If you're like me you have scrolled through your Instagram feed searching your gun’s hashtag looking for cool aftermarket triggers, sights, slides, and custom paint jobs. I’ve always been cautious about doing the latter with my gun. Don’t get me wrong I have seen some very cool custom guns, I always like everyone else's painted guns but I’ve always feared I would hate it once I did it to my gun. Having Cerakote put on your gun isn’t completely permanent, but it might as well be since it’s so tough and difficult to remove. It definitely makes going back to that factory look pretty much unattainable.
Having Cerakote on your gun does have some actual advantages other than making your gun look pretty. It does a great job of protecting the gun from rust. If you’ve ever been around an old collection of guns you'll notice that over time your fingerprints will leave rust marks on gun finishes. Well, that doesn’t happen nearly as easily on Cerakote.
I did decide to take a leap of faith and have my Springfield Armory Hellcat painted. I love my Hellcat and its factory look so it was a decision I didn’t take lightly. I knew I needed the best of the best to tackle this project for me and luckily for me the guy I needed was right in my backyard. Rayzor’s Edge Tactical is located in Joplin Missouri and the owner, Brandon Kelley, just happens to be one of the best when it comes to custom guns.
I called Brandon to brainstorm ideas and I ended up settling with a mostly dark camo pattern but with some red in it. That way I could still have a little bit of flare and have some Springfield Armory red in the design.
I’ll cut to the chase and state that I loved the work Brandon did on my Hellcat. It ended up being this crazy camo look I had never seen before and I was thrilled. I did get the chance to interview Brandon for some information about the whole process of painting a gun like this. I also asked him about the various costs and turnaround times and here's what I learned.
For a solid color paint job, it would cost around $50 for the slide and an additional $50 for the frame that includes disassembly and reassembly. A Camo pattern like mine would be about $225 on a pistol and $325 on a rifle. Usually, the turn around for a project depends on the current workload and the specifics of the job. It could take anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. So, if you have one painted just know you may be without your gun for a bit, just another reason to have more than one gun right!?
Here is a rundown of how Cerakote is applied:
Every gun is completely disassembled down to the bare slide and frame. Every pin spring and a small part is separated. The parts that are going to be painted are soaked in an acetone tank then baked in an oven at 200 to 250 degrees to remove any oil. The parts are then blasted with aluminum oxide, cleaned with dry air, then baked in the oven again. This ensures all parts are completely clean and dry. Each color is sprayed on one at a time with an HVLP paint gun. After the base color or colors are sprayed a set of vinyl stencils is laid down before the next coat or coats are applied. The stencils will remain on until the gun is completely finished. That is unless a “battle-worn” effect is applied. The battle-worn look is achieved by airbrushing black over a color or pattern then using scotch bright or another slightly abrasive material to lightly remove the black.
I gotta say I’m pleased with my Hellcat. I liked it initially but the more and more I've seen it I just keep liking it more. I'm already picking out colors for my other guns so we will see what the future holds.
Brandon Kelley at Rayzor's Edge is the real deal when it comes to custom paint jobs. You may be wondering how to tell if someone is good at doing this custom work or not and here is a simple trick I’ve learned in my endeavor. To tell if someone really knows what they're doing you can take one of their paint jobs that has multiple colors like camo for instance, and where the different colors meet there should be very very minimal raised edges where the colors meet. This means that the painter took their time to make everything even. If the painter is not very experienced usually these edges will be roughly where the paint built up against the stencil. That rough edge will peel off quicker, where a smooth one will last a long time. I noticed Brandon’s work always feels smooth where the color changes are and that’s one way you can tell it’s quality work.
He actually just painted a gun for David Nash, more commonly known as 22plinkster, and he has painted for our GunSpot sponsored shooter, Cheyenne Dalton, plus other big names out there. So if you need an awesome paint job I’d encourage you to hit up Brandon Kelley at Rayzor's Edge Tactical!
If you have a custom gun, post a link to it below (or in the forum section) so we can check it out, and let’s hear your thoughts on having a custom EDC and share why you think it's good or not. I have heard some cons about having a custom carry a gun so I’d like to hear your stories and thoughts on the subject.