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By John Mounce (republished with permission from Blue Force Gear)

A few months back we produced Vickers Slings in one of the coolest camo patterns – Multicam Tropic. This pattern is awesome when used in the southeast, but doesn’t look so awesome used on a black rifle. Unsatisfied with the Multicam Tropic sling and black rifle combination, I decided to paint guns to match my slings . . .

Before painting your guns, we warn you to follow the steps at your own risk and to remember that guns are expensive and paint is cheap. I never use any paint finish that can’t be removed and reapplied just in case.


I found everything I needed at the local Walmart, except the blaster. Anyone should be able to get these items at a local variety store for about 25 bucks. Use as many or as little paint colors as you prefer to get the look you want.

Spray Paint

Spray paint is the most important material you’ll buy for this project. I’ve found that the flatter the paint, is the better the project turns out. Rust-Oleum® makes a nice Specialty Camouflage Spray paint that is very flat, but can be dusty when dry. Krylon® COVERMAXX™ and Fusion for Plastic® spray paints are also good to use.  I haven’t found either type of paint to be more or less durable on plastic or metal parts, so I shop for color and not surface application.


I tried using both a regular kitchen sponge and a sea sponge, and found that the sea sponge produced a more open, grainier pattern I was looking for. You can find these in the bath area of a home goods store.

Plastic Plates

For paint trays, I used plastic plates found in the paper plates and goods section at Walmart.


Blue Painters Tape and Masking Tape work well for covering areas you don’t want paint to get to, like optic lenses and the end of flashlights.


Step 1 – Prep

I begin my projects with one thought in mind: the finished product is only as good as the prep work behind it. Keep in mind, spray paint will stick to anything and the surface prep determines how long it will stick to the surface. If you use a dirty, greasy gun, the paint finish won’t be as durable as it would be on a better prepared gun.

A solid prepping solution is Acetone for metal or 91% Isopropyl Alcohol for plastics.  Both of these can be found at Walmart.

Simply wipe down the weapon with a lint-free paper towel or rag with the appropriate cleaning agent until both the weapon and towel are clean.

Step 2 – Base Layer

You’ll start by applying a base layer on the gun. This step is key as it affects what the finished product will look like.

For one of the guns, I used a dark base layer and painted progressively lighter.  I reversed this on the other gun and the results were worlds apart.

It’s hard to see in this picture below, but I sprayed some dark brown stripes on one of our black practice guns.

Step 3 – Sponging

You may be wondering to yourself, “How do I get spray paint on a sponge?” Well, my friend, it’s easier than you may think.

Here is where the plastic plates come in handy. Spray each paint color onto its own plastic plate. I recommend spraying each color as you use it to avoid the paint drying before you get to use it.

Gently dab the top of your sponge in the wet paint and quickly dab it on the rifle to avoid the paint drying too quickly. Get creative with your paint pattern as it fits your needs. I personally try to avoid repetitive patterns. Don’t worry about getting color everywhere; this is only the first step.

I went a step further and “misted” the paint on the gun for a speckled look.  I did this by pressing the spray cap ever so lightly so that the paint flows with very little force.

You’re probably having the same thoughts I first did: “Cool, but this doesn’t look like Multicam Tropic.” I realized that starting with a darker paint and adding the lighter paint color wasn’t going to help me achieve the greener, brighter Tropic pattern.

Admitting initial defeat, I decided to restart from the beginning, using the lighter color green first, and then adding the medium green color.

Finished Product

Now for the real test!  Check out the finished product in the wild of Savannah, Georgia.

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  1. That does look cool. I won’t be doing anything like that because I prefer my evil black rifles to look like evil black rifles. And I used up all my spray paint tagging the local high school.

    • Excellent! +1 on the Arnold reference (Predator).

      Everyone in that entire movie looked like they went through a green paint sponging.

    • I agree, that looks like crap. There are some really good how-to guides out there on rattle canning your rig and the results look a helluva lot better than this hack job.

      • The worst thing about it is that Multicam Tropic is a pretty nice pattern and he could have easily painted it in the real pattern with those same materials.

  2. When it was available, I used Krylon Web over a combination of tan, brown, and black randomly applied. Finished with a clear, dull acrylic. The Web spray paint produced a fantastic pattern, but they no loner make it. Today I drape sage and other plants with small leaves. Produces a nice effect but I do miss the Web spray paint. I’ve painted my hunting rifle, my SPS tactical, and my AR this way.

  3. Sorry, but that green looks a bit too Attack of the Killer Zombies to me. I have seen this done to good effect but would limit the light green to a very few dabs to help break up what should be mostly black/dark green/medium brown and light sand. I like what this guy did and may do one of my ARs like this.

  4. Perfect for firearms that have already been bubba’d beyond recognition.

    Which I don’t recommend anyone do, so…yeah.

  5. Might just be me but this looks like my 3 year old went to town on an otherwise useful firearm. If any kind of paint goes on my guns, it’s prepped for cerakote and done with pride. My first was a Tanfoglio Stock II 10mm as they never imported the Stock 3 to the US that comes in satin Black.
    Two days later I couldn’t tell it wasn’t factory.

  6. Rhodesian troops camo’d their FALs up with dirty shop rags and Dupont auto paint while facing multiple trade embargoes in war-time, and they did a much better job than this. Good idea, bad execution.

  7. I always told myself i’d camo my AR, now that I own one i’m not so keen on it for it. I do like sprucing up my bolt gun stocks.

  8. The nerd/corny side of me is too tempted to go hard core scifi with my AR and paint it some ridiculous bright colors.

    I really like this though.

  9. Blue force gear: How to make your rifle look like you found it in a dumpster. That’s the title I would have gone with.

  10. That paint job wouldn’t even be acceptable on a garage-sale kid’s BMX bike, much less an expensive rifle (or even a cheap rubber dummy gun like this one). Do not want.

  11. Has there ever been a study if certain camo patterns work better on the animal being pursued. I’ve had birds land on the barrel of my old-fashioned non-camo rifle. I had a hen turkey walk within a yard of me—standing in the open—wearing jeans and brown shirt. In flooded Arkansas timber, I had two ducks attempt to land on my old-fashioned green hunting cap. At least with ducks, the key is remaining motionless and having something to prevent the birds from having continous sight lock on you. In California a couple of tall widely spaced saltbush trees in front of the blind is ideal.

    • There have been lots of studies. Governments have spent thousands of hours looking into that *perfect* camouflage. Hunting companies have tried to sell it too. The fact is most game animals are color blind(not Turkey), guys are able to take game animals wearing bright colored Hawaiian shirts, because the pattern. Most game animals need a break up of pattern or they will see a solid patch of “that shouldn’t be there”. Human eyes work the same way, we are able to see movement, color, and blocks of “that shouldn’t be there”, that’s where camouflage comes in. I have watched deer walk into a clump of trees at 30 yards and couldn’t pick them out because A) they weren’t moving and B) their color blends in. Now if said deer had an AR15 strapped to it’s back game over. Do I paint stuff for hunting? Only Turkey, wrap my rifles in white nylons when coyote hunting in the snow. If I were being hunted by humans I would be using krylon that same day.

  12. Welcome back, Kristin. I have been checking your blog regularly for life, but realizing your time is limited for things of this nature. Anyway, flowers do give us something to look forward to after a dull winter. Liz and I were given several beautiful flower argnmreaents on Saturday in recognition of our 50th Wedding Anniversary.

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