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An Example of complete 'Flaking' on a Model-21 trigger plate.

'Flaking', the common term used to describe disproportionate bluing wear on a Model 21, especially on the trigger plate.


(click on the photo for a close-up)
Pre-War 20 Gauge Skeet #11,334 and a period Winchester Case

     Number 11,334 is a made for stock 20 gauge Skeet gun with 26 inch barrels built in 1937.  The barrels and receiver show very little bluing wear, so I doubt it was used for competitive skeet shooting.  The lack of scratches on the stock finish and sharp checkering don't tell of may days afield, either.  But virtually all bluing on the floor plate and trigger guard is gone(see below).


(click on the photo for a close-up)
#11,334 shows very little stock or metal wear.

     According to Schwing1 Winchester used three bluing methods on the Model 21.  Rust bluing on the barrels for the entire production period, carbonum bluing and heat treating for frame, trigger plate, trigger guard and a variant of the carbonum process for the unpolished small parts until 1939.  Between 1939 and the beginning of the war Winchester experimented with different bluing processes.  After World War II all the parts, except the barrels, were dip blued using Du-Lite blue.
     Conventional gunshop wisdom says that the trigger plate and guard were of different alloys and heated differently (harder) than the receiver.   But the Winchester used the same steel alloy and heat treating for all three parts2.

     Careful examination of the #11,334's plate and guard shows that in some areas the bluing is still intact, areas not normally touched when the gun is handled.  This wear pattern suggests that another factor or factors contribute to the bluing failure.  Possibly a reaction between the salts and oils deposited from the hands and the blued, heat-treated alloy and/or the bluing on the trigger plate and guard did not penetrate as deep as on the receiver and is therefore more vulnerable to corrosion and erosion.  If the bluing simply 'didn't take' to #11,334's trigger plate, then over time all of the bluing would have disappeared evenly across the entire trigger plate.  Look closely at the area adjacent to the trigger.  Furthermore, the bluing on the floorplate of Model 70 #696, made in 1936, failed in exactly the same way while all the bluing remains on the floorplate hinge and screw and the plunger release.  Compare the trigger-guard bluing protected by the magazine cover to the exposed surfaces of the trigger guard (right photo).  Look closely at the floor plate hinge (left photo), even though it is recessed below the stock the bluing turned completely brown.

 

The following photographs illustrate my point that more than just handling wear is the cause of the uneven bluing failure.


Close up views of  #11,334 Pre-War 20 Gauge Skeet.

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Compare the bluing on the trigger guard to the bluing on the trigger guard screw. The trigger guard screw retains much more bluing, despite having the same hand contact history!

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Like the guard screw the trigger plate screw retains most of it's bluing.



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Pre-War Skeet gun #6,858 has considerable bluing wear, but notice how the trigger plate bluing is wearing faster than the surrounding frame bluing.



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The bluing of the trigger plate on Duck Gun #30,136, made in 1954 displays early signs of failing similar to the guns above.



(click on the photo for a close-up)

Skeet gun #23,359, made in 1949, shows no evidence of floor plate bluing failure.  I've shot over two thousand rounds of clays and skeet with this gun and hunted Kansas and South Dakota enough to wear half of the bluing off the fore-end latch without any discernable wear to the trigger plate.


1Ned. Schwing, Winchester's Finest The Model 21 (Iola, Wisconsin, 1990), pp. 43-44.

2Ibid.

01/05/10 M.C. Manges