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First Gear | Re-Finish, Re-Fit, Re-Manufacture, Re-Etc.

First Gear | Re-Finish, Re-Fit, Re-Manufacture, Re-Etc.

Robar Companies Inc. 

A major hazard of being fond of a particular firearm is wear and tear. This is especially true when “fond” is code for “shooting the be-jeepers out of it.” Internally, modern design, materials and manufacturing precision can cut worries way down. Supplemented by some pretty fabulous lubricants and cleaners, firearm life can easily reach hundreds of thousands of rounds, and especially if you don’t try, say, to make a 9 mm do a 10 mm’s job. 

The outsides of a gun may be quite a different story. If you start with modest looks, two possibilities predominate. If modest is actually read “functional,” then all may be well. We like the oxide rubbed down to the metal on our “A” competitive gun—it’s businesslike, if nothing else. 

Option two is less pleasing: Some firearms don’t wear their cosmetic downgrades as well, or they happen so quickly that you sensibly start to worry what a days’ shooting in the rain (like two of our trips to USPSA Nationals) might start what you, as the saying goes, “can’t finish”—corrosion. 

Several years ago, we tested a 1911 from RIA. We practiced through the spring, and completed our test with a (undistinguished) transit of Single Stack Nationals at PASA Park in Barry, Ill. The pistol performed well, but there’s no way to put a good face on what we did to the admittedly modest, original finish. “Massacre” is probably fair. And if it weren’t such a nice shootin’ pistol, it might not have mattered—but by the time we were done, it looked bedraggled enough to hint at unsafe.

This particular dragon, however, doesn’t stand a chance when you enlist a St. George like Robar. We said, “Fix it,” and they said, “OK.” The latter is perhaps Robar’s best-known claim to fame—an electroless nickel process that “co-deposits” PTFE (Teflon).

Robar has a selection of finishes that they recommend by application, but the RIA got their gunmetal grey POLY T2 outside, and NP3 inside. The former is a colorable (six options available) PTFE-based epoxy corrosion protection and lubricity coating that passes 1,000-hour salt spray tests. The latter is perhaps Robar’s best-known claim to fame: an electroless nickel process that “co-deposits” PTFE (Teflon). Jargon-meter pegged? Very well, moving on. 

But the results really require no explanation—just take a look at our main image above. Our admittedly out-of-date notion of refinishing does indeed seem quaint, but whether it’s a full cosmetic rejuvenation or actual rebirth, we leave it to you to decide. 

Unfortunately, it also gets us to the only downside: The action of this pistol is now so smooth that we occasionally find ourselves struggling slightly with far more expensive guns that just don’t compare. 

You can see for yourself that it looks incomparably better. 

Contact The Robar Companies Inc. at or (623) 581-2648.   

Lone Wolf Distributors “Alpha Wolf” Barrels 

We begin our provisional assessment of Lone Wolf’s “Alpha” series of barrels with what may seem an odd question: “Why doesn’t everybody reload?” 

While the massive cost savings have shrunk somewhat in the last decade—the four- or five-to-one savings were a huge motivator for generations of cost-conscious shooters—the other principle benefit is as much in force as ever: nearly complete control over myriad aspects of firearm function and performance. Want a softer-shooting load for teaching your kids or their grandma to shoot? Got that. A gorgeous heirloom Winchester Model 70 that doesn’t seem to like modern factory ammo? Got that, too. Make the best use of that quick-twist barreled MSR upper you just finished? Easy peasy. You get the idea. 

You may also begin to see how we get to Lone Wolf, perhaps best known for their conventionally rifled barrels for the deservedly popular Glock pistols. And no, don’t even start thinking there is anything wrong with the barrel in your Glock (it’s just our opinion, but their factory barrels are better than most will admit, within their design “envelope”). What Glock sees as their critical market sector just isn’t the reloader demographic: They don’t want reloaded ammo in their factory barrels, and you shouldn’t put it there, either. Especially if lowest-cost lead or plated projectiles meet your needs, re-barreling your pistol is the only practical answer. 

All of which brings us (back) to Lone Wolf. The company’s original series of very affordable stainless barrels seemed heaven-sent for many of us, and still keep our per-round costs around 10 cents per round for 9 mm if we are careful. This is true because their conventional rifling makes lead projectiles permissible (verboten in polygonal factory G barrels for good reason). They even let us convert calibers in many cases, making our Glocks still more useful and versatile.Especially if lowest-cost lead or plated projectiles meet your needs, re-barreling your pistol is the only practical answer.

Never a company to loiter, Lone Wolf recently introduced its “Alpha” series of barrels. Made in the USA, these tubes bring several “edge-of-the-art” features to the Lone Wolf marque. Like their predecessors, they’re well suited to all bullet types (jacketed, plated or lead) due to conventional rifling. They add, however, attributes like button rifling, stress-relief, cooling/debris flutes, and a combination of heat-treating and surface coating to attain surface hardness of RC 60. We don’t quite know where to fit in “really cool looking” too, but it’s the truth. 

Barrel aficionados will decipher this easily: Accuracy should prove excellent, and life, long. “Should,” however, indicates the rub: Our pals in Priest River, Idaho, just landed this on our desk literally yesterday. Quite obviously, we haven't shot it yet, but couldn’t wait to clue you in. 

But as the ad guys say—watch this space. We expect ragged holes are just around the corner. 

Contact Lone Wolf Distributors at or (208) 448-0600.   

Sharps Rifle Company 

Speaking of ragged holes, and keeping with the spirit of “Re” day here in First Gear, we have a last example. 

You may recall we waxed lyrical last summer about an alternate caliber modern sporting rifle, specifically the .25-45 Sharps. These particularly congenial (and dang smart) folks in Glenrock, Wyo., impressed us with every facet of their operation, and not least the shooting part of their new caliber/configuration—40 percent more power than a standard-calibered MSR (with only 10 percent more recoil), .257-caliber hunting-legal bullets and sub-MOA. Well duh, we liked it. 

We were impressed enough that, quite frankly, we keep tabs on these guys of our own volition now. Consequently, not long ago we came across re-manufactured .25-45 ammunition, and didn’t quite know how to react. 

The old aphorism “once bitten, twice shy” is all the explanation you likely need. The only firearm we’ve ever blown up was chambered with, you guessed it, “re-manufactured” ammo, and not re-manufactured by us. Granted, it was a looooong time ago. Granted, a completely different caliber and rifle. Granted, nobody got hurt. And granted, the fix was (relatively) easy, and not (too) costly. 

But knowing the Glenrock folks as we think we do, we ordered some with an itching sort of trepidation. 

<<Cue hysterical cackling>> 

Quite apparently, we needn’t have worried. Just one more reason to take a serious look at .25-45 Sharps.

Contact Sharps Rifle Company at or (307) 436-2795.