Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sharpie + Stainless Steel Mags

"Not everything suggested on the interwebz should be undertaken" - Ghandi. Words of wisdom. I have stainless steel mags for my FNP-9, no issues & they have functioned perfectly. However, from a tactical perspective, a beacon if the sunlight catches them (while in a mag pouch) and a dead give-away to your position. So I searched the internet for a viable solution. One recommendation was to send them off to have them Cerakoted, the best price I found was for $10/mag (not including shipping). Another internet guru suggested a Sharpie.... a Sharpie, that's a horrible idea! So, I bought a $3 Sharpie and tested this random forum suggestion.

[1] Applying the Sharpie

First, the mags were prepped by wiping them down with a paper towel that had a light coat of Krud Kutter. I then used a paper towel dampened with water to remove the Krud Kutter. I did not break down the mags, but went straight at em with the Sharpie.

Looked great after initial application & none of the underlining blue hue you usually see from a Sharpie when applied to a metal. I Sharpie'd all my FNP-9 mags, 5 total. 

(And, yes, that is a cheap POS light on my FNP-9, but it has held up very well.)

After applying the Sharpie, I let the mags sit for a couple of days and then loaded them up. My hands exhibited a lot of Sharpie residue from handling them while loading.

I pulled 2 mags aside and applied clear sealers (that can be found at any big box hardware store), as pictured below, to see how they would hold up to the general handling and use. FYI, the mags picture are before application and all shine was eliminated with the application of the sealers selected. 

RUST-OLEUM 2X Ultracover Matte Clear and Krylon Satin Finish were applied to the 2 mags accordingly. I then let the mags sit for two days before handling. The Krylon Satin had the best finish, while the RUST-OLEUM had a thicker, textured finish. A textured finished might inhibit a clean mag drop, so not desirable IMO.  I took some brown paper (grocery bag) to it to smooth it down. The sealers definitely limited the amount residue being transferred to my hand, however, they did not hold up to a range trip, though they did fare better than the untreated mags.

[2] Range Trip

I sent about 250 to 300 rnds downrange, loading up the mags with 2 to 5 rnds, transitioning from mag pouches and the table top. This definitely tested the resilience of the Sharpie application. The 3 untreated mags are easily distinguishable from the 2 treated mags as they have a gloss sheen to them. The mag watermarked [1] had the Krylon Satin Finish and the mag marked [2] had the RUST-OLEUM finish. You can make out the slight difference in finish between the two, with the RUST-OLEUM mag having more texture.

A possible question, did the residue that was flaking off on the interior of the magwell create any issues? No, none that I experienced. The mag with the RUST-OLEUM finish did hang up slightly at one point, but it was easily removed with a solid flick of the wrist. 

All in all, I was satisfied, but decided to remove the Sharpie application on 4 of the mags, leaving only the Krylon mag intact, at least to see how long the Sharpie treatment would remain. 

[3] Removing the Sharpie Ink / Apply Aervoe

The mags were dissembled this time. I used steel wool 0000 to remove the Sharpie finish, only because I was going to apply black Aervoe spray paint. It is my go-to rattle can paint and I have used it with success on most of my firearms. If I was not going to apply another treatment, I would have wiped them down with paint thinner or denatured alcohol so as to avoid damaging the stainless steel finish. 

After removing the ink with steel wool, the mags were washed off and dried.  All handling was limited after the wash to avoid oils from my hands being transferred onto the mag bodies, oils which could possibly compromise the fastness of the Aervoe paint. The mag bodies were then stuffed with paper towels and a wire (coat hanger) was inserted for handling & hanging. 

Aervoe is great stuff, but it will scratch and is not impervious to wear & tear. It has a "normal" feel after drying, none of that sticky, tackiness some rattle can paints can have to the touch. It's best applied on a warm sunny day. I usually put the can and item in the sun for about 1/2 hour prior to application to absorb the heat. Shake the can for about a minute, though you should probably shake it longer, just make sure the ball is rolling freely inside the can. I always apply several coats for firearms and accessories over the course of 72hrs, however, for the mags I went really light with only one application. I made sure I had decent coverage, I did not oversaturate any areas, and then hung the bodies up in the sun all day. I'm currently on day two of the drying process and will add an update once I reassemble and repeat another range trip.

Final notes. Sure, it was worth a shot, but I'll stick to using my Sharpies on my illustrations and targets. And so should you. 

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