms on the surface of metal as the molecular bonds of the metal are weakened by the presence of moisture. Oxygen molecules permeate the surface molecules of the metal and bond with molecules of iron, forming red iron oxide. As further molecules of steel are thus weakened, the layer of iron oxide deepens, weakening the metal.
Stainless steels are steel alloys with a relatively high concentration of chromium, usually 10.5% chromium content by mass though this varies by the exact steel used by the manufacturer.
The distinct advantage it holds over mere finishes on carbon steel is that a sufficient concentration of chromium allows for passivation – where a substance becomes less reactive to the elements – by means of a layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the material.
That layer of chromium oxide prevents moisture from permeating the steel, thereby prohibiting oxidation and the formation of rust.
Likewise, durable coatings such as Cerakote Coatings can form a passivized or otherwise near-impermeable layer on the surface. This keeps rust at bay and can even act as a semi-permanent lubricant.
Alternately a person can always op to get stainless or coated guns for appearances sake. They sure do look purdy…
A lot of pistols come with a specific coating as standard, but some gun models are offered with a durable coating or stainless steel as an optional upgrade. The cost varies by manufacturer or gunsmith, make and model – sometimes the premium is a week or two of beer money and sometimes it’s a month’s utilities payment.
Are Additional Gun Finishes Worth It?
If you desire a Cerakote finish or stainless steel for appearances sake, go for it. That’s an aesthetic preference.
What about the person who isn’t concerned about how the gun looks? It the coating worth it?
That depends on how you look at a gun. Some people have sentimental attachments to certain firearms. Others view them merely as a tool carried for a purpose. Since these tools can be obtained relatively cheaply – depending on the make and model of course – a person could be forgiven for not necessarily getting too attached.
So long as it’s cleaned, oiled and lubricated every few weeks, almost any EDC (everyday carry) gun will last for years with minimal rusting to speak of. Salt water is far more likely to rust a pistol than the typical rainstorm; that’s why marine shotguns and so on are a thing.
Kept in a concealed carry holster and regularly cleaned, the typical gun is going to be fine, with no real need for a premium finish.
Also, consider this: if you ever have to USE your carry gun, there’s a good chance you’ll lose it to the legal system. Do you want to spend much money on one or get too attached to it? That’s up to you.
What’s your take?