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Overview Conditions Disassembly Prep & Clean Painting References

Camouflage Your Gun

Camouflaging your gun is not as hard as it may seem. I've been doing it now for abut 7 years and I get a great deal of enjoyment from it. Yes I do this for money; yes I guarantee my work for 5 years; yes I do give references and gladly but this page is to help you. I'm not advertising my services. Below is a step by step instruction guide to help you should you choose to paint your own gun and quit having to worry about rust and cleaning your gun every time the dew falls on it.

One of my favorite past times in the off season is camouflaging hunting equipment and it's been allot of fun when done well. Personally don't think that it requires any specialized skills other than patience. You can have success in painting if you will only practice patience and preparation. What I do today is a combination of canned spray paint, air brush, and brush strokes by hand. I have painted guns, bows, deer stands, outboard motors and a boat or two and I've found my favorite thing to paint is shotguns. Fortunately for me, that is what I paint the most of.

The key to paint retention and a good job, is preparation.

You have to prepare the surface well if you expect the paint to adhere to the different types of surfaces for any length of time. I guarantee 3 things to a customer:

  1. Under normal wear and tear, the items I paint will last at least 5 years, probably 3 times that.
  2. Maintenance on the gun will at least be cut in half.
  3. I will do my dead level best to make the customer happy with the skills I have available.

If you follow theses steps, you should be able to produce a good looking customized camouflaged piece of equipment. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that will take you to a page with no pictures that will be suitable for printing on your printer and will help you through the steps.

These are the 3 best selling patterns that I offer. If you wish to see a close up of any pattern, click on the picture and then click your back button to return.




The best days that I have found for camo work are overcast days with the temperatures in the 70's and 80's. More than that, and the heat of the day requires you to thin your paint in the airbrush so much that it requires one or two extra coats of paint, but you can still work if you want to. The 2 guns used below for examples were a Marlin 30-30 sent to me by a local Gun shop and a new Remmington 870 pump that I took out of the box in order to paint.

The Marlin had been "custom painted" by a previous owner and looked pretty awful, it would have never re-sold in the condition it was in. On that gun I was hired by a local gun shop to paint the wood only. The shotgun on the other hand was to be a fully painted gun,wood, steel, and plastic. The new gun would be the hardest to do since it was coated in Cosmoline, a heavy protective grease used by virtually all gun makers to protect guns prior to sale and would require more disassembly.

A note of experience, one of the worst guns I ever had to do was a Remmington 742 automatic rifle. The owner had put quite a bit of oil into the gun over the years and had always stored the gun in the muzzle up position. Over the years, the oil had ran down the inside of the receiver and had soaked into the pistol grip. This area of the gun was saturated in oil. If you see a gun in this situation, whose wood is "waterlogged" in oil, then all bets are off as to how long the paint will adhere. Soaking the contaminated area in NAPTHA will help remove a great amount of the oil but keep the NAPTHA off your skin. Seek local advice for other oil removal methods.

I also recommend that you go to your local gun smith or sporting goods store and seek advice as to the best lubricant to use for your geographic area and type of hunting. You are about to have the opportunity to lubricate the gun better than you will ever have again in the next 15 years, so do it right. A lubricant used here in Georgia might not perform well on a day in Wisconsin when it's -30 degrees (do ya'll really hunt up there when it's that cold!?).




Tools Needed:

  1. Large common screwdriver

  2. Small common (pocket) screwdriver

  3. Small Phillips screwdriver

  4. Rubber Mallet

  5. 6"x6" piece of innertube or leather or old t-shirt

  6. Channel Lock pliers

  7. 8 penny nail or a very long/small gauge punch

  8. Pencil and paper

Write down the steps that you take as you go along. Write down any notes that will help you on re-assembly. Don't be ashamed to draw pictures or to take pictures of parts if necessary. I even recommend it. Don't make any attempt to alter the trigger and safety mechanisms unless you have been completely trained how to do so!

Make sure the gun is NOT LOADED!

  1. I usually take the barrel off the gun first. Most barrels can be taken off by unscrewing the large threaded cap off the end of the magazine tube that is beneath the barrel. Once it is off, pull back the action and lock the chamber open in automatics or slide the front grip HALF WAY back on pump guns. The barrel will pull out of the gun.

  2. Now rest the gun on a pad on the ground and hold the butt up. You will see 2 small holes in the recoil pad. Put a drop of WD40 on the tip of your Phillips screwdriver and insert them into each hole. (The WD40 will allow easy insertion of the screwdrivers point through the recoil pad and not cut or tear it.) Remove the butt plate.

  3. Many guns will allow the removal of the magazine tubes. This step will be a bit harder. With the butt down, Liberally oil the area where the magazine tube enters the receiver. Wrap the rubber/leather/cloth around the magazine tube to protect the surface and grip the material with the channel locks. Unscrew the tube in a counter clockwise motion. Expect a VERY long spring, a plug, and a cap that covers the receiver end of the spring to come out at very high speed when the magazine tube separates from the gun. The spring is not strong enough to hurt you.

  4. The trigger mechanism is usually held in place by 2 pins, a large one and a small one. These pins can be driven out either side of the gun using a small nail and something to strike it with. I recommend using a light object to strike the nail with. Small gentle taps are in order here, one big whack with a 20oz framing hammer is not what your are looking for. Turn the gun upside down during this time so that the place where shells are inserted points up. Once the pins have been removed, slowly wiggle and remove the trigger assembly. N

  5. Now carefully look at the block. The block houses the firing pin and it is a surface that I recommend NOT be painted. (Stainless steel by it's very nature was never intended to be painted and if you try to paint it you will be disappointed.) If it must be blackened, it can be "blued" at home quite easily for about $6.00. It may or may not be removed, depending on:

  6. This section will be the most difficult part of the disassembly. GO SLOWLY AND TAKE NOTES. The front grip should be removed if possible. Remmington holds the front grips slide bars in with steel rods lining the inside of the chamber that act as springs, you pry them out and the front slide can be pulled out the front. Mossberg and Winchester usually have screws that hold the springs to the inner wall of the chamber. PAY ATTENTION as to which side the spring came from and which way it was turned while removing these parts. Remove the screws and the springs fall out. Turn the gun upright before sliding the slide completely out of the gun. When the front grip is almost out, the block will come out of the gun and should be carefully lifted off the sliding arms and set to the side. The block may or may not have a floor plate that falls off. NOTE THE POSITION OF THE BLOCK ON THE SLIDE ARMS. You will have to put it back EXACTLY the same way on restoration.

  7. Mark with a pencil how far the choke sticks out of the barrel. Remove the choke.

  8. Put all small pieces, pins, and springs safely away along with your notes.


Preparation & Cleaning


Tools Needed

  1. Medium grit sandpaper

  2. Fine grit sandpaper

  3. Pencil

  4. Toothbrush

  5. Strong Degreaser

  6. Oven or Hair Dryer

  7. 1 pint of vinegar

  8. a clean rag

  9. FRESH Roll of 1" Freezer tape

  10. 3 or 4 - 8 penny nails

  11. string

  1. .

    Remove the old finish from wooden parts with sandpaper. I recommend a combination of electric sander, a sanding block and sandpaper all by itself for all the different areas. I start with medium grit on wooden parts and then move to a fine grit. Once the surface is smooth, dip the wooden parts in water. This will "raise the grain" and make it feel rough again.
  2. Let it dry and re-sand with a fine grit paper. Otherwise the grain might raise somewhat when the first coat of paint hits it. Check the front grip for cracks, this is the best time you will ever have to repair them. It will add an additional day to the process but will be well worth while over the years.

  3. BEFORE YOU BEGIN the next step, be sure that you have enough time to sand, clean, dry, tape and prime all metal parts before removing the protective surface of the metal. Otherwise the gun WILL rust by morning and you will have to start all over.

  4. For metal parts, I recommend starting with a fine grit paper. DO NOT SAND:

    Mark these lines on parts where no sanding is to take place with a pencil, do not use a pen because the ink will bleed through the paint later. Electric sanders should be use sparingly and with light pressure on the metal. Look for any burrs in the metal where the gun may have been dropped over the years. These can be removed with a fine file if necessary. If you can't find one, a diamond dust fingernail file works quite well (you probably shouldn't mention this to you wife, girlfriend or mother because all fingernail files will suddenly disappear). Sand all the blueing or parkerizing off of the gun. Right down to the bare metal. It is not necessary that the surface be like a mirror.

  5. For the next step, I have a tube that has been capped off on one end that I fill with water and heat on a Coleman Stove. A large sink of hot water can work well also. Mix up a strong soap solution with hot water. VERY hot water. I recommend Formula 409 or Castrol's "Purple Stuff" for your soap. Clean every speck of oil, grime, orange lint and thread, dead bugs, Cosmoline, bark, gun powder, seeds, strands of grass, deer hair and sanding dust out of the metal parts. I never cease to be amazed at what you can find inside a guns inner workings. Use a toothbrush when possible. Then rinse the gun parts in hot water. The metal will try to dry with the soapy water very fast, if you can't rinse it instantly, put the part back into the soapy water until you've cleaned all the parts, just don't let the soap dry on the gun. (The hotter the rinse water, the quicker it will dry and help prevent any rusting).

  6. .

    After rinsing the parts, dry them with a cloth towel as soon as possible and start drying them. If it's a hot day, set the parts in the sun, otherwise I have found that pre-heating an oven to about 150 degrees and laying the metal parts in there works quite well. A hair dryer works well also.

    Make sure your hands are clean of all oils before proceeding to the Etching stage.

  7. Commercial etching solutions can be bought at automotive part stores but vinegar works just as well. Etching the metal will show no visible change, but it will make the primer paint adhere to the metal much better. If you choose not to etch the metal, then all bets are off as to how long the paint will last. This is an important step! I recommend using rubber gloves for this process because your hands will stink for the rest of the day if you don't. Take a CLEAN rag, dip it in vinegar and wipe all metal surfaces that are to be painted. Make sure the vinegar on your rag is strong enough to be doing what it's supposed to do. Vinegar is very cheap so use it liberally. Do not wipe it off.

  8. Once a part is dry, it is ready to be taped.

    Tape any surface with a fresh roll of freezer tape. Do not use old tape, it's not worth the trouble. Run a string down the barrel, tie a knot in it and run a nail through the knot so you can hang the barrel. Do the same with the front slide and receiver so that while you paint them and let them dry they will not touch any surface. Tape the gun so that no paint will inter any internal areas of the gun. The receiver must be taped from the inside out.
  9. .

    Tape these parts one at a time, hang them up and prime them promptly.


Painting Camo Designs


Tools Needed

  1. Brown, Flat Black, Green, Tan Paint
  2. Air Compressor
  3. Air brush kit
  4. Paint Thinner
  5. 2-3 various small brushes
  6. Sand (possibly)
  7. Freezer Tape
  8. Razor blade

Paint for our purpose is hard to find. The paint that has worked best for me is the Testor's "Model Master" line of paints. It is available at your better Hobby Shops and is an enamel (oil) based paint that will run you about $2 for 1/2 an ounce. You will probably need 2 bottles of tan and 1 bottle of the other colors.

  1. .
    Make sure that the primer paint has dried thoroughly and that all blemishes are now covered and smooth. I recommend gray primer over the reddish brown as any future scratches in the paint surface will blend in with your current pattern.
  2. .
    Mix up your base coat color of paint for the airbrush. I have found that if you make the lightest color the base color, it seems to work best. Our lightest color here is the tan. A 1:3 mixture of paint thinner to paint seems to work fairly well, this really can run anywhere from 1:4 on humid days to 1:2 on very dry days. Spray an even coat over the entire surface.
  3. Allow the paint to dry and then repeat. don't rush this. As each coat progresses, they may become slightly thicker. I generally us 3 to 4 coats of base color as a foundation.
  4. .
    IF you would like to add a very good gripping surface to the fore stock and pistol grip to the gun, let me suggest the following. Tape off the area that you wish to have the gripping surface.
    <Picture>With a larger brush, apply a generous coating of paint. Immediately after painting an area the size of 2 quarters, pour clean play sand onto the paint. Continue until all of the area is covered in thick paint and sand. Allow to dry. Then with the same brush, paint another thick coat of paint over the sanded area. Remove the freezer tape SLOWLY. You will now have a surface with the consistency of sandpaper in the area that you desired the grip to be.
  5. I highly recommend at this point that you go and get a camo shirt, pants or jacket of the same camo pattern that you wish to copy and lay in front of you.
  6. Allow all parts to dry 24 less.
  7. Remove the taped surfaces and lubricate the guns inner workings. Get you drawings and photos (if you made any) and reassemble your gun.(Didn't I make that reassemble part sound easy?)


I'd be interested in hearing from you and hearing how it went, we'll compare notes. Congratulations.

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