Both Nicolo Machiavelli in the Prince; and the various individuals who contributed to Sun Tsu’s Art of War were clear in that deception was itself an art. It should be practiced with effectiveness and efficiency so as to ensure complete domination when engaging in warfare. It should be noted that war does not necessarily mean martial combat, war has taken the form of economic ruination and manipulation as well as political intrigue over time.
You may ask, what does this have to do with painting my weapons/tools? The answer is quite simple really. If a prey or enemy can see what you carry and understand its purpose or at the very least understand it does not belong in what they believe to be the scenery surrounding them they will be able to either prepare or run away. Why would any one want to offer their enemy or prey an edge that they likely need for continued survival themselves?
Painting your weapons and tools can be beneficial for numerous reasons. Primarily you can use paint to camouflage them causing the patterns of the rifles and handguns to be broken up or more easily concealed within your clothes or on your person. Paint and other coatings can be used to cause a forced patina restricting the ability of oxygen and other similar oxidizers in destroying tools made of steel. This is the primary reason coatings have been designed and used since the time of the Pharaohs on products made of steel and even bronze. Additionally painting can be quite decorative. Myself for one enjoy mixing the reasons up and allowing for protection, decoration and camouflage when painting.
All of the tools I use when camping, hunting or otherwise engaged are painted or colored in such a way so as to both protect them and allow for ease of concealment. The high desert that I call home has extremes of true desert sand and rocks as well as forests so thick you can easily get lost for days, and this is just in Cochise County, Arizona. There are literally millions of miles southwest of the Rockies that falls under the heading of high desert. It extends from Texas, Mexico and up through Washington and into Canada. Thankfully most humans find these conditions inhospitable which for myself is quite nice. After all, less humans means a much more pristine, unaffected and habitable environment for myself and those like me,
Remember when painting for purposes of camouflage, breaking up the patterns is most important. What animals and humans see most often are patterns, their brains recognize brush for what it is and skip right over it. However, if you didn’t paint your rifle for instance, it would not match the surroundings or would cause the surroundings to basically glare out a signal, “somethings not right here!” Humans are animals and our brains connect the visual dots we see, some animals see in infrared and others in a variety of wavelengths, however, for most animals what we see is a result of our brains matching similar objects to what we have already seen and either alerting us or calming us via release of chemicals. Camouflage simply breaks up the lines of a predators body and their tools if they use them, this allows alert prey animals or other humans to look literally right past us without realizing what they are looking at. There is MUCH more to hunting prey animals than simple camouflage, there is sound, scent and more. However, since we are talking about painting our tools, this article wont get into that.
Understanding why camouflage is important and how it works is necessary. Now painting for protection and decoration. This is quite simple, we are after all humans and humans enjoy making art, we sing, dance, draw, write and more. Placing individual decorations on our tools makes them an extension of us. Doing it with protection in mind allows for those extensions of us to maintain a much longer life span.
The following video is painting my wifes AR which I also built for her, and she uses quite well!
There are dozens of various methods of protective coatings that can be used for firearms, bows, knives, axes and more that will not impede the function of these tools. Gunkote, Cerakote, Duracote and Tenifer are just a few. Simple epoxy based spray paints can be used with very solid results as well. For blades I prefer to clean them with soap and water, dry them thoroughly and than soak in a pot of boiling apple cider vinegar, 15 minutes of soaking, they are removed, rinsed with cold water, dried off and this process is repeated 4-5 times per blade. This results in a dark grey/black patina that protects the steel from oxidation or rusting. Mind you, they all still get regularly treated with ballistol as a matter of course.
Bows get a quick single coat of spray paint, and than a camouflage job applied based on where I currently live. This does not affect the ability of the bow nor have I ever had an issue with the paint itself coming off except where the arrow rests regularly. Again, all of my archery equipment gets maintained quite frequently, strings waxed, arrows checked and minor issues fixed as needed.
Firearms are another story for me, as I have different firearms for different purposes, many of them never see paint or any of the other coatings and stay factory fresh. However, those firearms I rely on for my family all get properly made up. After all, why wait till you need it to rush something that can be done well in advance?
So to answer the question, should you paint your firearm, it really is up to you. Make your decision, but understand one very important thing, once you paint it the value is very much decreased as a result. Regardless how pretty or fancy you think it is, not everyone will want that paint job. So make sure you paint the firearms YOU are prepared to keep.
Free the mind and the body will follow.