Parkerizing, Truth vs Tales
Sistema and GI pistols are often seen with Parkerized finishes that have lasted decades and which appear to have a slicker surface than modern Parkerized guns. At first, I thought that a different process might have been used, but I was wrong. The process was the same.
Then, I considered just what Parkerizing is. Parkerizing is an incomplete finish. The manganese, iron or zinc phosphating of Parkerizing is only a vehicle to contain the real protection for the firearm. What is that real protection? Grease. That's right.....Decomposed dinosaur products. Petroleum. Grease. All over the world, military firearms are packed in cosmoline. Then they are wrapped in kraft paper, placed in crates and stored in warehouses of armories. The temperatures in these places can reach extremes. During this storage period, the cosmoline soaks into the porous Parkerizing, thoroughly impregnating it with the best water/corrosion repellent yet devised.
Today, quite a few handguns wear the phosphate finish known as Parkerizing. These guns, however, are not treated the same way as military weapons. These guns are meticulously cleaned after each use by their owners, with products such as Gun Scrubber and brake cleaner. These products strip the oils and grease from the Parkerizing, assuming there was any to begin with. When a new Parkerized Springfield GI45 or old roll mark (Parkerized) Colt M1991A1 reaches its first owner, the finish is practically devoid of oil. It is dry. For many of these pistols, the only grease their finishes will absorb is off the hands of their owners. It is no wonder they rust. Without the grease in the Parkerizing, the coating will absorb sweat and humidity instead. The result is rust.
Several years ago, in 2003, I purchased a new Parkerized Springfield GI45.
I modified it to more closely approximate a M1911A1, but I also did something else. I disassembled the pistol, coated each part completely with Vaseline petroleum jelly, and I placed them all on a pizza pan. I then placed them in the oven at 350 degrees for half a day. The result was the pores of the Parkerizing opened up to accept the heavy lubricant. Once cooled, and totally impregnated with grease, the Parkerizing leeched grease for a month afterwards. Honestly, it was pretty nasty. I was halfway expecting that, which is why I used clean, clear Vaseline instead of black moly grease. When the leeching process ceased, however, I found that I had achieved that same durable finish that protected my Sistemas and the many old GI guns I have held.
I disassembled my Parkerized Springfield Mil-Spec and put it through the heated grease impregnating process as well. To this day, neither pistol has shown the slightest bit of corrosion, despite being ridden hard and holstered wet with sweat, in Louisiana humidity. Meanwhile, I listen to other shooters complain about the ineffectiveness of Parkerizing in the same environment. Remember........it aint the Park that protects, it's the grease that it contains that prevents corrosion. If you want the protection, you gotta accept the grease.