How to Paint an AR-15

If you would like to alter the appearance of your AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, you can accomplish your goal by refinishing it with the appropriate enamel.
Sand nonmetallic portions of the AR-15 to promote adhesion.Sand nonmetallic portions of the AR-15 to promote adhesion.
Before you start painting, understand a critical point. The AR-15 is composed of both metallic and nonmetallic elements. You must condition each surface a different way, or you will end up with chipping and flaking. In addition, you should employ meticulous preparation, or you may compromise the rifle's functionality.

Step 1

Unload the rifle.

Step 2

Use a screwdriver to remove the folding bipod from the AR-15. Skip this step if your rifle lacks this accessory.

Step 3

Place the AR-15 on a heavy-duty fabric drop cloth.

Step 4

Sand nonmetallic portions of the AR-15 with 180-grit sandpaper. Stop when these areas feel slightly rough to your fingertips.

Step 5

Cover sensitive mechanisms, including the trigger, barrel hole and ammunition loading area, with painter's tape. Use scissors to trim the tape if necessary.

Step 6

Cover all nonmetallic portions of the AR-15 with masking paper, using painter's tape.

Step 7

Coat metallic portions of the AR-15 with galvanized metal etching spray primer. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the AR-15 and the spray nozzle as you apply. Remove the masking paper immediately after application. Wait 4 hours for the etching primer to dry.

Step 8

Coat the entire rifle with acrylic spray primer. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the AR-15 and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait 4 hours for the acrylic primer to dry.

Step 9

Coat the primed rifle with acrylic enamel. Maintain an 8-inch distance between the AR-15 and the spray nozzle as you apply. Remove the tape from the rifle's sensitive mechanisms immediately after application. Wait 6 hours before handling the rifle.

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloth
  • Painter's tape
  • Scissors
  • Masking paper
  • Acrylic spray primer
  • Galvanized metal etching spray primer
  • Acrylic enamel

Warnings

  • Don't paint an unprimed AR-15, or flaking will ensue.
  • Don't use acrylic spray primer on metal portions of the AR-15, or the finish will peel.

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.