Tyler Gun Works – Master Craftsman Of Color Case Work

By Major Van Harl
Review of gun shop and gunsmiths at Tyler Gun Works.

Tyler Gun Works Color Case Work
Tyler Gun Works Color Case Work
Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Major Van Harl USAF Ret

Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- Just because something is made of metal does not mean it is strong. Metal has to be heat treated to give it the correct strength needed for a specific project.

Not enough heat and the metal is too soft for the task. Too much heat and the metal is too hard and brittle and can crack under strain of usage.

Have you ever walked on a railroad track and felt the massive steel rails under your feet? Those rails have to hold up to thousands of train cars and heavy locomotives traveling over the tracks for years of expected service. They have to have the strength to take the pounding of the trains passing, but also be able to expand and contract in the heat and cold of the outside elements.

NASA has to deal with the strength and flexibility of metal spacecraft launching in the warmth of earth and flying off to the sub-freezing conditions of space travel. Strong metal that has some give is what is needed in rail and space travel.

Strong metal that has some give is also what is needed in the manufacturing of firearms.

In the early days of firearms manufacturing the metals available were not all that strong. To give the parts of the firearm strength, some pieces were color case hardened. This was a process of hardening the outer layer of the metal parts to give them increased strength while not over hardening the inner metal of the firearms.

It took a master gunsmiths and craftsman to get the color case hardening correct. Too soft on the outside surface and the firearm did not hold up to prolong usage. Too hard on the outside surface and the inside of the metal became brittle and the firearm would eventually crack. Every time those black powder rifles in colonial times were shot a small explosion went off inside that gun. This is why color case hardening was a necessary art.

Besides giving the firearm strength during the color case hardening processes the gun was given the added beauty of the color case on the surface of the metal. The term marbling, striping, and splashing are used to explain the one of a kind, every time, color case finish. It is a classic look on a firearm that the American shooter and shooters around the world have come to respect as quality and good looks in a well built firearm.

Modern Case Hardening

With the advent of modern metals and the built in strength of these metals there is little need for true color case hardening on a currently produced firearm. The high heat that is used in the color case hardening process could adversely affect the original (and desired) hardness of the modern steel firearm.

The issue is that gun owners still want the exquisite looks of a color case hardened firearm.

Tyler Gun Works

Enter Bobby Tyler, master gunsmith, of Tyler Guns Works, in Friona, Texas (tylergunworks.com). Mr. Tyler is a professionally trained and college educated, modern gunsmith, who has the degrees and diplomas on the wall to attest to his education in the art of making beautifully finished firearms. I know I have used the unmanly word beautiful twice describing color case but when you look at some of Mr. Tyler’s work that is the word that comes to mind.

In the past year alone Tyler Gun Works has color case finished over 7000 firearms. Mr. Tyler is a gunsmith who has specialized in the finishing and re-finishing of firearms. Bluing and color case finishing is his area of expertise. Customers have literally driven from multiple states away, to show up on the doorstep with a cherished firearm in hand, requesting Mr. Tyler improve the process. The process is taking a worn firearm or an abused firearm and not only bring life back into the use of the gun, but bring a striking presence, to a beloved family heirloom. He is an artist and he works on pieces of art to restore them to a place of honor.

Tyler Gun Works Color Case Hardened Glock 21
Tyler Gun Works Color Case Hardened Glock 21

Mr. Tyler is also in the new gun production end of color case finishing. There is a never ending demand for newly manufactured firearms to have a color case finish. That color case look, that your many times great grand-dad had on the rifle he took with him when he moved the family out west after the Civil War, is the same finish the modern new gun buyer wants. It is a time honored look of an American long gun or handgun.

Firearms Restoration

In fact, if you have an old family firearm that once had a color case finish that needs to be restored, Tyler Guns Works is the place to send it, but do not wait too long. I would suggest that Tyler Gun Works is at a tipping point were the new gun manufacturing industry is going to monopolize almost all of his time.

Mr. Tyler does color case work for a number of firearms manufacturer to include Henry Repeating Arms. He is being sought out by other manufacturers, both US and foreign gun makers who produce current copies of past era western style firearms. Republic Forge the gun manufacturer of 1911 government model handguns is continually shipping their actions and slides to Tyler Gun Works for color case finishing (republicforge.com).

The gun manufacturing industry has discovered Tyler Gun Works. I have spoken to Mr. Bobby Tyler a number of times and he is a delightful gentleman to speak with and you very quickly understand that an outstanding product and customer service are what he offers the gun owning and new gun buying world.

Tyler Gun Works Color Case Work and Engraving
Tyler Gun Works Color Case Work and Engraving

Tyler Gun Works does bluing and has a master engraver on hand to class up any firearm the owner desires to enhance. The premier product that Mr. Tyler offers the gun owning consumer is his color case finishing. I saw a refinished old Browning Auto 5 shotgun that was nothing short of gorgeous (facebook.com/tylergunworks). When you get your hands on one of the new steel Original Henry’s in 44-40 it will radiate from Mr. Tyler’s efforts.

Color case is classic and is still in great demand. The efforts of the folks at Tyler Gun Works will not only continue but greatly enhance the desire for quality and beauty in a well built and most assuredly well finished firearm.

In this day and age of plastic firearms sometimes the old classic is what stands out and color case from Tyler Gun Works is classic.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret. / [email protected]

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  [email protected]

  • 4 thoughts on “Tyler Gun Works – Master Craftsman Of Color Case Work

    1. I have a Parker 16 ga SXS that someone in the past buffed the action .
      What would it cost to have the border engraved as the original and have the action & trigger guard
      color case hardened?

    2. I wanted to thank you for your article regarding Tyler Gun Works. My wife had a 1st generation S & W model 19 revolver that she had been looking to have it case hardened but we could not find in the DFW area who could handle that project. After months of searching I saw your article and forwarded it to my wife. We called and made an appointment and drove there as a day trip. We met Mr Tyler and his wife, they showed up around there shop and were very nice. He explained the process in detail with my wife and gave us a time frame. We she received the gun back she could not have been happier. Thank you for a great article.

    3. That is undoubtedly the worst color case hardening I have ever seen. No Colt or Winchester ever left the factory with a finish coming remotely close. It’s a crying shame that old collectible guns are being ruined by people who don’t have a clue about the finishing process.

      1. I believe that you will find Bobby Tyler can do any shade of case color hardening that you desire. He can even do stainless steel case color.

        Why don’t you send him something and put him to the challenge first before you disparage his work?

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