“Hey, weren’t you the guys with that color case hardened Hi Power on display at SHOT Show?” I asked of the gentlemen wearing Midwest Gun Works polos at a shared lunch table in Louisville. We were at the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, enjoying some pulled pork and talking guns. “I have a weak spot for color case hardening, and an 80’s HK P7 with that purple-tinted bluing on it in mediocre condition…y’all don’t tinker with P7’s, do you?”
To my surprise (the no-longer-produced P7 is a massive PITA to work on, requiring some proprietary tools, skills, and knowledge) they not only said “yes,” but stated that they’re something of HK experts. Furthermore, Rich from MGW claimed to have a fondness for the P7 in particular. Done deal, then. A melding of MGW’s color case hardening and refinishing skills and my 32-year-old P7 PSP would happen.
Turn the TTAG clock back almost exactly two years and you’ll find my “The Heckler & Koch P7 is the Best Pistol Ever” article. Talk about trend setter! This gunfighter’s gun set a mess of “firsts” that we take for granted today.
But today we’re only flashing back for “before” photos. Ewww. Patchy purple bluing, holster wear, and — gasp! — plastic grips? This just won’t do.
First step: MGW documents and photographs any markings and proof marks. The engraving on the P7 series was always incredibly light and is typically lost upon any type of restoration attempt.
Kent Wilkerson, one of MGW’s Master Class Gunsmith/Armorers, then proceeded with a complete teardown of the pistol. Any OEM parts showing wear were replaced.
As you might guess, HK P7 parts aren’t always easy to find. What I didn’t realize, though, is that Midwest Gun Works is one of the country’s largest gunsmithing and custom shop centers and has a parts inventory to match. They stock over 100,000 SKUs, and HK is one of their flagship brands (See: MGW HK Parts). Obviously they do install work, too, along with customization, historical restoration, and more.
Kent began the CCH process on the slide by hand polishing it.
In order to achieve a vibrant color and pattern, the steel has to be worked to a very high polish while keeping sharp lines — a careful and tedious task. On a related note, the fantastically-glossy flatness combined with the depth and colors in the CCH pattern look amazing in person, but for the life of me I just can’t do it justice in a photograph.
Of course, the factory engraving was lost in the process. Everything seen on the gun now was re-engraved by hand to duplicate the original markings.
Over to the the frame and most of the parts, they also received polishing — more so on the flats than the curved areas for a “distinguished” and very subtle two-tone look. The textured area of the back strap and the front of the cocking lever were bead blasted. Then, all of these frame components were black oxide treated. I had no idea a black oxide finish could be so deeply black, consistent, and smooth.
Once it was fully prepped, the slide was case hardened in a 1,200º furnace and oil quenched. As for further details of the process, this is all I know. Much is proprietary.
Though I do know I haven’t seen flowing quench lines like this before. It’s organic in its slight randomness, while giving a sense of motion and fluidity. It also lends some of the Damascus-like appearance that is part of why I like color case hardening.
Trijicon night sights were installed front and rear.
Kent then actually selected a specific set of HK-logo Nill grips from inventory, because the figure in the wood complemented the quench lines best. This would not have occurred to me. Add that to the list of reasons I’m not a Master Class Gunsmith.
At this point, it’s all about the quest to capture at least a part of this gun’s presence in a photo…
A proper church gun needs a hand-tooled leather holster. I found mine at Savoy Leather, opting to keep things really simple despite Savoy’s myriad custom and intricate designs. Although, once we move to Texas I may have to switch things up for a sugar skull model.