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  #1  
Old 09-11-2019, 10:20 AM
DavidS DavidS is offline
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Wilson’s finishes-an honest opinion

I want to preface this by saying that I am a HUGE Wilson Combat fan. I currently own 4, not including my Beretta Centurion. BUT I’d like to have a very honest/frank discussion about Wilson’s finishes, primarily the Armor Tuff finish. Note: I own one factory blued Wilson. That is not the topic here.
Of my 3 remaining wilsons I have had two refinished. One was completely plated by the now defunct Robar in their NP3 plating.
The other was refinished in IonBond DLC and CrN.
The reason I refinished them is because Wilson does not offer these types of finishes.
My EDC X9 is the only one that is still finished in Armor Tuff. It has only been in and out of holsters, all quality leather holsters, and already the Wear is apparent.

To my point; this is simply not acceptable on a product as GOOD as Wilson offers.

I say this as more of a plea than a complaint because their guns really ARE that good, I just wish they offered a finish as robust as their guns.
Now I know what people will say; “it holds up just fine” yadda yadda yadda
Look; it’s simple science. Polymer spray paint finishes are simply NOT as durable as other options.
Hilton Yam recently did a YouTube video on this subject and I agree with his conclusion: that PVD type finishes are the superior finishes.

Robar had recently released a finish they called ArmorLube which was a PVD type finish with a lubricating element. This seemed to be far superior to the current crop of DLC offerings.
I had intended to send my X9 to get this finish applied but.....well Robar is no more.
I truly wish Wilson would consider a finish like this.

Again I am saying this as a FAN, not as a naysayer. I just wish the finish they applied to their guns were of the same quality as the guns themselves.

NP3ed Tactical Carry:



IonBond DLC and CrN Commander:
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:49 AM
Jerry1834 Jerry1834 is offline
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This is my first experience with WC and always been a Colt (early days), then Kimber and bluing/black didn't hold up on holster/normal operating wear.
Now with an EDC X9L with Black Armor Tuff finish I find the normal wear spots nonexistent after 4050 rounds. In Oct, I'll be giving it a good week long workout from the holster at Front Sight - will see then.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:57 AM
Striker2237 Striker2237 is online now
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DLC and nitride will rust before an AT gun, I own all the finishes out there and while sure nitride is very hard to scratch if dropped it can chip and then rust will get under the hard outer layer with ease, same with hard chrome and the DLC I've had wears through from holster contact and sand inside the holsters.

I care about stopping rust and platings just don't do as well as paint over park for that, nitride is not a finish just a hardening that will rust if left damp too long. It can also chip off as mentioned and it can't be redone a bunch of times without risking warping of parts. DLC is cool and all but it's just a spray on that again can flake off and rust underneath, too many of my Gen5 Glocks have totally worn through places already and even my zev has bare metal areas aplenty.

AT is nice since when I beat the hell out of a gun and send 20k rounds out of it it still doesn't rust inside the magwell when in heavy rain and not paid attention to. My chrome gun didn't like water in small areas in there where constant mag changes wore through. I rather have a system that is infinitely renewable and stops rust than one that is hard to scratch but can be compromised and hard/limited in the amount of times it can be reapplied.

Worst offender was my SIG 938, wore it in Florida when replacing the front suspension on a relatives car in super humid weather and from just contact with me for 6 hours it rusted around all the small parts and in the slide rails. That's in contrast to my carry Wilson that I wear at work that is constantly exposed to the same without any issue.

In my mind the job of a finish is to prevent actual damage to the gun, not cosmetic unimportant marring.
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  #4  
Old 09-11-2019, 12:55 PM
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DouglasS DouglasS is offline
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Two very interesting valid perspectives from David and Striker. One seemingly concerned more with ascetics and the other with performance. Perhaps Wilson Rep will chime in and explain why Wilson does not offer the other finish options.

In the meantime, I suppose the only option is to own two pistols, a safe queen that stays pristine and a working pistol. I guess that is what I did. Top left is my EDC and top right is my back-up that seldom gets used. I sent my back-up to WC to have all BP parts installed, my initials engraved behind the rear cocking serrations and French Walnut grips with silver medallions. I use it once every two years when I have to qualify with it for my California CCW license.

The other photos (click on them and they should orientate properly) are my EDC and a close-up of the muzzle wear after 7 years in a Milt Sparks VM2 (yadda yadda yadda )
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:11 PM
combat auto combat auto is online now
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AT is what it is, but all around pretty good. It is going to wear where it hits stuff repetitively, and brass kisses will show (on some color's more than other's). But it is maintenance free, and that is a big plus...I think the DLC finishes are much more resistant to holster wear, but there are fewer aesthetic choices.

All manufacturer's have their strong and weak point's, WC has mostly strong point's by a very wide margin. But in a perfect world I would take the best of WC and the best of Infinity (they have very strong point's in building a world class gun which will make a very-good shooter shoot like a pro-shooter, but weak points in other area's relative to WC) to build my version of a perfect 1911/2011. Alas, it doesn't work that way. It is like marrying the Bride, take the mostly good, with a small % (you hope ;-)) of not so good.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:35 PM
Harrish Harrish is offline
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Below in quotes is my comprehensive take on Wilson AT finish. It's a quote from an article I wrote comparing the Dan Wesson ECP and the Wilson ULC. Here is a link to the full article on TFB, or you can just read the excerpt below:
https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/...on-combat-ulc/

"Wilson calls their finish “Armor-Tuff”. Unfortunately, in my experience, and many others, this finish is not tough as Armor. In fact, Armor-Tuff (AT) looks to me to be very much like Cerekote, Duracoat, and other spray-on and bake finishes. In my experience these finishes are not the most durable. BUT, the concept of, what I will call for now, a “Quick Change Finish System” is growing on me. Wilson has been using the AT for years and they have the application and removal of this finish down to a science. I really like the fact that I can send my gun to Wilson and they can easily and completely remove the current finish and redo it in any one of the colors they offer any time I want. This can be done for a pretty reasonable price and a pretty quick turn-around too.

I believe it is $300 to remove and replace AT on the entire gun, and that includes all small parts and controls. Turnaround on a complete refinish seems to run just a few weeks. When refinishing a gun with other finishes, especially a gun as tight as a Wilson Combat, it is possible for the finish to be too thick and cause reliability problems. It gives me a great amount of comfort to know my Wilson is being refinished with the finish it was designed to use, and it is being applied by the same folks who built my gun! The more I think about it, I really like this “Quick Change Finish System” concept, and I would like to see other manufacturers offer something similar. It is also a smart way for a manufacturer to keep building a relationship with their customers and keep them coming back."

And since we are being "honest" here, I much prefer the older shinier black AT finish compared to the current dull matte black AT that has become the norm the last two or three years. It just looks like a common Parkerized finish, or the finish I see on the inexpensive RIA 1911s. But I really like the look of the older shiny black AT a lot.

Last edited by Harrish; 09-11-2019 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:43 PM
remanaz remanaz is offline
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My AT finish has chipped or worn off in a few places. I have roughly 1300 rounds put on in 6 range sessions and have bare metal in places. Luckily I live in AZ where rust is something we know nothing about.


My DWs however have never chipped nor show wear from holster draws. I much prefer DWs nitride finish over this AT stuff.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:21 PM
1054FPS 1054FPS is offline
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I’ve only had experience with Wilson’s AT, contemplated getting a blued Wilson but I just use my guns too much and sweat a lot when I carry them. Both the Wilsons I have, an EDC 9 single stack and stack elite 45 have both been used exclusively in a duty rig and been rained on for hours and days. After I work 3-5 days I’ll take it down and clean and lube it. Haven’t had any issues with rust. That coupled with they are my daily carry guns in kydex appendix holsters and they have held up as I expected. Sure there’s some wear but my guns are tools, expensive tools but still tools. Meant to be used and as long as they don’t start rusting or becoming unreliable they are serving my purpose. Everyone’s different though, if I wanted a gun that I didn’t shoot often, carry or use for duty use then I’d probably go with a nicer looking less durable finish. I don’t have funds for one of those just yet though.

Last edited by 1054FPS; 09-11-2019 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:05 PM
ozz007 ozz007 is offline
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My EDC X9 AT is not holding good at all. I was planning to send it to Robar, but they went out of business. I was thinking of using their NP3 Plus. Do any of you know who else is doing these type of finishes?
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:31 AM
mil spec mil spec is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Striker2237 View Post
DLC and nitride will rust before an AT gun, I own all the finishes out there and while sure nitride is very hard to scratch if dropped it can chip and then rust will get under the hard outer layer with ease, same with hard chrome and the DLC I've had wears through from holster contact and sand inside the holsters.

AT is nice since when I beat the hell out of a gun and send 20k rounds out of it it still doesn't rust inside the magwell when in heavy rain and not paid attention to. My chrome gun didn't like water in small areas in there where constant mag changes wore through. I rather have a system that is infinitely renewable and stops rust than one that is hard to scratch but can be compromised and hard/limited in the amount of times it can be reapplied.
I agree. I've seen many finishes. With that said all finishes have there pros and cons.

Since we are talking Wilson's AT here is my experience. I have a CQB in 9mm with AT. The only wear that is showing on the outside is from normal holster wear but IMO it happens to other finishes also. I know in the past I have seen Wilson's where the AT is chipping. But that is not the case with my CQB.

Recently I took delivery of a Wilson AR. When I was mounting BUIS and a Larue scope mount I just knew that it was going to damage the finish. Well I was proved wrong. I took the Larue mount off and not even a scuff. Did this several times to get the eye relief correct.

I would almost bet that Wilson Combat is alway trying to continue to improve the AT just like they come up with new firearms. Even Ed Brown brings out new generations of the coating.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:57 AM
coyotebuster coyotebuster is offline
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While I understand the concept of Wilson's AT, I think it looks like a cheap spray can paintjob. I long ago had a .22 Winchester rifle with a black plastic trigger housing that it reminds me of. I have an ULCC I bought used. It had been carried in a Kydex holster and shows quit a bit of holster wear in the normal places. There is orange peel in the finish on the top and side of the slide, that I just can't hardly stand. If Wilson will still do their shiney black, it's going back here real soon. If they won't do the shiney black, I'll have it IonBonded.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:03 AM
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I have two Wilson handguns with AT. Both have held up very well. There is a little holster wear but nothing more than would be expected and it is pretty minimal. My main carry summer gun is a Stealth .45 in AT and I carry it knowing that the AT is more rust resistant than my blued guns. At times when it is really hot and humid it gets used at the range just due to the rust preventing nature of the AT. I don’t baby my guns but I don’t toss them around, either. I have not experienced any chipping of the AT.

The older semi gloss finish is much nicer IMO than the current matte finish but I have heard that the matte finish may be more durable, not sure if that is true or not. Both of mine have the semi glass finish.

Personally I am satisfied with the AT. Could another finish be made an option, sure. But my default will always be a blued gun.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:22 AM
Striker2237 Striker2237 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozz007 View Post
My EDC X9 AT is not holding good at all. I was planning to send it to Robar, but they went out of business. I was thinking of using their NP3 Plus. Do any of you know who else is doing these type of finishes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mil spec View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Striker2237 View Post
DLC and nitride will rust before an AT gun, I own all the finishes out there and while sure nitride is very hard to scratch if dropped it can chip and then rust will get under the hard outer layer with ease, same with hard chrome and the DLC I've had wears through from holster contact and sand inside the holsters.

AT is nice since when I beat the hell out of a gun and send 20k rounds out of it it still doesn't rust inside the magwell when in heavy rain and not paid attention to. My chrome gun didn't like water in small areas in there where constant mag changes wore through. I rather have a system that is infinitely renewable and stops rust than one that is hard to scratch but can be compromised and hard/limited in the amount of times it can be reapplied.
I agree. I've seen many finishes. With that said all finishes have there pros and cons.

Since we are talking Wilson's AT here is my experience. I have a CQB in 9mm with AT. The only wear that is showing on the outside is from normal holster wear but IMO it happens to other finishes also. I know in the past I have seen Wilson's where the AT is chipping. But that is not the case with my CQB.

Recently I took delivery of a Wilson AR. When I was mounting BUIS and a Larue scope mount I just knew that it was going to damage the finish. Well I was proved wrong. I took the Larue mount off and not even a scuff. Did this several times to get the eye relief correct.

I would almost bet that Wilson Combat is alway trying to continue to improve the AT just like they come up with new firearms. Even Ed Brown brings out new generations of the coating.
The X9 is AT over stainless and alum, very weak compared to AT over park and I can easily see the difference on my comp vs slide (SS vs parked carbon steel), however the newest AT is really strong compared to the high gloss version so I agree that improvements have been made. Usual wear spots that showed up on my last two finishes buy now are just not happening with this newest coating.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:33 AM
AlchemyCustom AlchemyCustom is offline
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I'll just say this. There are definitely grades of DLC. The supplier Zev uses is the lowest. i.e. it's not technically Diamond Like Carbon. If that's your only experience with DLC, I'm not surprised by your post. I just want to put this out there so there's no confusion. I'm really a fan of Armor Tuff and would totally love a gun done in the finish. So, I'm not in any way downing A.T. I think it's a really cool "old school style" spray and bake ala Black T or Bearcoat by Rocky Mountain Arms.

For reference, I can glass bead blast the "DLC" by Zev's supplier and I can't Aluminum Oxide blast off true DLC from Ionbond or Northeast. Just my input from having to remove the finishes and re-polish for a re-do. It really made me scratch my head. I ended up throwing in the towel on Northeast's DLC and had them strip it for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Striker2237 View Post
DLC and nitride will rust before an AT gun, I own all the finishes out there and while sure nitride is very hard to scratch if dropped it can chip and then rust will get under the hard outer layer with ease, same with hard chrome and the DLC I've had wears through from holster contact and sand inside the holsters.

I care about stopping rust and platings just don't do as well as paint over park for that, nitride is not a finish just a hardening that will rust if left damp too long. It can also chip off as mentioned and it can't be redone a bunch of times without risking warping of parts. DLC is cool and all but it's just a spray on that again can flake off and rust underneath, too many of my Gen5 Glocks have totally worn through places already and even my zev has bare metal areas aplenty.

AT is nice since when I beat the hell out of a gun and send 20k rounds out of it it still doesn't rust inside the magwell when in heavy rain and not paid attention to. My chrome gun didn't like water in small areas in there where constant mag changes wore through. I rather have a system that is infinitely renewable and stops rust than one that is hard to scratch but can be compromised and hard/limited in the amount of times it can be reapplied.

Worst offender was my SIG 938, wore it in Florida when replacing the front suspension on a relatives car in super humid weather and from just contact with me for 6 hours it rusted around all the small parts and in the slide rails. That's in contrast to my carry Wilson that I wear at work that is constantly exposed to the same without any issue.

In my mind the job of a finish is to prevent actual damage to the gun, not cosmetic unimportant marring.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:55 AM
Striker2237 Striker2237 is online now
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Originally Posted by AlchemyCustom View Post
I'll just say this. There are definitely grades of DLC. The supplier Zev uses is the lowest. i.e. it's not technically Diamond Like Carbon. If that's your only experience with DLC, I'm not surprised by your post. I just want to put this out there so there's no confusion. I'm really a fan of Armor Tuff and would totally love a gun done in the finish. So, I'm not in any way downing A.T. I think it's a really cool "old school style" spray and bake ala Black T or Bearcoat by Rocky Mountain Arms.

For reference, I can glass bead blast the "DLC" by Zev's supplier and I can't Aluminum Oxide blast off true DLC from Ionbond or Northeast. Just my input from having to remove the finishes and re-polish for a re-do. It really made me scratch my head. I ended up throwing in the towel on Northeast's DLC and had them strip it for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Striker2237 View Post
DLC and nitride will rust before an AT gun, I own all the finishes out there and while sure nitride is very hard to scratch if dropped it can chip and then rust will get under the hard outer layer with ease, same with hard chrome and the DLC I've had wears through from holster contact and sand inside the holsters.

I care about stopping rust and platings just don't do as well as paint over park for that, nitride is not a finish just a hardening that will rust if left damp too long. It can also chip off as mentioned and it can't be redone a bunch of times without risking warping of parts. DLC is cool and all but it's just a spray on that again can flake off and rust underneath, too many of my Gen5 Glocks have totally worn through places already and even my zev has bare metal areas aplenty.

AT is nice since when I beat the hell out of a gun and send 20k rounds out of it it still doesn't rust inside the magwell when in heavy rain and not paid attention to. My chrome gun didn't like water in small areas in there where constant mag changes wore through. I rather have a system that is infinitely renewable and stops rust than one that is hard to scratch but can be compromised and hard/limited in the amount of times it can be reapplied.

Worst offender was my SIG 938, wore it in Florida when replacing the front suspension on a relatives car in super humid weather and from just contact with me for 6 hours it rusted around all the small parts and in the slide rails. That's in contrast to my carry Wilson that I wear at work that is constantly exposed to the same without any issue.

In my mind the job of a finish is to prevent actual damage to the gun, not cosmetic unimportant marring.
Oh good. Makes me like this overpriced Glock even more! Well that makes sense why it didn't hold up nearly as well as they claimed, I may try a real DLC then since my Gen5s are worse than the zev and left me really unimpressed.

I may have to send something to northeast and see how it holds up, probably give them one of my HKs or something to test this out on.
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:35 AM
Lab4Us Lab4Us is offline
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Originally Posted by ozz007 View Post
My EDC X9 AT is not holding good at all. I was planning to send it to Robar, but they went out of business. I was thinking of using their NP3 Plus. Do any of you know who else is doing these type of finishes?
I was debating on whether to do this with my EDC X9 as well (no wear, just liked the concept). But...why did they go out of business? If the be all, end all of gun finishes, shouldn’t they always have had more business than they needed to stay well ahead, profit-wise? Or if the original owner was tired of it, why wouldn’t it be easy to sell a profitable business?

To be honest, this company shutting down out of nowhere gives me some pause for trying any of them. On the outside chance my Wilson needs a refinish, seems Wilson’s fees are pretty reasonable...and that’s if they wouldn’t fix it on their dime under warranty (I don’t beat on my guns).

I was really enamored with the “needs no lubricant” claim though!
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:12 AM
Harrish Harrish is offline
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Originally Posted by AlchemyCustom View Post
I'll just say this. There are definitely grades of DLC. The supplier Zev uses is the lowest. i.e. it's not technically Diamond Like Carbon. If that's your only experience with DLC, I'm not surprised by your post.
You bring up a GREAT point. There are a number of folks out there who actually do the finishes on the guns, be it PVD, DLC, Black Nitride, IonBond and so on. Let's take Black Nitride for example. In reality I think there are about 3 or 4 suppliers who actually do all of the Black Nitride work in the country. But there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, who offer the Black Nitride finish. Those folks just send the parts to one of the 3 or 4 suppliers who actually do Black Nitride. It is expensive to set up to do that process, that's why so few actually do it. But among those 3 or 4 suppliers, the quality of the Black Nitride finish varies greatly! There is great BN work and horrible BN work.

Cerekote and Durakote are much easier to apply and these spray and spray and bake finishes don't require many special tools. Pretty much anyone can set up to do Cerekote type finishes. That's the problem, ANYONE can do it. You get folks who have no idea what they are doing, and those who are experts. So the quality of finish you get all depends on WHO you have do it, NOT the quality FINISH itself necessarily.
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Old 09-29-2019, 03:25 PM
chrysanthemum chrysanthemum is offline
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Every type of finish has its own downside(s).

It's almost to be expected that the downside(s) will be noted and often receive more attention than the positives. It's natural to focus on whatever doesn't meet one's ideals, and to wish it were better; and to take note of different types of finishes that do not have the specific downside characteristic(s).

It's also almost to be expected that matters related to the aesthetics of the firearm will receive much attention. These tend to become apparent during the first few months of ownership.

While being aware of the downside (s), including those of an aesthetic nature, is certainly relevant, it is also worthwhile to remember that firearm finishes were originally and primarily developed to protect the steel from corrosion/deterioration. There is some merit, even today, in giving the latter purpose a high priority. AT stands pretty well in that regard.
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:07 PM
Plantar5 Plantar5 is offline
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My sons Wilson is AT and looks like the day he got it, but it’s not carried.
Mine (3) are blued. What I’ve grown to really like is the (3) melonite that Guncrafter uses as their standard finish. Imho it’s nicer than AT.

Last edited by Plantar5; 09-29-2019 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:13 PM
DavidS DavidS is offline
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Melonite or salt nitrided Is an actual metal treatment as opposed to just an adhered finish. It physically strengthens the surface to the metal.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:14 AM
erf7 erf7 is offline
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I like melonite as well, but I will say if you carry IWB and shoot a lot, melonite will definitely wear as well.


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Old 09-30-2019, 08:53 PM
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Cajun Gun Works, it's going to start doing NP3+, I sent an email asking if this will be only for CZ Pistols or other makers can be sent.

waiting on the reply.
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  #23  
Old 10-01-2019, 05:05 AM
mlg mlg is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 200
Wilson AT

Wilson makes some fantastic guns especially in their 1911 9mms. I have to admit from personal experience, not a fan of the armor tuff finish. My last CQB 45 acp chipped in the ejection port area. To be transparent, Wilson offered to refinish but advised as long as the gun was functioning with feeding and extraction they would not change anything. I have not had any problems with their 9's.
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  #24  
Old 10-01-2019, 06:27 AM
MichaelE MichaelE is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Southern Illinois, the good part.
Posts: 253
Armor Tuff, Dura Coat and all the other handgun coatings, or paint as I like to call it doesn't belong on any of my handguns.

It's either Park'ed, Tenifer, or blued. Melonite is also acceptable on Berettas.

Nothing is uglier on a handgun than to see obvious chips and scratches where there once was paint.
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  #25  
Old 10-03-2019, 07:07 PM
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ECHO154 ECHO154 is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: IL
Posts: 373
The Armor Tuff on my Wilson has held up to duty wear in a Serpa tons better than the factory Nighthawk finish on my Enforcer. Both guns have about the same on duty time in identical Serpas holsters.
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Last edited by ECHO154; 10-03-2019 at 07:11 PM.
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