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Engraving on Firearms and Knives.

Some Browning firearms are engraved on the receiver and other metal parts. From the earliest days of firearms, engraving has been an important means of adding a distinctive elegance to guns. Many Browning knives are also engraved. Not all engraving on firearms or other metal objects is created the same way. There are several processes. With most processes it is VERY difficult to tell the difference one from another.

Hand Engraving – Done by hand with small cutting tools by a master engraver. This is the most expensive and often the most elegant of all engraving methods, depending on the pattern and the skill of the engraver. The engraver actually transfers the design art onto the metal then copies the pattern by cutting into the steel or aluminum. It is still fairly easy to distinguish hand engraving from the other processes, although it is more difficult to tell today due to the quality and precision of the other processes. One easy way to tell is price. Any hand engraved item will be considerably more expensive than any other process.

Laser Engraving – Very precise, specialized lasers are used to cut grooves and shapes in the metal. These groves and shapes can look and even feel much like the cuts made by a hand engraver. Width and depth can be varied to achieve a certain look. The designs are loaded into a computer that controls the laser much like a CNC machine is used to cut firearms parts. “Inking” the engraving can bring out the shapes and contours in elegant and beautiful ways that approach the look of hand engraving.

Roll Engraving – This process involves engraving a “reverse image” of engraving art on a curved, hardened steel plate that is rolled over the surface of the steel being engraved. The pushing of the “roll” against the steel reshapes the metal to create a three-dimensional look that resembles hand engraving. Simple rolls are used by almost every gun company for simple artwork. For example, the information engraved on a gun’s barrel is usually made with a simple roll that is passed over the barrel under high pressure.

Sculpted-roll Engraving – This is a more sophisticated type of engraving that uses multi-dimensional roll technologies and CNC-type precision to impart levels of relief that are similar to the finest hand-engraving. Often this type of engraving is followed up with “hand chasing” of the engraving itself, raising the look to what is often described as “deep relief.” Sculpted-roll engraving is considered an excellent process for embellishing the finest firearms.

Acid Etched Engraving –  Although the name of this type of engraving sounds a bit ominous, the results are often excellent. This process relies on transferring the image of an engraving pattern to the metal in a way that all parts of the metal are protected from the etching acid -- except for the pattern and lines that are being engraved. The entire metal part is then bathed in etching acid allowing the unprotected metal to be dissolved away ever so slightly. After the metal is etched by the acid the entire surface is cleaned and the engraving pattern remains. This process allows for extremely intricate designs over a variety of surfaces and shapes which are often very beautiful.

Galvanic Etching –  This method is similar to acid etching except that no acid is required. After using a special process to transfer the masking image to the areas not being engraved, the part is immersed in a bath of etching chemicals that receive an electric charge. The charge causes the exposed metal to be etched away. When cleaned, the engraved pattern remains. Many fine firearms are etched this way.




Some engraved firearms and knives also contain gold colored highlights. A variety of process are used to create the highlights from direct hand inlay to specialized chemical processes, In general these process totally integrate the gold coloring or plating into the engraving making it a cohesive piece. Similar processes are used to plate silver- or chrome-colored embellishments on Browning firearms. Use of gold or silver highlights and/or plating are addressed separately with the products featuring them. Below is a receiver employing both.


NOTE: There are many Websites that offer a more detailed look at each process. The information above is provided just to help you distinguish between the methods. No attempt has been made to give a comprehensive, point by point description of these engraving methods. Many processes and methods are interchangeable by the factories involved and different processes are often used at the same factory location. Photos and copy Copyright Browning 2013.

The Tech-Term "Engraving" is referred to in the following products:

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