Gun metal finishes

Cerakote is a better metal finish than bluing

Q: What do you consider to be the best metal finish for a hunting rifle other than blueing? How do you care for your rifles after they’ve been subjected to bad weather — rain and snow or salty sea air? 

What is your opinion of Cerakote? What does it cost? Who does it?

Also, I’d like your opinion of custom barrels. If you have a factory rifle that regularly shoots 1½” groups, would you replace the barrel?

Kenneth Davidson

A: Stainless-steel rifles on the market today stand up to wet weather quite well, but they are rust-resistant, not rust-proof, and do require a modicum of care after being exposed to the elements. 

Rifles like the Browning Stainless Stalker have all the metal parts made of stainless steel and the stocks are synthetic. These rifles will see a lot of use in wet conditions. 

Like blued guns, they should have their exterior surfaces dried, wiped over with an oily rag and the bore cleaned every day after you return from hunting.

I believe Cerakote is the ultimate metal finish because it not only stands up to the weather but also rough use and abuse. 

It is being used for more and more modern firearms and is seen on rifles like the Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon and others. 

I had my Model 70 .30-06 Ackley Improved Cerakoted and it looks great. Alan Naumann did a great job.

If your a rifle shoots consistent 1½” groups it is perfectly adequate for any kind of big-game hunting over normal ranges out to, say, a distance of 400m and not much game gets shot that far away.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.