By Jorge Amselle
Anyone who has been to a range or gun shop lately may have noticed that guns don’t all come in black or stainless steel anymore. For the fashionable gun owner manufacturers are producing guns with colors from desert tan to highlighter pink, with or without tiger stripes. But if you can’t find what suits you off the shelf there are experts who will turn your favorite gun into a unique and very personal showpiece.
In the realm of custom colors and designs DuraCoat is one extremely popular option. Now you can certainly buy do-it-yourself kits to apply this spray on coating yourself but my personal experience with DIY projects is that they never end up looking like the picture on the box. If you have fewer than my ten thumbs and don’t mind experimenting on your own then be my guest and go this route. As for me I decided to turn to the experts at Custom Digital Designs, a veteran owned company located in Georgia.
Lots of people claim to be skilled at DuraCoating but not that many are actually certified to do so by the manufacturer, Lauer Custom Weaponry. The guys at CDD are. According to company owner Dick Ruppert, “There are fewer than 800 people Factory Certified and taught how to do it correctly. My son Russ is Camo Expert Certified, which Lauer now calls ‘Master of Flage-ology,’ and there are only 19 of those in the entire country.”
The process is neither simple nor quick but it is incredibly thorough. CDD starts with a complete firearms disassembly down to the last pin and spring. Indeed, they aren’t house painters, they are extremely knowledgeable gunsmiths. Grease, gunk and oil are removed with a thorough cleaning and degreasing and all parts inspected for damage. Steel parts blasted to the white and then parkerized before the color application process starts.
It is in the design stage where the real artistry happens and the customer’s specific wishes are fulfilled. A friend volunteered his Taurus revolver for a rather unique look based on the superhero “The Phantom.” To get the patterns right vinyl templates are carefully applied by hand to retain the underlying color. In the case of the Phantom revolver the skull emblem template was designed and sized specifically for this application. “We took a little artistic license with the Phantom gun after a lot of research for what the ‘right’ color should be and what we used seemed to be the closest match to both the comics and the 1996 movie. Russ did a fantastic job on the signet ring highlights,” said Ruppert.
There are other finishes to be had but DuraCoat is very hard to beat. It is available in the widest choice of colors of any comparable finish, over 260 in fact, and the air drying process makes it safe to use on sensitive parts such as polymer magazines and parts or optics. DuraCoat is an inherently flexible polymer coating that is capable of lasting 300 hours inside the salt spray machine before and corrosion starts to appear.
DuraCoat is incredibly abrasion and chemical resistant and is also rated to continue to provide corrosion resistance and protection to 550-600 degrees Fahrenheit however these high temperatures may affect the color. The real test of durability is based on how well the DuraCoat was applied, which is why it is worthwhile to find someone who is fully factory certified. It also pays to have someone who has the knowledge, tools and expertise to strip your gun down and reassemble it.
Custom Digital Designs dos not limit their work to firearms and they are very experienced in custom coatings for all manner of optics, tactical lights, bipods, back up iron sights, quick detach sling mounts, knives, and even suppressors which can really put the DuraCoat to the heat test. CDD takes special care with optics and electronics with a proprietary process that protect the integrity of the functionality.
As my experience shows they are perfectly capable of meeting oddball requests for custom logos or artwork as well as matching unusual colors to get almost any effect the customer wants. The only downside I can see is that if you have a very specific passion, say for example for 1930’s comic strip crime fighters, you should plan on holding onto your gun for the long haul unless you can find another person similarly inclined. To learn more please visit www.CDDonline.com.
Jorge Amselle is a certified firearms instructor and writer covering all aspects of the industry from military and law enforcement firearms and training to the shooting sports. His youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/amselle.