How to Paint Guns
You can easily change the color of any rifle or pistol by painting it in it’s entirety or painting individual pieces. However, it’s important that you have thorough knowledge of the gun first, as you may need to disassemble and reassemble it to complete this project. Be sure to follow all rules and regulations concerning gun ownership and operation in your area, andneverpaint a fake gun to make it look real.
Prepping the Gun
Disassemble the gun if you only want to paint certain parts.The procedure for disassembling a gun varies by model. If you haven’t done this before, follow the instructions provided in the manual or watch instructional videos online. Take pictures throughout the process so that you can refer to them when reassembling the gun.
Sand the parts you want to paint.The best way to sand the parts is to use a sandblaster to remove the existing paint or coating from the metal. Use 120-grit aluminum oxide blasting media. If you can’t access a sandblaster, rough up the surface of the existing paint with sandpaper. This process preps the pieces so the new paint will adhere evenly.
- You can rent a sandblaster from your local home improvement store.
Clean metal parts with an aerosol degreasing agent.You need an aerosol degreasing agent that dries without residue, like Brakleen or TruStrip Solvent. Put on gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and eye protection, such as a face shield. Be sure you are working in a well-ventilated area. Spray each metal part with the degreasing agent and wipe it down with a clean, lint-free cloth.
- Clean plastic pieces with 91% isopropyl alcohol instead of the aerosol degreasing agent.
- Use clean gloves to handle the clean parts as oils from your fingers will mar the surface and prevent the paint from adhering properly.
Mask any areas you don’t want coated and plug all holes.Use masking tape to cover all moving parts as well as any areas that you don’t want painted, like the trigger and trigger guard. Use modeling clay or foam ear plugs to plug holes in parts like the barrel so paint won’t pool inside them.
Changing the Color
Choose metal paint designed for use on guns.Some products, like DuraCoat, air dry to a set finish. Other products, like DuraBake, need to be baked to set the finish. You can bake small metal parts in a toaster oven. However, if you plan to keep the gun intact or if the parts are too large to fit in the toaster oven, be sure to choose paint that sets while air drying and doesn’t need to be baked.
Suspend the parts or gun in the air.Use wire, like a coat hanger, to hang the parts or gun so you can access them from 360 degrees. Put a plastic dropcloth over your work area and wear a respirator, safety glasses, and gloves.
Spray the parts with the desired paint.You can buy finishing kits that come with aerosol spray cans, or use a paint sprayer powered by compressed air. Hold the can or sprayer 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) away from the surface and spray each part or the whole gun with smooth, back-and-forth motions until all areas are evenly covered. Let the paint dry, then apply a second coat, if desired.
- Use sponges dipped in paint to dab on different colors if you want to camouflage the gun.
Remove the tape and clay or plugs once the paint has air dried.Refer to the instructions on the paint to find out how long it takes to dry. Generally, paint will be dry to the touch in 30 minutes to 2 hours. Carefully remove the masking tape and any modeling clay or foam ear plugs from the holes.
Bake metal parts if required.This should only be done to parts that have been disassembled from the gun, rather than an intact weapon. You can use a toaster oven to bake the metal pieces if the paint requires it. Use wire to suspend the parts from the top of the oven, then bake them for 30 minutes at 350 °F (177 °C), or as the instructions dictate.
- Use an oven-safe thermometer to ensure the toaster oven is operating at the correct temperature.
Reassemble the gun, if necessary.If you haven’t done this before, it can be helpful to refer to an exploded-view illustration of the gun, which can be found in the manual or online. You can also refer to the pictures you took when disassembling the gun, or watch online instructional videos to help you put all the parts back together correctly.
Video: How to paint your AR-15
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