Cerakote is a great way to get a tough beautiful finish on your firearm, but many people are turned off by the cost to do so. The hassle of sending your firearm in to be done is also off putting. By the time you add up the costs to do an intricate camouflage pattern it may just be out of reach to the average gun owner.
An inexpensive, but not as durable, alternative is good ol’ spray paint. I wanted to give a GAP camo pattern a try quickly, easily, and inexpensively. The first stop in my journey was to Branson Cerakote to get their GAP Camo stencil kit. It takes the complexity out of laying out the pattern.
My inspiration for this job was a GA Precision rifle in their GAP camo.
After the stencil was acquired I headed to Amazon to get Rust-Oleum Camo spray paint in black, khaki, and forest green. I also picked up a “dead flat” clear coat from Rust-Oleum to seal it up after I was done. I wouldn’t suggest anything other than a flat clear coat, or else it’ll likely be too shiny.
The test subject was my brand new Tikka T1X in .22LR. The plain black stock was perfectly serviceable but it needed a bit more zest. I had considered buying a Boyd’s gunstock but at their price it just didn’t make sense.
The first steps were to strip the stock down of all the bolt on components such as butt plate, trigger guard, sling studs, barreled action, and removable grip insert. I prepped the stock to hang in my garage by tying a string around the buttplate screws and taping them off to prevent overspray.
I then laid down a coat of black spray paint. I could have probably just used the black of the stock as my black but I was worried of a sheen difference between the spray paint and the black plastic.
I simply hung the stock from my garage door track and put cardboard behind it to protect my garage. After letting the black base coat dry for one hour in a heated garage it was time to get the first stencil applied.
It really helps to cut each stencil out close to the lines (this will help when you have to go back and add the second set) You also should number the matching stencil with a Sharpie so that you know which one goes with which once paint is applied. Be sure to take photographs like I did, or else you won’t remember where they went once the numbers are covered with paint.
There’s no real rhyme or reason to how the pattern is laid out, just remember whatever stencil you lay down in this layer will stay black.
As you can see #2 that’s applied to the stock will stay black, then the #2 that’s left on the counter will butt back against the first stencil when we apply the next color. It is important you align the stencils to each other for a seamless finish.
Make sure to really press the stencil down in the crevices or else your paint will seep under making lines that aren’t crisp. I used a heat gun and a plastic tool (seen in the photo with the spray paint cans above)
I continued the stencils all along the stock on both sides. Once the first layer was down it was time to head to the garage and prep for the next coat.
A coat of khaki was laid down over the black base coat and the first stencils.
After letting this coat dry for one hour I brought it in and laid the next layer of stencils right against the first layer using my photos as reference.
A final coat of forest green was laid down over all the layers and it was too allowed to dry for one hour.
Once the paint was dry it was time to take it down and start pulling the stencils off to reveal our camo.
A steady hand with a nice fresh razor blade really helps. Here, my wife’s crafting skills came in handy, where she was able to slip the blade under the stencil while not disturbing any paint.
As you remove the vinyl stencils the camo pattern is starts looking really good. You can see why you butt up each different stencil to its mate, the black and tan blends properly together.
Once all the stencil material is removed it is time for a sealing clear coat. I rehung the stock and sprayed two liberal coats of clear coat. I was worried about the “dead flat” claim because when it was sprayed it looked like glass.
Thankfully when the clear dried it did end up drying flat.
After everything dried (I left it for 8 hours) it was time to reassemble everything. As you can see in the following photos, it turned out pretty darn good.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few upgrades on the rifle while I’m here……..
Astute readers will probably recognize the magazine base plate doesn’t look like standard Tikka fare. The flush magazine base comes from DIProducts. You can get your own HERE.
The rifle is also wearing a clever adapter from DIP that converts the Tikka’s funky grooved rail into a more US standard one piece Picatinny scope mount. It simply slides over the factory rail and affixes with four screws into the receiver. See it for yourself HERE.
The Bowers Bitty suppressor is a perfect compliment to the Tikka. It quiets it down wonderfully, all the while staying incredibly small and light. I chose the scope and suppressor specifically for their light weight, allowing me to shoot the rifle offhand with ease.
I like how the project turned out, I bought a two pack of stencils, so I’m brainstorming what my next camo gun will be. Next time though, I’ll likely opt to use some of Brownells’ more durable paint products like these.