One Way to Paint a Sniper Rifle
I was told recently that before taking one of the long range rifle classes at one of the firearms training centers, that I should paint my rifle before showing up at the course. The thought of doing so made me cringe to say the least. To me it was kind of like writing in a textbook. It something that was just not done.
Iíd seen some of the camo jobs that some of my friends had done, and I wasnít impressed. But my partner insisted, so I set to it. I was reasonably pleased with the final product, and I got a lot of compliments on it during the classes so I thought Iíd share this particular method for those required to savage the nice finish on their rifle.
The first step was to run to the local Farm & Fleet to pick up a selection of colors. I ended up with eight cans of spray paint. After spraying sample swatches on paper I took them all outside to compare them to the color of the earth here and the local vegetation. I settled on four colors, all from the Rust-Olium, Painterís Touch Camouflage line of paints. The colors were Khaki #1917, Army Green #1920, Deep Forest Green #1919, and Earth Brown #1918.
The next problem was to figure out how to mask the colors. I looked at making stencils and wrapping the rifle with different kinds of leaves, but the thing I needed to simulate more than anything was tall grass. I needed a finer camouflage pattern. I ended up cutting 60" lengths of burlap about 2-1/4" wide. Then I stripped out about two thirds of the weave in the short direction and about half the weave in the long direction. What was left was burlap lace.
Now we are almost ready to paint. But first, I removed the stock and washed all the exposed metal with a mild detergent and rinsed with boiling water. I did the same with the stock. I dried the whole assembly with a hair dryer and re-lubed the trigger group and oiled all the metal that the stock would hide. Then the stock was re-installed (wearing surgical gloves so as not to get salts or oils on the surfaces to be painted). Then the whole system (rifle, scope, bi-pod, scope covers) was wiped down with a rag soaked in alcohol.
Now we are even more 'almost ready' to paint, but not quite. Time to mask the parts that canít be painted. Since my rig uses a Luepold LRM3, which has no provision for a lens shade, I installed the Butler Creek anti-glare filter in the objective cover. Before installing the filter, I stuffed the objective with plenty of lens tissue and a piece of round cardboard to keep any paint from contacting the objective lens. This allows one to leave the front flip-up lens cover open so the inside of the cover can be painted. If you donít paint it you will have a very highly visible black disc when the cover is in the open position. Remove or mask the scope turrets. Mask the elevation and windage indexes on the scope as well as the variable power index if your scope has one. Also, mask off any threads on the scope used to adjust focus for the ocular lens. I also masked off the recoil pad since I didnít figure paint would stick to it, and I wanted a clean line between the end of the stock and the recoil pad. Lastly, mask off the crown. Use one of those small circular stickers or a piece of scotch tape. Donít get paint in the barrel.
Now we are actually ready to paint. Start with the light colors and work to the dark. Simply give the whole assembly a good coat of the Khaki, and let dry per the instructions of the paint one uses. Paint the rifle and bi-pod separately.
After the Khaki (or whatever color works where you are) color is dry, take the burlap lace and wrap, starting at the front of the rifle. Wrap so that there are areas where the next coat of paint will penetrate in varying degrees from not at all to complete penetration. You will have to double/triple wrap some areas and leave other areas completely open. Use some of the burlap strands you stripped out of the burlap masking strips to tie the strips in place. Then, spray with the next darker color (in my case the Army Green). Try for a 50/50 coverage between the first two light colors. Let dry and remove the burlap masking strips. At this point you will start to notice some very fine patterns starting to develop that look very much like grass in pattern. However, at range the rifle will read as one color. This is a bad thing.
Now it is time for the darker colors. Use them sparingly. Wrap the rifle with the burlap masking strips much tighter during the application of the Deep Forest Green (again whatever color works for your location) paint application. Make sure you leave some areas in the burlap lace masking open so the darker color can be utilized to break up the outline of the rifle and scope. But donít let the third coat of paint cover more than 25% of the rifle. Making the patterns carry through between the rifle and scope will help a lot in breaking the profile of the scope. At this point some very fine patterns are starting to show that mimic grass patterns pretty well. Remove the burlap masking and repeat with the process with the Earth Brown color, again being careful not to apply more than 25 percent of the final dark brown color.
At this point you have a very well camouflaged rifle, if you have been
careful to match colors to your area and season. It should have some relatively
fine patterns that simulate blades of grass and some areas that have the
darker colors that break up the outline at a distance. Some will follow
up with a coat or two of a flat clear-coat to keep the wear down but I
find that by the time Winter starts I can cover the worn through areas
with the light grey and white for winter.
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