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I have several projects where I am interested in removing some of the original stamps - an HK33 bolt and carrier (acid-etched serial numbers), a couple of AK sight leafs (serial numbers stamped underside), and an antique, freebie shotgun (takedown with the barrel assembly from a different gun, and thus, different serial numbers - headspaces fine.)

I'm interested in diamond-filing, polishing, buffing off these numbers, which range from fairly shallow to shallow but tangible.

Who has done this? What can you tell me about it? I want these parts to be un-screwed up but without the numbers. I'm aware that some will have to be refinished.

I know this is done all the time, particularly with the Civil War re-enactment crowd - I found several smiths who remark Italian replica firearms, and Turnbull will do some of this type of work. I'm interested in doing it myself, if I can.
 

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In my experience sandpaper is the way to go when polishing out numbers. Depending on the contour of the surface of the item you're working with you may be able to use a file but be careful not to dig at the surface or it won't look correct when refinished. Go slow and check often, you may also want to keep a bottle of cold blue on hand to use to check your progress. The CB will darken the metal to let you check the surface for odd light refractions which will show you if you are polishing evenly and which areas will need more work.
 

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Thank you 56type. Any particular grit sandpaper? (I think I have 100-600 grit in my tools right now).

Welcome additional tips and tricks. The only one I have some trepidation at is a valueless but sentimental (dead friend's bequest) Win '97 takedown that I want to remove the shallow mismatch up front (just got it back from a smith who lengthened the forcing cone, recut the chamber for 2 3/4"shells, and tuned it up). Diamond file looked a tad rough on the HK bolt and carrier but the areas affected aren't critical for the weapon.
 

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An mini air die grinder is excellent for flat surface removal and smoothing of serial numbers etc. They have discs as small as 1 inch and in various grits. A compressor is required of course. Die grinder is fairly inexpensive from Harbor Freight.,
Sight leaves are deeply etched., better off using cast off Saiga leaves as they only have three numbers to start. A mill or surface grinder for that work.
 

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An mini air die grinder is excellent for flat surface removal and smoothing of serial numbers etc. They have discs as small as 1 inch and in various grits. A compressor is required of course. Die grinder is fairly inexpensive from Harbor Freight.,
Sight leaves are deeply etched., better off using cast off Saiga leaves as they only have three numbers to start. A mill or surface grinder for that work.
If you go with is method be extremely careful not to overdo it, it's VERY easy to remove material but quite a different story when it comes to putting it back on......I'd start with a coarse grit sandpaper to begin with, also if you have items around to use as backer blocks to help maintain the straightness of your work then use them. As the numbers begin to fade away go to the finer grits of paper until they disappear and you're left with what looks like a machined surface. An alternative would be to have a professional welder to place a small bead of weld over the existing numbers and file that back down flush with the original surface, this might not work too well on a gun that is going to be blued since the heat will change the way the metal takes the blue. Doing it by hand will take longer but will yield better results. Make sure you take measurements of the numbers and the font style so that you can accurately replicate them when you restamp.
 

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You can use very fine grit on the Die Grinder with very slow effect or more aggressive with 120 grit etc.. I have done dozens of receiver covers, carriers, bolts., removed or reworked welded over receiver detents or 'S' & 'F' marks etc.
Like any work it takes some diligence and skill.
Can you hand sand etching, stampings or electro engravings that are .003"-.006" deep., sure., but it will take a long, long tine and no real assurance of good feathering vs a high speed system. But each to their own methodology.
On stamped items like an AK receiver cover it is necessary to reverse peen the stampings from the inside to raise the surface for removal etc. File work is also a proven method depending on the surface & access to the area.
 

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I agree that if you have the tools and the skill set, then the power tools make the job a lot easier.
 

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Thank you all. This has been very helpful.

I haven't been able to find the serif-style vintage stamps (like you might see on a 19th-century Colt revolver) for sale online. If anyone has an idea, let me know. Alternately, I'll just remove the numbers and reblue, since it's already an old reblue.

I'm willing to spend some winter evenings doing it with sandpaper as I don't want to buy more tools (dremel, air compressor, etc.). I already have the sandpaper ;)
 

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If you go with is method be extremely careful not to overdo it, it's VERY easy to remove material but quite a different story when it comes to putting it back on......I'd start with a coarse grit sandpaper to begin with, also if you have items around to use as backer blocks to help maintain the straightness of your work then use them. As the numbers begin to fade away go to the finer grits of paper until they disappear and you're left with what looks like a machined surface. An alternative would be to have a professional welder to place a small bead of weld over the existing numbers and file that back down flush with the original surface, this might not work too well on a gun that is going to be blued since the heat will change the way the metal takes the blue. Doing it by hand will take longer but will yield better results. Make sure you take measurements of the numbers and the font style so that you can accurately replicate them when you restamp.
When you say backer blocks, what do you mean - like a hand sanding block?

The task at hand is the "Barrel Extension" of a 100 year old Winchester 1897 shotgun. This is a figure-eight shaped piece of metal that is the mating surface between the barrel and magazine tube - essentially, fore half of the shotgun - and the receiver itself. On the underside there are stamped numbers, both receiver and front end. The front end is from a different shotgun and doesn't match.

I should note that the shotgun has recently been worked over by a CAS gunsmith specializing in '97s; it has a couple of new small parts and springs, has been checked for safety, and had the forcing cone lengthened...the barrel went from 28" or so to 18, with a new bead up front. The shotgun was inherited, so it's a freebie, from a fellow shooter and had been reblued at least once in the past, long enough ago for the reblue to be pleasingly worn. The wood is quite good for a 100 year old shotgun (106 years for the receiver, 100 years for the barrel). So, this is one of those goofy obsessive projects that I'm doing just for myself. What I would like to do is remove the numbers on the barrel section entirely (a non-firearm) and/or restamp them to match.

I don't want to spent money to buy tools or to have someone else do it, and I don't presently have a shop, so this is done over carpet with a vacuum close at hand.
 
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