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Old October 28, 2012, 05:24 PM   #1
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Painting a rifle

Hi guys,

When i bought my Howa 1500 i wanted it in a camo paintjob but the shop told me it had to be blue or stainless. I went with stainless but have since begun to hate stainless finishes on rifles.

How hard is it or what is the process of having the rifle painted in camo? It surely can't be as easy as simply spray painting it because i imagine that would flake and peel pretty fast.

Are there products out there for this?

Has anyone done a good job of this before?
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Old October 28, 2012, 08:05 PM   #2
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Most good paints can be used to camo a rifle, and if the metal is cleaned and properly prepped, the finish is pretty durable and won't flake.

One good technique is to bake the paint in an oven at about 300 degrees, another is to bead blast the metal to give the surface a "orange peel" rough surface which gives the paint a "tooth" to adhere to better.

You can also buy special decals that allow doing some very sophisticated camo patterns.

Of the paints, the best are special epoxy paints sold by Lauer Duracoat, and Brownell's.
Some of these have to be baked in a kitchen oven, some are air curing that harden alone. These are far more durable than ordinary paints.

Lauer is one of the best. They sell the paints in about any color you could want, they sell cheap airbrushes to apply it, and they sell the camo pattern kits.
Lauer air hardens to handle in 24 hours, to use in a few days, and reaches full hardness in a few weeks.
It has a very good reputation:

Brownell's sell Aluma-Hyde I and II. The I is oven bake, the II is air curing.
It doesn't come in as many colors and isn't a two part mix like the Lauer.

If you have your rifle bead blasted to get a better adhesion, make SURE the bead blaster is either cleaned out and refilled with new blast media, or it's a blaster that's used ONLY for stainless.
If you blast stainless in a blaster that's been used to blast carbon steel, tiny particles of carbon steel will be embedded into the stainless and will rust later, ruining the surface.

How well the job turns out depends on how well you prep the metal and clean it and on how good an application job you do.
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Old October 28, 2012, 09:06 PM   #3
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One method not mentioned by Dfariswheel in his otherwise excellent overview of gun painting is dip, hydro-print or hydro-graphic printing. This is a process where colored inks on a water soluble film are placed in water. The film dissolves leaving behind the ink on the water surface. The ink will adhere to (most) anything that is dipped into the water.

Here is a custom example.

The downside is cost. A complete bolt action rifle... stock, action, barrel, rings and scope will run about $250-$300. But... this includes disassembly, bead blasting of all metal parts, primer application, hydro-printing and multi-stage clear coat application after the print is applied.

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Old October 31, 2012, 05:35 PM   #4
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Thanks for the outstanding answers guys, very much appreciated!

There's a Howa 1500 in a similar build to the one i want to do with this one so i'm going to hold off for now and see whether the painting really adds any resale value to the gun at all.
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Old November 1, 2012, 04:36 PM   #5
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Had a change of heart after looking at the Lauer website, their camo kit looks good but they've just responded saying they can't ship to Australia!

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Old November 1, 2012, 04:46 PM   #6
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I used Brownells Aluma Hyde II on this rifle
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Old November 1, 2012, 06:16 PM   #7
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Brownell's also sell Lauer Duracoat and I think they do ship to Down Under:

Email them for details. They may not be able to send gun parts and accessories, but Lauer is nothing but paint.
They also sell their own epoxy paint as Aluma-Hyde.
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Old November 4, 2012, 12:26 PM   #8
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It surely can't be as easy as simply spray painting it because i imagine that would flake and peel pretty fast.
Actually, it does not.

Just do a Google search on "Krylon Camo" paint jobs for rifles...
Easy to do, easy to touch-up, easy to remove and do-over if the mood strikes, and actually fairly durable when properly clear-coated with Matte clear coat.

Not to mention, a ton of fun to do yourself...
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Old November 4, 2012, 01:10 PM   #9
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Held up pretty good so far.

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Old November 5, 2012, 09:57 AM   #10
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If there are tritium vial nite sights on a gun, mask that off before spraying.
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Old November 16, 2012, 09:49 PM   #11
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Our local Gander Mountain does the dip method. A buddy of mine wants to get a rifle dipped in the black and white snow digi-cam pattern. Im pretty sure its a good bit less than $300. Ill have to check!
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