How To Paint A Gun (Easy DIY For Rifles, Pistols & Shotguns)

Are you searching for a new look for your rifles, pistols, or shotguns? You may be interested to learn that you can actually change the color of your guns! 

First, confirm your area's gun ownership and operation rules. Note that painting a fake gun to look authentic is illegal in some states. 

Below is a detailed guide on how to paint a gun. 

Applying a new finish to your gun is a common do-it-yourself project many gun owners enjoy. It sounds complex, but it’s possible to use modern spray paints to make your pistol look as good as new. 

Some gun owners prefer to disassemble the gun first and paint individual rifle pieces, but you can also paint your gun whole without disassembling it.  

Spray Painted Pistol

Can I Legally Paint My Pistol? 

Legally, you can paint your pistol any color you like, provided you do not damage or hide its serial number. 

Be sure to follow the gun laws in your area. For example, in most states, it's not illegal to repaint your pistol frame. But in New Jersey, for example, you must acquire a DEP environmental permit and be a registered license holder and gunsmith before spray-painting your gun. 

Can You Spray-Paint A Gun? 

Spray paints are the best to use when repainting your gun. They don’t require any complex equipment. Plus, there’s limited contact between your skin and the actual paint. Note that most techniques like hot bluing are hazardous, as they can expose you to dangerous chemicals. 

Spray paints come in a wide array of colors that you can use individually or blend together. Most spray paints have protective anti-corrosive features that keep gunmetal from rusting. 

Spray-on paints are the standard for for painting guns like the AR15. They are less expensive and excellent for working guns that get plenty of use in the field.  

Why Do Owners Prefer Their Guns Painted? 

There are so many styles to choose from when deciding how to paint a handgun. Some prefer a solid single layer of color, while others prefer mixing different paints and colors to make elaborate patterns. Some other reasons gun owners want to paint their guns are as follows: 

  • It makes the gun look cleaner. 
  • Paint acts as a protective barrier for the gun exteriors. 
  • It’s an opportunity to find out which parts of your gun need servicing. 
  • It makes the gun appear newer, hence increasing its value in case you want to sell it.  

How To Paint A Gun (Detailed DIY Guide) 

Painting your gun is an intricate process. If you want to be successful at it, you must follow the steps in our guide to a T. 

Prepping Your Gun 

Start by disassembling your gun and sanding the parts you want to paint. Then, thoroughly clean the individual components with an aerosol degreasing agent. 

How Do You Prepare The Gun Before Painting? 

You’ve probably owned and operated your rifle, pistol, or shotgun for some time now, and you want to make sure it won’t be damaged by the painting process. Below are some more necessary steps you should take before painting your gun. 

  • To clean your gun
    Use an aerosol degreasing agent. It’s the best because it dries fast and does not leave any residue on the surface of your gun. 91% isopropyl alcohol is ideal for cleaning any of your rifle or pistol's plastic or wooden surfaces, like gun stocks.
  • To sand your gun
    Use a sandblaster to remove debris, dirt, and old paint from the surface of your gun. If you don’t have access to a sandblaster, use standard sandpaper instead. Ensure you sand all surfaces evenly.
  • To prime your gun
    Find a product specifically designed for firearms. Primer works to prepare the surface of the gun. It’s also a top layer that guarantees a smoother, lustrous finish.

What Tools, Supplies, And Materials Are Needed? 

Essential protective tools you will need to undertake a successful paint job include a spray gun, face shield or protective glasses, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt. 

Some of the supplies you may need include an aerosol degreasing agent, sandpaper, 120-grit aluminum oxide blasting media for sandblasting, spray paint, lint-free cloth for wiping the excess, and cardboard to lay the gun parts after disassembling, etc. 

How To Spray Paint Your Gun 

Metal paint is the best type of paint for guns. Some paint types need to air-dry, while others require baking in a toaster oven to set the finish. Air-drying paint will give you a far better finish than paint that requires an oven. 

For best results, use masking tape to keep the paint from seeping through moving parts, like the trigger and the trigger guard. Stuff rubber earplugs into holes like the barrel to prevent paint from pooling inside these areas. 

Note that you can choose to paint your gun as a whole or disassemble your gun to paint individual parts separately. 

After you paint, ensure you seek help from a gun expert or online manual to reassemble your gun. 

Can Regular Paint Be Used? 

Regular paint can be used on a gun, but it will not give you the same metal spray paint result. In addition, regular paint is not as durable, and there's little color variety. It is also more likely to chip over time. 

Metal Spray Painted Pistol

Tips When Painting Your Gun (For Safety & Optimal Results) 

To maintain optimum safety and achieve the best results, here are some tips to use when painting your gun.  

  • Ensure that the primer and the paint you use are compatible. 
  • Sandblasting is better than manual sanding for your gun’s exterior surfaces. 
  • Dip a sponge in paint to create different patterns, incorporate different colors, and camouflage your rifle. If you’re wondering how to paint a glock, rifle, shotgun, or any other firearm camo style, a sponge is the best way to do it. 
  • Avoid prepping and painting your gun with your bare hands. Instead, use the necessary protective tools to avoid injury and exposure to harmful substances. 

Common Gun Painting Questions 

Is rust-oleum good for guns? 

Rust-Oleum paints are excellent for guns. They are ideal for use on different gun surfaces, including metal, plastic, and wood. 

Can you use duracoat on a gun barrel? 

Yes. There’s special DuraCoat paint designed for use on metal surfaces. Ideal options include DuraCoat spray paints that sometimes come with reusable peel and spray templates. 

How much does it cost to paint a gun? 

An experienced gun painter can charge anywhere between $50 and $5,000 to paint your gun. Larger guns are more complex to paint; hence you may pay more for the service. Also, any specific requirements on style can further hike the price. 

Can you paint a gun with acrylic paint? 

Some people use acrylic paint on metal surfaces and objects. Most acrylic paints are water-based and require a sealant to avoid chipping. On the other hand, oil-based paints take longer to dry and require a paintbrush to apply. 

Is it illegal to spray-paint a toy gun black? 

In some states, it is indeed illegal to paint a toy gun black to make it look more authentic. However, the majority of states do not have laws prohibiting you from painting your toy/replica gun black. 


Painting your rifle, shotgun, or pistol is a gratifying endeavor that most gun owners indulge in ever so often. Above is a comprehensive guide you can use to get the job done safely and correctly.