UPDATE: Get Your Paint Out! Army Issues Guidance for Rifle Camo

After almost nine years of constant combat in environments from the urban warrens of Baghdad to the lush river valleys of Afghanistan, the Army has issued official guidance on how Soldiers in regular line units can use paint to camouflage their weapons, joining special operations forces who have been camouflaging their weapons for years.

With all the back and forth over whether the universal camouflage pattern, MultiCam or UCP-Delta uniforms and gear were best for the varied terrain of Afghanistan, many experts cited the solid black battle rifle as one of the deadest giveaways when trying to remain hidden from enemy eyes.

Kit Up! obtained an primer in how to camo your weapon, but the Army has one big caveat:

“Before painting your weapon it is important to keep several things in mind. First and foremost is to ensure that you have proper authorization from your superior to paint your weapon…[and] have a plan for how you want your camouflage to look. Painting a weapon is not about personalization but increasing its tactical capabilities without impairing its ability to function.”

The Army also says you’re going to have to strip that paint – they give official GSA stock numbers for the type of spray paint to use – before you turn it back into the armory at the end of your deployment.

Here’s the official “Weapon Painting 101” specification (PDF).

  • Wolfhound

    It is about damn time.

  • Bob

    A good solid walnut stock treated witn linseed oil, and a parkerized finish to the action/barrel were all the camoflage needed in two World Wars and Korea. Solid black seemed to work OK in Vietnam.

    • guest

      solid black is great for shade and jungle. it provides a high contrast and a bullsye in the desert. good thing the army is looking into this.

      • Bob,

        Saying “it worked well in the last war, it should work just fine now”, is a poor argument. They are not the same wars. By your logic, the soldiers in World War 2 should have been wielding muskets and wearing uniforms from the Spanish American War. And soldiers shot in Vietnam should have been treated with amputation and hot tar. Every profession advances, and learns better and better ways to do their job. If you had a heart attack, would you want your Dr. to treat you using the same equipment and techniques that were used in 1967? Of course not. Then why don’t you want the profession of soldier to grow and advance too?

        • BAO

          I agree with your argument unclewillie, but take it easy, we all got the point after sentence number two.

  • M.G.Halvorsen

    UncleWillie, that same argument could be used against the AR15-series bunny-rabbit rifle. Rather than paint up an old design, how about something that actually has some STOPPING POWER? You know…something that’s been needed for, oh, say, the past 30 years??? NAHHH….That’d make sense…

    • M.G.

      Exactly. Just because soldiers in Vietnam had to use an underpowered rifle, doesn’t mean modern ones should.

      • Josh cannon

        The 6.8 is the main contender for the next round. Calm down boys

  • allyssa

    I think being able to paint your gun is a good idea! The fact that it allows the soldiers to go unseen even more when they are on a mission

  • Willis Hill

    You fight like you train.
    I served form 1978 till 1982. My first duty station was the first Ranger Btn. , My second was the 509th Airborne
    in Italy. I always camoed my rifle. I used 100 mile an hr. tape cut in camo patterns, along with burlap cloth.
    No one ever said a thing to me about doing this. In fact, it caught on. I did this only when we were in the field.
    The camo was easily removable, practical, and it did work. You need every edge you can create for your self in combat. I am glad my chain of comand understood that. Most of them were combat vets and under stood the
    concept. I was also admired for my initiative most of the time. I left the service a Sargent E-5.

  • Robert

    Use camo tape it easy to put on and to take off.

  • CPT Obvious

    Now that your rifle is camoed, you can see the reflective belt much easier!

  • Herman

    the paint shouldn’t be a paint at all its should be a sort of sticker that way when it comes to cleaning the weapon the sticker will come right off

    • Sticker’s don’t stay sticky too long, especially in bad weather. Paint is cheap and easy, and with the right kind of solvent it will come right off without damaging the weapon.

  • Kelli

    I am a photographer by trade & use all kinds of equipment on a daily basis. I shoot outdoor pics frequently. My family are all avid hunters

    & in order to stay hidden from the animals, I make every attempt to disguise myself & my gear so as no to be seen. I have, depending

    on the environment, covers for all my gear. Some in various types of camo, snow enviroments, water types, etc. While out, I constantly

    Come across people with camo colored, “pink” & numerous other colors, cartoon caracters, rifles purchased from the manufacture like that.

    I am sure that if I can order “brand specific” covers to hide & protect my equipment, that some sort of prototype made from neoprene or

    some other durable fabric could be drawn up quite quickly for the rifles. This way, it could be removed for cleaning, & what not, & it may even

    Help keep some of that darn sand out of the weapon. This would be far greater than trying to keep tape sticking with the heat & sand.

    Also, entrusting all those soldiers to paint their weapons & not screw tem up in the process is taking a

    Huge financial gamble. Not that they couldn’t handle the task, I’m more concerned with the high potential for

    Quite a lot of them getting messed up in the process

  • galloglas

    Make the rifle plastic an overall olive drab or coyote brown, leave the steel/metal parkerized gray.
    Bow tape works better than paint in the field. If the tape peels just apply more tape.

  • Browneye

    Bow tape is a good option but in the current operating environment of Iraq and Afghanistan, the high heat makes the adhesive plyable and the tape doesn’t stick as well. And it attracts a lot of dust.

    We painted our rifles and, apart from the camoflage value, we had the added benefit of dust and scratch protection on the outer surface of our weapons. When we cleaned our weapons we only had to concentrate on the operating parts and made sure the weapons functioned and were serviceable. And, when we turned in our rifles at the end of the deployment, after we had stripped our rifles of the paint, the rifles looked almost brand new.

  • You tape people haven’t spent much time in the desert. It melts like ice cream.

  • John Olsakovsky

    We didn’t all use an under-powered rifle. I was fortunate enough to use an M-14 (in Vietnam), which is basically an improved, high-capacity M-1. But, it was then deemed to big and heavy for jungle use. However, it was a stopper!

    • I hear you John. Also, the M-14 is kinda reintroduced in today’s military. Spec Ops use them. And now they are considered DMRs. I have seen Designated Marksman in a standard squad use them. I guess M-14 just doesn’t cut it with the high tech “new age”, everything is acronyms now

  • tursiops

    tape doesn’t work. It comes off and gets adhesive all over the place. Krylon ultra-flat camo works just fine, and withstands the heat from sustained firing.

  • Benny “By God&q

    I work for a depot level maintnance shop for these weapons returning from forward deployed units. Do what you want to the weapon as far as paint. But nothing irritates me more than a weapon comming to my shop with paint still on the darn thing. This guidline specificly states that the paint MUST be removed prior to turn-in. If it is not stripped before it gets to my shop, it is our responsability to remove it prior to return to the unit. That is unfair and I believe it is the individual soldiers responsability as well as the command taking the initiatve to enforce these guidlines.

    • 2bitz

      Quit your bitching the guys are out putting their life’s on the line and you want to cry about removing paint. How about removing your buddies blood from your gear, should I wait until I get back and make my buddy or his family do it??? Oh I see the problem it’s the GOD part in your title.

      • Scott Schoemann

        AMEN! Not to mention that the depot remfs have the time, tools and equipment on hand to do the job, which would be part of a full breakdown inspection and recert or removeal from use anyway.

    • Jim

      Sorry for leaving the paint on my M-4, I tried taking it off while the corpsman was packing my guts back in from the fucking IED the diaper heads left for me and my brothers. Thank god you have your freedom and a job, and your welcome.

  • 2bits

    You have never Fired a 100 rds thru a rifle in rapid succession which can be the case real quick like. Which is the downside to all that crap taped, etc whatever except paint. But suks for those who have to remove I guess i was LUCKY.

  • Tech

    LMAO… If that isn’t the truth. During my deployment it was uniform for everyone BDE and below to always have their reflective belt even at high noon they would do checks…

  • FU Benny

    Oh look its another DOD Civilian bitching because he has to do some work. I am sick and tired of you civilians pawning all your work off on soldiers. The army kisses your peoples *** so much. They let you guys get away with everything and then bitch at us for not doing your job. I mean what the f*** is up with that.

  • Reed

    I was in 173rd LRRP in 1966 and 1967. We just put lozenges of green “hundred mile and hour” tape on the fore-stocks and butts of the M-16 to break up the outlines. We wore Tiger-stripe DPM, triangular bandages on forehead and around neck, and full camo on head, ears, neck, face, hands and arms. It must have worked since we had VC and NVAs walk with 5 meters of our positions and were not seen.

  • Armorer92

    As for the tape in the desert..forget it. Gummy, snotty mess. Go with the paint. Strip it and strip it properly at tours end. And DS? make sure you guys PROPERLY refurbish those rifles. Those excessively worn receiver pins not being replaced because of DS lack of attention to detail caused ME to deadline 80% of a deploying units weapons. Yes..someone many pay grades above me got relieved due to negligence. Not pickin on you specifically..but just a heads up.

  • mike

    Wow… kind of like the Canadians!?