Have you ever wondered why it takes so long for your gun to get back to you after you’ve sent it off to get a Cerakote or Duracoat job done? All they really have to do is slap some paint on it and make it look like camouflage, right? Well no, not exactly. There’s a lot more that goes into any firearms coating work, especially if you want something more complex than just one color. My name is Don, I do professional Cerakote and Duracoat, and I’m here to give you a much better insight into the behind the scenes work that goes into getting your guns coated.
So before I begin I probably should get into some of my background and why it gives me some authority to speak on the subject. I work for a small business in Minnesota that’s a full service gunsmith that also does firearms coatings professionally called Village Pine Custom Gunsmithing. We have a very good relationship with several local gun manufacturers that we do the factory coatings for. They are actually some of our biggest and most consistent customers.
I know some of you are fans of do-it-yourself work, and you’ve probably seen those one time use spray cans or kits for Duracoat you can apply at home. Let me tell you straight up that what you use, and what I use are very different products. One of the biggest differences is the kit you buy for $40 is essentially one time use. Once you activate the hardener in the can and mix the two, you have 48 hours to use the can. Another is that it takes 30 days for the coating you applied yourself to fully cure. Now you remember how I said there was a lot more to doing a good job with firearms coatings than just slapping some paint on and calling it good? The process for a professionally done job is a bit more complex than that.
Cerakote and Duracoat: Preparation
So let’s get started. First we kick off the process by degreasing the part we are coating. This is pretty easy for a factory coating job as the parts come to us disassembled. Instead of a little tiny container of degreaser we use a 5 gallon bucket filled with around 4 gallons of acetone to accomplish this. So you’ve sent us your bolt-action rifle or 1911 pistol? Before we even get to degreasing for what you’ve sent us, we have to completely disassemble your firearm. After that we have to sand blast off the old finish you might have on there already. If we don’t remove the old finish then that can lead to future problems with the newest coating. Not only that but it could change the tolerances of the firearm if we don’t. It would really suck if your gun stopped working because the slider couldn’t operate, or the bolt couldn’t rotate.
All of this takes time, and keep in mind that you aren’t the only one we have to do this work for. We still have to take care of the work we get from the manufacturers as well. They are on a schedule and a delay of one day on our end can potentially set them back a week.
So anyways we have the old finishstripped off, and the parts are completely degreased. What’s next you’re wondering? Depending on what we’re working on we need to cover areas and spots where getting some of the coating material on would be bad. Rails for a pistol slide, threads, inside the action for your bolt-action rifle, and so on. During this process we also secure the parts to special dowels that we use to hold the part instead of hang it. This actually gives us a much better control over the finished product, since the part isn’t waving around. While we’re prepping all the parts, we have to absolutely make sure we are wearing clean gloves. This is so we don’t contaminate the degreased part with grease or oils from our own hands. Duracoat is a little bit less touchy about this, but Cerakote is most definitely touchy. If we don’t wear the gloves it can definitely screw up the finish when we’re done. Anyways when doing a factory coating for a Coonan pistol, I can get about one pistol ready to go every 10 minutes. So considering I do quite a few of those every week, imagine how much time it takes for me to do your pistol I don’t normally do.
Stay Tuned for Part 2!
In this first installment I wanted to establish my credibility, and really stress how important the preparation work that goes into having either Cerakote and Duracoat applied to your firearm actually is. In Part 2 I’m going to get into actually applying Cerakote and Duracoat, as well as discuss how they are applied.