How to Paint an AR-15

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If you would like to alter the appearance of your AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, you can accomplish your goal by refinishing it with the appropriate enamel. Before you start painting, understand a critical point. The AR-15 is composed of both metallic and nonmetallic elements. You must condition each surface a different way, or you will end up with chipping and flaking. In addition, you should employ meticulous preparation, or you may compromise the rifle's functionality.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloth
  • Painter's tape
  • Scissors
  • Masking paper
  • Acrylic spray primer
  • Galvanized metal etching spray primer
  • Acrylic enamel
  • Unload the rifle.

  • Use a screwdriver to remove the folding bipod from the AR-15. Skip this step if your rifle lacks this accessory.

  • Place the AR-15 on a heavy-duty fabric drop cloth.

  • Sand nonmetallic portions of the AR-15 with 180-grit sandpaper. Stop when these areas feel slightly rough to your fingertips.

  • Cover sensitive mechanisms, including the trigger, barrel hole and ammunition loading area, with painter's tape. Use scissors to trim the tape if necessary.

  • Cover all nonmetallic portions of the AR-15 with masking paper, using painter's tape.

  • Coat metallic portions of the AR-15 with galvanized metal etching spray primer. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the AR-15 and the spray nozzle as you apply. Remove the masking paper immediately after application. Wait 4 hours for the etching primer to dry.

  • Coat the entire rifle with acrylic spray primer. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the AR-15 and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait 4 hours for the acrylic primer to dry.

  • Coat the primed rifle with acrylic enamel. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the AR-15 and the spray nozzle as you apply. Remove the tape from the rifle's sensitive mechanisms immediately after application. Wait 6 hours before handling the rifle.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't paint an unprimed AR-15, or flaking will ensue.
  • Don't use acrylic spray primer on metal portions of the AR-15, or the finish will peel.
  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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