Making your tools, or Airsoft replicas, look realistic and worn can be a difficult process. There are several ways of doing it, from natural weathering to artificial weathering. The former takes a lot of time and use and sometimes waiting for the replica to look weathered might be the most appealing option for the user. The latter is a common way of making weathered looking replicas, especially if they are painted. Using some nail polish or similar substances, you can make some really cool looking finishes on your replicas.
On retro black rifles, where you want to keep the original color or something very close to it, it can be a different matter. I have G&P replicas and they weather quite nicely, but that requires use. The original paint on my 727 had worn off quite well but the color was not that “realistic” looking. I wanted something darker and closer to black. TJ_Paxton in Instagram had a really cool looking M653 and I asked how he did the finish on his. He pointed me towards Birchwood Casey’s Aluminum Black product.
In this post I will go through the process of how I had the best results in the end. There are some other ways you can go with it, but I will cover the method I used in the end. I did two applications, where the second one turned out to be the best one. Word of warning, and as a disclaimer, do this at your own discretion. Be sure of the material of your receiver before beginning the work and do the prep work well. Remove all the paint and clean the receiver from greases and scratches before you begin applying the BWC. The result can vary and this is just my personal experience with the product and process.
Before you start on the process of “blackening” you need to completely remove the original paint on your receiver. I used sodablasting to remove the original paint from my 727 and while it took a good while the results were excellent. I could have sanded the receiver down with sandpaper but that would have required more work. If you do not have access to sodablasting, sanding is the other way to go.
The receiver in all its shiny aluminum glory. Sodablasting left the surface rough and from the initial looks of it, it seemed that the BWC would be easy to use on it. For testing purposes, I sanded one area of the receiver, but the finish on the surface was not as good as it was with the sodablasting method. For this reason, I did the same treatment to the whole receiver. Lastly, I cleaned the receiver with a cloth to remove any dirt and grease from it. I made the mistake of doing the same for my barrel, but since it is not aluminum (apparently, was not aware of it) BWC did not stick to it. I need to get something else for it later down the road and for now, I just painted it black.
After the receiver is clean, I began applying the BWC to it. I used a small paint brush initially, but I recommend you use a polybrush to apply it. It is much better and spreads more evenly. Pour some the BWC into a seperate cup, do not use the original bottle! This prevents cross contamination. Once the BWC comes into contact with the aluminum, you will see it begins to darken. The longer you let it sit on the receiver, the darker it will get. The initial finish will wear off, so you will need to re-apply it a few times. After I had applied it to the whole receiver and let it sit for a few minutes, I wiped the excess off with a moist cloth. After that, I used 000 steel wool to rub the initial finish off. The receiver will lighten quite significantly, but this is to be expected. You will need several layers. After scrubbing the receiver with steel wool, I also used a dry cloth on it to prep it for the second application.
At this point, I will note that you can apply the WD-40 on it and let it sit for a while. I didn’t do it myself at this point. I just began applying the second layer. I applied about 3-4 layers with this method, until I got the color that I wanted. After the last layer I did one final wipe with a cloth and applied the WD-40 on the receiver with a polybrush. I left it on the table for a while and went to make some coffee. After about 30 minutes, I came back to it and the WD-40 had mostly been absorbed into the aluminum. Again, using a cloth, wiping the receiver of all the excess WD-40, I had the color that I wanted.
To sum all the steps, here is what I did:
- Remove the original paint and clean the receiver
- Apply the Birchwood Casey Aluminum Black with a polybrush
- Let the liquid sit for a while. I did not take time and it is something you need to feel yourself through.
- Once you feel it has done its part, wipe the receiver with a moist cloth to remove the excess liquid.
- Use steel wool (I used 000) to rub the receiver to remove the excess BWC.
- Once you feel you have scrubbed enough, wipe the receiver with a dry cloth.
- Repeat the process as many times as you need, until you get the color that you want.
- After the final application round, spray the WD-40 to a CLEAN polybrush. Do not use the same you applied the BWC with. Why? Try and find out. Once you have applied the WD-40, let it sit and absorb. I let mine sit for about 30 minutes. Once mostly absorbed, wipe the excess with a cloth.
There you have it, you are done! I hope this post is of help to anyone who wants to undertake the same process for their replicas. It is a bit time consuming but the results are well worth it. Again, do this at your own risk. No one will be responsible if it does not work, whether you follow the instructions or not. This is only my experience and process of how I did it in the end. My results were good. But they can differ.
TJ_Paxton on Instagram. The guy who gave me the idea for this project
Youtube video about the project: