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Evaluations : Patrick Gordon
Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

DuraCoat Home Finishing Kit
By Patrick Gordon
Mar 3, 2006, 06:00

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What is DuraCoat?  DuraCoat is “The Finest Firearm Finish on the Planet” according to the brochure and after using it I’m in no position to argue.  DuraCoat is ideal for use on all parts of a firearm, including ferrous metals, alloys, synthetics and wood.  It has an unlimited color range and is resistant to lubricants, cutting oils, and bore solvents while having excellent physical and chemical performance.  DuraCoat also has excellent water, chemical, impact, mar, and abrasion resistance with great hardness and adhesion.  Yes, DuraCoat works on bows as well. (Web Site: www.lauerweaponry.com)

DuraCoat comes in 75 color choices from Woodland Tan all the way through Lime!  Yes, Lime!  They also carry 20 CamoPaks with Peel’N Spray Templates or camouflage kits for your weapons.  Ranging from snow to digital desert camouflage, you can find anything you may need.  If you haven’t yet been to their website, take a moment and see the kits for yourself.  They truly turn your weapon into a work of art when completed. 

DuraCoat sent me their Wilderness MirageFlage Camopak about two weeks ago for my evaluation.  Having never used an airbrush before and possessing the artistic equivalent of a turnip, I was pretty curious as to how this one would turn out.  I flashed back to the big finger painting accident of 1972 and cringed.  Believe me, if I can finish this project, so can you.
DuraCoat Arrives

I started by tearing into the box and laying everything out in front of me.  It came with four colors of DuraCoat finish, 6 feet of Peel ‘n Spray Templates, 1oz hardener, 1oz Reducer, airbrush kit with a can of NO. 2 propellant, some degreaser and lucky for me, an instructional video.  I dug out the video and headed straight for my computer to see what I was in for.
CD and examples give some ideas

The video was well put together and showed how they coat a weapon in their shop as well as how to use the templates that are used to create the patterns on the weapon you are going to spray.  It showed the sand blasting, cleaning, and oven drying in their shop as well.  While being informative and helpful on some things like pattern layout, it didn’t talk at all about how to use what came with the kit.  I went back to the box to search for an instruction guide for the home kit, but it didn’t come with one.  Hence, I made a few rookie mistakes that I will talk about so you don’t.  I would love to see DuraCoat type up an instruction guide for a home use kit in a step-by-step format.  Having never used an airbrush before, it took me some time to get set up and ready to paint.
Laying out the victim

I chose an older Mossberg 500 police model as my victim for a first attempt with DuraCoat.  I knew I wouldn’t cry even a little if I messed this one up.  It had the wood stock and grip and was definitely in need of a new look.  The first step is the degreasing of the parts.  No dip tank handy?  No problem.  They include a can of degreaser and boy does it work well.  I disassembled the shotgun, cleaned all the parts, and degreased them as best I could.  It was time to pick the color scheme and like it says in the brochure, anything goes.  I chose black as the first color because that’s what they did in the video.  (Told you I was creative.)  Here is where things started to get frustrating for me.  When they were handing out patience as a child, I was most likely out chasing a squirrel or poking something spongy with a stick.  I know nothing about airbrushes or propellant and I was just happy to be painting.  I mean, I mixed the paint, attached the jar to the brush, and even figured out that the propellant was for the gun and things were flowing well.  They had included one of the small cans of propellant and it said that it was possible to complete two firearms with it.  I personally went through 3 cans, two small and one large before I got all 4 colors on the weapon.  Propellant cans freeze very quickly when in use.  You must wait for long periods of time while they defrost and that is where my patience ran thin.  When I start a project, I like to keep moving and the frozen can just wasn’t doing it for me.  This is where I made my first mistake.  DO NOT under any circumstance put the frozen propellant can into a bowl of hot, warm, or luke warm water.  It’s stamped right there all over the can, “Keep away from heat.”  I however was in a hurry and dropped the first small can smack dab into the middle of some fairly hot water.  The can hissed, wiggled, and groaned as the gas expanded inside.  I snatched the can quickly from the water and after the hissing noises vanished, decided to give it another shot with the airbrush.  I lost about ¾’s of the can in the first blast and half the paint I had mixed.  Here’s the happy ending to this story.  I called DuraCoat and after some muffled laughter they sent me another two cans of propellant the same day.  I experimented a little bit and found that if you use just some regular cold shallow water in a pan, enough to cover the bottom, it keeps the can from freezing quickly and it won’t cause any explosions what-so-ever.  I do suggest that you get a couple of cans to work with right from the start.
 
Dissasembled and ready to de-grease

A base coat

The base green

Once that was figured out, it was not hard at all to finish.  Each time you finish a coat of color, you wait until it sets and then add a set of templates.  I finished the black, put on the blue templates sprayed the next layer tan and after it set, I put more templates on and sprayed the shotgun green.  It takes some time and a good eye to get the templates straight and in line with one another.  If you look closely, you can see that mine isn’t perfect, but I think it looks great regardless.  An afterthought was that I could have set a laser level up to shine on the shotgun giving me a perfect line to follow.  I’m also not sure what it takes to get the template into a pattern or groove on a stock or grip while keeping it straight.  I guess time and experience may be the key to that one.
Simple as stick on and spray

 
Laying on the templates

Looking good

Voila, ready for the field

Here’s how I scored DuraCoat

Ease of use   4.0 of 5
I’d give them a 4.5 if they had step-by-step instructions for the items in the home kit.  Everything is fairly self explanatory if you think about them, but even a quick reference guide telling you how much hardener to add to 1oz of color would save the customer some time.  I’d give them a 5 if they came over and did the project for me.  It is a project and it takes time and patience.  Great winter project!

Company Assistance -  5 of 5
Had to call for help twice and they were great.  Friendly, courteous, and knowledgeable.

Quality -     5 of 5
Everything they sell is high quality.  You will find no other coating that delivers like DuraCoat.  You may also send in your weapon to be professionally done if you don’t wish to tackle this project.  Great for those high dollar weapons that you want professionally finished.

End Result -  4.5 of 5
Again I wish they had a step-by-step for dummies.  The coating on my shotgun is hardened, beautiful, and definitely not effected by oil.  I’m very happy with the quality, the durability, and how the pattern looks.  Great product and a fun project to work on.  I’d love to send a gun in to have done and see the difference between a home kit and how it would leave their shop professionally to see how I did.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed working with DuraCoat.  I learned a few things, made some mistakes, and ended up with a beautiful shotgun in the end.  My friends agree that it looks and feels fantastic.  I would use this product again on another weapon in a minute. 

Just a few tips:

  1. Purchase at least one extra can of propellant right from the start.
  2. If the pressure drops to the airgun, the propellant is freezing.  Give it time to warm up or put the can in “cold” shallow water as you go.  It keeps it from freezing.
  3. If you aren’t getting enough pressure to spray the paint right from the beginning, check for clogs in the airgun, straw and hole in the lid of the paint jar.  Also try backing off the tube that screws into the propellant by about 3 turns.  I found that if you screw it all the way into the can, it doesn’t have as much pressure to the airgun.
  4. Ventilation is paramount when spraying and cleaning.  This is a professional coating that is made with and of strong chemicals.  Avoid breathing too much of it and try not getting too much on your skin.  I highly suggest gloves and a respirator if spraying indoors.
  5. Take your TIME!  The more you put into this, the more you’ll get out of it.  Get the templates on straight from the beginning.  You will love the end results.

In reply to Patricks request, DuraCoat has replied and will include the following instruction in every Package:

           DuraCoat Instructions

1) Degrease

As in all finishes, proper surface prep is important.  To ensure proper adhesion of the finish, all parts must be clean.  We recommend degreasing with ACN, NST or our favorite, TruStrip as they leave no residue and dry fast.  A clean surface is critical to your success so be sure to be thorough.  Take your firearm apart as much as you feel comfortable.  Remember:  As long as your firearm is clean and free of oil, DuraCoat will adhere no matter how little you disassemble.

2) Preparation

Surfaces can be blasted with 60-120 grit aluminum oxide but it is not required. 

Parkerizing or anodizing is recommended but not required for metals prior to DuraCoat application.  Both of these preparations give the DuraCoat something extra to hang on to and will improve the durability of the finish.

3) Finishing

Plug or mask areas you don’t wish to coat.  Both plugs and masking tape are available from LCW.  DuraCoat can be applied to bare metals, plastics, synthetics, and wood.

Once your preparation is complete, begin the finishing process by thoroughly mixing your DuraCoat.  Shake the container for 3-4 minutes after hearing the rattling ball.  DuraCoat must be mixed with DuraCoat hardener at the ratio of 12 parts DuraCoat to 1 part DuraCoat hardener. Adding more hardener makes a glossier finish.  Less hardener makes a flatter finish

Optimum DuraCoat Hardener Ratio:   1:12    (1 part hardener to 12 parts DuraCoat)

The best way to combine hardener with DuraCoat using measuring spoons is:

  • 4 tablespoons DuraCoat to 1 teaspoon hardener (or a fraction of, like)               
  • 2 tablespoons DuraCoat to ½ teaspoon hardener.

NOTE: Once DuraCoat is mixed with Hardener, there is only a 6-8 hour pot life.

Applying DuraCoat: 

 DuraCoat can be applied by airbrush, conventional automotive spray gun, HVLP systems or airless paint sprayer.  Fill your sprayer and you’re ready to begin.

Test your spray gun by coating a test piece of metal or plastic.

If your sprayer does not spray DuraCoat evenly, add DuraCoat reducer (up to 20% by volume), increase air pressure, or both.

Adding DuraCoat Reducer:

  • Optimum DuraCoat Reducer Ratio is: No added reducer.
  • Maximum Reducer added percentage is:  20% reducer.
  • Adding reducer does not affect drying time but thins the spray.  (.05 needle, nozzle, and air cap are recommended in HVLP spray guns.)

WARNING: Only use DuraCoat Reducer.  Do not use any other reducer as this will cause a  chemical imbalance which will compromise the DuraCoat.

Spraying DuraCoat:

  • Spray with smooth, even passes, building DuraCoat to the desired thickness. 
  • Stop intermittently to allow the solvents to flash-off. 
  • Spray from 0.25mil minimum thickness to 1.5mil maximum DuraCoat thickness. 
  • Spray distance from sprayer to firearm: 4” to 8”, depending on desired effect.

The optimum thickness is 1mil.  A thinner coating will be required on tight tolerance areas and a thicker coating can be applied to high wear areas.  (High wear areas are parts which rub on vests, holsters and slings.  These parts include corners, hand guards, safety switch, etc.)

Drying Time:

Dry to touch:   20 minutes
Handling of finished products:    60 minutes

You can speed up the drying process by baking.  This is recommended if you are applying a camouflage finish.  Bake 10 to 15 minutes at 110°F between camo colors. If you choose not to bake allow 2 hours between colors.

After final coat has been applied, air dry overnight.  At this point, the finish is cured enough for light use.  The finish will fully cure in a couple of weeks.  Note: Maximum resistance to abrasion, impact, and chemicals is attained in three to four weeks.  You may speed up the initial curing process by baking for 1 hour at 110°F. This is the same as overnight air dry.  Parts can be baked in a conventional oven.  A custom oven is available from LCW.  Caution: Some items cannot tolerate 110°F. Bake these parts at a lower temperature for an extended period of time.

Clean Up:

Clean your spray gun and containers with DuraCoat Reducer immediately after use.  DuraCoat will harden inside your spray gun if it is not cleaned out.

Note: Shelf life of DuraCoat is 18 months if stored in a cool, dark, and dry place.  Shelf life of hardener is 6 months if stored in a cool, dark, and dry place.  Shelf life of hardener can be extended to 12 months and beyond if placed in a zip lock bag and placed in a refrigerator.  Do not store with food.  In both cases, the container lids, rims, and threads must be thoroughly cleaned prior to sealing the container and the lids must be on tight.

Visit www.lauerweaponry.com for more DuraCoat products.

Call 1-800-830-6677 for technical assistance.

 

 

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