Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Custom AR15 Paint Job - We don't have to CeraKote to have Deadpool’s Gun

Custom AR15 Paint Job - We don't have to CeraKote to have Deadpool’s Gun

Warning - If you are not a Deadpool fan, you will miss a few self created easter eggs painted into this article.  The weirdness/uniqueness of this build which I have now nicknamed “Deadpool” deserves some background as this was one of those custom projects which was never intended to be an editorial idea or anything more than an experiment.. ya, know like Hollywood actually making a real Deadpool film. It was something ugly which became beautiful in a way I never imagined. Yes… I did touch myself after building this rifle. [Easter Egg 1}

My buddy had this weird very early 1970 A2 AR15 with a peculiar giant 1.25” bull barrel presumably designed and produced as an ultimate National Match Rifle. From our research, it was one of the earliest Bill Wylde chambered production National Match rifle made to feature a .223 Wylde chamber. After discovering the barrel delivered lights out ½ MOA accuracy, my friend asked me to swap out the upper for a flat-top receiver to direct mount a scope without a goofy carry handle adapter. Naturally we worked out a trade for that old and retro cool Armalight A2 carry handle upper and gas block sight I was lusting over. About the same time Artisan Arms sent me one of their new Match 17.3” Feddersen blank based barrels to test out, so as we know the laws of AR15 building when you have two extra parts that fit together, you have a project started.

I had been craving an A2 carry handle AR15 build for a while after seeing my favorite Walking Dead character named Abraham Ford. He was a badass with an old school badass A2 carry handle M16 - and I wanted one. The traded upper was old, faded light grey, with a huge round forward assist button... it fit the look with an order style I rarely see on modern A2 builds.

With the orphan receiver pinned to an unmatched Outbreak Ordnance billet lower receiver, it was became one of the single ugliest builds I have created. The faded grey 1970s upper and beautiful deep charcoal black anodized lower was ugly.

To make the initial build look even worse the handrail I was using on the build was a customized Barnes Precision Machine rail. I had been milling the very old and dinged up Barnes Precision Machine quadrail to remove large portions of the rails partly to practice my milling and also to convert a great bombproof rail into something much lighter. The milling was decent but the freshly milled uncoated aluminum made the build look even more disjointed.

Another concept I wanted to personally test was co-witnessing a Primary Arms red dot on the handguard in front of the carry handle without a goofy cantilever handle adapter.

About halfway through the project, Star Distributing send over an Ace Skeleton Stock and then a crazy huge Phase 5 Tactical FatMan Brake and amazing brand new AR15 Timney 2-stage flat trigger arrived on my doorstep with nice notes asking that I test them out. I started to feel guilty that that I was going to use these really amazing looking and performing parts in such an abomination of a build. With the above parts, plus Strike Industries polymer ejection port cover and grip, a PWS BCG, and very old Phase 5 Ambi Charging handle this was one of those builds with $1500 worth of amazing components but looked it still like hell.

It was a project attached to a project attached to a bunch of test ideas and it looked like it. It was like that part of the movie Toy Story where all the weird looking toys had been put together with random parts… it was hard to look at even though I knew it would be an amazingly accurate rifle.  After seeing Deadpool, it was like “one avocado had sex with an even uglier avocado... and it was angry hate sex”. Even after recognizing the potential cost of the build, one of my friends saw it on my workbench and actually exclaimed “Damn that’s horrifically ugly.”  It needed a mask.

After seeing the amazing distressed BlownDeadline and Midwest Firearms Solutions CeraKote finishes I wanted to try that out on a gun - even a failed DIY paint job couldn’t make this gun any uglier. With that goal in mind, I thought there had to be a way for me to get this finish at home. I know everyone is all jazzed about DuraCoat and Cerakote, however the reality is that neither of these finishes are DIY friendly. Cerakote requires training and a high grade respirator to assure you do not get ceramic in your lungs and DuraCoat requires at the very least a LPHV sprayer and compressor which most of do not own. The finish for this project had to be spray can based because there was no way I was going to dump $400 on a custom cerakote job for this ugly build.

A superb option are the Brownell’s spraycan based AlumiHyde II and is relatively easy for the DIY’er to deliver a professional durable epoxy based finish as good as a professional Duracoat finish. AlumiHyde is not Cerakote, but AlumiHyde is a workable and durable alternative. After many projects, I have zero reservations about spraying down any project with Brownell’s AlumiHyde II assuming the required cleaning and surface prep is completed meticulously prior to painting. In fact even standard white and black epoxy appliance spray paints have delivered really durable finishes even when used in conjunction with the AlumiHyde colors for effects. The problem is that the colors are very limited to muted AlumiHyde camo colors plus the bright white and black of the appliance paints and I wanted some bright colors. Damn it, I wanted a freaky red and black gun with a distressed finish.

AlumiHyde resists chipping exceptionally well, the appliance epoxy has a bit harder finish and is not as chip resistant as the AlumiHyde but delivers a smoother finish. The Automotive ceramic enamel spray paint provides a rainbow of 500 degree heat tolerant color options and a beautiful smooth finish, but will chip like any high grade enamel if you start beating on it. Previous projects have had great durability with several AlumiHyde clear topcoats over the Ceramic Enamel automotive paint even from hard blows. A paint test was completed on a spare Glock Pistol box combining the black epoxy appliance paint as a base coat, the ceramic red enamel, another light wipe off coat of black epoxy, and and once all fully cured an AlumiHyde top coat to create the distressed finish and it worked.

Paint prep is essential. If you have so much as one little freaking dot of oil on anything it will catastrophically impact the entire paint job. I disassemble all the components completely and use a clean Dawn soaked scotch brite pad to clean everything, rinse thoroughly with distilled water, then dry completely by baking all the parts at 200 degrees for an hour, then I wipe everything down again with acetone and re-bake for another hour. After that point the parts are never handled without new rubber gloves on. All the parts or hung or suspended to avoid then moving and banging into each other. For this build the Ace stock was installed after cleaning and the entire handguard, upper, and lower was slide onto a broom handle for painting. This allowed 360 degree painting and a uniform distressing pattern.

I will throw out there that all the cool paint finishes you see on everything from BlowDeadline cerakote custom guns to custom stenciled paint themes have already been done millions of times by some old gal who likes to do craft projects. Your local craft store actually has an entire aisle dedicated to distressed painting themes and another aisle for stenciling, and another just for gold and silver leafing, so none of it is a freaking new idea. All those hot granny paint distressing videos on Youtube straightened me out and delivered some very educational content including the dry brush technique - Yeah! I may have even been holding a unicorn while I was watching the videos.

The old gals taught me that a distressed paint finish is nothing more than one or more base coat colors with a top coat color that is then partially removed by abrasive or chemical means. Apply several layers of a base paint color of the black expoy and fully bake it off dry for hours then coat with another paint like the red ceramic enamel and then fairly quickly top coat which was a black appliance epoxy paint. The base coat must be fully cured - like if it says it takes a week on the can, wait a week. If you do not, you will easily work all the way through the top, middle and bottom coats during the distressing process. This happened on this project and I needed to respray a few areas to assure the base anodizing was not showing.  Most people typically just use mineral spirits and a rag to do the distressing as I did here. You can use a Scotch Brite as well, but I think that is more work and leaves a rough overall finish. All the distressing on this project was simply with a rag and mineral spirits. Spray on, let dry and and wipe off a little here and there.  

If you want an even cooler effect, two, three or four colors could be used before the topcoat is added. An idea is to think of laying down red, white and blue base colors with a black topcoat and as you wipe off colors during the distressing process you get the colors of the flag. I am sure you get the idea that the distressing process is only limited by your imagination and educational old gal videos.

After all the distressing was completed and had air dried for a full day, I slipped the entire painted chassis into the oven at 150 degrees for two hours just to speed the curing process. After another day of air curing, I coated the completed chassis with four coats of AlumiHyde II matte finish and baked it again for 150 degrees. The oven is not required it just drastically cuts down on the overall curing schedule. Final touches were reassembly and adding some paracord form to wrap a portion of the buffer tube.

Once this gloriously bad ass build nick-named “Deadpool” was completed, a range trip was required to set up some steel and get “Deadpool” mouthing off.  With that giant Phase 5 FatMan Comp Deadpool is freaking loud and obnoxiously entertaining. The FatMan Comp is a very effective brake, maybe the best I have tested yet with exceptionally flat shooting performance. What is cool about this design is that although it looks long, half of the FatMan is a sleeve that slips over the barrel, so in reality it is an optical illusion that actually delivers a shorter overall compensator than most other compensators - and it looks freaking bad ass.

From a trigger happy perspective, the Timney 2-stage trigger delivers a superb trigger feel. The king of single stage triggers, Timney now offers two drop 2-stage triggers named the Targa. The Targa 2-Stage triggers are available with long and short first 2-lb stages plus the 2lb break of the final stage. Timney provided the $229 Targa 2-Stage Short version and has an incredible feel and brake for precision shots while still being fast during fast shooting.

I am sold on Feddersen blank based barrels and Artisan is the only current company offering finished and chambered barrels for OEM and retail sales. Of course showing the potential of this $260 Artisan 17.3” barrel requires a scope, but at the 25 meter zero target showcased a ¼” five shot group with just the Primary Arms push button red dot with a 50K+ hour run time during sight in. Based on a previous builds Feddersen Artisan barrels, I know this barrel will easily deliver sub-½ MOA 100-yards groups with a scope. The huge advantage of this Primary Arms red dot mount and setup was that it is a really tight little setup which still allows a handle mount optic with more power all without removing the red dot.

The unsung hero of this build was definitely the Outbreak Ordnance billet lower made by New Frontier Armory. The New Frontier lowers and the ones they OEM for other companies such as Outbreak are without question the best deal in the billet lower market. The lower delivers great looks and style with all the cool touches you would expect in a $200+ billet lower receiver. The lower features a heavily flared magwell, threaded bolt catch pin, threaded rear takedown pin detent, and upper receiver tension adjustment screw all for a $129 retail price.

For a gun that was never going to be anything more than just a ugly rifle for testing ideas, it amazes me how well it turned out and even shoots really well with a drop in CMMG .22LR conversion kit. Much like Deadpool, this rifle delivers obnoxious report, lots of durability, extreme precision matched with high speed and of course that classic great Red and Black mask that is covering up all the ugly underneath.


Check BROWNELLS for the best deals on firearms and accessories

Artisan Arms Micro MOA -
Barnes Precision Machine -
Strike Industries -
Phase 5 Tactical -
Primary Arms -
Star/JT Distributing - Ace Stock -

1 comment:

Unknown said...

DuraCoat came out with and aerosol version. Here This is what I am planning on using to paint my guns.