Can You Cerakote a Rifle Scope?
You may have noticed that your rifles have a protective coating, which makes them more durable and protects them from getting easily damaged. In recent years, Cerakote has become a popular coating for rifle scopes.
What is Cerakote?
Cerakote is similar to a lacquer finish but the composition is different. The paint contains ceramic particles, which make for a hard coating to protect your riflescope from getting easily scratched.
You can purchase a rifle optic, which has been coated beforehand or if you’re coating it yourself, you can purchase Cerakote from a scope manufacturer. You can even choose the color of your finish to match your scope accessories and so on.
Cerakote has a lot of benefits for your scope:
- Protects the surface from rust
- Keeps the surface clean and free from dust and dirt
- Protects the scope from getting scratched
- Protects your scope from heat and chemicals
- Makes your weapon look great- Cerakote offers around a hundred different colors to choose from.
Apart from having many functional benefits, Cerakote can also be used to make your rifle match your personality. In fact, there are Cerakote artists now who can paint customized designs on your rifle and scope.
Types of Cerakote
Cerakote is of two types:
- Baked: the more commonly known version, which involves baking the object at a certain temperature to allow the coating to harden and set.
- Dried: this coating is usually found in the form of a powder and the object you coat it with can be left out for a few days or even up to a period of 2 to 3 weeks to completely dry out and set the Cerakote.
Can you use Cerakote on rifle optics?
Since the Cerakote needs to be baked, there is some debate whether they’re safe for riflescopes or if they’ll affect the scope lens, turrets, knobs and so on. Cerakote has a range of products designed specifically for this type of use.
The Cerakote C-series does not need to be baked, it is air-dried. Just paint your scope and leave it out for around 10 days to allow the coating to set and harden.
It takes a little extra effort to coat a scope with Cerakote C. The scope needs to be sanded by hand to avoid damaging it. That combined with the extra waiting period while the coating drying is a time-consuming process.
If you don’t mind taking the risk, you can also use baked Cerakote on your scope. Just be careful not to heat it up beyond 160 degrees.
Also avoid blasting your scope with heat for more than two hours. Any mistakes such as having a high temperature or leaving your scope in the heat for too long can render your scope useless and set you back a good few hundred dollars if not more.
How do you Prep a Scope for Cerakote?
Cerakoting is not something anyone can do. An improper job can cause the coating to get damaged sooner than its expected life, or worse, damage the body of your scope. The following steps must be followed when coating your scope:
- The first step is to disassemble the rifle and scope. This is to ensure that every part is coated properly.
- Next, the scope (and other parts of the rifle) is de-greased. This can be done by rubbing acetone or alcohol on the scope with a soft, microfiber cloth.
- This is followed by sanding, which removes any micro grease particles. The body of the scope must be completely dry and grease-free in order for the coating to stick.
For the body of the rifle, the sanding is done using a machine. However, the heat and pressure can damage a scope, so for scopes, the sanding is performed manually.
- Then the coating is sprayed on. It is important to make sure that the coating is not too thick since it can jam any turrets and knobs on the scope.
On the other hand, if the coating is too thin, it won’t properly protect the scope so it’s important to have the right thickness. For the rifle and other parts, the coating is baked.
For the scope, it is air-dried because the scope is more sensitive to being blasted at high temperatures (temperatures for curing Cerakote range from 150-250 degrees).
The parts of the scope that don’t need to be coated, such as the lens need to be wrapped and covered to protect them from the Cerakote. Forgetting to do this will require having to clean your lens later, which may damage the glass.
How durable is Cerakote on hunting scopes?
If done properly, Cerakote coating can last up to a few years. If you’re not experienced with coating a rifle scope yourself, it is advisable to get the job done by your manufacturer.
This is because any gaps in the coating can drastically reduce its longevity. Manufacturers generally dismantle the entire sight and coat individual parts to avoid missing any spots.
If you wish to do the job yourself, practice first on some scrap pieces of metal. Once you’re confident that you’ve mastered it, you can Cerakote your riflescope.
The coating is highly durable and protects against any sort of damage when you’re going through a forest or dealing with tough weather conditions. Most scopes have a metal body, usually made of steel or aluminum.
The ceramic-based Cerakote layer prevents the scope from rust and corrosion, which not only looks terrible but can also damage the functionality of your scope.
The coating is a thin layer and is only around 0.001 inches think. It is sufficient to protect the metal body of the optic without interfering in the movement of the turrets and scope adjustments.
Can you Cerakote any Scope?
You can get just about any scope, rifle and shotgun coated with Cerakote. The main difference is in the price.
The basic cost of cerakoting a rifle scope is around 80-150 USD. This does not include the cost of dismantling and re-assembling your scope.
Additional charges for this, as well as any colors you choose can raise the cost to around USD 400. Here is a basic guideline of the expenses involved:
- Cerakote: USD 80-100
- Assembly: USD 20-45
- Coating and attaching scope rings, bore sights and so on: around USD 80 per item
- Basic Color: around USD 20
- Additional colors: around USD 300
- Rust repair before coating: around USD 50 per hour spent
This is quite an investment, which is another reason why you shouldn’t risk coating your rifle scope with the baked coating. Even though scopes are generally designed to withstand temperatures of up to 200 degrees, the risk of damaging it is too high. This is also why it is generally done by professionals to ensure that the coating is done properly.
Cerakote or Anodize?
In simple terms, anodizing refers to the process of adding an additional oxide coating on a metal surface to protect it from rust and other damage. Anodizing changes the structure of the metal used, making it more resistant to the elements.
On the other hand, Cerakote is an exterior layer, which when removed will still leave your metal intact. Both are generally long-lasting forms of protection for your scope.
One of the main differences is the price. Anodizing is cheaper than coating. However, while in Cerakoting, dismantling the scope and rifle is optional, for anodizing it is necessary.
There are also a large number of shooters who find Cerakote more durable and suitable for coating rifle scopes.
At the end of the day, whichever way you decide to coat your rifle, consult a professional who will guide you based on the type of scope you are using and your budget.