A Guide To Different Types Of Gun Coating

A Guide To Different Types Of Gun Coating

What's the right gun coating for your firearm? There are several factors to consider. Check out the different types of gun coating below to help you decide.

Gun Coating Guide for Gun Owners

Your gun is an investment – not only because it’s an invaluable self-defense tool, but because firearms generally hold their value for a rather long time (provided you take proper care of it, of course).

But we sometimes forget that different types of gun coatings are better suited for helping you protect your firearm based on your application.

So today, we’re taking a look at the different types of gun coating to help you pick the right one to match your lifestyle.

1. Anodizing

Anodizing | A Guide To Different Types Of Gun Coating

An anodized gun coating is easily one of the best options available.

This particular finish produces a robust hardness that’s pretty much second only diamonds!

Anodizing requires initiating an electrochemical process that helps to protect steel against corrosion.

The only downside to anodizing a firearm (if you’re not the manufacturer) is the fact it causes treated parts to “swell” slightly.

This small size increase does mean adjustments are going to be necessary to ensure your firearm can function properly.

But anodized steel is also fairly porous, which allows it to hold paint much better.

You’ll typically find that firearms (and/or individual parts and accessories) are anodized before having a spray-on coat applied.

The major benefit this provides is that the spray-on coat (typically coloring) can be selected with protection in mind.

This can reduce the need to semi-constantly oil your firearm, which is the major downfall of the next gun coating type…

2. Bluing


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One of the more traditional ways to protect firearms from corrosion and reduce glare is bluing the steel.

This is done by initiating the electrochemical reaction to turn the iron to black oxide.

Although gun bluing already gives the treated steel some protection against corrosion, you’ll still need to oil your firearm regularly to prevent rusting.

But there are multiple positives that outweigh that slight inconvenience.

For example, bluing is one of the cheaper types of gun coating available, making it a financially viable option for those who aren’t averse to keeping an oil rag at hand.

It also preserves your firearm’s dimensions, so your firearm’s parts won’t need to accommodate any slight increase.

Bluing can also be achieved via a variety of different methods, which allows for some cosmetic flexibility.

However, you should be aware that cold bluing (while producing an attractive dark gray) is best used for smaller touch-ups, while hot bluing (which produces the titular bluing finish) is generally more robust.

3. Cerakote Coating


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If you find yourself favoring anodized firearms, it’s worth investing in a spray-on gun coating to take full advantage of the porosity.

The three major brand names when it comes to spray-on gun coating are Cerakote, DuraCoat, and KG Gunkote.

While they’re all fairly similar, they do differ in composition and hardiness.

If you have the luxury of choosing your spray-on coat, aim for Cerakote.

While DuraCoat passes 300-hour salt exposure tests and KG Gunkote was specifically designed to withstand a 500-hour salt exposure test, Cerakote stands head-and-shoulders above both of them.

As a polymer-ceramic composite, Cerakote offers excellent corrosion protection and exceeds 550-hour salt solution exposure testing.

This puts it way above the military’s minimal standards.

But it’s also one of the most durable gun coatings known to man – so much so that many firearms dealers will offer lifetime workmanship warranties against cracking and peeling!

Plus, if aesthetics are important (whether for cosmetic or functional purposes), you’ll be glad to know that Cerakote is easily customized in a myriad of color options.

Perhaps the biggest downfall to any kind of spray-on gun coating is the expense and the fact gun part dimensions do increase slightly.

4. Nickel Boron


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Nickel boron is a low-friction chemical gun coating type with a (typically) more uniform finish than methods like bluing or Parkerizing can offer.

Part of the reason for that is the fact it doesn’t require any electrochemical reactions!

Firearm components that are particularly intricate, such as bolt carrier groups, almost always undergo nickel boron treatment as the coating diffuses heat very well.

The cost does tend to confine its use to such parts, as does the fact it creates a very reflective surface that can cause a distraction through glare (not to mention how much harder it’ll be to keep clean).

5. Nitride Coating


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Another type of gun coating that’s particularly popular for internal components is the nitride coating.

There are generally two types: Ferritic Nitrocarburizing and “Queen Polish Quench.”

You might be more familiar with the latter through names such as Melonite, Tenifer, or Tufftride.

Nitride coating is a wholly surface transformation treatment that results in a hard, incredibly wear-resistant finish with relatively decent lubricity.

There are also no dimensional changes, so manufacturers can easily produce parts to be treated with a nitride coating and not have to worry about making size adjustments later on down the production line.

6. Parkerizing


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Parkerizing is one of the traditional alternatives to gun bluing.

The chemical phosphate conversion coating results in a dark gray to black finish with anti-reflective properties and almost no increase in dimensions.

Even though it’s technically more effective at providing corrosion resistance than bluing (however slightly), a Parkerized gun coating requires even more frequent oiling.

7. PVD/CVD Coating


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Last, but not least, we have the result of a vapor deposition process: PVD or CVD coatings.

The two are similar enough for both to be easily explained under the same heading.

Ultimately, the biggest advantage of a PVD or CVD gun coating offers is their high wear-resistance rating despite being such a micro-thin surface.

This particular finish is also known for great lubricity.

On the more aesthetic side, PVD and CVD gun coatings also allow for some color customization.

Pick What Works for You

At the end of the day, the biggest deciding factors in your choice of gun coating are likely to be storage and usage conditions (how likely are corrosion and friction?), the level of maintenance you’re willing to put up with, and whether you have any color preferences.

Overall, the most versatile option is always going to be a hardy Cerakote spray-on gun coating.

It’s especially ideal for firearm owners who expect to experience a wider range of environmental conditions… as well as those who have specific coloring requirements, whether for function or aesthetics.

As always, the key is to remember that your choice needs to work for you!

Is there a gun coating that you're leaning to? We'd love to know why in the comments section!

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Disclaimer: All content on this site is for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 13, 2020, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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