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Old 12-17-2007, 03:40 PM   #1
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Melonite vs Titanium Aluminum Nitride vs "W DLC"

Can someone summarize the advantages / disadvantages of the following finishes (particularly as a finish for a steel 1911):

o Melonite
o Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAN)
o Tungsten Diamond Like Carbon Finish ("W DLC")

Basically I am looking to compare / contrast the finishes. Which is most corrosion resistant? Which is cheapest? Which is most durable? What looks the best? What color is it exactly?

Also, can we summarize the companies / gunsmiths that offer these refinishing products along with their contact information?

For example, I EGSW (http://www.egsw.com) will Melonite a firearm or firearms parts. Ask for Chris. From some other threads, I believe that Accurate Plating & Weaponry, Inc. (http://www.apwcogan.com) offers Tungsten Diamond Like Carbon Finish ("W DLC"), and perhaps also TiAN, but I am unsure.

Lastly... are there any other firearm finishes (CVD or PVD or other) that compare favorably to the above three finishes? Do you think "hard chrome" should be included in that list above?
 
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Old 12-24-2007, 08:44 AM   #2
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Steve, there is a plethora of information contained in two threads concerning TiAlN and W DLC.

Look at any new "black" Sig and you're looking at W DLC. It's dark gray/black. TiCN is black. TiAlN is charcoal gray. TiN is bright gold. All of these are better at wear resistance than hard chrome.

Of the four mentioned W DLC is better at corrosion resistance due to the electroless nickel being layed down first.

My personal opinion is to combine both Melonite with either of the PVD coatings. If there are no dimensional changes to the frame and no property changes of the checkering (I think the thin sections will tend to become more brittle) it's worth doing.

Several persons have had it done but for the moment if my pistol was not melonited/tenifered/tuftrided I'll not bother doing so due to the perceived risks. However, if the pistol was designed with this in mind it cannot be beat. I'd still finish it with W DLC, however.
 
Old 12-25-2007, 12:04 PM   #3
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Merry Christmas, Kevin! Merry Christmas, all!

Yes, I'm aware of the other threads, and have waded through them. My intention with this thread was to pull together all the information and compare/contrast the different threads, so that a future reader wouldn't necessarily have to read through pages of posts. Also, I was hoping to list in this thread all the gunsmiths / companies / contacts who are offering the various finishes, and approximate costs.

Thank you for your reply, btw! I found it very interesting and informative, because I assumed (wrongly as it turns out) that you prefered the TiAN finish best of all. While the W-DLC offers better corrosion resistance than TiAN (due to the electroless nickel), does TiAN wear better than W-DLC? Based on your original TiAN thread (http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.php?t=21842), I sort of assumed this was the ultimate finish possible. Then I read about some rust forming on a TiAN finished pistol by 355sigfan on 12-Sep-2007 and your reply on 13-Sep-2007 in thread http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.ph ... &start=120.

After taking a few minutes to review the other threads (listed here for any future reader):
- W DLC (Tungsten Diamond Like Coating) (http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.ph ... sc&start=0)

- TiAN (Titanium Aluminum Nitride) (http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.ph ... sc&start=0)

- TiCN (Titanium Carbon Nitride) (http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.php?t=28425)

-TiN (Titanium Nitride) (Try searching on "Titanium Nitride" + "TiN": http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.ph ... tride+tin; also this thread: Can Gold TiN be posished?]

- Melonite (Tennifer in the USA?) (http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.php?t=16268 and http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.php?t=14459)

- Boron Carbide (http://www.pistolsmith.com/viewtopic.php?t=14459 also, search on "Boron Carbine"; this finish seems to have lost favor)
 
Old 12-25-2007, 12:48 PM   #4
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TiAlN vs W DLC

Nice summary, steve!! Merry Christmas to you, too.

There are so many subtle variations with these coatings that it's difficult to remain on top of all developments. I liked the perceived surface roughness of the TiAlN slightly better than the W DLC. The surface finishes of the base metal was similar, but there seemed to be a distinct "roughness" associated with the TiAlN. How ever much I appreciated this from a tactical perspective (it's easier to slingshot the slide on fast reloads) I'll take the improved corrosion protection of the W DLC.

By the way, I think the ultimate would be Melonite + W DLC or TiAlN... Anyone have a Glock, M&P or H&K slide that they'd like to try??

Whether one provided better wear resistance over the other I cannot truthfully tell. I abused the guns far beyond anything I'd ever likely do (or anyone else, for that matter - I put 1,000 rounds performing drils thru the W DLC gun since December 17th...). I think it safe to conclude that either of the coatings will serve what we are seeking though the additional lubricity of the W DLC could provide some advantage vis-a-vis TiAlN, but I did not notice any real world differences other than the TiAlN pistol "ate" more kydex from my Blade-Tech IWB holster. :lol:

The company who applied the TiAlN (Molecular Metallurgy, Inc in El Cajon, CA) is not taking any orders and my contact there is now involved in an entrepreneur exercise involving motorcycle brakes and another PVD coating. I do k now that APW Cogan offers TiAlN and I've inspected several 1911s locally so coated. They look identical to the TiAlN coating applied by MMI and the owners were initially 'testing' the coating a bit and both have since then have become satisfied and now baby it as if it were parkerized. I'll be doing the same thing with the others as well.

P.S.

Tenifer and Tuftride are European/UK trademark names; Melonite is the US version of ferritic nitrocarburization. The end result is the same, but there may be differences in salts, temps, time, etc.
 
Old 12-25-2007, 01:22 PM   #5
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Kevin,

Does the primary concern with ferritic nitrocarburization (aka Tennifering / Meloniting) of firearm parts have to do with the temperature at which the process occurs (1300 deg +/- Farenheit)? What are the problems associated with such high temps? Do they cause some sort of change in the base metal material? Would this be the cause of your concern regarding brittleness and/or concern about thin parts? My limited understanding of ferritic nitrocarburization is that it does not add any material to the base metal part (ala hard chroming or any of the PVD/CVD process), but rather causes some changes in the surface of the metal penetrating to such-and-such a depth (actual surface penetration I know not). Reading between the lines, my limited understanding of this process is that brittleness of thin parts would arise because the depth of surface penetration from two sides would approach the thickness of the entire part, or perhaps approach some critical percentage of the total thickness of the part. Am I on the right track here?

My personal interest, is in 1911s. Is it a correct assumption on my part that 1911 frames are the critical part (i.e. thinness) vis-a-vis ferritic nitrocarburization? Or are all the other small parts (sears, disconnector, pins etc) also of concern? For example, would you be concerned about meloniting both a 1911 frame and slide, but having the other small parts (pins, sear, disconnector etc) W-DLC'd?

If meloniting a 1911 frame concerns you, what part of the frame is of concern? Is it only the front strap if it has been checkered? If so, would you feel comfortable meloniting a 1911 frame without a checkered front strap? (That's what skateboard tape is for, isn't it! ) If meloniting a non-checkered front strap still concerns you... how would W-DLC small parts + W-DLC frame + Meloniting/W-DLC'ing slide grab you?

(Lastly, I am assuming that ferritic nitrocarburizing (aka Meloniting) a 1911 frame/slide will result in a frame/slide that will NOT rust -- at least that's what all the Glock-snobs (sorry!) brag about their guns -- Tennifer won't rust blah blah blah. Is this a correct assumption?)

Many thanks again Kevin for all your posts.
 
Old 12-26-2007, 09:20 PM   #6
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I've no concerns about the slide. The frame is very thin and I'm not sure enough about the high temps and duration at those temps. There will be a thin hard coating but the core must remain ductile or 'soft' (layperson's terminology). Pistol steel alloys are tough not hard. Toughness implies a fair amount of ductility as opposed to hardness which implies brittleness. These are gross generalizations, of course, but the implications are directionally correct.

The 30 lpi checkering would be brittle I suppose. A pistol without checkering would be fine. Grip Tape would be fine (for me) as they are merely implements or tools, though I'm obviously infatuated with them.

With nitrocarburization there is a very hard, durable surface and an epsilon layer that prevents oxidation/corrosion to a very large extent. The "Glockers" don't understand that H&K, Walther, Smith & Wesson (M&P) also use "Tenifer". There are pictures on the web of two pistols fished out of the brine of Hurricane Katrina. One is a Glock and the other is a H&K USP45. The Glock rusted badly. The H&K did not look good - surface corrosion - but not rusting to the point where things were inoperable. I recall the control surfaces taking the brunt, but the slide and barrel looked okay. At any rate that pistol was on display at the SHOT Show 2006. It looked fine. Worn a bit, but fine.

I recall during my research that ferritic nitrocarburization left a surface 96% salt water corrosion resistant. Now keep in mind that refers to a test procedure not leaving it in the ocean for 12 months. I recall Richard Marcinko speaking about dragging USPs in the ocean behind the ships they rode on for months at a time and there was no appreciable rust... That's a test I cannot afford to conduct. I also respect his no bullshit, "walk it correct or go home" attitude. The Hostile Environment finish is a spray and bake coating that seals the surface well while Glock has recently changed things as some new pistols are rather "slick" to the touch. I suspect Teflon, but Teflon is not a bad thing. What else was done I can only suspect.
 
Old 12-30-2007, 01:38 PM   #7
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Ultimate Finish

I've been following these discussions for a few months now and am about ready to take the plunge. I have an HK P7 (PSP) that I want put a durable finish on for everyday carry and will probably follow up on a couple of Colt 1911s.

Kevin, concerning this "Ultimate Finish" you suggest, it looks like you recommend using melonite instead of hard chrome for the base coat? For the top coat, what advantages would there be to W DLC vs. TiAlN? I'd consider using one for the slide and the other on the frame for a two-tone effect. I have not been able to find the physical properties of either melonite or W DLC but this table from BryCoat compares TiAlN to several other finishes and TiAlN looks very good: http://www.brycoat.com/pvd-coating-chart.html

I'm not concerned about the application temp of melonite on steel because it is well below the critical temperature of 1333 deg. F. The depth of hardening would be of concern, though. Has anyone had negative experiences with melonite or other finishes on thin sections?

Would you coat the entire gun (except springs?) or only selected parts. With a buildup of only .0001" (for TiAlN at least, see BryCoat), would you coat the bore? A company I am associated with (LWRC) is planning to use melonite on the bore of AR15s in the future so I would assume that this would not be a problem with pistols.

David
 
Old 12-30-2007, 11:28 PM   #8
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You ask some good questions, 300LW.

I would prefer Melonite over hard chrome as a base layer. In fact, I'm not sure one could coat hard chrome with PVD coatings.

The concern with Melonite with 1911s and the HK P7 is that they have relatively thin sections for the frame. The temps involved could produce warping. With a 1911, no real issue as one could easily have another built to your slide. With the P7M8, well, they are reportedly out of production. The falling dollar (1€ = $1.46 as I type) the P7M8 will probably not be imported into the US again. So if a critical error is made you may be paid for the pistol, but you're probably not likely to be able to find a NIB replacement...

There is a guy on www.parkcitiestactical.com that has pictures of a TiAlN P7M8. I asked who did the work, but I had forgotten about it until you mentioned "TiAlN, P7, Melonite".

As far as W DLC vs TiAlN I have things I like about both. However, the columnar nature of the coatings demand a fine coat of oil being applied to the parts (dump the parts in a container of high viscosity oil; wipe; reassemble; wear) - the surface tension of the oil will prevent oxidation of the base metal (this is for TiAlN). I'm okay with this for a general carry gun, but W DLC does not require this since it has a base coat of electroless Nickel.

The surface finish of TiAlN I liked a bit better as it was somehow "rougher" to the touch. Now these coatings are conformal (i.e., they conform to the surface finish of the metal coated) so perhaps Springfield TRP I had a slightly rougher surface finish than Springfield TRP II. If it did it would have been slight. The TiAlN pistol always seemed cool to the touch. As an engineer I found this intriguing and cannot explain it other than my perception. As for color I like both: my preference for a pistol is a very dark brown/charcoal as opposed to jet black (e.g., TiCN).

Coated Parts

For a 1911 I coated the frame, external safety, slide stop, firing pin stop, extractor, rear sight (10-8 Performance rear sight), frame, grip safety, mainspring housing, ejector, recoil spring bushing.

One could choose to coat the barrel bushing and I just may on one of these.

The lubricity of W DLC is greater than that of TiAlN. The coating applied by Ionbond was also smoother than the TiAlN applied by MMI. Therefore, one could coat all internal parts. I'd not bother with the springs. I need to research what coating is on the gas piston of the P7M8. The friction of all internal parts will decease so the trigger pull may be effected. On www.thefiringline.com under 'Semi-Auto Pistols' there is a gentleman with an NP3 coated P7. I'll ask him how his trigger pull was affected. I'll also inquire with the gentleman with the TiAlN P7.

As far as the barrel is concerned I'm not sure one could get even coating on the inside of the barrel. I'll inquire, but in the past it was not possible if my memory serves me well.

Meloniting the barrel is phenomenal for a bolt gun. I've yet to study the differences between melonite and hard chrome. My intuition tells me that melonite can offer a more consistent final product.

I hope this helps.
 
Old 12-31-2007, 12:25 PM   #9
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Melonite Services (and Heckler & Koch P7M8s)

From http://www.hkpro.com:

Quote:
Have you seen Drakes Melonite QPQ?

http://drakesgunworks.com/

He's a P7 guy, I'm thinking of having him refinish one of mine. HTH
I'll contact him for more information (temps, cycles, embrittlement, cost, etc.)


Both of these are from http://www.parkcitiestactical.com:

 
Old 01-01-2008, 09:00 AM   #10
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I've done some reading on the Park Cities site but have not spent too much time on finishes. Thanks for the links. Let me know what Drake has to say and I will contact him after you get some feedback. His posts in the second thread seem to indicate that he is serious about doing it right.

Something else I'm wondering about is whether Drake and others do the melonite process themselves or send the parts out. What equipment is required for melonite or PVD? Is it something a small shop could get into?

David
 
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