Sunday, August 3, 2008

Now you see it, now you don't........

In the beginning there was steel and there was wood, and it was good. Deep blue were the steel parts, and oiled was the wood, and it did please the eye and there was harmony in the world.

As in every religion there were exceptions to dogma, of course, and the parkerizing on military guns was acceptable to the church as well - but that was IT. End. 30. Finito.
When High Standard came out with those Sentinel revolvers with the aluminum frames anodized in different colors, including PINK, I thought that my Dad was gonna have a stroke. I can still hear him muttering imprecations and pejoratives under his breath, wondering what flippin' ninny was gonna buy one? A woman might, of course, but what did women know about guns anyway?
I never dreamed in those days that I would ever paint a gun, and over the years as various new and different finishes for guns were added or proposed I remember examining them with varying degrees of skepticism, disbelief or downright derision. Gloss finishes on wood? Why, it'll spook the game! Stainless steel? Who'll want to wear out their tools working the stuff? CAMOUFLAGE? PAINT YOUR GUN? Are you NUTS?
Okay, so I'm weak and have strayed from the true faith. I can only be glad that Daddy's gone on to the great Armory in the sky, to sit at the feet of JMB and bask in the eternal light reflected from row upon row of Browning A5s, so he doesn't have to see this.
As those of you who've been paying attention to those niggling little dust-ups with the hajis going on overseas might have noted, the military have gotten out of the black gun business. Now everything's being painted in subdued colors, the better to sneak up on the little nasties and send them on to their houris and fountains in paradise (yeah, right). Being the freak that I am for military weaponry, like all the little boys who grew up in the '50s and '60s (excepting those who coveted their sister's dresses and talked funny, natch) I like to have my paramilitary firearms match what's being used in the field, and usually not just for the fashion statement but because they work.
That's why a lot of folks have loved military firearms for Oh! so long. They tend to be made for rough service and to hold up to hard use. There have been those exceptions, of course - who could forget the Chauchat or the Reising SMG? - but think about the M1 Garand and the 1911A1 and tell me that they don't make you want to stand at attention and cheer? And if we're going to have military firearms, don't we want them tricked out like the ones being carried by our troops? Thus we come to the subject of this posting, the transformation of our own personal AK and AR, our militia arms of choice.
Yes, the M16 will always be the butt of scorn from some, but the reality is that the little carbine, properly tricked out, is handy, lightweight and adequately lethal. Add a paint job that breaks up its outline and it's like a Fer-de-lance - easy to miss, bad to be bitten by. The AK makes no apologies and needs none, but it's arguably ugly. Okay, it's not ugly if ugly is as ugly does, but we can say that so we have an excuse to doll it up a wee.
I'd been looking at various high-zoot paint jobs such as those offered by Lauer in the Duracoat line, but found that I was put off by the hard lines of most of the stencil paint jobs. Like early woodland camouflage clothing, the hard lines and contrasting colors in most gun camouflages offered online don't really break up the outlines of the guns, they just substitute other lines that draw in the eye and direct it to the object. That's not what we want.
IMO, camouflage should make your eye wander. It should give it nothing on which to focus, but make the eye dart about and then slide off elsewhere, finding nothing to lock in on. That means no black in the color scheme, since that pulls in the eye and defines margins and lines, and flat colors with minimal reflectivity in drab tones. Fortunately, I was told that Krylon camouflage spray paint was what the SEALs and others who go in harm's way are using on their guns, so a trip to Walmart procured the paint and we were ready to get artistic.
Much later, after painstaking preparation, blah-blah-blah, we have what you see here. I won't go into the details, we didn't do anything wild or intricate or exotic except degrease the guns with some brake cleaner. I started with a base coat of khaki, then dusted on green and dark brown in a completely random fashion to try to lighten dark areas, and to darken lighter ones. When I went too far one way or another, I just sprayed over the previous work. I learned to hold the can out away from the gun and let the paint just dust down on it, so that no hard edges or lines were formed. This shot is of the guns in front of my red house, shot for contrast to show their basic colors -

The AK has a fore-end with rails as well as a telescoping buttstock from Command Arms Accessories - nothing fancy, just serviceable and functional, what an AK should be. The sling is also from CAA and is, I believe, an Israeli GPMG sling. It's just a touch too wide, but it was inexpensive and it works. I might add a red dot sight of some sort later on, but am loathe to spend more on the sight than I did on the Romanian AK that's underneath that paint!
The AR is one that was bought from a friend who'd put it together from various parts from different makers. It's very lightweight as it has a pencil-thin lightweight Colt 1:7 twist barrel and a Larue Tactical rail fore-end on a flat-top receiver. Added to that we have an Aimpoint Comp ML3 in a Larue mount with a Larue BUIS at the rear. The Larue parts are top-notch and their customer service is OUTSTANDING, by the way, and I cannot recommend them too highly. We also have one of their "Po Boy" magnifiers to go behind the Aimpoint sight, which consists of a surplus 2.5X Hensholdt weapons sight in a Larue pivoting mount that goes on and off the gun in the place of the BUIS as needed. Quite the achievement at a price under $200 when compared to the Aimpoint and Eotech types at $400 each! The sling is a Blue Force Gear product designed by Larry Vickers. It's a two-point type that puts the gun out of the way if you have to sling or drop it to go to the pistol and is easy to get in or out of, or to adjust quickly for length as needed. The vertical foregrip is a Tango Down (well made but Hell to get off the gun) and the magazine is one of the new MagPul polymer/plastic types and is VERY nice. I'm replacing all my aluminum mags with these.
Now a pic in front of a fence in the shadows under a tree to show how they blend in against normal backgrounds -
No, it doesn't completely conceal the weapons, but it does break up their outlines and when you compare them to a stock black FN SLP shotgun it becomes obvious that the eye just slithers off of them without locking in on them, which was what we were seeking to achieve, both in shadow and in bright light on different backgrounds -

When you put them down in the weeds, the effect is obvious and as distance increases the effect works even better -
If I were going to be operating in a particular environment I would adjust the colors to reflect those surroundings, but for lush, semi-tropical Kentucky this color palette works reasonably well and can be changed just as fast as we can spritz on a new coat of Krylon. I believe that this validates the idea of a diffuse, non-patterned camouflage scheme that doesn't draw the eye's attention as opposed to paint schemes like the Lauer types.
I think that they turned out pretty well, but am throwing them out there for the perusal and comments of others. Hope that the comments are finally working on this damn blog!

No comments: