HiR Gen 2 Cerakote, Spray Paint, Factory Finish, what works best?
Firearm coatings are something that have definitely gotten more attention in the last few years than ever before which is no surprise due to the record breaking amount of new firearm owners and firearm sales recently. There are plenty of reasons that folks may want to change the appearance of their rifle; but as a whole we can batch most folks into two categories 1) To make them more aesthetically pleasing and 2) To break up patterns and make them blend in easier "signature reduction".
Spray paint has proven to be one of the most effective tools for changing a rifles appearance, as it only cost a few dollars for enough paint, it takes a short amount of time to do at home and has a virtually endless amount of options as far as patterns and colors. It's also extremely easy to strip off and re-apply if you wanted to change up the color, pattern, or any other multitude of reasons.
Cerakote is also an extremely popular option on the market today, for many reasons. Cerakote is a specialized coating that can be applied to multiple surfaces which is composed of a polymer-ceramic compound. In the process of applying Cerakote, the applicator strips down the surface in order to prepare it, sprays it, and then bakes it to cure the coating, in short. Cerakote provides a durable, long lasting finish that can be done in very intricate camouflage patterns and designs. Cerakote sounds fantastic, but doesn't come without a couple caveats. Cost, Time and Quality of Cerakote Shops, all which are major factors when weighing out how and where you get your rifle Cerakoted. A few years back a new IR-Defeating Cerakote called Gen 2 HiR Cerakote was introduced. It claims to reduce the visual and near-infrared signature of the item it is applied to, so obviously that peaked our interest. While the idea sounded great, we still weren't convinced that the cost of Cerakote was worth it to potentially reduce the IR signature vs getting an extra case of ammo. Our friends at Trajectory Arms reached out to us to see if we wanted to have a rifle sprayed so they could show us the quality of work they could offer out of their new Cerakote booth, so we figured we'd get a rifle coated to see how the HiR coating actually works, as there isn't much information online about the coating, and we like to provide our customers with as much information as possible, while supporting a business that we like. To our surprise Trajectory graciously offered to spray the rifle for free for us, which was unexpected and greatly appreciated. They are some of the most meticulous folks we have worked with in this industry, and the Cerakote job they did on this rifle was nothing less than fantastic. Not to mention they are genuine folks who share similar values behind firearm ownership and rights, so we're happy to continuously work with, support them and sell their products.
From top to bottom, we tested three rifles under night vision to see how the coatings appear. All of the following photos were taken with a DSLR through a Elbit White Phosphor PVS-14
1) Factory Knight's Armament SR-25 APC
2) Spray Painted Frankenstein AR-15. This Rifle was painted using a few colors out of the Rustoleum Camouflage Pack, primarily Green and Tan
3) Knight's Armament SR-15 Coated in Gen 2 HiR FDE Cerakote
This photo was taken in a dark room with no illumination. We used a B.E. Meyers KIJI on the highest setting to illuminate the room, which was arguably too much illumination for a confined space. The floors in this photo are also dark grey, same as the photo above.
This photo was not taken under night vision, just under very dim white light to give a visual representation of the background for the next photo under night vision.
Now this photo was taken in the exact same position as the one above (2nd Example) but under night vision. To the naked eye, the HiR Coated Rifle and the Spray Painted one blended in fairly well with the green grass they laid in, while the black rifle stood out much more, as expected.
This photo was taken from 10 Yards away, with all of the rifles leaned up against a fence. The HiR Cerakote and Spray Paint were absolutely more subtle than the black, which was expected.
While the photos are not the best representation of the different coatings, nor in any way was this a scientific test, the HiR coating definitely seems to work. After taking these photos, we realized a few flaws with the setup which is why the coating may not look as "impressive" as some expected. The HiR coating really starts to shine at distance, 10+ yards away, while most rifles look similar at a close distance like most of these photos, in a situation where camouflage wouldn't potentially even matter in the first place. Over time we will add more photos and video footage showing the coating at various distances to exemplify this. We took these photos in multiple different environments, specifically outdoors in the environment that we spray painted our rifle to match, so it's no surprise that the spray painted rifle blends in more in the outdoor photos. If we truly wanted to show the performance of the coating, a better example would be photos in all of these environments with a standard FDE Non-HiR Cerakoted rifle and then the same HiR Cerakoted FDE rifle. But this test does also show just how effective a few dollars worth of spray paint can be for reducing the visible signature of your rifle.
Is it Worth It?
Well that depends. If your only goal is to reduce the signature of your rifle, break up patterns, or make it look less like a "Scary Black Rifle", then head to your local hardware store and grab a case of spray paint, and try matching your rifle to the environment you live in. If you mess up, you likely just wasted a whole $1-2 and can try again. This option is likely the best direction for most folks, who can better allocate the extra funds in to purchasing extra ammo, a better optic, etc. Now IF you are already planning to get your rifle cerakoted, you might as well have it done with the HiR Coating. For those who are biased towards Cerakote, and want a long lasting durable finish, this seems like a great option to have on the market, even though it doesn't make your rifle completely invisible under Night Vision like some folks may think, it's simply value added and an extra feature you can now get IF you're already committed to having your rifle coated. Cerakote will always have it's benefits over spray paint, namely the much more consistent and durable finish that can be achieved, along with the ability to do more intricate designs or patterns, if that is something you desire. We tend to spray paint most of our rifles but wanted to test this new coating out to provide information for you to help you make a more informed purchase with our extremely unscientific testing. If you're not in the market for Cerakote, grab a can of spray paint, and invest the extra money in to training and better equipment.