Duracoat Vs. Cerakote – By a Subject Matter Expert


Back in October, Ian Cherry of Whisky Tango Firearms, provided a fantastic interview with The Gun Writer on the benefits of the two major coatings that dominate the firearms industry, Duracoat and Cerakote. With the video, Ian goes through details on the application of the coatings including his remarkable aftermarket and patterned designs. 

He goes through the details and differences between the coatings. To start, he says the durability and wear characteristics of the two is largely similar and that to get a coating done correctly, the applicator must spend time on the prep work. Its common to have to clean parts multiple times to get something done correctly.

Cerakote is primarily a heat-based curing product. This is advantageous for those wanting to have a component ready to go as soon as the oven baking process is complete. On the flip side, Duracoat is air-based, which has a long curing time (up to 4 weeks), which is not for the impatient types. Still, it can be easily used for items that are temperature sensitive like electronics and optics.

In short, Ian does more Cerakote jobs, which is primarily due its immediate curing characteristic. However, he says that Duracoat is better to work for the more complex jobs and has more possibilities of unique coatings.

In case the embded video is not working, check out the interview over at The Gun Writer. 

Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry in weapon design, operations, and sales. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com


  • Tyler McCommon

    I don’t use either……

  • Jason Roberts

    I use KG GunKote. I love that stuff. I’ve redone my AMD65 in the flat black from them since the original black from TGI sucked. I’ve also done one of my 1911’s in flat black and flat OD Green from GunKote. It’s a bake on application and it holds up really great. And you can touch up after curing, unlike Cerakote I hear.

    • Bill

      Will it PO the Secretary of the Treasury by stinking up the stove she hardly ever uses?

      • Jason Roberts

        Well…. I had to do it while she was at work… It stinks up the oven and the kitchen. She still smelled it when she got home. But the deed was done. So I was willing to get yelled at. Who cares? My guns looked great!

        And hardly uses? Lol try never.

        • nadnerbus

          Sometimes it is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.

  • Bill

    Next: Krylon vs. Rustoleum.

    • Sianmink

      Duplicolor all the way.

    • Xeno Da Morph

      Krylon Military goes along way if you let it rest for a day (or 7). But even if not.

    • mcameron

      Rustoleum never fully dries for me……it always remains slightly tacky…..even with proper prep and drying time.

      Krylon on the other hand is practically dry the second it hits the part…….

      • J.E.Walker


      • CountryBoy

        “Krylon on the other hand is practically dry the second it hits the part……”

        Or before, if the part is pre-heated.

  • Kyle

    No thanks, I just use a nice layer of oxidization to protect my guns. Plus I kinda like the red-orange color.

  • Wolfgar

    Duracoat is easier and better for the individual who wishes to do it themselves. That said I do all of my firearms with Cerakote. It is a fabulous firearm coating and is second to none in my opinion. What is great about Cerakote, is that you can paint over it with regular white canned spray paint like I do for winter coyote hunting and come summer just wash it off with acetone or starting fluid and your cammo job is back. I also micro slick my AR bolt carrier’s and inside the uppers. Cerakote is not for the hobbyist since it requires a great expense acquiring a sand blast cabinet, curing oven, good air gun, air compressor and shop shop to work in.

    • Sianmink

      shop shop!

      • Wolfgar

        My typing was on full auto,LOL

    • Jason Roberts

      I use KG GunKote which uses the same processes at Cerakote. The sandblasting, airbrushing, oven, etc. I hear Cerakote is really hard to do though because once cured, you can’t touch up, you have to sandblast and start over. Is it true? GunKote is easy. Once cured, if you missed a spot or wanted to add more, you can. You don’t have to blast it again or anything. Unless you fingered it all up and got it dirty. My AMD65 went into the oven three times before I was done, each time because I added more coating to areas I missed. But I was glad I didn’t have to care about overspray not adhering.

      • Wolfgar

        When applying Cerakote you can flash dry in the oven to apply other colors,but once you cure the coating all the colors it is done. If you need to re apply after total cure you need to start over. Like I said Cerakote is not the best coating for the hobbyist.

        • Jason Roberts

          I might try Cerakote on my next project. I really like the color selection Cerakote has. KG GunKote colors are kinda lacking, but great if you aren’t really looking for much. I can manage with a flash dry and coat some more process. I thought once it was in the oven, it was done. Thanks for the reply.

          • Wolfgar

            They have instructions on their web site and even more information is given when you order their coating. Good luck with your projects.

      • yourmomsplaytoy

        Yeah I hear you! Gunkote is great and I am not a fan of Duracoat at all. Even Alumahyde II is better than Duracoat. Cerakote is very easy to use if you prep your project right but it’s that prep time that takes forever with Cerakote lol. You can always media blast any areas on a low psi setting over areas you need to touch up when using Gunkote after it has fully cured. Then just spray over the area, bake it and it will look like it was never touched up. I am certified in firearm refinishing and got taught a lot of cool tricks from my teacher. You can speed cure Alumahyde II by baking it for 4 hours @ 175-185 degrees. Then let it sit over night and it will be good to hit the range with by morning.

        • Jason Roberts

          Never heard of Alumahyde. How does it stack up against GunKote and Cerakote

  • Evan

    Well, Duracoat was banned in NYC, because reasons, and that’s a good enough reason to support them in my book.

    • Bill

      Is that the Big Gulp sized containers?

      • Evan

        That’s a separate thing. Bloomberg threw a fit when he heard that Duracoat could make guns colors other than black, so he basically said that its sole purpose was to make real guns look like toys and had it banned.

        • nadnerbus

          Wow. I hadn’t heard that. That is asinine even by California standards. Did he ban spray paint too?

          • Evan

            No, but it is illegal in NYC to paint a gun “to look like a toy”. I don’t know the specifics of that law, but I assume it means painting them any non-“tactical” colors. I moved out of NY two years ago and I’m never going back. It’s all absurd nonsense like that.

          • Lt_Scrounge

            Have you heard about the non compliance rate for their latest and greatest “assault” weapons registration scheme? Between NY and Ct, they are running over 90% non compliance and the county sheriff’s are telling the governors, “You signed it, YOU enforce it.” Estimates are that it would take decades and cost billions just to arrest, book, and take to trial everyone who has refused to comply.

          • Core

            Yeah but these unconstitutional regulations are funded by tax dollars which are the labors of the people present and past. Why we allow these leaders to impose such regulations is beyond logic. This will create a problem from a non issue and force federal funds to support an unconstitutional law. I wonder how our civilization has become so ignorant.

          • The Brigadier

            The entire state of New York is the most heavily regulated state in the nation and that also includes Illinois, Maryland, and Hawaii. The rot is deep.

        • Lt_Scrounge

          And the owner of the company’s response was classic. He came out with a new line of colors and camo patterns tailored to what you might see in NYC and named the colors after features of the city. I thought the graffiti covered brick wall camo pattern was especially funny.

          • Evan

            I wonder if anyone actually ordered that pattern. It was funny, but it was also butt ugly and I wouldn’t want my gun looking like that.

        • Core

          Is this true? This sounds ridiculous, if your leadership is developing laws based on perspective they should be de-throned.

          • Evan

            It is true. They have zero chance of being dethroned, NYC voters are, for the most part, idiots. Reasonable people who live in NYC just need to move.

          • Hyok Kim


          • JDH

            Liberal democrats….a curse on freedom!

        • CountryBoy

          So His Bloomerness got his panties in a wad because he wasn’t aware that spray paint could do the same thing with colors?

          • Evan

            I guess. Although spray painting guns is banned too. If you’re looking for logic and reason here, remember this is coming from the guy who believes that a semiautomatic keeps firing if you hold down the trigger.

        • Judge Bean

          That guy is more than a few cards shy of a full deck, but then aren’t all Marxist’s.

  • David

    I’ve used Dura heat (suppressors) and duracoat, applied with an airbrush. I’ve learned about not prepping enough the hard way, and had to re-do one of my suppressors. The good news is, I’ve seen 950f from the digital thermometer and the coating was not affected. Of course, if stuff melts off on your 900+ degree suppressor… good luck with that. The duracoat I’ve applied has also shown some intricacies. it does not like to adhere to bare aluminum, no matter how much I rough up the surface. OTOH, I’ve applied duracoat to hard anodized stuff and it looked great.

    One thing I’ve found is that the finish seems to attract knicks and scuffs. I have not applied the dura-clear finish yet. Overall, I like the product. it’s definitely more expensive than Rustoleum, but in this case you do get what you pay for.

  • Westwood

    Cerakote > Duracoat

  • AJ187

    Duracoat wins for me because it is quick, easy and forgivable. I like the finishes and selection on cerekote too. I can also recommend alumahyde from brownells. That is a little more permanent to work with, but does a great job in one easy spray can. I wish I had more stuff to spray since its so fun.

  • jerry young

    I have personally used Duracoat and am not real happy with the results, I followed all the instructions and waited the required 3 – 4 week curing time and the finish still chipped and scratched quite easily, I’m just about to try Cerakoat on my second firearm, I have everything ready but the weather just took a dip into the single digits and heating my work area to sandblast and paint takes a little doing so I have to wait , I am interested in seeing the results and differences between the two, I’ve read different post both good and bad about both products, I also have some experience with automotive painting so I understand the importance of applying a finish correctly

    • You have to give your gun a good prep with the supplied True Strip Jerry. I’ve used Duracoat on several AR’s and I’ve never had a problem.

      • jerry young

        that I did and didn’t get the same results as you I also stated I do know about painting, not everyone gets good results according to reviews I’ve been reading, no matter what results I get on this next one I’m switching to anodized

  • Both can be Air Cured and Heat Cured. But we’ve (Crusader Weaponry) found that the Air Cure time for Duracoat was actually much much longer than they say it is for it to be fully cured. Cera cured much faster. Both work better Heat Cured. By far.

  • Simon R.

    I have to wholeheartedly disagree on Cera and Dura being similar in wear. Having applied coatings and finishes for years, Cera is far superior. And it is also available in an air cure formula for substrates that cant be heated. Somebody needs to do their homework.

  • Secundius

    If you REALLY want to Protect Your Guns, try THERMION. It’s a Applicant Thermal Protection used on Aircraft Carrier Flight Decks, Temperature Rated to ~+5,700F. About as HOT as an Oxy-Acetylene Torch…

  • Core

    I can’t comment on which one is better but I do know that Cerakote is a much thinner application and it’s salt water spray test outlasts Duracoat. I have no doubt Duracoat properly applied is fantastic from what I’ve seen. Personally, I have a 1911 barrel coated with Cerakote and it’s going on 1000 rounds since coating and the Cerakote has not rubbed off. (I use a custom bushing that’s pretty snug too) As a matter of fact I had to remove some when I fitted the barrel lugs with a polishing wheel and compound. Great stuff. I’ve seen Duracoat come off aluminum Ar receivers in “tactile” wear areas. I don’t see this happening on Cerakote, but like I said proper application is a make it or break it thing. I am impressed with the proper application of Duracoat on Magpul plastic, it stays and holds up well, if done properly. But I’ll stick with Cerakote.

  • Mullet

    Krylon and Rustoleum work best.

  • yourmomsplaytoy

    I can’t stand Duracoat. If I have to use a spray can finish then I will use Alumahyde II. Cerakote is great stuff but when customers hear the cost for the job, they usually go with Gunkote for their finish. Gunkote flash dries and is a lot easier to work with when doing stencil work. But Cerakote has a lot more color choices and can withstand a lot more abuse over time. I just wish it weren’t so expensive! For me to keep the most common colors in stock for customers costs me an arm and a leg. They are a big company and you think they would have a sale every once in awhile.

  • Please no politics

    • Judge Bean

      That must be a very hard line to hold given that the politics are so egregiously aggressive against the gun culture.

  • Mark


  • Matt Frikin Bennett

    90% of dudes read the article: think to themselves “bullshit, I’ve used duracoat myself. I prepared everything perfectly and it still didn’t turn out well.” Yeah well guys, almost everyone who finishes guns professionally agrees that duracoat is good stuff. Maybe not the ultimate, but good. And guess what, I am an amateur, and I degreased my parts like no tomorrow. Low and behold my duracoat held up just fine. My factory cerakoted gun on the other hand… the color rubs off with little effort.