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Gunsmithing Long Guns

How to Spray Paint Your Doomsday Rifle

by Joseph von Benedikt   |  August 27th, 2012 16

What makes a gun unique, better at it’s job, and adaptable to any environment?

Spray paint.

That’s right. No two spray-painted guns are the same; anything that makes a defensive firearm less visible makes it better at it’s job; and, well, what could be more adaptable than spray paint? Add a color here and a pattern there, and you can change its look at will.

When we recently needed the perfect rifle for a doomsday prepper Shooting Times cover story (on guns & gear for preppers) we gave free rein to our creative side and got out the spray paint.

Our foundation was a Stag Model 2T, which is an excellent hard-working AR-15 with very practical features. Its free-floating quad-rail handguard makes it easy to mount accessories, and allows shooters to get the most accuracy possible out of the barrel (my brother owns one that routinely shoots 0.75 MOA 5-shot groups at 100 yards with 62-grain Fusion ammunition). It has a 6-position stock, excellent low-profile folding iron sights suitable for primary use or backup to an optic, and a versatile 1:9 rifling twist that stabilizes a broad range of projectile weights.

But preppers being preppers, it wasn’t quite right. Not without a little spraypaint to make it less obvious and help it blend in.

With a trip to the local auto parts store (acetone, auto-body primer, $13) and Walmart (Krylon non-glare camo spraypaint, $16), we were in business. Our goal was a basic camo pattern that would blend well in both urban and outdoor environments. First step: Degrease the rifle. After a brisk scrubbing with acetone, we sprayed it down with a pressurized aerosol can of degreaser to blast off any lint and dust, then went to work with the autobody primer—a great base layer because it etches into the surfaces it’s applied to and gives excellent durability.

After it dried, several coats of the Krylon green and khaki tan finished it up. Watch the video to see the entire process in action.

Any downsides to a spray paint finish on your gun? Sure: Spray paint isn’t as durable as a quality baked-on finish, so it will scrape off—especially along corners and edges—if you bang the gun on something. Big deal, more paint is cheap. Also, if you apply paint too heavily along Picatinny rails, it can make some of the tighter-fitting mounts difficult to engage. Not impossible, but difficult.

Check out the video here and pick up a copy of the November issue of Shooting Times; then see if you don’t think your last-ditch emergency gun wouldn’t benefit from a little spray paint.

  • Hooty

    No thanks.

  • kent payne

    i bought a brand new remington 870 the finish on it was so bad I had to use a flat black spray can on it to keep itfrom rusting I HAVE NEVER HAD TO SPRAY CAN A BRAND NEW GUN! !!

    • Mack Missiletoe

      Geesh! What is happening to the gun industry!

      Fix yo stuff, companies or we don't buy! :P

  • B. Hunter

    Tarjac the weapon…….easier and does not chip. Cost is worth it, protects the weapon life cycle.

  • @tizwicky2009

    What a Horrible amateurish attempt! If you attempt this as demonstrated you'll regret it and you will negatively impact the resale value of your rifle. If I wanted a camouflaged pattern on a firearm I would consider a film dipped process that is commercially available from several different sources.

  • Dave

    The question is, did the gun fun ction after you painted it? It looks awesome, but you did address any issues you might have by not masking off moving parts. For example, you put the stock in the totally collapsed position, I assume that is so you wouldn't paint the tube and possible limit the ability to collapse it? What about the lower? Why wouldn't you remove all the parts and just paint the lower so that you don't possibly obstruct movement?

  • fred


    • Dylan Kroll

      or stop worrying about what the next guy may or may not want for your rifle, and instead focus on doing what you like with your own property. if all you care about is making a buck out of your lack of commitment, then your priorities are out of order.

  • Roninpryyst

    I would use duracoat, and take the rifle apart. I think that job was just done for the photo.

  • Brian Sweet

    ive painted a lot of guns with the ol' krylon and never had any problems other than the smell of burnt paint on a gas tube… shoot more talk less people, the rifle will be fine stop crying

  • James Tarr

    If you close your ejection port cover, and close your stock, you could do this with all your internal parts still in place and shouldn't have a problem. Nothing moves on the outside of an AR during the firing cycle. If you think you need a really expensive coating, and that spraypainting doesn't work, the fact of the matter is all the camo guns you see in Iraq and Afghanistan are done by hand with spray cans. While touring PRI they showed me an upper that came back from Afghanistan that had so many layers on it after touch-up it was like rings on a tree, but it still functioned! The upper was back in-country because after 12,000 rounds downrange in the sandbox, the accuracy was starting to degrade.

    • Mack Missiletoe

      For real?

      • James Tarr

        Which comment, that all the ones overseas are done by hand or the PRI upper? Both are true. I have photos of the PRI upper somewhere that didn't make it into an article I did for Guns & Ammo a few years back. As long as you close the ejection port cover and don't spray the paint into the interior of the gun, you should have no problem. If you've got a large gap between your upper and lower receivers, you might want to block that off with tape.

  • Mack Missiletoe

    This is a way to camo your gun after the zombies start attacking and Duracoat is not easily found. And your gun is white! lol…

    IMO if your gun is black I think that'd most likely be good enough.

    • Disobey

      Forget about the zombies and focus on the heads & femur regions of DHS thug monkeys who want to offer you a seat on the green bus to showers and hot chow at the FEMA camp just down the road.
      I loved the recon snipers bumper stickers when I served at Camp Lejeune: “Reach Out and Touch Someone from 500 yds!”

  • Jamison B

    Seam like there is alittle bit of huffing and puffing; a realistic doomsday is not one with zombies, in fact it is more likely to see a terroristic force invade than be over run by rampaging brain suckers. How ever you want to paint the picture, (or your rifle) appling some camo to your tool will benefit your situation by reducing reflections, sillouettes and noticable features to a weapon and would be one less thing you have to consider when making split second desicions in a pinch, whether it be face to face with frankenstein or hidden in plain sight of a scouring force.

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