AR15.Com Archives
 How to paint your lower receiver's safety selector stamps
glock24  [Team Member]
12/28/2006 2:24:30 PM
I wanted to highlight the "FIRE" and "SAFE" stamps on my lower receivers because I like the way it looks, and it's a subtle custom touch.

I've been reading through the various methods and haven't been completely happy with any of them. I wanted something more permanent than Crayola crayons or grease pens. I also didn't have much luck with Brownell's lacquer sticks because the excess paste would smear into the pores of my lower's finish during the clean-up step.

I like the enamel model paint method because it is more permanent, but I had a lot of trouble applying it properly. Toothpicks, small paint brushes, safety pins, even tiny screw drivers weren't working. The main problem is when I removed any of these tools from the jar of paint, a small round drop would form on the end. When I tried to apply this drop to my lower, the diameter of the drop would be larger than the ditch area of the stamp. The paint would run out of the ditch and look like a kindergartener's artwork.

After some trial and error, I came up with a method that works great, and I'd like to share it with you.

My secret is syringes. No I'm not a herione addict, but I did manage to find a diabetic friend who gave me some old used needles. I also had an old titration syringe from a past chemistry lab.



I started by mounting my lower horizontally. This provided a secure work platform, and ensured the paint would not run.


Next I cleaned the FCG stamps with acetone to remove any residual oil.


Before loading the syringes I took some fine sandpaper and reshaped the tip of the needle. The original chisel point of a syringe needle doesn't get the paint far enough down into the ditch. I sanded the point flat, so the hole in the needle was at the very end. Don't try cutting the chisel off with wire cutters, or you'll collapse the hole and it will require even more sanding.

I loaded the syringes with enamel paint by dipping the needle into the jar and pulling up on the syringe plunger. Pull slowly as the paint viscosity is quite thick.


Application consists of placing the point of the needle at one end of each stamped letter, and slowly pushing the syringe plunger to start paint flow. You do not need to push the plunger continously, just enough to get the paint started. Practice on some scrap paper to appreciate how lightly you need to push. Did I mention you need to push slowly?

Run the needle through the ditch of each letter and pull the plunger back up to stop the paint when the letter is finished. I cleaned the needle between each letter to ensure a clean application.

It works great, and if you go slow, there is zero clean-up required to the painted lower.





If you do manage to get a bit of paint outside the ditch, don't try to wipe it off as you'll smear it into the pores of the lower and you'll have to start over by cleaning off all the paint with acetone or paint thinner.

Instead of wiping, let the excess pain "skin-over" and then gently scrape or lift it up with a clean X-acto knife. Any minor surface scratches from the knife will be gone when oil is applied to the lower.



If you have access to used syringes, this method is simple, clean, and looks very professional. I'm told Tractor Supply Company sells syringes, but I've never looked there. I don't know the size of the needle, but as long as it fits into the stamp ditch, it should work.

Good luck


EDIT: Here's the finished product after a bit of CLP





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A_J  [Member]
12/28/2006 2:56:43 PM
Good job and nice write-up. This comes up so often that this thread should be tacked.. I actually use the same method, and I keep syringes around for fine painting like this or for getting glue where I want it etc.. works good for sights..
JD42  [Member]
12/28/2006 3:19:07 PM
Big plus 1 good job. I have been useing very fine painters brushes but the same problem. I will give it a Try Thanks!
usagold  [Member]
12/28/2006 8:48:57 PM
another plus 1 on a job well done. Looks great
j3_  [Member]
12/29/2006 1:48:35 PM
Will it hold up with the CLP on it?
74SHARPS  [Member]
12/29/2006 2:43:48 PM
Big thanks. I've been wanting to do that sort of thing to my AR. Most local farm supply co-ops carry suringes. If you get the type made for dogs and cats it should be thin enough. also, talk to your vet. and let them know about what you would like to do with them and in most cases they'll just give you one or two.
glock24  [Team Member]
12/29/2006 2:56:29 PM

Originally Posted By j3_:
Will it hold up with the CLP on it?


So far, so good. Testors model paint is oil based enamel. It is a very permanent paint.
Graveyard78  [Member]
12/29/2006 6:43:57 PM
Man, that looks great. Thanks for the info.
SinEater  [Member]
12/29/2006 7:41:57 PM
Very Nice Topic I like that method, my POF is already painted but I never wanted to try it on my colt, with syringes I might give it a shot, Good Work!
FSUChris  [Member]
12/30/2006 12:16:58 AM
Hummm looks like I might have to quit using all my needles to shoot heroin. Wait,I'd

actually rather shoot heroin than color my lower...nevermind. It is a good write up

though, I must say you went into detail and explained it very well. Even though I don't

plan on doing this to any of my firearms it should be tacked for those who do.
Hands_First  [Member]
12/30/2006 3:16:47 AM
I buy needles for my diabetic cat at Rite Aid.
Miami02TJ  [Member]
12/30/2006 3:42:59 AM

Originally Posted By Hands_First:
I buy needles for my diabetic cat at Rite Aid.


Been there dont that 2X -- Its a endevor of love. Good Luck.


pssss -- Great Write-Up!
BigSwede  [Member]
1/3/2007 2:41:37 AM
GREAT POST!!! +1 for a sticky for as many times this is asked. I can add only this to it. For those of you that are a little shaky about scratching the anodizing using an X-Acto knife to scrape the excess paint, use 0000 steel wool available at Home Depot, Lowes, Etc. Completely non harmful to the finish and will remove the excess paint with just a rub or two. Be sure its 0000 steel wool though, otherwise it will scratch. This is used all the time for rust removal on metal without damage to the finish, as well as a final polish for metals. I restored a badly rusted up Noble .22 pump with 0000 steel wool and a bottle of cold blue. Looked almost brand new when I finished.
thebigO_1978  [Member]
1/7/2007 12:02:36 AM


I just did mine. I got a little carried away and basically did most of the lettering and numbers on the rifle after I saw how easy it was. I used the model paint pen method with dremel, and razor blade. Worked like a charm. Thanks for the idea.
JoeyIsaacs  [Member]
1/7/2007 12:34:01 AM

Originally Posted By thebigO_1978:

I used the model paint pen method with dremel, and razor blade. Worked like a charm.


Model paint pen and dremel?? Can you be a little more specific? Model Paint Pen specs... and what did you use the dremel for? Cleanup?? Which disc??

I have been messing with a few different variations of this lately... HELP! CANT STOP! WANT... TO... COLOR... LOWER!

This method was done using rubbing alcohol and crayons.


One thing I havent been able to work out yet is a more flourescent red color... the reds that I have seen look a little too dark for me. I want FIRE to be BRIGHT!

I used the crayon just to see if I would like how it would turn out... I LOVE IT! Now I want to make it a little more permenant. This method is what I planned for the final run... after I attempted it on some other less important stampings to get my hand right.
gunrunner1000  [Member]
1/7/2007 11:11:13 AM
Very nice job ! here is what we use in the shop www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/productdetail.aspx?p=7778&s=19659
www.gunrunner1000.com
thebigO_1978  [Member]
1/7/2007 12:31:53 PM
The paint pens I used have an ultra fine tip, just your standard enamel (oil based)...in fact I got them at michael's in the scrap booking isle. If only all those scrapbooking moms knew what I was using them for. They still make a little mess but cleans up easily with the razor and rubbing alcohol. I used the dremel to clean up with one of those fuzzy polishing bits. My rifle looks just like yours, I colored in all the dpms stuff too...lol
JoeyIsaacs  [Member]
1/7/2007 1:38:06 PM

Originally Posted By gunrunner1000:
Very nice job ! here is what we use in the shop www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/productdetail.aspx?p=7778&s=19659
www.gunrunner1000.com


hehe... ordered 3 ea of those on Friday. Along with my new MIAD grip kit... DAMN! UPS IS SO SLOW!!!!!!!!!!!


Originally Posted By thebigO_1978:
The paint pens I used have an ultra fine tip, just your standard enamel (oil based)...in fact I got them at michael's in the scrap booking isle. If only all those scrapbooking moms knew what I was using them for. They still make a little mess but cleans up easily with the razor and rubbing alcohol. I used the dremel to clean up with one of those fuzzy polishing bits. My rifle looks just like yours, I colored in all the dpms stuff too...lol


Cool. I have to run out today so it looks like I may have to detour around by Micheals and see what they have. So, how do your like the DPMS? I am very happy with my rifle although the speed from ordering anything from DPMS directly sux. It took almost a month to finally receive mine from the factory to the gunsmith. Been hanging all kinds of accessories on the thing.
hawxter996  [Member]
1/8/2007 3:19:57 PM

Originally Posted By glock24:
I wanted to highlight the "FIRE" and "SAFE" stamps on my lower receivers because I like the way it looks, and it's a subtle custom touch.

I've been reading through the various methods and haven't been completely happy with any of them. I wanted something more permanent than Crayola crayons or grease pens. I also didn't have much luck with Brownell's lacquer sticks because the excess paste would smear into the pores of my lower's finish during the clean-up step.

I like the enamel model paint method because it is more permanent, but I had a lot of trouble applying it properly. Toothpicks, small paint brushes, safety pins, even tiny screw drivers weren't working. The main problem is when I removed any of these tools from the jar of paint, a small round drop would form on the end. When I tried to apply this drop to my lower, the diameter of the drop would be larger than the ditch area of the stamp. The paint would run out of the ditch and look like a kindergartener's artwork.

After some trial and error, I came up with a method that works great, and I'd like to share it with you.

My secret is syringes. No I'm not a herione addict, but I did manage to find a diabetic friend who gave me some old used needles. I also had an old titration syringe from a past chemistry lab.

i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0182.jpg

I started by mounting my lower horizontally. This provided a secure work platform, and ensured the paint would not run.
i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0062.jpg

Next I cleaned the FCG stamps with acetone to remove any residual oil.
i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0082.jpg

Before loading the syringes I took some fine sandpaper and reshaped the tip of the needle. The original chisel point of a syringe needle doesn't get the paint far enough down into the ditch. I sanded the point flat, so the hole in the needle was at the very end. Don't try cutting the chisel off with wire cutters, or you'll collapse the hole and it will require even more sanding.

I loaded the syringes with enamel paint by dipping the needle into the jar and pulling up on the syringe plunger. Pull slowly as the paint viscosity is quite thick.
i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0132.jpg

Application consists of placing the point of the needle at one end of each stamped letter, and slowly pushing the syringe plunger to start paint flow. You do not need to push the plunger continously, just enough to get the paint started. Practice on some scrap paper to appreciate how lightly you need to push. Did I mention you need to push slowly?

Run the needle through the ditch of each letter and pull the plunger back up to stop the paint when the letter is finished. I cleaned the needle between each letter to ensure a clean application.

It works great, and if you go slow, there is zero clean-up required to the painted lower.

i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0152.jpg

i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0172.jpg

If you do manage to get a bit of paint outside the ditch, don't try to wipe it off as you'll smear it into the pores of the lower and you'll have to start over by cleaning off all the paint with acetone or paint thinner.

Instead of wiping, let the excess pain "skin-over" and then gently scrape or lift it up with a clean X-acto knife. Any minor surface scratches from the knife will be gone when oil is applied to the lower.

i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0192.jpg

If you have access to used syringes, this method is simple, clean, and looks very professional. I'm told Tractor Supply Company sells syringes, but I've never looked there. I don't know the size of the needle, but as long as it fits into the stamp ditch, it should work.

Good luck


EDIT: Here's the finished product after a bit of CLP

i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0062-1.jpg
i27.photobucket.com/albums/c194/flexiblehorse12/Paint%20Project/Picture0042.jpg





nice write up.......................but sorry, friend or not used needles?
gives me the willies.

do yourself a favor use fresh ones.

as i said though nice!
Gibbles  [Member]
1/8/2007 3:48:51 PM
I like this stuff,
Paint Stick

Stuff works nice, even gave my AK build the factory look after the refinish. It takes a few days to dry after you get everything nice and perfect, so far it has even held up to brake cleaner.
And I got bored and filled in the chevy bowtie on my keys, guys fixing my tire at the dealership the other day liked it.
aylor70  [Member]
2/20/2007 8:42:49 PM

Originally Posted By JoeyIsaacs:

Originally Posted By thebigO_1978:

I used the model paint pen method with dremel, and razor blade. Worked like a charm.


Model paint pen and dremel?? Can you be a little more specific? Model Paint Pen specs... and what did you use the dremel for? Cleanup?? Which disc??

I have been messing with a few different variations of this lately... HELP! CANT STOP! WANT... TO... COLOR... LOWER!

This method was done using rubbing alcohol and crayons.
i135.photobucket.com/albums/q141/joeyisaacs/M4A1/MVC-001F.jpg

One thing I havent been able to work out yet is a more flourescent red color... the reds that I have seen look a little too dark for me. I want FIRE to be BRIGHT!

I used the crayon just to see if I would like how it would turn out... I LOVE IT! Now I want to make it a little more permenant. This method is what I planned for the final run... after I attempted it on some other less important stampings to get my hand right.


I like that alot, I have a DPMS but so far I don't have the balls to do the panther. Looks pretty sweet though. I'm thinking of doing the panther in blue possible. But I did my fire and safe in paint pen, will crayon match alright?
Gibbles  [Member]
2/20/2007 11:16:24 PM
nevermind.
norseman1  [Member]
2/26/2007 1:03:48 AM
Yup, used this method to do my DPMS lower as well.

Turned out pretty good. Although, I just it a little differently.

I blew air over the areas that were spilled over and then LIGHTLY use a razor to scrape away the excess, then, use a paper towel soaked with Acetone and LIGHTLY rubbed over the surface afterwards.

Turned out pretty good.

Finished off with some CLP, as you described, and everything looks pretty good.

Nice touch to an already fantastic rifle.... ;)
wchiang  [Member]
3/13/2007 12:50:22 AM
My Walmart Pharmacy had 21 gauge needles for 18 cents each.
JoeyIsaacs  [Team Member]
3/14/2007 8:10:34 AM
When I went to pick up needles at walmart, I got 20 questions about what I was using them for. Told them it was a project and I needed to fill in some small lettering with paint, blah blah blah.... They wouldnt sell em to me. I only wanted to get like 3 or 4. And trust me... I do NOT look like a needle user at all. Damn little bubble gum blonde airhead.

Went to CVS. Talked to the old pharmacist behind the counter. Told him what they were for and He took a liking to the idea himself. Asked how many I wanted!
wchiang  [Member]
3/14/2007 11:46:16 AM
In Virginia, I had to fill out a log book. Under reason, I put: "Painting Firearms". I don't think the lady bothered looking.
JoeyIsaacs  [Team Member]
3/14/2007 11:52:30 PM

Originally Posted By wchiang:
In Virginia, I had to fill out a log book. Under reason, I put: "Painting Firearms". I don't think the lady bothered looking.


oops. Yeah I had to fill out the DEA log as well. Under reasons I listed Hobby Painting.

eta: All you page 2 belong now to me!
mfrey  [Member]
3/15/2007 9:55:04 AM
I've found that when solvents will not remove the pigment trapped in the pores of the anodized finish if you slip up, Kroil will lift it. Be careful though in your application of it as it has enough solvents in its formulation to dissolve the enamel or lacquer in your lettering. It is much less aggressive than Acetone or MEK, however.

For removal of minor overpainting, rather than scrape it off with a blade, I like to wait 24 hours after the application of the paint and then rub my finger very lightly coated in Kroil over the depressed lettering to clean the overpainting. I've tried Q-tips and various other firm applicators, but I've found that my finger works the best. It doesn't leave any lint behind and it is firm enough to leave the depressed lettering alone while wiping away what you don't want.

So go finger your AR (had to preempt any jokes).

P.S. I've tried CLP (in the bottle, not the spray) in this fashion as well, but the solvents are not aggressive enough for removal purposes. If you really scrub, it will work but it does so primarily by mechanical rather than chemical action.
markm  [Team Member]
3/15/2007 10:03:51 AM
Good God!

So this is what it has come to?
glock24  [Team Member]
3/15/2007 1:44:41 PM

Originally Posted By markm:
Good God!

So this is what it has come to?


We're just trying to create a clean, organized, and permanent method of highlighting the trigger selections.

If you don't like it, feel free to go play with your Crayolas.


EDIT: I apologize for the over-reaction. I thought he was criticizing the application method, but I realize now he was only commenting about the new restrictions on syringes.
JoeyIsaacs  [Team Member]
3/15/2007 4:39:06 PM
Ummm.... ok. Not sure what that was about.
The_Gooch  [Team Member]
3/15/2007 6:20:36 PM
I've not had any problems with the Brownells laquer sticks. The trick is to get as much of it into the lettering and wipe off the excess as best you can, but know that a light smudge will remain. Let the laquer cure for a few days, then come back with some Q-tips and Hoppes #9 and swab up the smudge and use a clean, dry towel to blot up anything left over.




ghostdg1  [Member]
3/18/2007 8:59:05 PM
Great How - To !
ar15gnocchi  [Team Member]
3/29/2007 6:19:40 AM
Here is my first attempt with Testors gold and silver enamel paint. I thought it turned out well.

isherman  [Member]
3/29/2007 10:29:16 AM
I have a stag arms lower...I am thinking about painting it a greenish color? Any suggestions for green testors paint that would look good on my lower? TIA
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