“Stenciling” is about as easy as the sponging method. The prepping process is the same.
Again, start by laying down a base coat using at least two colors. Once it’s dry, use a stencil to add more defined patterns.
Stencils can either be positive — such as a section of fake plastic plant — or negative, created by cutting patterns from cardstock to create a silhouette or a negative stencil.
Attach the stencil to the rifle by the stencil to conform to the weapon’s shape, and tape it to the rifle. It doesn’t have to be perfectly formed to fit the rifle; anywhere the stencil is not touching will create a blurry area to provide a sense of depth.
With the stencil attached, spray the next color, being careful not to spray too heavily (once you remove the stencil, there’s usually too much contrast). Then move the stencil to a different location or attach another stencil and repeat the process.
Using different colors or stencil shapes will create a more random pattern. This technique works really well for field environments where you’re trying to reproduce the chaos found in nature. Let your wild side guide you.
“Masking” is a little more complicated and time-consuming, but also produces some of the best results.
Use masking tape to create shapes as you layer on your paint. I recommend starting with your darkest color and working your way to the lightest. You can always blend colors for depth.
Begin with your base color. Cut out masking tape to cover the areas that you want to remain that color. Any areas left uncovered will be painted over, so advance planning is necessary — especially if you’re trying to reproduce or match an existing camo pattern.
Once you have the areas masked off, apply the next color. Let it dry. Mask off the areas you want to remain that color and spray again. After completing all the masks and colors, remove the tape to reveal the finished product.
The cool thing about these techniques is that you can combine them to obtain a variety of results. Consider the environment in which you’re most likely to use your weapon and use colors and shapes that match that area. When in doubt, use lighter colors rather than darker.
For practice, use wood 2x4s until you have your technique squared away. If you run a paint application on your weapon you don’t like, you can always scuff it up and paint it over again. If you’re a little squeamish about painting your weapon, just paint the “furniture” (stocks, grips, and handguards), leaving the receiver and barrel plain.
Think about the practical “field” applications of camouflage: Don’t stand out and draw attention. For the sniper, this means blending into the environment for a successful mission. For a hunter, it can be the difference between putting meat in the freezer and just spending a nice day in the field.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in north Alabama, and author of The Book of Two Guns. McKee can be reached at www.shootrite.org.
This article is an excerpt from the new Winter 2012 issue of Living Ready Magazine. To read the full article and get more rifle painting tips and techniques download the digital issue here.