How To Camouflage A Rifle


The term “cover and concealment” is frequently used in the military. Although the two words go hand in hand, there is actually a distinct difference. “Cover” protects the soldier from direct (i.e. small arms) and indirect (i.e. artillery and mortar) fire. Concealment prevents the soldier from being detected. Although applying proper camouflage such as leaves and face paint will enable the soldier to blend in with the environment, a twig will not stop a bullet.

The concept of “concealment” is also practiced by many hunters – especially turkey and bow hunters. Many hunters purchase camouflaged hunting outfits for obvious reasons. And some hardcore shooting enthusiasts spend hundreds of dollars to have their rifles professionally camouflaged. Shooters “camo” their rifles for different reasons. Some do it to give their rifle a tactical and mean look. Some do it simply because they want their rifle to match their hunting outfit. (Hey, women want matching shoes, purse and dress; men want matching guns and hunting clothes.)

Applying camo to your favorite rifle can actually be fun and exciting. The key is to be confident of your artistic ability and not to be afraid to mess up. I would suggest practicing on a piece of two by four wood. Also, ensure that your work area has enough ventilation. Your wife would appreciate it.

The number of original camouflage patterns is unlimited if you use your imagination; further, there are also the more common ones such as desert, arctic and urban. I personally like the American Military BDU pattern. It has four colors: OD green, dark brown, tan and black. I purchased the spray paint cans at Wal-Mart. The brand was Krylon. You can’t beat the price for $3 dollars a can.

First, I covered everything I did not want to paint. I taped the numbers around the target knobs and the bolt action. I also made sure that the scope covers were closed. Second, I painted the entire rifle with OD green as the base paint. I waited until the paint was completely dried – this took approximately 20 minutes. Third, I used the dark brown color to apply slanted “stripes.” The stripes were approximately five to six inches wide. Starting from the barrel, I striped the rifle every other six inches. I then allowed the rifle to dry for another 20 minutes. By now fifty percent of the rifle was painted OD green and the other fifty percent in dark brown. The first two steps were fairly simple to follow. The fun began at the final steps.

The next step is to apply the tan color. I tore off a small section of a sheet of newspaper to the shape of my liking. I used one sheet of newspaper for every pattern I made. As a general rule, the shape of the tan should be smaller than the shape of the OD green or dark brown. Further, you can plot the tan just about anywhere. Personally, I prefer painting tan right on the border where OD green and dark brown “meet.” I placed the torn side of paper right where I wanted to paint and I sprayed away. Again, do not be afraid to use your imagination. Once again, I waited until the paint was dry.

Finally, I hand-painted the black “blobs.” Using a small paintbrush I painted squiggly lines where the tan and OD green (or dark brown) “meet.” I then “branched off” artistically to give the black blobs that stick figure shape we used to draw in nursery school.

And there you have it. Your very own camouflaged rifle. Just don’t lose it in the woods; you may never find it.

Painting Primer

There are many reasons to take a perfectly handsome rifle and go ‘an mess it up by pouring multicolored splotches all over its exterior. But the primary reasons are: 1, camouflage/concealment; 2, you can’t leave well enough alone; and 3, you can’t afford to have it professionally finished. I for one fall into all those categories, but mainly #2.

Disclaimer: I am not a duty slotted sniper. I am not a duty slotted paint-and-body man either. Due to some encouragement from some SC hogs I am, however, training to become a Gunsmith. In the process I have tinkered with all of my own personal weapons, which includes painting my Remington 700 VSSFP (could they have more d%$n letters?) for the fifth time now. I don’t claim that this process is the only way, nor even the best. I am just passing on what has worked well for me in the hopes that someone else who fits the above 3 categories will get a little out of it.

This is very similar to reloading in that you can be as meticulous or as sloppy as you want, and you can spend from a few dollars to a lot.

I will offer this in a few basic steps.

Get It Clean
I degrease all of the surfaces that I want primer and paint to adhere to by first using acetone, drying, then using alcohol (the non-drinking type), and finally washing with soap and water.

Keep It Clean
Use gloves or clean towels when handling the cleaned rifle.

Tape It Up
Anywhere you don’t want paint, use masking tape. For larger or odd shaped areas use aluminum foil, then tape the edges.

Use Good Primer/Paint
In the past I have always used a zinc oxide primer and either Krylon or Rust-oleum flat paints. Both brands have worked well for me.

(The next paint job will be with Brownell’s lacquer paint.)

Light Coats
First lay a coat of primer, waiting a full day for it to dry. Then, after the entire area is covered and dry, apply the paint, waiting for it to dry well before handling.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Nope, it’s not rocket science. It’s not magic. It’s not a $150 professional hi-tech coating. But it is mine and I did it my way. (Don’t make me start singing.)

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