How To Make It Your Gun, With Customization

grip tape

Making Your Gun Yours

After you’re happy with how your gun functions for you, there’s still a wide world of cosmetic changes you might want to explore to personalize your gun. Below are five of the most common ways someone can make a gun really belong to him or her – because good-looking guns, however you define that, are for everyone.
Paint in the form of firearm-specific products like DuraCoat, Cerakote, or KG Gun Kote is a popular way to change a gun’s color to almost any one you can imagine. These products are formulated to stay on properly prepared surfaces once they have been heat-treated or air-cured, unlike regular spray paint which will at best wear off more quickly. They can be applied as a solid color on most gun parts, as well as in patterns and designs limited only by your imagination. The products are both a protective coat to help prevent rust and fingerprints and a way to make the firearm more visually useful or appealing to its owner. For instance, a hunting rifle can be painted with a camouflage pattern or a match pistol can be turned into your favorite color. Note that there are debates about what colors might or might not be a good idea, but those arguments are beyond the scope of this article.

cerakote shotgun

The Cerakote purple and gray zebra stripes on my shotgun make it easy to pick out of a crowd.

Refinishing is a slightly different process than putting a paint treatment on a firearm because it requires a chemical process that either deposits a metallic coating or changes the composition of the outer layer of the metal part itself, or a physical process that changes the texture of the metal part. Like paint, these types of finishes are used to create a shiny new look and add protection to the gun. Some of the processes also add a level of slickness that can reduce the need for lubrication. Alternatively, an existing finish can be polished, brushed, or blasted to change how shiny or matte the metal surfaces are.
TiCN

My friend’s slide has been refinished with TiCN to make it a shiny bronze (Credit: Matt Olinchak)

Engraving can be done in combination with painting or refinishing, as well as on its own. Intricate hand engraving is a historic way of decorating firearms, and examples can even be seen in museums as art pieces. It’s rare to find hand-engraved guns on the range today because most are unique collector’s items that are expensive in both time to create and money to buy. However, machine engraving is also available and can mimic the varying depths that characterize hand-engraving or simply mark an image or pattern into the finish. It’s faster and cheaper, and can sometimes be done by non-firearms specialists as long as you comply with applicable gun laws. I’ve even had my jeweler engrave lettering into a slide for me.
custom gun

My P320 slide went through both a PVD refinishing process and machine engraving to make it one-of-a-kind.

All of the options so far require permanent changes to your gun, but there are some choices if you aren’t ready for that level of commitment yet. One is custom stocks or grips. When you choose a new set of stocks or grips for your gun for functional reasons, such as adding more texture or making the grip slimmer or fatter, you will often have the choice of many different colors or even materials. If you’re already making that change, it’s a great opportunity to further personalize your gun by picking the one in your favorite color.
backstrap

The removable backstraps on my M&P and my AR-15 are covered in a custom glitter treatment by my sponsor, Brilliant Backstraps & Glitter Grips

Another non-permanent option is to add adhesive decorations to your gun. These are no ordinary stickers, though. Adhesive-backed vinyl “gun wraps” or “gun skins” are often pre-cut to fit your firearm so that you can install at home to add color and graphics everywhere the product is applied. Another alternative, and one that can roughen the texture of your gun temporarily in addition to adding a little color, is to put grip tape on your gun. Some people will use skateboard grip tape or even stair tread tape that they cut up themselves, but there are also options already set up to fit your gun, such as Talon Grips.
grip tape

Here, my P320 is wearing grip tape cut by Springer Precision, another sponsor


What have you done to make your gun look great? Come on over to Gun Carrier’s Facebook page, tell us about it, and show us a picture!

2 Responses to :
How To Make It Your Gun, With Customization

  1. Michael says:

    My only concern is some modifications, or personalizations might make the gun too flashy and tempt thieves. Of course, guns must be secured when not in use, and shooting buddies must be trustworthy, there are “eyes” everywhere.

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