Saturday, November 29, 2014

MultiTasker AR15 Pocket Toolbox Review

MultiTasker AR15 Pocket Toolbox Review


Often times I find myself at the range testing a newly built AR15 or an AR which needs a little tweaking, tuning, or tightening and I am without the right tools to bring the gun back into adjustment.  Usually this means begging for tools up and down the firing line, however when out in the field far from someone you can conveniently ask, "hey can I borrow a...?"  that can be an issue and make for a challenging day.



I ran across the MultiTasker a couple months ago on TopSpecUS.com and it has been far handier than the tool would seem from a distance. TopSpecUS.com shipped quick and effeciently answered a few pre-purchase questions about the tool for me.


FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
The Multitasker picks up where the other multi-tools leave off. Where most of the other multi-tools focus on either resolving some functional issues afield or are simply just multi-tools with a wrench in the belt pouch.


The MultiTasker offers all the tools required to assemble and AR with the exception of a barrel wrench tool. So even if you find yourself with a loose buffer tube castle nut, the MultiTasker has the on board tools to get everything tightened just as you would back in your shop.  Recently I had the opportunity to use the MultiTasker for two separate ground up AR15 builds.


All the tools are extremely high quality and not “Chinese knock off”. The Pliers are CNC machined pliers (D2 tool steel) - Not investment cast, the grips are non-slip G10 scales (available in Black or Tan), 3/8” hex wrench for LaRue mounts, 1/2” hex for scope rings, Dual lug M4 castle nut spanner wrench + screwdriver, 3/32" pin punch with 8-32 male thread for OTIS cleaning kit compatibility, Radiused tip carbon scraper, 3" D2 tool steel knife blade - Plain edge or partially serrated, Pocket clip (removable), and 1/4" magnetic bit driver with M16A2 FSP adjuster. Each and every part is high quality.  Separate non-integrated ¼” hex shaft No.1 Phillips, 3/32 Slotted, 3/16 Hex, 9/64 Hex, 1/8 Hex, 7/64 Hex, 3/32 Hex, T10 Torx, T15 Torx bits are included in a bit carrier, however you can swap out any of your typically used bits in the carrier.


Generally the blade and blade geometry suck on tools like this, however the MultiTasker features a 3” D2 tool steel blade in either plain or partially serrated edges.


FINAL THOUGHTS
The MultiTasker is a great tool and delivers all the tools required to service your AR15 or other similar rifle/pistol in the field including aggressive carbon removal and support of Otis Cleaning systems.  The price on the $180 MultiTasker may seem steep, however the quality of this fully CNC (non-cast) tool set and high end G10 grips deliver a supreme top end multi-tool with quality above even the top end of name brand MultiTools.  

If you have an AR15 you need the MultiTasker to resolve nearly any problem which could occur in the field with the exception of a muzzle brake coming loose. An outstanding tool which will not leave you to hoping the guy’s tool box next to you might possibly have the right tool to get you up and running.

SPECS
CNC machined pliers (D2 tool steel) - Not investment cast
Non-slip G10 scales (Black or Tan)
3/8” hex for LaRue mounts
1/2” hex for scope rings
Dual lug M4 castle nut spanner wrench + screwdriver
3/32" pin punch with 8-32 male thread for OTIS cleaning kit compatibility
Radiused tip carbon scraper
3" D2 tool steel knife blade - Plain edge or partially serrated
Pocket clip (removable)
1/4" magnetic bit driver with M16A2 FSP adjuster
Includes these commonly used hex bits and a convenient bit carrier: No.1 Phillips, 3/32 Slotted, 3/16 Hex, 9/64 Hex, 1/8 Hex, 7/64 Hex, 3/32 Hex, T10 Torx, T15 Torx
MSRP $179.99


SOURCES
Manufacturer Site: MultiTasker Tools - http://www.multitaskertools.com

MultiTasker Tool sourced from:
https://www.topspecus.com/shop/multitasker-series-3x-multi-tool/

Purple Passion AR15 for Mrs. Pandemic

Purple Passion AR15 for Mrs. Pandemic

After you have been married for decades, it is funny we guys can twist little casual comments from our girls into rational for more equipment, tools, or in this case a new AR15. While utilizing Mrs. Pandemic as my style consult for custom and charity AR15 builds, she made the comment that a purple AR15 build at some point "...would be cool, but ya know, you never have any extra time for things for me."  Knowing that purple was her favorite color and her birthday was coming up, I took this backhanded comment and translated it as "I need a brand new custom purple AR15"... which for the record was not at all what she meant.  By the time I am dead I should it figured out that what a wife says is not what she actually means. Just like the iPad she never wanted for her birthday and his and hers Glock 19s for our 19th wedding anniversary, this too also worked out and became a thoughtful gift; somehow.

NY COMPLIANT TO NY NON-COMPLIANCE
The project started with the Black Rain Ordnance NY Compliant AR15 which I reviewed knowing that it would eventually be destined for other projects. Mrs Pandemic loved the Black Rain Ordnance AR15s from the Mercury One events and the story and guys behind the company so I thought this was a great base platform for her custom build. The Black Rain Fallout 15 is loaded with all the custom features you could ever want... or in this case "she" could ever want.


Obviously, removing the NY compliant components was not simple as the entire concept of these “compliance features” is not to make them easily convertible back to a non-NY Complaint gun with things like evil grips and adjustable buttstocks. That noted there is hope for NY compliant AR15 owners once they move to a “free” state. I had to grind off and destroy the buttstock grip nut to remove the special NY Compliant stock to install a grip and buttstock. Also destroyed in the conversion process was the muzzle thread protector in order to install a muzzle brake.


Once freed of those restrictive NY Compliant parts, I installed a PWS FSC brake, Magpul grip, and Ace Doublestar Ultralight stock. The base features of Black Rain Ordnance Fallout 15 AR15s are impressive with billet upper and lower receiver sets, NiBo BCGs, extended billet charging handle, match BRO trigger, billet extended charging handle, anti-rotate pins, match grade .223 Wylde stainless melonited black barrel, and adjustable gas block. Black Rain Ordnance rifles are loaded with all the components you would expect on a top shelf custom AR15s right out of the box.

PUTTING THE PURPLE IN THE PASSION
My challenge was that I was a little unsure about coatings and how to get to the purple theme going. The answer came to me while cruising ALG Defense site where I saw their gorgeous Ergonomic Rails were available in bright purple... perfect.  These are excellent rails for the price and actually one of my favorite new lightweight rails on the market. I have even used them on several charity and custom editorial reviews and love them.  Order placed and I had my first purple component and I felt I was half way there to delivering a purple themed rifle.

After a bit of pondering, I decided that custom lacing the Ace UL stock with some Paracord.com purple paracord would deliver the Purple Passion AR15 look I was going for... erh, I mean that she wanted.

LESS RECOIL
Mrs. Pandemic does already own an AR15, however I wanted to make this a fun gun which delivered near recoiless shooting. A huge piece of this equation was tuning the stock Black Rain adjustable gas block. Another part of recoil reduction was going to the ACE UL stock's rifle length buffer, spring, and tube. A rifle length buffer assembly will also drastically cut and soften felt recoil. Another component which drops recoil is a very aggressive (read that as loud) muzzle brake. I have been extremely impressed with the braking effects of the PWS FSC brake for AR15s to take the bite out of any recoil. Between these three components the final recoil felt about like shooting a .22LR with almost no recoil and is crazy fun and comfortable to shoot. Actually this rifle is one of the softest shooting AR15s in my... I mean, "our" safes.

Sure I could have gone all high rent with a top shelf red dot, however the $80 Bushnell TRS-32 has become a favorite durable, clear, fast shooting, and reliable red dots that does the job and is easy to use.

MORE BLING
I did want to add a bit more bling to the gun and really struggled with what emblem I could add to the side of the receiver. In many of the charity builds I have used challenge coins on the sides of the receivers and the look has been amazing. My wonderful wife would have loved a pewter or sterling silver skull on the side of the gun. Really should would have. After a month of searching turned up nothing that would fit or look good. Then brilliance struck me as I was picking up a few 1oz silver coins which were just gorgeous. Why not just use a 1oz silver coin on the side of the receiver with Ms. Liberty? You would think that a coin of this stature and quality would be expensive, however it was just $3 over the $22 spot price per ounce. $25 and I had my unique little add on bling for my wife's Purple Passion rifle which was easily affixed with just a dab of Devcon 2-ton two part epoxy.

Another little custom tweak was using her favorite purple sparkly nail polish for color fill on the logo. If you Youtube color filling, there are many how to demos on using nail polish for color fill. Basically just clean the area really well with nail polish cleaner an a Q-tip, dry and then brush a couple coats of polish on the area, let dry “a little” and then wipe off the extra with a nail polish soaked Q-tip. A little patience delivered a custom touch which looks far better in life than in the pictures.

BUT DID SHE LIKE IT?
Well... like almost everything I seem to buy or make her as a gift, it took some warming up. Of course walking into the jewelry store can light up her eyes, however other things do not elecite the same excitement initially. The Purple Passion AR15 was presented to her on her birthday along with a custom set black diamond. She was excited over the diamond, however a bit "less excited" over the AR15. “Appreciation” would be the term her excitement that is until I got her out on the range. It is true that the way to a girl's heart is diamonds, however you can at least put a big smile on her face by handing her five magazines full of 5.56 Nato and a new soft shooting custom AR15.

About three magazines in with the barrel smoking a bit and she had that sparkle in her eye which told me that she loved it and began noting all the custom little nuances I had added such as the paracord stock, silver coin, and purple handguard. What she loved was that it had virtually no recoil. Girls are funny, however the smile still on her face an hour later told the story that yet another creation by yours truly was a another awesome gift that grew on her.

SOURCES
Black Rain Ordnance - http://www.blackrainordnance.com
ALG Defense - http://algdefense.com
Ace Doublestar Stock - http://star15.com/buttstocks.html
Paracord.com - http://www.Paracord.com

Monday, November 24, 2014

Making the 7.62x39 Work Reliably on the AR15

Making the 7.62x39 Work Reliably on the AR15

Running the 7.62x39 in the AR15 platform has gotten somewhat of a bad rap. Read through forums and you would think people are a little bi-polar with one post saying they could never get it to work and the next post noting they bought one off the shelf or built one and never had an issue. Kinda like people who love or hate the 300 Blackout.

Just as I was a fan of the previously cheap-to-shoot 5.45x39 round, I am a fan of the now cheap 7.62x39 round. Prices on that 5.45x39 round shot up a bit after they prevented cheap import surplus rounds, however the 7.62x39 round is still cheap and has been even through the great ammo crisis of the last ten years. I am not kidding… I could actually walk into Cabelas and buy whatever quality I wanted of $6 per 20 boxes of steel cased AK-47 rounds.  I have a lot of time behind my AK-47 at this point thanks to 7.62x39 ammo availability. Currently, I am seeing that the venerable 7.62x39 round is still consistently 20%+ less expensive than .223 for plinking rounds. My thought was why not complete a build that could save enough money on the first 2000 rounds to pay for the entire 7.62x39 AR15 upper… you know, if I can get it working.

WHY A 7.62x39 AR15 UPPER?
Some people will ask why you would ever want a 7.62x39 AR15 upper. Beyond the cost savings facts, the 7.62x39 is actually a more versatile round in many respects than the 5.56 Nato round and has proven itself as a better deer and hog round by AK47 hunters. Heck, the 7.62x39 round is basically just an up-powered 30-30 round which is arguably the most successful deer hunting round in America. The 7.62x39 delivers more energy than the 5.56 Nato/.223 Remington or 300 Blackout out to the 200 yard mark which is where over 95% of training, plinking, defensive and hunting shooting is done. Many will say why not just use the 300 Blackout? Well from my experience the 300 Blackout round shares many of the same functional reliability problems as the 7.62x39 round running in an AR15 unless either caliber are well tuned. Yes... yes, I know your 300 BO rifles runs great, mine needed tuning to run both subsonic and high velocity rounds. Add in the 300 Blackout is still $1.00 a round compared to $0.40 per .223 round and $0.30 per 7.62x39 round. The 300 Blackout has its place, however a working AR15 7.62x39 upper can deliver more power for less money... you know, if I can get it working.

MAJOR FUNCTIONING ISSUES OF THE 7.62x39 IN AN AR15
The most significant problem with the AR15 format running AK-47 ammo has been feeding and functioning. There have been a lot of theories on what exactly is needed to make the round run in the AR15, however usually it seems to come down to recommendations to start cutting on magazines and I don’t think magazines alone are the culprits. I wanted to see if I could figure it out for you my Pandemians and in the process have some fun with this awesome round.


Every possible problem I could have experienced with this build, I did and nothing came easy. I placed an order with Delta Team Tactical for a $139 16” 7.62x39 Melonite Barrel with a Carbine length gas system and their complete $139 7.62x39 Phosphate Bolt Carrier Group.  Although inexpensive and high quality products, the company could not have screwed up my order more if had been somehow intentional. A month later and I was still working through them sending me the wrong thing… again, but problems were eventually resolved. I plugged the barrel in a Anderson Manufacturing blemished $40 upper and then used a new Parallax Tactical M-Lock forend. The only real high dollar components on the upper were a Fortis gas block and a Lantac Dragon comp to take the bite out of the heavier recoiling round. A Lucid red dot topped the upper, however it would be months before I was able to really get to using it. For the majority of testing I used my WMD Beast lower.

GETTING THE 7.62x39 TO WORK IN AN AR15
Once assembled, I ran to the range excited to function test the build. Testing centered around the inexpensive ammo with a couple steel cased Wolf and Cabelas Herter's 7.62x39 rounds using Magpul Pmags and some C-product 6.8 SPC mags which some had noted would work just fine if used with just a few rounds... they didn't. The upper would not feed more than one round at a time and even then seemed to still jam the first round on the center of the M4 feed ramp and in many cases would not even fully extract. When the gun did cycle, the gun was also short stroking big time and was nowhere near approaching the point where it would lock back on the magazine.  Problems? I had problems. Surprisingly the only problem I did not have was detonation. Many have noted that you need a special firing pin, however at least with this standard Mil-Spec lower trigger, there were no detonation issues.

After the first time out, I realized the gun was way way way under gassed with a far too small barrel gas port hole, I also needed a dedicated Ar15 7.62x39 magazine for testing, and needed some work on the barrel's feed ramps.

Many range trips later of test, fail, tinker, and repeat, I had polished the feed ramps to a mirror finish and drilled out the barrel gas port to a huge 1/8 (.125") size and suddenly the gun was locking back and at least trying valiantly to pick up the next round in the magazine. Jam city baby even with the C-Products dedicated 7.62x39 magazine feeding FMJ, but I really could not fault the magazine. There was more wrong here than magazine issues and what my aggressive feed ramp polish would resolve. That split feed ramp was an issue.

What I found was that most people had figured out the gas port size problem, however feeding was always an issue and I saw only one company address it completely and that was Bushmaster.  Bushmaster offered a 7.62x39 rifle and from all accounts it fed and functioned like a dream. 

The main design difference in these rifles were oversized gas ports and they featured a single large feed ramp which in essence removed the split between the M4 feedramps to just form one giant ramp. This made sense because due to the tapered case of the AK47 round the round would angle toward the center of the feed ramp when the bolt attempted to pick up a round and guess what is in the middle, yep the split in the middle of the M4 feed ramps. So, I whipped out the Dremel and got to grinding away the split. Sure I took a couple deep breaths before I basically trashed a perfectly good barrel extension, however in my mind it had to be done. It worked and worked perfectly. In fact now I can fed this upper with pretty much any magazine, however the C-Products dedicated 7.62x39 magazines delivered the best high capacity performance. I would expect any unmodified Stoner and ACS clone 7.62x39 magazines to deliver the same performance.

I have now put twenty full mags through this upper running on a variety of lower receivers including the WMD Guns Beast lower and it has performed outstanding. In fact I have had zero functional issues in those 600 rounds other than the very occasional bad round which is expected with inexpensive ammo.

WHY HAS SOMEONE NOT FIGURED THIS OUT BEFORE?
Well they have. Bushmaster did, however it was just not very popular and they discontinued it. From what I can tell the single large feed ramp idea died with the discontinued product line. The prevailing issues which would solve all the major issues are that the gas port sizes are almost always too small for the 7.62x39 round and that the split M4 feed ramps only cause jams. If barrel manufacturers delivered a single large feed ramp and 1/8" gas port hole in the barrel, almost all the issues would be resolved. Add in some dedicated 7.62x39 magazines and you are good to go.


If you have feeding issues, Dremel out the middle of the M4 feed ramp and its likely any feeding issues you are having will disappear. If your bolt is not locking back on the last round, you probably need a larger gas port. In my case I needed to enlarge mine to 1/8", you might be able to get away with a smaller port depending on your build. This process is as simple as removing the gas block and then carefully drilling out the gas port hole to a larger size. I would start smaller and slowly increase the size.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Apparently there are many people who have been able to just buy working 7.62x39 uppers slam in a dedicated 7.62x39 magazine and start rocking the round, however the vast majority of folks have issues of some sort. Hopefully my tips and modifications of a ground up build will allow you to build and enjoy a problem-free AR15 7.62x39 upper and save some cash in the process as you enjoy a cheaper to shoot AK47 round.  Next up? How about a 7.62x39 AR15 pistol build.

SOURCES
Delta Team Tactical - http://www.deltateamtactical.com/
Parallax Tactical - http://parallaxtactical.com/

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Economics & Why $25 AR15 receivers and $300 AR15 Rifles will be on Shelves Soon

Economics & Why $25 AR15 receivers and $300 AR15 Rifles will be on Shelves Soon

Dandy functioning
$39.99 Palmetto Armory
Lower, Anderson Uppers, and
MicroMOA Overrun barrel
created a wonderful pistol build
Back just a few years in the ancient times of the year 2000 there were less than 29 or so manufacturers producing AR15 receivers and rifles. I wish I had the exact number, however according to my research it would appear that under thirty is the generally accepted number for that time period. Now fast forward to 2008 as a noted socialist event organizer from overseas assumed the presidency and a liberal heavy congress convened. We justifiably all feared "they" would be coming for our guns. Well its not like it didn't happen... they did try and still are.

The explosion of AR15 manufacturers began at that point and has not stopped even beyond the current market sales downturn of the firearms industry. As of 2013, there were an estimated 500 AR15 manufacturers in the US and that does not include import manufacturers. It seemed everyone and their brother was producing AR15 receivers and rifles either themselves or via OEM relationships. Most were just "Me Too" products with their logo on the side of some existing manufacturer. Even giants like Mossberg, Ruger and Smith & Wesson got in the game backed with competition crushing marketing programs. Shooting from 29 AR15 manufacturers to 500 is over seventeen times the number of AR15 manufacturers in 2013 as were estimated in the year 2000.  Even with bloated AR15 sales that is a lot of slices of just one AR15 sales pie to slice up. If the panicked frenzy of AR15 buying had continued in 2013 and 2014 it would not be an issue, however it did not.

2013 was a little soft from a firearms sales perspective and 2014 firearms sales began with a deafening silence and a quiet panic from people who have never even considered having to do "marketing". Many new firearms manufacturers just ramping up production in 2013 and 2014 were shocked at the lack of demand for their Me-Too products and wondering where all this supposed demand for AR15s was. I have heard from more than one of those original 29 manufacturers that the firearms bubble has burst and they are facing some challenging financial times after such a boom up until 2013. Some of the most respected names in AR15s are now facing financial shortfalls they have never experienced. Many of these newer manufacturers are now terrified that sales out are not equaling bills coming in. This puts the squeeze on everyone.

Its easy not have have to worry about budgets and financial planning when your company has a continuous twelve month backorder. Having rode the ".com" bubble, I can tell you that fiscal responsible behavior from new business owners is not created in the best of times, it is created when you have to try really hard to make every penny count and you are maximizing efficiencies. To meet "perceived" demand, I saw first hand people with no machining or business experience jumping into million dollar manufacturing equipment and real estate purchase agreements and taking even bigger business loans. Even in the best of times this is risky behavior.  I actually had several Congressman approach me willing to provide free land, building, and grants to me if I was willing to bring new firearms manufacturers to create jobs... looking back it was a low risk opportunity that I should have jumped into, however where would that company and those jobs be now.  It really is a economics 101 supply glut issue. There are just too many AR15 manufacturers on the market to support a sales demand far less than what manufacturers need to produce and sell to survive and even right now I can buy a lower receiver for the price of two pizzas.

The reality was that liberals politicians were the best salesman the firearms market has and likely will ever have. That entire political fiasco drove "gun people" to buy way more than they ever had and drove even "non-gun" people to suddenly develop a "I had better buy some guns now or never" attitude.  The sales spike of all firearms and ammunition was more than a rather small and incestuous cottage firearms industry had ever seen. Those who were already up and rolling with production made the kind of money during that bubble which allows them to retire stunningly rich all within a five year period.  Even those manufacturers who had excess capacity from aerospace or machining businesses, were able to jump in and start churning out wildly custom premium priced AR15 parts and rejoice when they began raking in giant piles of cash simply for just making receivers and a handful of custom parts. The "me too" manufacturers jumped into the market as well. Some did well... some not so much.

Most companies made significant facility and equipment investments to start making or increase current AR15 capacity which required bank loans and more workspace. Top shelf $2500 AR15s rifles begin slipping to $2000 to move excess inventory which pushes the $2000 ARs to $1500, and so forth until you get to the $500 AR15s which end up being pushed to the $300 range.  Excess capacity leads to a glut of individual AR15 parts on the shelves at prices unseen in well over 20 years. As an example, I have been picking up blemished $39.99 Anderson Manufacturing and Palmetto State Armory upper and lower receivers, $80 Nibo BCGS, and $100 barrels over the last month from various sources. Even now, patient DIY AR15 builders can build nicely appointed AR15s well under the $400 mark. $300 AR15s on the shelf and $25 blemished lower receiver are not that far off if the glut continues.

Stay tuned folks... if you think prices are low now, wait until late 2014 and 2015 and I would almost guarantee complete AR15s will be less than a cheap iPad and stripped lower receiver will less than the price of a large pizza.

UPDATE 2016 - As one fan noted below, some of my predictions came true. At one point I did purchase several Anderson AR15 lowers for $25 each and during Christmas 2015 we did see $300 AR15s. Now of course our best gun salesmen is back at it with 2nd Amendment limiting executive actions so we are starting to se prices rebound now. Stay tuned folks, its going to be a wild 2016 and 2017 for gun sales.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Brownell's Aluma-Hyde II Review

Brownell's Aluma-Hyde II Review

At one point or another we all want to have a firearm of another color. Historically, that means something like Duracoat or Cerakote with a cost of a couple hundred dollars and two months or so separated from your precious firearm. In many instances we want something faster, less expensive, and in DIY format.  Brownell's Aluma-Hyde II gives you a durable DIY home option for customizing and protecting your firearm. I have found to be pretty darn good; it easily resists aggressive fingernail scratches and remains unaffected by any of the harsh cleaning chemicals uses on our firearms and does it for $12.99 a spray can.

I have heard a lot of people's conjecture of this $12.99 per can spray on firearm epoxy paint. Some say it is just remarketed Krylon Enamel or some downgraded Duracoat finish. Actually if we get down to it, Aluma-Hyde II is basically the same readily available VHT Epoxy appliance spray paint usually available in only glossy tan, white, and black. Brownells Aluma-Hyde II is offered in around a dozen shades of camo and other gun finish colors. Oddly enough it was the smell of the stuff that I recognized and remembered from when I had repainted a couple old refrigerators with Black Epoxy VHT spray paint long-long-ago. That finish still is there fifteen years later on those refrigs have taken a beating.


The $8 appliance epoxy spray paint mentioned is available lots of hardware stores, however generally all those paints are pretty high sheen. Brownell's variety of around a dozen different flat and semi-gloss colors add a few extra dollars to the final $12.99 price tag. You can use any of the hardware store appliance spray epoxy paints to deliver the same results however colors are limited and they will be high gloss requiring a light buff with steel wool to take the gloss off after final curing


I  picked up can of “Earth Brown” Aluma-Hyde for a AR15 pistol build I was working on.  Initially I was skeptical about the coating, so I chose to use a $39 Blemish lower receiver along with the customized Black Rain Ordnance stripped, chopped and milled forend. I also painted my buffer tube which was a DIY pistol buffer tube which I milled off the entire buttstock rail interface. Why would I "buy" a pistol tube when I am drowning in rifle buffer tubes and its easy to just mill off the "illegal" portion when mounting to a pistol?

Like appliance epoxy spray paint, the Brownells Alma-Hyde II is not regular spray paint and if you treat it like it is, your results will suck. Epoxy spray paint was originally designed for use in marine environments however it works well on anything that needs a very tightly sealed and durable coating. You do need to assure your coated parts are pretty immaculately clean. The easiest way to achieve cleanliness of parts is to fully strip and clean parts then just soak all the parts liberally down with spray brake cleaner then rinse with clear water and air dry using a heat gun or blow dryer to speed things along.


The "real" epoxy paint requires mixing the epoxy paint with a hardener, however the spray on version relies on warm parts and a long cure time. For spray on epoxy paints, users have four basic phases - a coating/tacky phase 0-60 minutes, short-cure phase promoted by a low heat source 60 min - 24 hours, long-cure 1 day - 14 days, and finally the fully cured phase.  

Generally, you are able to reassemble the Brownell's Aluma-Hyde II coated parts 24-48 hours after painting "if" a low heat source is applied. I recommend just letting everything full cure for a couple weeks otherwise I will guarantee your fingernail will end up finding and scraping off that one area which is still soft like I did on some later projects.  


Once the pristinely cleaned and dried parts are ready, you should hang them on heavy wire hooks. I made my hooks from electrical wire and hung them on my 2-wheeled cart outside. Cure time will decrease if the can and parts are warm, so gently warming the parts and can on a furnace register will really help deliver a harder finish faster. At this point, applying the Brownell's Aluma-Hyde II is similar to applying spray lacquer which means lots and lots of very very light coats. If you try to rush with heavy or even medium coats you will end up with lots of runs and drips which equals a crappy looking final finish and in some cases waiting for several weeks for the finish to be hard enough to sand down and recoat. Be patient with thin coats.

Once you are done with six or so light coats of your chosen Brownell's Aluma-Hyde II, you can move the parts carefully inside. I say carefully, because this is where I bumped one part into another and added a few imperfections to a near perfect finish. 

Once you have the parts safely hanging, I pointed a couple utility lights on the parts to keep them around 90 degrees and left them cook under the lights overnight. The overnight low heat cure worked well however, a second slightly higher temp 100-115 degree cure in the oven overnight delivered a harder final finish and will speed the final long term cure considerably. I freaked out a bit when I heard people “had to” bake the parts to get a hard finish. This is simply not try. The Aluma-Hyde II will cure fully in about two weeks, however if you are an impatient SOB like me, a very low temp oven cure is the answer. 

Initially, I also imaged placing still wet parts into my wife’s high end Wolf oven and ending up with a mess and a very mad wife. This is also not the case either. In my opinion, the parts should not be placed in an oven to speed the final cure until a day or two after they have been sprayed. One of the parts I did put in the oven a little tacky had some finish issues. If you do choose to low temp bake your Aluma-Hyde II parts, it should be any no messier than just placing dry to touch parts on a sheet pan in the oven overnight. I did use a piece of cooking parchment paper … just in case the Aluma-Hyde II suddenly slid off the parts, which is did not.

The Before "raw" stripped and chopped Black Rain Ordnance handguard.

Normally, all spray epoxy paints will continue to cure for a couple weeks. Even three weeks later a nose on the part will still detect the scent of curing paint. I witnessed that although the lower receiver was fingernail hard at the 48 hour mark after the lamp cure and over cure, my thicker coated handguard has taken nearly a week to get to the same hardness point. In reality, if you don't want to cock up a perfectly good paint finish I would wait at least two weeks to assemble the painted parts. Its a great low cost DIY durable finish, I just never said it was fast. If you talk with many of the professional finishing and coating places most will end up air curing your painted parts for a week or two before shipment just to assure the final product is as durable as it can be before shipment back to you.
The after Aluma-Hyde II coated Black Rain Ordnance handguard.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The final hard long cure phase finish of this $12.99 spray can of Brownell's Aluma-Hyde II is quite impressive. In fact I would say if you take your time and do a good job with many coats, it is every bit as good as many most premium spray on finishes I have seen and used on firearms with the exception of CeraKote. Sure this super durable paint will wear through eventually, all will, however it is exponentially more durable than every other rattle can finish I have used on firearms and will not melt away when a drop of gun cleaner its hits the finish. The great part is that if a year or two down the road it does look a little beat up, you can just recoat it yourself without needing to strip off the old finish.




The finish does offers some corrosion and weather resistance and if applied as directed will deliver a pretty impervious finish to the elements.  What I like is that an old and beat up firearm can have new life and a new look with just $12.99 of Aluma-Hyde II and if you start combining colors for a camo look, the combinations could get really interesting.

Descriptions on Brownell’s site and the pictures of the colors are not particularly accurate. You may have to experiment with the colors to find the shade that matches your furniture or expectations. The “Earth Brown” I purchased is pretty close to old WWII army Jeep green, so I am somewhat convinced that whoever named these was partially color-blind and has been confused at the sight of brown stoplights for years. The green color is OK, however not what I wanted or was expecting. Just be aware that the colors they described, pictured, or on the cap may not be quite what you get on the final product.


For those will little patience, rush projects, and like to take short cuts, you will be unimpressed with the look, finish, and durability the Brownell’s Ala-Hyde delivers, however if you are willing to do the job right the results are impressive, durable, and transformational from a looks perspective for only $12.99.

SPEC
Approximately a dozen different colors
$12.99 Per can
Available in spray can or liquid for airbrush application

SOURCES
Brownell's - http://www.brownells.com