A while back, I wrote about a home-brew camo paint job I did on an old Mossberg 500 I had lying around. It was a fun project and a popular post that is still getting hits every week. Since refinishing shotgun and rifle stocks never gets old, I wanted to try it again but with a different method of applying the camo.
The first post was about how to paint a shotgun camo with spray cans and hand brushing. This time around, I will be using a DIY version of a hydrographic transfer dip from MyDipKit.com. Camo dipping is becoming increasingly popular and average costs range from $100 to $300 depending on the size of the item and the quality of the work. Being the DIY lover that I am, and since I don’t wear skinny jeans and get mani-pedi’s, I decided that I would do it myself. I figured that if I could spend the same amount of money, get the joy of doing my own upgrade, and have film left over to dip 2-3 other things, it was a no-brainer to do my own. I started searching for options and reading reviews, and that’s when I found MyDipKit.com.
There are several helpful videos on MyDipKit.com’s video page, and they have a YouTube channel full of tips, tutorials and examples. In the videos are examples of car dashboards, video game controllers, guitars, guns, bows, and just about anything you can think of, all sporting new camo digs. The excitement set in, and I couldn’t wait to get my kit in the mail, but what would I dip?
Ideally, I would have found another shotgun just like the one I hand painted reed camoflage to use with this camo dip kit for comparison. Although I did look around for a similar one for sale, nothing panned out for another shotgun. My focus shifted to the rifles and shotguns I already had, trying to figure out what would make good use of my new dip kit. While I do have several firearms, most of them are either handed down from my grandfather, or already perfect as they were – dipping any of them just didn’t seem right. My son actually came up with the final plan, “Dad, why don’t you make my rifle camo?”
He was referring to one of my pellet rifles from when I was a boy. In an effort to try and teach my sons gun safety at a very young age, I already have them a toy nerf rifle that shoots foam darts with suction cups on the ends. I work with them about pointing it in a safe direction, how to carry it, when to shoot, and basic gun safety. As they grow older, I promised to give them the pellet rifle. It is not theirs yet, but they still refer to it as “mine.” So, it was settled, the boys’ future pellet rifle was getting a new look.
What Came In The Kit?
MyDipKit.com offers dozens of options for camo patterns, including both of my favorites: ASAT and PredatorCamo. I could see the vision of an ASAT rifle stock in my head, and was drooling as I waited for it to arrive. The dip kit came quickly, and included just about everything I needed to convert my bland, grey rifle stock into a camoflaged prize. The instructions were very detailed, and there were pictures of each step. Included in the kit was a roll of film, primer, paint, activator, sealer, abrasive pad, face mask, and rubber gloves all packaged in a shipping tube.
What Was Needed To Use The Kit?
The only thing I had to provide was some masking tape, a large container to fit the rifle stock, and water to fill it. The kit contained everything else that was necessary.
Was The Practice Dip Helpful?
Per the advice of MyDipKit.com, I decided to do a practice dip before leaping into my final project. As with most practice, this proved to be extremely helpful. The sheath on one of my favorite knives and the cover for the small ammo box I use as a bow kit were both dipped as practice. Each time I used the dip kit, I gained key insight. Here are a few key things I picked up from my first two attempts:
- When they say dip slow, they mean dip SLOW. I went too fast on the first attempt and the dip stretched and separated. Lowering the item very slowly into the film on the second attempt worked much better.
- When rinsing off the object after dipping, the water should be warm but not hot. The instructions call for anything from cold to hot. I used the “hot” water from my kitchen sink to wash off the activator from the dipping process, and it messed up the finish on the first piece. I actually went through the process twice on the knife sheath because of the smearing from the hot water. I had much better luck with tepid water, about 75-80, degrees washing off the activator without impacting the finish.
- The timing is important. If the activator sits on the film too long, it will begin to separate. If the activator hasn’t been able to work long enough before dipping, the film will not stick well. There is a delicate balance on the timing and I would say it is the most important factor of the dipping process. The film needs the 60 seconds to hydrate, and the activator needs 15-20 seconds to work its magic before dipping. I was militant about timing on the second dipping attempt and it worked much better.
How Was the Stock Prepped?
In this situation, the stock was very easy to get prepared for dipping. Since it was a non-painted plastic stock, all that was required was for it to be scuffed before priming. If the stock was finished wood or painted, it would help to use some kind of stripper before scuffing and priming. The scotch brite abrasive pad that was included in the kit was perfect. I simply took out the three screws that held the stock to the rifle’s action and sanded the entire surface with the pad. Less than 60 seconds later, I had a hazy matte finish ready for primer.
Two coats are applied to the stock before it is ready for dipping – primer and paint. The paint is actually the base color of the camoflage, and the areas of the film where that color should appear are transparent. The user has the option to change things up and use another base color that will show through in the camo. One picture online showed where a young man painted safety orange for his base coat and then dipped – it looked pretty awesome! This was a bonus I wasn’t expecting, and an opportunity to explore color combinations I plan to use after my next trip to Home Depot.
How Hard Is The Dipping Process?
The dipping process was straightforward. I laid the stock onto the film and taped off a square with room to wiggle in each direction. I also measured off enough film for each side of the stock (double width). This was not mentioned in the directions, but I wanted to make sure there was plenty of surface area to cover the stock.
Since I was using the Elite Kit from MyDipKit.com, there were 2.5 meters of film which is plenty to dip my practice items, this stock, and have enough left over to do probably 2 more stocks. Slits are cut into the taped border to allow the film to shift around on top of the water while it is hydrating. The cuts in the tape are very important.
With everything ready, I carefully lowered the film onto the top of the water making sure not to allow any air bubbles under the film. This is where extra length would have come in handy as my container was about an inch shorter than my film. Luckily, I had allowed myself enough room in the film that I was still able to dip the stock without a problem, but it was close.
After setting the film into place, we started the clock. Exactly 60 seconds later I began to spray the activator onto the film. As the 20 seconds passed, I watched the activator cause the film to loosen and gloss over in the water like in a hot cup of coffee in the morning.
Thanks to my practice dip, I had already learned the importance of a SLOW dip into the film. Even though we used the largest rubbermaid container we could find, I only had about one inch of total clearance for the length of the stock. The next time I dip a rifle stock, I will use a container with much more room to dip.
The only unforeseen problem I faced with the final dip was how to clear the water to raise the stock back out of the water. Since I had to use two hands to lower and hold the stock under water, there was not a free hand to brush the camo away from the water’s surface and lift the stock out. Thankfully my wife was there to help me brush the film away so I could lift the stock out without re-camoing the stock. When the stock is large enough to need two hands a helper is required, which is something to consider before you dip your project.
Once the water was cleared, I lifted the stock out of the water to the approving, “Wow!” of my oldest son. We admired the new look on the old stock for a few, and then it was time to rinse. I knew to run tepid water over the stock to remove the slimy activator that was on it. We have a large wash-down sink in our mud room, and it worked perfectly for rinsing. A kitchen sink would not work well for this job, a garden hose would have been my next choice.
How Durable Is The Camo Dip?
To protect my labor of love, the MyDipKit came with a clear coat sealant that was sprayed over the camoflage dip once the stock was rinsed and dried. The directions called for multiple coats, and I felt that 2 was sufficient after examining the coverage of the clear coat. An afternoon to dry, and a quick re-assembly later, and the boy’s air rifle was looking great.
I let the boys have it for a few hours of play (without pellets or air of course), and it held up nicely. If you know anything about young boys, you know anything that can sustain a single afternoon of use with all parts remaining in tact is one tough piece of gear. I have to say the camo seems to be holding up as well as any camo paint or dipped gun I’ve ever owned. I think if you follow the instructions, take your time, remove all the activator, and seal it up well, the MyDipKit finish will last for a long time to come.
How Can I Get My Own Dip Kit?
You can visit www.MyDipKit.com and order direct from their website in dozens of camoflage patterns. There are tons of great ideas and examples on their site to get the creative juices flowing for your next project.
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