The Black Rifle no longer has to be black

It is good to see commonsense prevailing. ArmyTimes reports

The Army is finally going to give soldiers the green light to paint their black weapons so they blend in with the terrain on the battlefield.

Soldiers have been using commercially available, spray-on camouflage paint since the beginning of the war — despite an unenforced Army policy prohibiting the practice.

Allowing troops to color their rifles may also help prevent the enemy identifying higher value targets such as the tan-colored M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System. I have long since wondered why the M110 was not finished in black, which would allow it to blend in with the black M4s and M16s.

M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System

[ Many thanks to Fred for emailing me the link. ]



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • It’ll be interesting to see how the powers that be approve for painting methods, and what paints are OKed.

  • Yes, I read this about 20 mins. It’s unbelieveable army didn’t let them do it in the first place!

  • Zach

    I didn’t even know that this was against regulations. I’ve seen plenty if M4 carbines overseas with a desert camo spray paint, and I don’t know if this also applies to sniper, but I’ve seen plenty if camo’ed M82’s and M24’s, which are black too. I find it funny that they would even have this as an official policy but never enforce it

  • Matt Groom

    “You can paint it, so long as you scrape EVERY SPECK OF PAINT OFF before you turn it into the armory!”

    Uhh, no thanks. I think I’d stick with that camouflage tape that you wrap the stock and handguards with…

  • SpudGun

    About time, now I can start pitching ‘Pimp My Rifle’ to MTV. We find some poor grunt with a basic M4, pretend to steal his rifle (hilarious in a battlefield situation) and when he gets it back it’s all ‘blinged out’ with rails, new optics, a slick paint job and 22″ rims.

    In all seriousness, it’s great to see decisions trickling up from the troops on the ground and ‘politician generals’ not standing in the way over petty issues such as pedantic uniformity.

    The fact that troops were doing it anyways and it won’t cost the Army anything probably had a bearing on the decision.

  • snmp

    Black Color is very bad with IR sight, that like christmas tree

  • Jarre of Sweden

    “[I]n the first place […]”, like in the 1960s? 🙂

    Honestly, it’s really good to hear this, as black weapons make such a contrast on the soldier trying to blend in in his environment. Shame it took so long for policy makers to allow this. Everything that increases the soldier’s performance and survivability on the battlefield is welcoming.

  • Carl

    This is the same organization that prevents its soldiers from carrying defensive weapons on its bases. So the soldiers being prohibited from improving their camouflage is not surprising.

  • Clodboy

    Makes you wonder what prompted them to react now – maybe they got sick of constantly having to replace 1500 $ ACOGs because some aspiring camouflage graffiti artist spray painted over the fiber optic.

  • Vak

    But tan is such an ugly color !

  • I thought the whole purpose of giving the SDM an AR patterned rifle was so they would blend in; I guess I assumed the SASS was black…

  • There are going to be some cool pictures of freshly painted rifles hitting the web soon. Good on them for having a little common sense.

  • Lance

    It already says Military personel can already paint there weapons. The ban was unenforced. Most grunts didnt pait there guns any way. Most snipers since the 1980s had already painted ther M-21 ,M-24, and M-110. So this isnt really stunning news.

  • Big Daddy

    When I was in the Army we worn black gloves made out of leather, they were terrible. Underneath we wore very nice wool green gloves. The green ones were very comfortable and warm, the black outer shell made it colder and wetter and got stiff when they dried. The black outer shell was just horrible but no matter what you had to wear them even though they like anything else black stuck out like a sore thumb. Not to mention the other drawbacks, we were NOT allowed to wear any non issue things. I could not even use my personal knife when we went out into the field.

    Why wasn’t the plastic made of green in the first place? It makes sense to have a green weapon since you are always wearing green, right? Army = Green…duh. Soldiers running around with black sticks…gee I can see them a mile away and I know who they are……another army duh.

  • zack

    It was normal practice for our unit to allow us to do it to our different Sniper systems that our HHC had. Yet our personal M4’s and M16’s we had was a little harder to convince our commander to allow us to paint them. That did not happen to often and was SOP based.

  • I would like to shoot an M110. Think we may be getting a couple at work so I will likely get to shoot one sooner or later.

  • Alex B

    Sweet!
    Maybe now i’ll be able to convice people to stop bothering my desert camo on my commando M16

  • Martin

    Interesting article.

    “The guidelines will identify parts of the weapons that should not be painted, such as inside the chamber and accessories such as optics.”

    Really? That’s not a good thing to do? What if you are cleaning your weapon, and the enemy sees your unpainted internal part? I would have thought that was a good idea!

  • Matt Groom

    @ Big Daddy,

    I can tell you that very little has changed, despite the lifting of this ban on painting. The reason that these rifles, and most firearms generally, are molded in black is because it’s very difficult to get consistent color matching and blending of injection molded plastics if they are any color other than black. If you look at many black M-16/AR-15 handguards, you can see blend lines in the plastic from where the plastic swirled in the mold. You get uneven colors and visible patterns if you use colored plastics.

  • David

    You all could have read this last week on the Fans of Camoflage Duct Tape page on the Book of Faces:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=320739146578&ref=share

  • subase

    In Caesars roman legions the soldiers decorated themselves with jewels and stuff.

  • Edward

    Really? That’s not a good thing to do? What if you are cleaning your weapon, and the enemy sees your unpainted internal part? I would have thought that was a good idea!

    If the enemy can see you while you’re cleaning your weapon, I would think that the lack of paint was the least of your problems…

    About time, now I can start pitching ‘Pimp My Rifle’ to MTV. We find some poor grunt with a basic M4, pretend to steal his rifle (hilarious in a battlefield situation) and when he gets it back it’s all ‘blinged out’ with rails,
    new optics, a slick paint job and 22″ rims.

    Sadly this sounds plausible enough when I look at the “average” AR-15 nowadays.

    Matt Groom, your explanation reminds me of the story of the “bling gold SCAR”… whoever made that lemonade out of that lemon = WIN. *snicker*