Jim Mayer, who owns the men's and ladies' clothing store, has parlayed a lifelong interest in fine firearms into a sideline business of estate sales. With his interest and expertise in quality guns, he began putting sellers and buyers together some years ago.
You won't likely find a fine .458 Jeffery double, or a beautiful .416 Rigby sitting on the used rack at the local gun store. It is in locating such exotica that Mayer excels; thus the clothing business has also segued into a sideline of estate sales.
Bud Bailey, who has been in the firearms business for many years, sells for Mayer, and occasionally, a nice firearm comes in — generally a handgun — with a bit of holster wear. If it is not a collector piece, Bailey has found a sure-fire way to "touch-up" the bluing on a gun.
"It's the best I've ever seen," he said.
This unequivocal statement was in answer to my question as to the effectiveness of a cold blue kit produced by Blue Wonder Gun Care Products (www.bluewonder.us).
I had received a press kit on the company's products, and was so intrigued by their claims, I had their marketing department send me samples of several of their products, including the cold blue kit.
Upon receiving it, I remembered this was the same stuff I had heard Bailey and Mayer raving about a few months before. So I called Bailey to find out if it was really necessary to use a propane torch to heat the metal before applying the metal cleaner and bluing compound — a bit more hassle than I wanted to get into at the time.
"I use a hair dryer," Bailey told me. "You only need to get the metal heated up to 130 degrees — warm, not hot enough to burn — and paint the stuff on. The more you use, the darker the blue."
Then I wondered why the company didn't suggest that; 130 degrees can be easily reached with a hot hair dryer. Following the instructions of the company, and Bailey's expertise, I took a favored old Marlin lever-action .30-30 into the bathroom (once more to the confounded disgust of my wife).
The "What are you doing with THAT rifle at MY sink?" question was answered with the perfectly sensible reply that it was her lavatory where the hair dryer resided.
I think the only reason I got away with it was the fact that the chemicals used in this process don't look like all those nasty, stinky gun-cleaning things that smell up the kitchen and stain the countertop. In fact, she hardly noticed, after she got over the initial shock of seeing a deer rifle propped up over a towel on her vanity.
The top strap of this rifle, extending into the top of the pistol grip of the stock, had been worn to white metal over the years. So white, in fact, that absolutely no rust was noticeable, and the strap practically gleamed.
But the instructions said coat the metal to be blued with the gun cleaning solution, then heat the spot to a point it was hot, but not to the point of causing burns. According to the brochure, this opens the pores of the metal, and the cleaner lifts off rust particles, oil and grease. Once the metal is hot, the instructions said to wipe the cleaning solution off the metal with a clean paper towel.
I did this after heating the metal very well with the hair dryer. When I turned the paper towel over, I was surprised to see rust stains on it, and there were no rust particles apparent to the naked eye. This metal was white!
The instructions then said to wipe the chemical bluing on the part to be treated with another clean paper towel, and let it dry. Since the metal was quite warm, the chemical dried almost instantly, so it was possible to apply continuous coats very quickly.
As promised, I could see the metal turning blue before my very eyes. And the more I applied, the darker it got. I stopped every few minutes to heat the metal back up with the hair dryer.
After applying 20 or so coats, the metal had turned a dark blue, and was attractively darker, if not the same color as the original bluing. Then the instructions stated you should apply the developer, a clear liquid, and let it sit for 6-8 hours. It is this chemical that "sets" the bluing, darkening it, and locking it into the pores of the metal.
Once the bluing has "set" with the developer, you then coat it as you would any bluing, with a quality gun oil.
So how did it turn out?
I have to tell you, I was most impressed. Mayer and Bailey were right. My 15 minutes of work had resulted in a blue that almost matched the original finish.
At a glance, no one would notice the difference. By the time the developer had done its work, the newly blued portion was virtually identical to the original finish.
I am sure if I went back and reapplied the chemicals, the bluing would only gain a deeper, darker luster, just like the brochure states. And the interesting part was that the chemicals could be applied to areas without harming other finishes, or other bluing — the process doesn't eat away at the surrounding bluing, resulting in a splotchy or streaked job.
In addition, I smeared all three of the chemicals on the hand-rubbed finish of the stock. The Tru-Oil finish on the wood was apparently undamaged.
The beauty of all this was the ease with which it was applied. The three products come in a small plastic bottle and two plastic tubes, and there is NO odor.
I had already been using the company's gun cleaner, which they claim is the "Best gun cleaner on the market, hands down!!"
This is a concentrated gel that adheres to the surface of the bore, and according to the company, completely removes copper and lead deposits, powder residues, plastic build-ups, black powder and black powder substitute corrosion, leaving a chemically clean, bare metal surface in minutes.
It is applied to a brass bore brush and liberally applied to the bore by scrubbing it five or six times, then reapplying another coat five or six times, being sure the entire bore is liberally saturated with the gel.
After five to 10 minutes, the instructions tell you to run bore patches through the barrel until they come out clean. According to the company releases, the bore will be perfectly clean, and ready for a light coat of oil if the gun is to be stored for the winter.
While I didn't have any seriously leaded barrels, or ones coated with copper, I can say the gel did leave an exceedingly bright bore in each of my rifles. And let's not forget those rust stains that showed up on my paper towels when I wiped down the top strap of the Marlin.
I liked the gel, and will continue to use it.
The company also sent a premium lubricant called Blue Wonder Disotec, which they claim offers superior corrosion protection and lubricity, and is non-toxic and biodegradable.
Perfect, they say, where a light lubricant is desirable. And it is this product they recommend for coating the areas freshly blued by their kit.
They state this product quickly reaches areas normal oils cannot, and bonds to the surface of the metals to provide durable and long-lasting protection.
Interestingly, they claim it does not attract lint, dust or dirt.
Finally, one of the other new products they supplied was the Blue Wonder Armadillo, a polymer protectant that delivers a hard shell, dry protection and lubrication.
This product can be used to protect metal from sweat, or in salty environments, and is a great choice for lubrication of the internal parts of semi-auto and automatic firearms where oil traps dirt and fired powder particles leading to malfunctions.
The company brochure also states it is an excellent product to protect concealed-carry firearms from sweat-induced rust.
I was a little curious as to how I would use this product, when it struck me that one great irritant of the little Marlin .30-30 was the aggravating tendency of the stock to swell around the backstrap and pistol grip anytime I hunted in inclement weather. The stock would always return to normal in the dry atmosphere of a house, but would noticeably swell around the seams if used in wet weather — and we know how wet January can be at the end of deer season here.
It struck me that here was a product I could "wax" into the seams and on the stock, and protect the wood from sucking up the moisture from the atmosphere. The paste looks like a wax, and is applied with a warm cloth.
It is, in fact, a polymer that coats and fills the pores of metal and wood, repelling moisture, and offering dry lubrication. The company calls it a "raincoat for your gun." The polymer can be applied to wood or metal for a long-lasting, hard shell finish that repels almost anything the atmosphere can deposit on it.
For more information on Blue Wonder products, write the company at 1585 W. Sam Houston Pkwy N. Houston, TX 77043, call them at 832-200-8005, or find them on the web at www.bluewonder.us.