What is Cerakote?
Cerakote is a ceramic based paint coating that is baked on to parts in an oven after it is applied to the firearm. There is also an air cure version that can be used on larger parts and more fragile components that can’t be heated. Now, you may be wondering what makes this any different or better than previous coatings used in the firearms industry or the factory finish options offered by many manufacturers. To get to that answer we are going to break it down into a couple different categories you may be concerned about.
Durability from wear
We have all seen our dad’s old hunting rifles with blued metal and polished wood. These rifles always looked great, but were a pain to maintain, and after years of use they would start to show wear on the parts. The more wear, the more you had to clean in, the more you cleaned it, the more wear there was. It was a never ending cycle of cleaning and rust until eventually the rifle needed to be re-blued.
Cerakote lasts a lot longer and is better for everyday use because it isn’t just a coating, but a sealant as well.
It essentially adds a thin ceramic layer to the part that is completely water resistant and doesn’t wear out or get rubbed off. This means it breaks the endless cycle of cleaning off more of the coating when cleaning off the rust. It also lasts a lot longer on moving parts that are prone to stripping off your standard coatings, like on the frame of a pistol where the slide runs back and forth.
To formally test this, Cerakote conducted the Taber abrasion test (ASTM D4060). Each coating was tested under a weighted abrasion wheel. The wheel went around in cycles until it had worn completely through the finish to the bare metal.
Cerakote lasted substantially further then every other coating tested with in impressive 5023 cycles before wearing through to the metal plate. But, to ensure that the results also reflected the different coating thicknesses, they determined how many cycles it took to wear one millimeter of each coating. This still left Cerakote in front of the competition with over double the number of cycles as the second best coating used in the test.
These results are surprising, as they really do show how quickly traditional coatings can wear off.
One of the most common forms of wear on a rifle is scratches and chips from the rifle being dropped, or banged around in a case, a ruck, or in a deer stand.
You always see a cringe on everyone’s face when that undeniable sound of a rifle hitting the ground is heard.
Cerakote is tested under impact resistance (ASTN D2794). This measures the resistance of coatings to rapid deformation.
For the test, a panel is coated and placed in the testing equipment. A standard weight is then dropped from a measured height, which increases by 2 inches each time until failure is reached or the height of the equipment is maxed out.
The weight causes an indentation on the panel and the point of failure is when the coating cracks or delaminates from the panel.
All Cerakote Elite products test at 160 inch-lbs. which is the highest rating the equipment can measure.
A lot of people like to spray paint their rifles. This is not only for color patterns, but it does add a small layer of protection to the firearm. But spray paint is prone to chipping, and does not adhere well to the surface.
Cerakote is tested under the adhesion test method ASTM D3359. This test requires a panel to be coated and then cut in a waffle pattern all the way through the coating to the bare metal.
Pressure sensitive tape is then pressed on the cross cut section and then the tape is rapidly removed. The scale for the results is 0B (Greater the 65% of cut section removed) to 5B (0% of cut section removed).
All Cerakote products are rated at 5B when the test was conducted; meaning you never have to worry about the paint flaking off of your rifle.
Another common thing that your rifle finish will come into constant contact with is chemical solvents.
Whether it is gun oil, brake cleaner, or copper solvents, there are a myriad of products that can start to break down the finish of your rifle.
Cerakote is highly rated at resisting wear and fading from all of the most common solvents your firearms might come into contact with.
To test the resistance to the chemicals, a coated panel was dunked into a tank of each one and left to soak for 24 hours. The results were based off of average color changes on the panel that would demonstrate a level of wear or thinning of the coating.
Even though it is not encountered by everyone in the firearms industry, salt corrosion is still a real issue for many firearms owners.
Salt water is one of the most corrosive natural substances that someone can encounter and will quickly rust and begin eroding metal.
To test their durability in salty conditions Cerakote conducted a Salt water corrosion test following the guidelines of the ASTM B117 Test. This requires coating metal parts in several different coatings and placing them in a salt fogging machine.
This machine sprayed salt mist on the parts with a 5% solution at a rate of 1-2 liters per hour. The temperature inside the machine was maintained at 95 degrees. The Cerakote Elite series (oven baked) lasted over 3000 hours, while the H series (Air cured) lasted over 2000 hours before showing signs of corrosion.
These were both several time better than the second best coating used during the test. Each coating has the time displayed when they began to demonstrate corrosion, the image is what they all looked like when the Cerakoted part showed its first signs of corrosion.
This test obviously doesn’t really mimic real world conditions, because even in a harsh environment, your rifle will never be in salt water conditions as bad as that test chamber. It will also never be in maintained heat for that duration of time.
So, how will it stand up to real world conditions?
Cerakote placed two identical rifles out in the woods, in the north-west part of the country, and left them there for 15 months to find out.
One was coated with Cerakote while the other just had the factory bluing to protect it.
The factory finished rifle started to shows signs of rust and wear after just 12 days, while the Cerakoted rifle remained almost completely untarnished for the entire duration of the evaluation.
As you can see from the pictures and the tests that were conducted, Cerakote does a phenomenal job of protecting your rifle from the elements and reducing the amount of wear and tear on parts.
In both real world environments and harsher testing conditions it stood tall against the other coating options, especially factory coatings.
It does all this, and allows for you to completely customize the look and style of your rifle.
The question really shouldn’t be, should you Cerakote your rifle? It should be, What color are you getting?