Friday, May 17, 2013

Cerakote After 4 Weeks

My first attempt at refinishing was with Lauer Durabake.  You can read the review, if you like, but to make the long story short, is that it's basically very expensive spray paint, with the added inconvenience that you need to bake it.

Next, I tried Lauer Duracoat.  It fared better, but still isn't great.  I took an old belt buckle, with the nickel plating worn off, and sprayed it with flat black Duracoat, per the instructions.  By the end of a week, it was showing wear.  At the end of a month, about half of the Duracoat had worn off.  What didn't wear off, was no longer matte black, it was more like satin black.

The Duracoat seems to work well on Parkerized steel, but it could be that any old dye would work just as well.  The Duracoat applied to raw metal is not what I'd call a miracle finish though, and mixing it for application is no fun.

The Durakote color needs to be mixed in a 12 to 1 ratio with hardener.  Thinner is optional.  If you were spraying a riflestock or something large, this maybe not such a big deal, but if you are spraying small parts, it really gets to be a pain in the butt.  The method that I used for measuring out the color and hardener was to use a disposable dropper, and count the drips.  Yes, it was very tedious.

Cerakote is becoming quite popular now.  Colt is using it on their 1911 rail guns.  GA Precision uses it on their custom rifles.  The Canik CZ75-based pistols are offered with Cerakote finishes.

Not satisfied with the handguard that came with a Tapco Flat Dark Earth SKS stock (the rail is kind of useless and annoying), I wanted to use more traditionally-shaped Choate handguard, but it was black, and didn't match.  Although the oven-cure Cerakote is supposed to be a little more durable, I could not use it on the plastic handguard.  The air-cure Cerakote is also rated to higher temperatures than the oven-cure Cerakote, and the oven-cure Cerakote is a two-part mix like the Duracoat.

Since the Flat Dark Earth is a tan sand color, and I live in Pennsylvania, where there's no desert that I know of, so I decided to respray the whole Tapco stock.  Since there's not much green here from about October to April, I decided on Coyote Brown, sometimes called Coyote Tan.  Air-dry Cerakote is offered in a color called Coyote Tan.

The plate carrier is a Tactical Assault Gear Shellback Banshee, "Coyote Tan."  The little snap-close pouch is U.S. military surplus, Olive Drab.  Next to that mil-surp pouch is the SKS handguard that I sprayed with "Coyote Tan" Cerakote, and it pretty much stands out like a sore thumb.  The Cerakote is a lighter color than the nylon.  The mag pouches are HSGI, "Coyote Brown."

Condor Hydration Carrier, "Coyote Tan," with the "Coyote Tan" Cerakote SKS handguard sitting on top of it.  The Coyote Cerakote doesn't really match any of the nylon gear.  The Coyote Cerakote is a sort of weird color that seems a little unnatural.  It doesn't match tree bark, and I've never seen sand that color.  I don't have an actual coyote to compare it to.

The air-cure Cerakote dries to the touch pretty quickly.  You will need an airbrush, Preval sprayer, or air compressor and spray gun to apply it.  I used a Testors Aztek airbrush kit.  You will also need some kind of degreaser (I used KG-3), and some sandpaper (I used 220 grit) to give metal parts some "tooth" for the finish to grab on to.  I didn't sand the plastic handguard, it had a fairly rough finish already, I just cleaned it.

To test out the Cerakote, I resprayed the belt buckle.

Day 0

Day 0, Different Angle

After a 8 days, the resprayed belt buckle is showing very little wear.  The only spot showing significant wear is the spot where the tongue bears against the buckle.  The leather of the belt is not wearing the Cerakote, which bodes well for holster-carried pistols.

After 2 weeks, there is a new little scratch, but otherwise still holding up very well.

I see now that the wear that I saw at 2 weeks was all from metal-to-metal contact.  Not sure why the finish has now worn off the tip of the tongue or the bottom corner of the buckle.  It's possible that I didn't get these spots very well coated.  I don't see any wear from the leather belt at all.  The Cerakote is kicking the Duracoat's ass, and is pretty easy to apply.  It's not as good as melonite or hard chrome, but you can't do either of those in your garage at home, and neither can be easily touched up.

Cerakote is expensive compared to garden variety spray paint, but is a lot more durable, and extremely heat resistant.  Price some factory auto paint, and there's not really that much difference, price-wise   Although you can buy Parkerizing kits, most don't come with the stainless steel tank required for application, and it only works for steel.  I think Cerakote is worth it.

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