*Putting a Lasting Finish on Your Firearms*
Like many of us, you probably have a supply of weapons that you have gathered in order to use for gather food, protection or training. Likewise, you also have probably spent a great deal of money on the guns themselves, plus the cost of ammunition (which outweighs the initial cost of the gun quickly), replacement parts, cleaning supplies, and of course proper training sessions. As a course, training and shooting often wears on weapons. One of the most critical issues of any firearm and wear is the finish.
Most firearms are finished in a hot or cold bluing. Bluing consists of potassium nitrate, and/or sodium nitrate that the metal is dipped into. This gives the weapon a coat that allows the metal to be protected instead of the being bare and susceptible to the elements. The bluing is not very durable, and will wear with even just holster presentation. Also, it does not keep salts or other corrosions away from the metal. The alternative to having a blued weapon is one that has a protective finish. These finishes can range in price from $30-$350 depending upon what finish is selected and how labor intensive it is. Many companies off specialty coats, but again these must be reapplied periodically so that they retain their protective properties.
For the enterprising person who is willing to do a little work, one can obtain a finish on their weapons that is as nearly good as the Duracoat finish. Duracoat is great, but VERY expensive. In fact, Duracoat typically costs $250-350 to be applied to a SINGLE gun! Using Brownells Gun-Kote, one has the ability to create a coat that costs a few hundred dollars for under $30.
Once you have ordered your preferred color of Gun-Kote and it has arrived, the fun begins. You will need to follow all of the instructions to the last letter, plus a few they do not tell you about that are learned from trial and error.
First- Completely disassemble the weapon and lay out the parts you want to coat. You will want to build a wire rack that will allow for the parts to hang by. The wire rack needs to be set up so that it does not touch any of exterior parts of the weapon. You can build it out of old wire coat hangers for example or bailing wire as well. Keep in mind that it will be hanging in your oven.
Take the parts and degrease them to remove any oil. Then sandblast them, or have it done prior. You can also use sandpaper, but the metal must be bare and dry. Warm the metal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven. (And yes, you can use the one in your home, but beware, it is going to be REALLY stinky!!!)
Once the parts are warmed to 100 degrees, take them out and spray them with a light coat of gunkote. Once this is done, wait for AT LEAST twenty minutes, then spray another light coat. Do not worry about over coating, as the coast goes on with a thickness of .004-.006 inches. You can use many coats, but be sure to use enough that the parts are completely covered. Once you are satisfied with the coat, bake all parts in the oven for at least 45 minutes. Brownells claims that it only takes 30, but it is a hardening cure, so it will not hurt anything to leave it in for a while longer. If you have larger pieces it will take longer to coat. Also, it is going to smell very bad, so use adequate ventilation, or you will feel very strange from loosing oxygen to the brain. There will be a bit of smoke coming out of the oven, but that is ok because it is the coat settling into the metal. It will dissipate after you are finished.
Once the coat is baked on, leave the parts in the oven to cool. Once you can pull them out, you have two options:
A: leave the parts unassembled to cure
B: Reassemble weapon
Both accomplish the same end, but I would want to let the weapon cure in pieces. I would advise that you do not use the weapon for 2 weeks as the cure will be able to harden and set in place.
Once this is done, reassemble and test fire. You should have no problems with the weapon cycling or any FTF. As you use the weapon some of the coating may wear off. If it does, that is fine as the weapon is permeated with the Teflon coating. However, if it comes off in flakes and bare metal is exposed, you will need to recoat. This also applies to bubbles and runs as well as you will most likely want to touch up. Touching up can be accomplished in two ways. First, you can just spray over the finished part. Second, you can sandblast the whole weapon and re-spray. Just keep in mind that the coat is going to be very hard to remove.
While this may seem like a long and drawn out process, it is not. I coated a Remington 870 in 5 hours from start to finish. Just remember to be safe, provide adequate ventilation, and keep the kids away from the working area. It would be a safe bet to send the wife and kids on a trip to go grocery shopping or to see a movie. Either way, for under $40 by the time you are done, you get a finish that is durable and one that you do have to be afraid of scratching or denting. Also, with one can you can coat 4-5 handguns, and 1-2 rifles or shotguns, depending on how much of a coat you use.
I took my 870 out a downpour and shot 100 rounds through it to see how it would hold up. The finish id not even look used, and the entire gun was rust free after being in the elements for about 4 hours on Christmas Eve. Needless to say, I was impressed. It is something I intend to do to all of my firearms and would encourage you all to do the same.
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