In May of 1898, Theodore Roosevelt resigned as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to join the war effort.
During the Spanish-American War, he led the volunteer Cavalry known as the Rough Riders.
While preparing for the Battle of San Juan Heights he was trying to decide which firearms to carry. He was a firearms enthusiast and had plenty of options.
The gun he chose to wear as his sidearm was a Colt Model 1895.
It was a .38 caliber double-action revolver with six shots, a blue barrel, and a checkered wood grip.
The gun had been a gift.
It was retrieved from the wreck of the U.S. battleship Maine. The sinking had claimed the lives of 266 men.
Roosevelt considered the gun a tribute to the lives lost.
During the battle, he used the gun to fire at two enemy soldiers. The first shot missed. But the other enemy was fatally wounded by Roosevelt.
A few years later, Roosevelt became President and the gun remained in his possession until his death.
Then it was given to the Sagamore Hill Historic Site (Roosevelt’s one-time home).
The Colt became part of the historic site’s museum, kept behind glass next to the uniform Roosevelt wore during the battle.
At some point, the gun’s handle was inscribed.
On one side of the handle it read: From the sunken battleship Maine. On the other: July 1st, 1898, San Juan, Carried and used by Col. Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1990, the gun and uniform was on display until the gun was stolen sometime in April.
Law enforcement investigated the theft including interviewing park employees. The FBI art crimes division also investigated.
The Colt was so unique that it would be identified if someone tried to sell it.
The FBI sent information about the weapon to gun shops and monitored gun shows. Nothing turned up.
In 2005, Park Service employees at the museum began receiving strange phone calls.
A man said he knew where the gun was…
He said it was at his friend’s house in Florida, and he described the gun in great detail, but that he didn’t want to get the person in trouble.
Eventually, the caller spoke to the FBI and told them where they would find the gun.
The caller was identified as Andy A.
He said his girlfriend had shown him the gun and her ex-husband had the gun at his house.
In November 2005, the FBI charged Tony T. with a misdemeanor, and the Colt was returned to the museum.
Tony pled guilty to stealing the Colt and received two years of probation and 50 hours of community service.
He pleaded guilty to violating the federal American Antiquities Act of 1906.
The law was designed to prevent the theft of an object of antiquity on property owned by the government.
Ironically, that bill was signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt when he was president.
The fact is, the gun likely would have never been recovered if it hadn’t been for the unique inscriptions on the firearm.
These days, inscriptions, coatings, and finishes are a big part of customizing and enhancing firearms.
Whether it’s rust, or wear and tear, gun owners are always looking for ways to keep their firearms in good condition.
And today there are plenty of options to choose from.
With that being said, here are a few different options for firearm coatings and finishes that can protect your weapon.
Cerakote is becoming more popular in today’s gun market.
It comes in many different colors and works on a variety of surfaces and it’s extremely durable.
It’s corrosion-resistant and is great at preventing scratches, and can tolerate heat up to 1,000 degrees.
Cerakote is easily applied to plastic surfaces and metal. It’s customizable and low maintenance.
This is why it’s one of the most popular finishes to add nowadays.
Bluing is one of the least expensive ways to add corrosion resistance to a firearm. The process is simple and won’t affect the feel of the firearm.
In addition to protecting your gun, bluing will make steel less likely to have a glare.
The one thing about bluing is that it needs regular oiling to maintain the finish.
If you are willing to do a bit of maintenance, bluing is an inexpensive way to protect your firearm.
Parkerizing is also known as phosphating.
It’s similar to bluing but provides more corrosion resistance.
The coating has a grey-black finish that creates a minimal change in the feel of the firearm.
It will protect steel from corrosion, nicks, and scratches, and is one of the best options when durability is the goal.
The drawback is that parkerizing requires frequent oiling.
Anodized aluminum provides a durable finish, but you can feel the thickness in the coating, and the process increases the dimensions of the firearm.
However, one of the best things about anodizing is the hardness of the coating.
An anodized hard coat finish can provide up to ten times greater wear resistance to the firearm, so it’s ideal for extreme conditions where wear and tear is a big concern.
Bottom line: the ideal coating comes down to the specific gun and what you plan to use it for.
What I mean is, if you carry the same gun all day every day, you may want to go with a more durable coating such as cerakote or anodizing.
But if it’s a gun you cherish and shoot now and then, bluing might be an easier option.
Whatever finish you choose for your firearm, have it done by a professional so you avoid ruining a gun trying to add a finish.