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Image: Chris Dumm for TTAG

Duracoat has figured out how to package their polymeric guns coatings in a single aerosol can. This will make it much simpler to apply, but it’s time to revisit how Dura-ble that Dura-coat really is. Luckily TTAG has a long-term Duracoat test in process: I gave this parts-kit AK-74 a Duracoat ACU camo job almost two years ago. It’s not my rifle any more, but it went to a good home and its new owner even brings it over to play once in a while . . .

Scratch Protection

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAG

Despite being treated with anything but kid gloves, this rough-use AK shows almost no new surface wear since getting the Duracoat treatment. It seems impervious to ordinary dings and scratches, but repeated metal-to-metal wear has completely removed the Duracoat from the magazine catch, safety sweep, and the rear corner of the ejection port. This photo (above) shows where the hammering from 800+ ejected steel cases has worn the edge of the dust cover back down to bare metal. It also shows how the safety lever detent has etched its arc of travel into the Duracoat of the receiver.

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAG

Properly-made AK magazines have a steel protrusion at the top rear, which locks into the rifle’s stiffly-sprung magazine catch. AK’s have legendary magazine retention, and all of this steel-on-steel abrasion has mostly removed my Duracoat attempt. Looking back to my original post, I acknowledge at the time that I didn’t do a great job of prepping or shooting the magazine catch area. This is an extremely high-wear part, and I can’t say if even perfectly-applied Duracoat would last very long.

A few more specks of Duracoat have flaked off from the rubberized pistol grip, which I really didn’t know how to prepare properly when I applied it.

Corrosion Resistance

From the appearance of this almost 2 year-old surface treatment, I can’t imagine that it could ever rust unless the Duracoat were chipped off first. That’s pretty hard to do.

Heat Resistance

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAG

Duracoat is said to be susceptible to darkening when it’s exposed to extreme heat above 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and I expected the barrel and gas tube to be cooked a deep brown after 800 rounds. This AK tends to be shot quickly, 30 or 60 rounds at a time between cool-downs, and most shooting trips include at least one brief episode of bump-firing silliness. The barrel and gas block basically get hotter than hell.

And the Duracoat basically doesn’t give a damn. The Ultimak gas tube has the same colors as the day I sprayed it, as is the barrel. Most of the darkening you see in this picture is just carbon fouling, but the Duracoat has permanently darkened the area around the vent holes in the gas block.

The muzzle brake gets awfully hot, and it has also kept its ACU colors except for the very muzzle end where it’s a little darker. It fouls quickly when you shoot filthy 7N6 ammo anyway, so you can’t tell where the soot ends and the darkened Duracoat begins until you clean it.

Conclusion: It’s Good Stuff.

Even when applied by a rank novice, this Duracoat job looks *almost* the same after 800 rounds and nearly two years of use. It doesn’t last long under repeated metal-on-metal wear and it’s got a tentative relationship with this rifle’s rubbery pistol grip, but it shrugs off moisture and scratches that would quickly trash a blued or phosphated metal finish. Despite my initial concerns, Duracoat seems to have no problems with the heat generated by ordinary run-and-gun shooting.

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  1. I use Krylon on my rifles. The chipped/flaking look gives me real operator cred.

    Or, as one of my instructors once put it, “My rifle is a dirty bitch…just how I like my women.”

    • I did likewise on my Ruger Mini 30 and Remington 870. I’m pretty pleased with the results and wear. They had a dark brown textured product that was really nice as one of four colors. I used black as my last layer, put leaves on the gun, then held the can back 8-10 inches for a quick burst and this gave a nice shadowy depth.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious that I did it at home and it ain’t pretty but it certainly helps the guns blend in to the woods (which also ain’t pretty.)

    • Yeah, I figure the scratches will go with the territory. Nice job, by the way. My M-17S has been begging me for a camo job. I live in an apartment complex; I’ll probably wait until a big holiday, when a lot of folks will be gone.

      Robert, how about posting a poll: Do You Give Your Guns Names? That one would be lots of fun.

    • Duplicolor Ceramic Engine Enamel is a great product line that gives very close results to Duracoat or Alumahyde at a fraction of the price. Bake it on 200F for several hours for best curing.

    • A-TACS LE:

      Forgetting the cop pattern, A-TACS AU (Arid/Urban) and A-TACS FG (Forest Green) beat anything I’ve seen, including Multicam. Slight advantage to Multicam, possibly, because it’s a single, all-environment pattern. The A-TACS AU alone works very well everywhere, though, and is superb in desert and rock.

      The LE is kinda a sop to cops, who just don’t want to get away from black, the Bad Guys Color (BGC).

      But I think it would be hard indeed to spray paint a pattern like those.

    • Both have their pros and cons and I doubt you will get a straight answer from anyone but a scientist – usually people buckle down in one camp or another (and don’t forget GunKote and other similar finishes).

      The primary difference in DuraCoat & CereKote are the properties.

      CereKote is a ceramic based finish, originally developed for the automotive performance industry. It has to be baked on once applied, but once baked it is fully cured.

      DuraCoat is a polane (?) based finished, designed specifically for firearms. It cures by air and takes much longer to fully cure.

      So the basics are Ceramic (very tough, but “brittle”) vs. Polane (very tough and elastic properties)

      Personally I think the only advantage CereKote has is a faster cure time. But I am a DuraCoat fan and I could be completely wrong.

    • Easton firearms refinishing (a PA company with a website and land line telephone) answered that question for me. I sent a gun to them back when they offered both finishes. You can call them for the particulars. But essentially they go with Cerakote for anything that sees holster wear as it wears better on friction.

      D in this case has a rainbow of colors. But both are better than your standard blue or park job. I like the look of the C on the pistol but for a budget minded “better than blue” finish I would go D.

  2. I have a mosin that could use a new finishing. I’d like to use one of these kinds of products but would also like it to not be obvious that it wasn’t regular blue, at least from more than 10 feet. Which of these would most look like a regular blued finish?

  3. The best thing about ACU camouflage on a firearm is that it’s hard to lose in almost any natural environment. It’s the Hunter Orange of the firearm camouflage world. Just don’t set it down on your grandma’s couch.

    • Yeah, the thing about ACU is that it fails horribly in almost every environment. Except for sagebrush.

      There HAD to have been some graft in the choice of that miserable camo, which looks really cool, but is pretty useless.

      To their credit, the military chose Multicam. But they’d still do much better with A-TACS, even with the AU pattern alone. With the FG also available, doubleplusgood, but the Pentagon boys always seems to be at least a cycle behind camouflage technology. They’re superb at wasting money.

      Trust me, I’ve studied this stuff in great detail. I’ve also noticed a large upsurge in Tiger Stripe variants. But Tiger Stripe is merely an elongation of the old(er) Forest pattern.


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