Camo Your Firearm

Introduction: Camo Your Firearm

About: Ex-Navy, Retired Mechanical Designer, Gadget Addict and Fiction Writer. Love all things mechanical and some electronics, and also wine making, mead making, good whiskey and cigars, looking into getting a Ham …

To make your firearm disappear into the landscape, you have to apply some thought to the painting of your gun. Normally, a rifle presents a long horizontal line, usually dark and stark that highlights it all too well. So in order to hide the shape of the gun, and break up the outline, and metallic surface so it fades into the background, first we need to shift the whole color of the gun closer to the natural background color of the area you will be hunting.

Take a few pictures of the area, and use them to sort out the plethora of paints available to find those that fill your need. I tend to use Rustoleum paints, mostly in the 'camo' paints of which they make four seriously good ones. These are: Earth Brown, Deep Forest Green, Army Green, and Khaki. [For this Instructable I will be using only three, (Deep Forest Green, Army Green, and Khaki.)] Finish off the paints with a can of Matte Clear Finish as the final top coat.

Besides the paints, you will also need:

--Painter's Tape

--Latex Gloves

--Brake Parts Cleaner (spray can from Walmart or Auto Parts store)

--Old T-shirts (great wipe down, low lint rags)

--Newspapers or bulk paper roll

--Cotton Balls

--Tools to take your gun action from the stock and put it back together as needed (Usually a screw driver or Allen wrench)

Ready? Let's get started!

Step 1: Step 1: Diassemble Gun Action From Stock and Clean!

Carefully remove the screws holding the gun action into the stock and separate the action and stock.

Remove the bolt of the gun (if it has one), and set it aside. Tape up the bolt channel. In the case of the Remington .22 LR rifle used in the Instructable, I also removed the trigger group for painting as well.

Using a degreaser (the brake parts cleaner spray) Wet a bit an old T-shirt and wipe the action, and the barrel, and the entirety of the stock wherever paint is to be applied.

Wear the latex gloves to prevent your fingerprints from being transferred back onto the stock and action so the paint will stick. DO NOT spray the gun directly, as the degreaser will go into every tiny crevice , and it will ruin the paint job right from the start!

Set every thing aside and have a sip of your coffee and wait about ten minutes to make sure all the cleaner has evaporated. Now for the hard part.

Step 2: Step 2: Tape Everything You DON'T Want Painted!

Taping the gun parts we don't want painted is going to take a bit of time, but time spent here gives you every chance for a really good paint job, and makes the painting that much easier.

For the scope lens, place a simple cotton ball in the lens opening and then use the painters tape to seal off the ends of the scope to keep paint off the lenses. This is critical, take your time and do it right, paint can affect, if not ruin the coatings on the lens.

Tape off the bolt channel, or the exposed area of the bolt if its a semi-auto. cut tape to fit.

Tape off the butt stock pad, and the channel in the stock where the barrel lays. This last one is so that there is no addition material in the barrel channel which can effect accuracy by creating unwanted forces on the barrel when put back in the stock.

Finally, tape off the iron sights so that they remain usable if the need arises where you have to remove the scope if its damaged while hunting.

This last bit is important, cut a small circle of tape and fix over the muzzle of the barrel to keep paint out of the rifling!

Step 3: Step 3: Base Coat

Using the lightest color as the base coat brings the entire gun to the basic color of the natural background where it will be used. (For me that's Prairie and edges of woodlands mostly.) I used the Khaki color to give the gun this basic coloring. The first coat should be LIGHTLY sprayed, almost more of a tack coat to help later paint to stick well. Once its dry, put on a second coat, making sure there is no drips runs or smudges.

Let each coat dry 20 minutes or so to be able to handle it easily. Do one side at a time, and pay attention to getting an even coating. Let this last coat dry 30 minutes to insure a hard surface to work on next.

Step 4: Step 4: Reassemble Gun and Make It Ready for the Camo

Remember the paint will be somewhat soft yet, so be careful and take your time. We are putting the rifle back together to camo paint so that the camo shades will appear even and align from stock to action so as to be part of a whole, without breaks in the lines to draw the eye. Once the gun is complete again, its ready for the fun part.

Remove the tape from the barrel channel.

Set the action into the stock

Reinstall the stock bolts and snug the action and barrel into the stock so they are now mounted as normal.

Recheck the paint for any touch up that might be needed to make the gun ready for the next step.

Step 5: Step 5; CAMO

To camo paint we must apply paint in a way that will break up the horizontal line of the gun against the background, and have vertical elements that shift the shape of the gun from a flat line that is horizontal, to zones of vertical structure. These shift the image of the gun to just another blur on the background with the more natural vertical lines seen in nature. (to do this we use the artificial plants and grasses and dried plants to act as a sort of pattern in which we shape the paint areas into vertical and nearly vertical lines.)

Check the photo of the hand holding some of the grass material, note the lines of the grass are across the stock, the paint going between these grass strands will leave a color pattern the mimics nature and gives the vertical structure we need. Use a short shot of paint and check the pattern, add more if you want more and keep the pattern random but somewhat vertical, It takes little to make a real pattern stand out and practice will bring the pattern to the point you want quickly. (Wear gloves for this, no telling how much paint I got on my hand being stubborn!)

(If you get too much on, you can always use a bit of acetone to remove the paint and start over.)

Experiment on some paper to get the idea you want to use fixed in your mind, and the methods you will use. Now, the rest of the painting is easy. This is the method I used:

1. Using the pattern materials (the grasses), I first sprayed very short bursts of the Forest Green with the lines tilted off a bit to each side of vertical (alternating) as I worked from stock to muzzle, and back over the scope.

2. Next, using the same grasses, I used the lighter green to put short shots over the spaces between the dark green and over some of the dark green, toning down the pattern and color. (This random pattern and color overlay keep the color from having a regular pattern that the eye could pick out as unnatural.)

Take your time and check your progress as you move long the gun's length, you will quickly see where to add more, or when to stop adding more where its obvious you got it right!

Remember that the goal is to make the gun just another item in the background, not obvious to the game, and fitting in the the background seamlessly.

Step 6: Step 6: Clear Coat

Upon completing the last coat of camo color, let it dry and take time to look it over carefully.

Look at the gun up close, and then set the gun across the room and see how it looks from a distance. What you want to see is that the vertical lines and shapes are visible, and that they break up the shape of the gun. If you like the results fine, but if is the time to make changes!

If the gun is just right, now is the time to spray a top coat of Matte Clear to lock in the colors and protect the paint from handling and storage wear.

Matte will leave a dull surface, just right for camo, just about any other finish will have a shine, and that can ruin the effectiveness of all your work!

Let this dry for 30 minutes or so so it can be handled safely.

Step 7: Step 7: Before and After, (or How'd You Do?)

If all went well, and you used good materials, and took your time, you will have a tactical camo job that makes your gun fit into the landscape almost invisible! The skill you learned will allow you to shift the camo pattern for the seasons, and you will be able to repair it with ease. The next thing you know you'll be camouflaging your range bag, the gun case, all your ammo cans, your cooler, (and if he's too slow, the neighbor's cat!) One of my friends just did his ground stand by himself, and is even eying his old hunting truck with thoughts of Cammo. I have guns of friends to paint now and their paying me in Venison! Gotta love Cammo!

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    5 Discussions

    Thanks, the gun turned out well, and the whole effect shows what prep and practice can achieve. The trick is to create soft vertical lines that break up the stark horizontal line of the gun, and remember to do a final spray (from a foot to 18 " away from the gun) in the base color to soften the other colors and blend the whole pattern from a distance. As for being brave to try this, I worked on an ammo can, a small tool box, a toy gun for my nephew, and a buddy's paint ball gun. I found this fun, almost art and absolutely a blast. Now if I could just talk my buddy into letting me do his pickup...


    5 years ago

    Nice and subtle, just what camouflage is supposed to be. I've done lots of tree stand and blind projects, as well as an early, apocalyptic mountain bike, but haven't ever really had a gun i was brazen enough to alter. Yours turned out better, IMO, then off the shelf versions, and even less of the dip versions. The most notable of this is keeping the pattern 'loose' so that it doesn't blob out at distance.
    Nice job dude!


    Reply 5 years ago

    please excuse the typos


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Really Nice tut !

    Now days you see most people going for "hydro-graphic printing" for Camo. It's Awesome to see a Camo job from scratch ! Great work :)

    trike road poet
    trike road poet

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Rattle can paint jobs can be most amazing if you prep right, experiment a bit, and try things out for yourself. The skill is easy to learn, and you show off some of your work and you can be painting other guys guns for a small charge and have fun besides. I'm doing several guns for friends and getting venison steaks in return, I'm happy and the freezer is loading up nicely!