Weapon customization is a wildly popular part of being a gun collector or shooter. Not only does it keep things feeling fresh, but it also allows enthusiasts to put their own flair on their weapons. Cerakote and Duracoat are two companies offering DIY finish kits, but which one is right for you?
Many shooters and firearm enthusiasts look at their weapons as an extension of themselves on the range. From styles, calibers, and barrel lengths, to sights, grips, and other accessories, modern firearms offer plenty of customization options.
One of those options that often gets overlooked is the weapon’s finish. Sure, the stainless steels and blacks of many weapons look just fine, but there are more options out there other than the basic camouflage models many manufacturers offer. There is an entire world of DIY weapon finishes to explore.
The Basics of Cerakote and Duracoat
Cerakote is a ceramic based finished known for its plethora of color options and extreme durability. Applied to a weapon and then cured in an oven, Cerakote offers more colors than you could ever use. We are talking home paint store levels of color options here. 148 to be exact.
Duracoat, on the other hand, is a two-part chemical coating that is applied much in the same way that spray paint is applied to a surface. Offering even more color options than Cerakote, Duracoat is more affordable and has a much simpler application process with plenty of margin for error.
Alright, so we now know that both Cerakote and Duracoat exist and that they both offer enough color options for even the pickiest of gun owners. Now, let’s dive a little deeper on both and figure out which one is best for you and your needs.
The first thing that should be discussed is the application process required by both of these finishes. Between the two, Duracoat is easier to apply. If you’ve used spray paint before and have a little patience, you’ll be able to handle Duracoat no problem.
Once it is applied, it will be dry to the touch in 20 minutes and safe to handle after 24 hours. However, it will not fully cure until 2 to 3 weeks later. That is definitely something to take into consideration if you are planning to Duracoat one of your guns. Don’t want to miss out on any precious range time!
Cerakote has a much more involved application process. You’ll need access to a paint sprayer, an air compressor, and an oven that you won’t get yelled at for curing gun parts in. You’ll also need to be more careful when spraying because getting Cerakote in certain areas on a gun will lead to issues with function.
Keep in mind that there are certified applicators of Cerakote (the company even offers classes if you are looking for a new side hustle) who will ensure that you get the exact type of Cerakote finish you are looking for.
Before using either Cerakote or Duracoat, it is necessary to properly prepare the surfaces the new finishes will be applied to. The requirements for Duracoat are less intense than those for Cerakote, but neither one will adhere properly if the surface has not been prepared correctly.
Although neither one is as easy as slapping a new weapon skin on your favorite gun in Call of Duty, most enterprising firearm enthusiasts can easily handle applying Duracoat. And if they have the right tools and are willing to learn, many can successfully complete the Cerakote process.
It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that Duracoat is the more affordable option between the two. Twelve ounces of Duracoat, enough for 2 to 4 firearms depending on size, will run you about $35. Four ounces of Cerakote, enough for approximately one firearm, costs around $40.
While neither has an excessive price, especially considering the price of other gun parts and accessories, more budget-minded shooters may prefer the Duracoat option.
When it comes to durability of the finish, Cerakote comes out on top. While Duracoat is more akin to a gun paint that offers some protection against rust and corrosion, Cerakote offers some legitimate protection against scratches, impacts, corrosion, rust, UV exposure, and just about anything else you can throw at it.
In fact, it is important to note that Duracoat actually scratches fairly easily.
This probably won’t be a problem if you are careful with your guns at the range, but don’t expect to put it through harsh conditions and have it come out on the other side unscathed.
A simple way to put it would be that Cerakote is a weapon protection coating and Duracoat is a customized weapon color system.
So Which One is Right for You?
The only fair answer is to say that it depends. It depends on how much durability you are looking for, the level of do it yourself gun project you are looking to undertake, and how much you are looking to spend. In other words, both Cerakote and Duracoat are great options in their own ways.
With either choice, you will be able to refinish your gun in a custom color and make your firearm evoke your own tastes even more than it already does. Just don’t blame me if you refinish one of your guns and then can’t help but to refinish the rest. We all know how addicting customizing can be!
Frequently Asked Questions
Time to answer some of the most common questions about Cerakote and Duracoat.
Can I Only Refinish in a Solid Color?
No! Both Cerakote and Duracoat can be used with stencils or creatively placed coverings to create different patterns, shapes, and designs. Duracoat offers many different options in this regard with varying kits to achieve specific designs. You are only limited by your own creativity.
What are the Shelf Lives of these Products?
When properly sealed and stored in a dry, cool, and dark place, Duracoat has a shelf life of 12-18 months. This can be extended by putting extra Duracoat in a sealable plastic bag and storing it in a non-food refrigerator. That should be plenty of time to use your Duracoat on multiple guns.
As for Cerakote, the company offers a 12 month warranty on all their products which means that it should be safe to assume they will last that long under ideal storage conditions. The company does recommend periodically shaking stored Cerakote in order to make it easier to use after storage.
Cerakote suggests only buying their product as you need it in order to achieve the best finish quality possible.
Will these Finishes Burn Off My Barrel?
The general answer to this question is no. Duracoat can handle temperatures between 500 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit while Cerakote can withstand temperatures up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Under normal shooting conditions, your barrel will likely never get up to 600 degrees so either finish is safe for applying to barrels. However, if you have a transferable machine gun or if you like to push your semi-auto to its limits, then you shouldn’t use Duracoat on your gun barrel.