When I rebuilt a Model 93 Mauser, I was fortunate enough to try some of Wheeler Engineering's Cerama-Coat spray and bake gun finish on it. While the end result wasn't exactly earth-shaking, this finish was something I could apply at home which looked pretty good, and that's always nice. Read on to find out whether this product is right for you.
- Can be applied at home, without special equipment.
- The matte finish looks very good when it's done.
- Won't fill stampings and engravings in the metal.
- The aerosol can doesn't always spray well - and won't cover two long guns.
- Not very durable.
- Spray-and-bake metal finish meant for home use.
- Matte black, non-reflective.
- Comes in a small 4-ounce aerosol can, which is almost enough for a small rifle; buy two to be safe if doing a rifle or shotgun.
- Clean parts, spray them (multiple coats with 30 minutes dry time between coats), and bake them.
- I used a household oven for my project.
- Matte black non-reflective finish.
- Only meant for metal (steel, aluminum, brass) - and don't use it on scopes or other optics.
That's the question asked on the Cerama-Coat box, along with the claim that "Cerama-Coat is the answer!" Hmmmm.
My guns usually do not take a beating; I use them, but I don't abuse them. Even so, it didn't take long for the Cerama-Coat finish to start coming off of my rifle. So if your guns do take a beating and you're looking for something that is tougher than the licks they take, I can't recommend Cerama-Coat.
There is Hope
That said, however, I don't hate this product. As I mentioned earlier, I used it on an old Spanish Mauser that I overhauled - and I described the finishing process along with photos in an article on finishing the metal Mauser parts.
Once I got one of my two cans to spray, application went well - and the other can worked fine later, so it was just being fussy when it spewed out like black Silly String. Baking was no more awkward or odd than you'd expect when baking gun parts, and the end result looked pretty dang good.
I was saddened when the finish showed its lack of toughness by easily coming off of the first parts I finished. I increased both oven heat and bake time and it worked better - but it is still a fairly soft finish. At least it's solvent-resistant (Wheeler calls it "impervious to gun solvents").
The muzzle finish wear is the worst, which I suppose is to be expected. The muzzle of any long gun gets clunked into things more often than other parts, and sees some wear when you lean the gun upright in a corner. The inexplicable finish loss at the rear of the receiver (see photo) is not understandable nor reasonable in my opinion. But I chose not to pony up the dough to pay someone to hot-blue the rifle, so I'll take what I can get.
The cost per can (about $28 when I wrote this) is pretty steep; I think you should get at least twice as much product for that price.
Bondo for Guns?
A reader recently emailed me and mentioned that he'd used a similar finish on an old rifle, but before applying the finish he used bedding compound to fill in rust pits and pipe-wrench grooves left by previous owners. Not a bad idea, and worth remembering - and something you can't get away with when bluing a gun.
As I've said, my finished rifle looks very good to me. I admit that glossy gun finishes don't thrill me; I've always been more low-key. The matte black finish that Cerama-Coat created was very pleasing to my eye, especially on a hunting rifle.
It's no replacement for bluing - and I find its claim to be "harder and more durable than your gun's original finish" utterly preposterous - but I can't say that I'll never use it again. If I do, though, I won't expect it to be very tough.
- Russ Chastain