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Firearm Finishes

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Chief Sackscratch

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    Posted: June/14/2017 at 10:36

Recently purchased and ugly gun... when I say ugly its similar to the color of what I find when I change my babies diaper.... not sure why but H&K's "sand" is terrible looking on metal parts... the frame looks good but slide is terrible.


Want to get the gun refinished.  Frame is polymer of course all other metal.


Anyone done the Robar NP3+ finishing?  is it a gunmetal color?


What do you guys recommend? I really have to change the color of the slide at least.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peddler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2017 at 10:47
I know Rifle Dude has talked Robar about on some of his handguns.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rancid Coolaid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2017 at 12:51
Gun purpose?

I usually rattle-can most of my rifles, that would work for your gun. It isn't pretty but the finish you have is good, you just need something less ugly.

If the gun is a shooter and the finish is in good shape, I wouldn't refinish.

My friends do laugh at my rattle-canned guns. Except when it is hot as balls and their black guns are hotter still, and my tan gun is okay. My ugly, tan gun.

If you do refinish, NP3+ is a great finish, slicker than snot though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jonoMT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2017 at 16:58
Funny, hunting up north, the concern is usually: Will the rifle make your hands too cold?

You might look at some of the Brownells epoxy paint (Alumahide) if you want a little more durability in a spray paint.
Reaction time is a factor...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rancid Coolaid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2017 at 19:14
Agreed. The alumahide stuff is tough.

Nice thing about rattle-can is that it comes off with time or acetone.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2017 at 21:33
I've tried the majority of the firearms finishes currently available. Most have a place depending on your budget and application, and all have advantages and disadvantages. I have my favorites, and will explain why.

Which is "best" for you depends on how much you're willing to spend, what color(s) you want, what wear characteristics you need and/or are willing to live with, and which part(s) you want refinished. Are you wanting to leave the frame as-is and only refinish the slide? Do you want the entire gun the same color or do you want a two-tone look? How much are you willing to spend?

Here are just some of your options. I'm listing from most to least durable.

1. PVD coatings. This is a family of chemical nitride finishes (TiN, TiAlN, TiCN, AlTiN, etc.) applied in a gas furnace. IonBond is a trade name for a type of PVD coating. They are the same coatings applied to carbide, cobalt, and HSS cutting tools used for machining.
Advantages: Extremely wear resistant and super hard, virtually corrosion-proof, nice looking, very thin so doesn't affect dimensional fit, very slick.
Disadvantages: Available in a limited number of colors such as gold, gray, blue-gray, silver-gray, copper, black. Not many suppliers apply these finishes due to high capital investment. Fairly expensive.

2. Salt bath ferritic nitride. This is a heat treat process and a type of case hardening. This same finish is known by multiple trade names: Melonite, Black Nitride, Tufftride, QPQ, Tenifer, and a few others.
Advantages: Almost as wear resistant and almost as hard as PVD coatings. Very corrosion resistant, nice looking, no dimensional change to parts, since it's a chemical reaction on the surface, not a coating.
Disadvantages: Only available in black color. Some parts are not good candidates for the treatment. Only steels can be finished. Involves immersing the part in a 1000+ deg bath, so can cause some warpage on some parts with thin cross-sections or parts inadequately stress-relieved.

3. Robar NP3 Plus. This is a type of electroless nickel plating with added Teflon (PTFE). It is a satin silver-gray color.
Advantages: Very wear resistant, but not as wear resistant as the two finishes above. Very slick, self-lubricating. Very thin, so little dimensional change to parts. Doesn't tend to wear as much on edges like some finishes. Very uniform plating thickness throughout. Extreme corrosion resistance. Looks nice.
Disadvantages: Only available in the silver-gray color. Only available from 1 supplier: Robar. Fairly expensive.

4. Robar NP3. A different formulation of the same nickel-Teflon finish as NP3 Plus, but not quite as durable or corrosion resistant. Has basically the same advantages and disadvantages as Plus, except is less expensive and not quite as durable or corrosion resistant.

5. Electroless nickel. Similar to NP3 with similar qualities, though doesn't have added Teflon. It is more silver colored, less gray than NP3. 
Advantages: Has all the same basic advantages as NP3, essentially the same corrosion-resistance. Very wear-resistant, looks good, thin plating that doesn't change dimensions much.
Disadvantages: Not quite as wear resistant and not as slick. Only available in 1 color: silver.

6. Hard chrome. Unlike electroless nickel, which is a chemical plating, HC is an electrically applied chrome plating.
Advantages: Very durable, looks good, fairly corrosion resistant. If you prefer a shiny silver finish, can be applied with a shinier, more polished look.
Disadvantages: Not as durable as electroless nickel, can flake along sharp edges of part or in high friction areas. Somewhat porous, so not as corrosion-resistant as electroless nickel. Thicker plating than electroless nickel.

7. Robar Roguard: A polymer/moly based spray finish.
Advantages: Robar claims it is the most durable spray finish available, but have never tried. Wilson Combat really likes it.
Disadvantages: Only available in black. Only 1 supplier. Fairly expensive compared to other spray finishes.

7. KG Gun Kote. A type of 2 part spray epoxy finish.
Advantages: One of, if not the most durable spray type finishes, along with Cerakote. Manufacturer claims it is more abrasion- and impact- resistant than Cerakote. Self-lubricating. Available in a wide variety of colors. Colors can be mixed, masked, combined with other colors like any other "paint." Has multiple formulations depending on the application type, along with "bake" and "no bake" (for non-metals that can't withstand the bake temps) versions.
Disadvantages: Requires proper application to get thin coating thickness. Not as durable as the finishes above, though among the most durable "spray" finishes. Relatively inexpensive.

8. NIC Cerakote: A poly finish with added ceramic powders. Has basically all the same advantages and disadvantages as KG Gun Kote. Equally wide variety of color options as Gun Kote, and like Gun Kote, has both bake and no bake formulations.

Some claim Gun Kote is more durable than Cerakote, claiming that Cerakote is more brittle and more prone to chipping, others claim the opposite. Both are very durable, have about the same corrosion resistance (both excellent). To me, the decision between the two comes down to which has a specific color I prefer for a given project.

9. Robar Poly-T2. Teflon (PTFE) modified epoxy spray finish. 
Advantages: Pretty durable. Can be applied to most materials. Very corrosion and wear resistant. Self-lubricating.
Disadvantages: Not as durable as above finishes. Limited to only 6 colors.

10. Brownells Aluma-hyde II. An epoxy-based spray paint.
Advantages: Pretty durable. Easy to apply at home by most anyone with decent spray painting skills. Can be applied to almost any material. Fairly inexpensive. Very corrosion-resistant as long as finish hasn't been compromised.
Disadvantages: Not as durable as the above finishes, but probably as durable as Robar Poly-T2. Fairly limited range of color options.

11. Lauer Duracoat. A popular catalyzed poly finish.
Advantages: Has a huge variety of colors. If you can't find a color you like in Duracoat, you're damn hard to please. Easy to apply. Pretty forgiving of poor spray technique and still look nice. Pretty durable. Can be mixed with any other Duracoat color for endless color options. Very corrosion resistant as long as finish isn't compromised. Can be applied to virtually any material. Fairly inexpensive.
Disadvantages: Not as durable as the other coatings above, but maybe as durable as Aluma-hyde II.

There are many other coatings available, some I've tried and others I haven't but I have tried and like all of the above coatings, and those are the only ones I would use myself based on my own experiences. #1 and #2 are the absolute best for hard use, with #3 not far behind. I like those the best unless I want an unusual color or color pattern, in which case, I'd go with Gun Kote or Cerakote. I like Duracoat on synthetic stocks due to ease of application and forgiving qualities that resists runs. Though it isn't as durable as other finishes, it's fairly flexible so it can take some impact and is easy to repair scratches.

Birdsong Black-T has a good reputation if you want a black finish, though I've never tried it. It is supposedly very wear and corrosion resistant, but I don't know how it compares to the other finishes above. It is a multi-step process, but I'm not sure what all is involved there. It is only available from 1 supplier, and only available in black. It might be awesome; I've just never tried it and can't comment on its qualities vs the others.






Edited by RifleDude - June/14/2017 at 21:39
Ted


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jonoMT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/14/2017 at 22:20
Now I wish I had something that needed coating. Excellent info, Ted.
Reaction time is a factor...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bugsNbows Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2017 at 06:23
As usual, Ted comes through. Excellent
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote budperm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2017 at 07:09
That made my eyes hurt!!! Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kickboxer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2017 at 08:16

Just checked out PVD... applied at 800deg, can't be applied to aluminum or polymer.  My love of steel proves itself once again.  Looks way cool. 

Great list, Ted.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rancid Coolaid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2017 at 08:47
Awesome list, thanks Ted.

I would point out that H&K's finish is very, very good, the gun needs refinish for aesthetic reasons only: correct?

Were it me, and I hated the finish, I'd rattle-can on some matte tan and/on black with a few edges to separate the colors. It'll wear pretty fast, but break up the color you don't like.

Or spend $200+ and be without the gun for a few months.

Edited by Rancid Coolaid - June/19/2017 at 07:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SVT_Tactical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2017 at 09:14

Correct its just really a terrible shade of "sand/tan" its more green than tan.... the frame is fine, its tan... the slide is baby diaper brown/green...... I think I'll just run as is, its a tool, doesn't have to be pretty to work.  It shoots great, comparable to any of my 1911's and my PSP.  I just cant see spending $300+ to refinish with NP3+ or other just cause of color....  I may try to rattlecan the slide, easily removed with some acetone if I don't like and like RC says, can be re-applied as needed.


Then as it wears and needs refinishing, I'll then worry about a change. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SVT_Tactical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2017 at 09:14

Ted, 


AWESOME write up.... that post alone deserves its own thread and to be sticky'ed

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BeltFed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/15/2017 at 10:04
Originally posted by budperm budperm wrote:

That made my eyes hurt!!! Smile

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peddler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/19/2017 at 04:33
Ted, I recently read an article on Alamo Precision Rifles in Hurst, Texas. They are using PVD and Cerakote on their rifles.I'll see if I can find the article.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Urimaginaryfrnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/19/2017 at 16:02
I have had Walter Birdsong do two M1a s and a 1911 and an R5 Mil Spec .308  they do Black t, Tan T and Green T.  the Green is that nasty old army truck color green and that's on the R5 both the M1a are a mix of black and tan and the 1911 is black.  It is a superb finish but it takes forever to get it back.  I feel it is much better much more durable than the two cerakote  rifles I have.  I also love electroless Nickel and find it wears better than bright nickel which will dull with extended carry in and inside the pants holster in Texas heat. Glock's finish is also superb without a doubt some of the toughest finish I have ever had on a duty gun. Cerakote is probably the most available fast turnaround finish.  Even with a 6 month turn around I have absolutely never regretted sending guns to Walter Birdsong their work is superb. 

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