How to Polish a Nickel Firearm Finish

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Polishing nickel finishes on handguns or rifles requires a special metal polish to prevent the nickel plating from being worn away after repeated polishing and cleaning with harsher chemicals. It is best to fully disassemble the firearm prior to polishing the nickel finish to prevent the cream polishing paste from becoming dried up in difficult-to-clean areas. Use a clean, soft cloth to buff away the dried metal polish.

Items you will need

  • Metal-glo metal polish or other specialty metal cleanser

  • Clean, lint-free cloths

Disassemble the firearm, separating its polished nickel components from wood, steel or composite components.

Apply a small amount of metal polish to the cloth, and then work it into the fibers of the cloth with your thumb and forefinger.

Rub the polished metal parts of the firearm gently with the polish on the cloth, working in small circles.

Buff the firearm's polished metal surfaces with the clean, dry portion of the cloth to remove the remaining dried metal polish and bring out the nickel's shine. Polish twice to remove heavy discoloration.

Reassemble the firearm and store carefully to avoid fingerprints, dust or discoloration on the newly polished surfaces.


  • Homemade polishes may be too abrasive on the nickel finish of the gun. For this reason, use only specialty metal polishes.


  • "The Gun Owner's Handbook: A Complete Guide to Maintaining and Repairing Your Firearms"; Larry Lyons; 2006
  • "The Gun Digest Book of Firearms Assembly/Disassembly Part I"; J.B. Wood; 1999
  • "Gun Digest Book of Gun Care: Cleaning & Refinishing"; J.B. Wood; 1985

About the Author

Don Kress began writing professionally in 2006, specializing in automotive technology for various websites. An Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified technician since 2003, he has worked as a painter and currently owns his own automotive service business in Georgia. Kress attended the University of Akron, Ohio, earning an associate degree in business management in 2000.

Photo Credits

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