August 27, 2012
What makes a gun unique, better at it's job, and adaptable to any environment?
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.