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Even before I was a peace officer, I was a little suspicious of people who used nickel-plated guns. The high shine never appealed to a guy who grew up with Parkerizing and tung-oil finished walnut. As it happens, I may have been unfairly prejudiced against this old-time gun finish. But the arguably unfounded calumny against the nickel-plated handgun is still part of my thought processes. So much so that I count only a single nickel-plated gun in my assortment of arms—a very nice Smith & Wesson DA Frontier .44 that was re-done at the factory in the 1970s.

When that gun was new (1880s), it was given a nickel finish as a matter of practicality rather than cosmetic appeal. When guns fired blackpowder, or cartridges loaded with it, nickel-plated surfaces resisted corrosion far better than bluing. The guy who ponied up the bucks for this revolver wasn’t showing off—he just wanted to keep his gun working, possibly because he needed it.

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