The urge to modify physical items from their stock configuration into something that stands out from the rest of the crowd seems to be endemic to the human condition. I mean, for crying out loud, we can’t even leave ROCKS (or the stray Kia Soul) alone without thinking they need to be jazzed up with a few dabs of paint and a name to make them “pets”. While I am not hopelessly addicted to customizing things to the point of absurdity, I am not immune to a desire to express individuality through tailoring objects to my particular taste and personality.
When it comes to firearms, not unlike cars, custom is just a question of how much money you want to spend. Who among us has not gazed upon a finely crafted piece of hardware and mumbled “If only I had the money…” while drooling like a Saint Bernard with a mouthful of Novocain? But, that’s not the point of this post.
I’m talking about customizing on the cheap. And not swapping out the grips panels on the 1911 cheap either. We’re talking loose change from the sofa cheap here.
Our project for the day: color filling the roll marks and stampings on an AR lower (this same process can be used on any firearm roll marks/stampings with the same results).
Total project cost: less than $10 (assuming you didn’t already have the necessary tools in your home)
First, we need some tools. With the exception of a couple of paper towels, everything you will need for this project is pictured right here.
Isopropyl Alcohol (preferably 91%)
Enamel Nail Polish (in the color[s] of your choice)
Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover
Now, for some instructions. For you visual learners, there is a YouTube video out there which was the inspiration for this little project.
One small detour before moving on, this is what the lower looked like at the beginning of the project:
Step one, dip a Q-tip in the alcohol and swab the area to be filled. This removes any oil and residues that might interfere with polish adhesion later.
Step two, once the alcohol has evaporated, take the nail polish, shake it thoroughly, and dab it liberally over the roll mark/stamping to be filled. Don’t worry about coloring inside the lines. This ain’t kindergarten, and we’ll clean up our messes in the next steps.
Step three, before the polish has a chance to dry, blot/wipe excess nail polish from the surface with a clean paper towel.
Step four, using another clean paper towel with some nail polish remover soaked into it, wipe any remaining excess nail polish from the surface around the roll marks/stampings. It may take a couple of passes to get all excess off the surface. You can see in the photos below that there is a little bit of “clouding” left that I need to go back over. I blame bad eyesight and lighting.
Lather, rinse and repeat as necessary until you achieve the results you desire. The roll marks on my AR lower were fairly deep and only took one coat to get a crisp, white fill which I what I was looking for.
Here is the finished product:
It should be noted that Spike's Tactical offers customers the option to have the markings filled for $10 or $30 depending on if you just have one mark filled or all marks filled. But, their lowers are currently on backorder, and adding the color fill adds to the delivery time.
Or, you can do it yourself. Total time start to finish...less than five minutes. You decide.