Color Engraving on Metal Gun Slide





Introduction: Color Engraving on Metal Gun Slide

About: I just occasionally make stuff, and if it's different enough, I'll make an Instructable to inspire others.

Here's an easy way to color the engravings on your blued steel gun slide. It's cheap and easily removed. The wax from melted crayons will fill in the engravings and add some 'pop' to you gun. If you don't like it, you can heat up the slide and remove the wax with a cloth or paper towel.

I like this method over enamel or nail polish because it's fool-proof.
If you get sloppy, no problem - just heat it up and wipe it clean.
If you want to sell the gun - just heat and wipe.
If you want a new color - heat and wipe and re-apply.

Step 1: Required Materials

The materials required are:
Crayon(s) - you can experiment with different colors, I chose white and grey
Stiff paper (I like playing cards)
Notebook or newspaper

Step 2: Field Strip Gun



Remove all cartridges from the room and field strip the firearm. Consult your manual for exact procedure.

Step 3: Apply Wax

Heat the slide using the lighter, being careful not to get any soot onto the slide. It's best to keep the lighter 1" from the surface. It won't take too much time to heat it up. Just heat the area to apply color so it's warm enough to melt the crayon. When it's hot, liberally apply the crayon, any color you like, making sure to fill in all of the engraving. It should completely cover the engraving. By heating the slide it will flow and adhere to the metal.

Step 4: Cool the Wax

Stick it in the freezer for fifteen minutes or more. This will solidify the wax. The slide will cool slowly from convection and will not warp.

Step 5: Remove Excess

Remove the slide from the freezer. Heat in up with the lighter (not too hot) again to melt the surface wax. Now using your stiff paper, scrape the excess off the slide. Don't use a rag or anything with loose fibers as these will remove wax from the grooves of the engraving.

Use the loose newspaper to rub off the excess after scraping. The frictions from rubbing the newspaper should be enough to heat up the wax and rub it free.

You can now clean the gun as normal using any standard cleaner (e.g. Hoppe's 9, Breakfree CLP) without worry.

Step 6: Take It to the Range and Let It Loose!

Reassembly your firearm and enjoy!

I've fired 300 rounds since coloring without any wear to the wax.

If at any time you want to change the color or go back to bland, just heat it up and remove the wax with a soft towel.



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    I love the world we live in that you need to tell people to unload their sidearm before messing with it. #idiocracy

    I have done this method with a hair dryer ans never had an issue. This has been done to 6 firearms. I am planning on in the future using the lacquer stick next on the custom engraving to make it stand out more.

    thinned testers works the best. done my glock17, use 45 and spikes lower with testers paint and it's been there for well over 2 years.

    ive done this before and found that a hair dryer set to high HEAT works very well and no danger of overheating or soot. gray looks really good .

    also you shouldn't be taking pictures of a loaded gun (safety first)

    1 reply

    A gun is always loaded.
    His finger isnt on the trigger
    Its (assumed to be) pointed in a safe direction.

    None of the 3 rules are broken, he's fine.

    This is a bad idea, I gunsmith on an apprentice basis, and the rapid heating and cooling of the slide could possibly alter the metallurgy of the slide, even small amounts of heat that is not uniform could warp the action,(especially when rapidly cooling it in a freezer) if you want to add some color to your gun i recommend chalk, i have used that several times to highlight iron sights and it could work in this application without the heat, just rub it across the grooves and it will stick. i guess you could also use nail polish too, Ive seen that used to highlight iron sights also ,just make sure you wipe off the excess before it dries.

    4 replies

    Well as a professional gunsmith, and a metallurgist that specializes in firearms.. The slide is exposed to more heat during the normal use.... I do agree that heating the slide to an extreme heat then placing in a freezer is not advised.... The small amount of heat added to the slide is harmless.... Since a gunsmith uses torches all the time to release stubborn adhesives from sights etc..... I would suggest very minimal heat, where the slide is just slightly warm to the touch... then after the wax is in place, allow the slide to cool normally on your bench and do not expose it to the rapid cooling....

    Noted. Consider this before you try this on your Kimber Custom or other expensive, accurate gun. My XD shown here, is for self defense only. The heat is applied to a small area of the slide and only enough to melt wax. You can generate that much heat with a couple of magazines of rapid fire. And my freezer won't rapidly cool anything. As for nail polish and other enamels, I've seen it done but is much less forgiving to error.


    Personally I'd suggest melting the wax on its own (takes less than 100°C so can be done with boiling water) and applying a small amount of melted wax to the engraving, than let it cool naturally. Not sure how to replicate the last step without directly heating the slide, perhaps use a hair dryer or hold the slide above (not directly above) a gas ring to get hot air with less localised heating and a lower temperature. The wax doesn't have to be completely liquid, just softened, so you only really need warm temperatures. On a personal note I'd like to see the effect with other colours than white to see how vivid it gets, but I can use my imagination.

    I did actually use two colors. Maybe the new pictures show this better. As for pouring in molten wax, I don't think it would adhere and well. I could run enough rounds through that gun to burn my hand without doing noticeable damage so I don't think a small amount of localize heat would do any harm.

    SWEET! Someone showing an XD instead of the same old inferior(to the XD anyway) glocks.

    very cool, I have the 45 xd compact and i'm gonna try red on it. thanks for the idea.

    Oh yeah, I also hear testors enamel paint is good for this too

    If you fire a lot of shots in a row, will the slide heat up enough to soften the wax so the wax falls out?

    1 reply

    Rapid fire, like IPDA competition, will heat up the slide enough to soften the wax and with the rapid action of the slide, it could potentially 'flick' it out. Since my local range doesn't allow rapid fire, I haven't had this occur.