Stainless Steel Vs Blued Guns: Which is Better for Your Use?

If you want to avoid the need to regularly inspect a gun for rust, wipe it down regularly with oil and file away the rusty spots, there are two main choices: stainless steel guns or blued guns. Nickel and chrome plate fall short of what most gun owners need out of their gun.

In the stainless steel vs blued guns debate, there are plenty of points in favor of either choice. But when you’re debating between stainless steel guns versus blued guns, which one is better?

6 Things between Stainless Steel vs. Blue Guns

01. Finish Wear

Blued guns are fine on the range, but harsh weather and blood can damage the finish. The only way to deal with this is spot treat the blue finish. Stainless steel is far more durable.

You’ll get less finish wear. It can still rust, but it is much more rust-resistant than a blued gun. Furthermore, the plating on stainless steel guns can peel; that can’t happen with blued guns. 

At most, 

the finish on a blued gun will wear away at a given location. Holster wear regularly mars the finish. If you hate maintaining a gun's finish, stainless steel is obviously better.

02. Appearance

Blued guns are often an aesthetic choice. Some people just prefer the color. For others, blued steel is preferred because it is what they’re familiar with, since it is the traditional look on handguns and rifles.

Others don’t want the bright reflected surface created by nickel and chrome plated guns or stainless steel firearms. That is why blued steel may be the better choice on rifles and shotguns.

Better choice Stainless steel and why?

Stainless steel is often the better choice on handguns. This may or may not be discrete sitting in your purse or glove compartment, but someone using it for self-defense may want it to be seen so that the attacker backs off. 

Yet you may be reluctant to risk a glint of light flashing off a polished stainless steel so light it resembles nickel plate. After all, that makes it hard to be covert.

03. Environmental Considerations

Stainless steel gets points for resisting rust better than almost anything else, if you live near salt water. That’s because salty sea air will accelerate rust formation faster than anything else other than dropping the gun in water or carrying it through the rain and then failing to dry it out.

Coating or surface treatment

If you’re often carrying your gun through rain and snow, then you need some sort of coating or surface treatment. Bluing a gun is one option.

Stainless steel is another, and it is less maintenance. That is true whether it is a rich blue or so dark that it looks black.

Note that a stainless steel gun can still rust. It is just more resistant to it, so don’t assume that buying a stainless steel gun eliminates your need to clean it and otherwise maintain it.

04. Price

Stainless steel guns cost more than conventional guns. On the other hand, you can save even more money by buying a non-blued gun and then bluing it at home. That is why blued guns often win the stainless steel vs blued guns debate, if price is a deciding factor.

However, bluing a gun at home is challenging and may produce uneven results. That’s not an issue if you spend a little more to get a gun that has a blued finish including the slides and the frame.


when you’re trying to decide between blued guns and stainless steel guns, real nickel plate isn’t an option because it costs more than either of them.

05. Weight

Stainless steel and carbon steel are similar in weight, while aluminum is lighter than both. If you choose a stainless steel gun, it generally has a stainless steel frame. The blued version of the gun may have an aluminum frame.

In these cases, 

the blued gun is lighter than the stainless steel gun. That can make a difference if you’re carrying the gun in a hiking backpack or in a holster all day. 

Extra weight doesn’t matter if you’re only using the gun for home defense.

06. Performance

There is no difference between stainless steel and blued guns when it comes to overall performance. Stainless steel guns sometimes perform better because it is easier to tell when the gun is dirty.

If you have to clean it more often, you’ll prevent the grime and residue from impeding its performance.


Stainless steel and blued guns perform about as well on the range. The main factors to consider include how you’ll be using the gun, how much its appearance matters to you, and what you can afford to spend in time and money.

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