There is a growing trend in firearms that is on display in almost any firearms or prepping magazine on the newsstands and that what I refer to as “colored guns syndrome.” More and more people are using products like Cerakote or Duracote to essentially paint their guns, sometimes to use it as camouflage for hunting either bad guys or animals but more and more they are using it to bling out their guns. I can completely see the need to recondition old firearms or change their appearance in some way shape or form, but what happens when people paint guns to look essentially like toys? It’s a fine line to walk and one that will no doubt raise some people’s hackles.

I’m not some sort of buzz kill anti customization zealot who will tell you it’s a waste of money and just shoot your rusty old shotgun. In fact I love customizing my guns and yes sometimes getting them cerakoted because after 30+ year of use some guns need to be touched up. The vast majority of people I know and shoot with, if they choose to change the appearance of their firearms it’s for a good reason, not because they want to make their Glock look like the gun from the Nintendo game Duck Hunt. I first saw the new customization craze at SHOT Show 2016, and I will admit it had a bizarre fascination to me, not because of the designs but more because of the amount of creativity and work that went into making the guns look the way they did. It then dawned on me how much the firearms all loosely resembled children’s toys, minus the orange cap at the end of the muzzle.


Now I get that there are lots of great artists out there making a living customizing and refinishing guns, I don’t begrudge them for cashing in on a growing fad. If I had the skills, the tools and the willingness to do something similar I would most likely consider it. There is really good money in that segment of the industry. I’ve met several gun painters and also interviewed a few of them and one custom firearm gunsmith told me, basically if a customer buys and $3,000 gun and wants him to drag it down the driveway and Cerakote it, he would do it because the customer is always right. I personally couldn’t do That aspect of the job.

Fantasy Guns & Absurdity

It’s no secret that the latest relaunch of the Star Wars series has made billions in box office receipts and memorabilia sales, and that unfortunately is spilling over into the firearms market. In the last few years I have literally seen dozens of Glock pistols and AR-15 rifles painted up in largely white and black patterns and engraved with TK-421 along with an Empire Crest. Not far behind the phenomena of the TK-421 themed guns is the Boba Fett themed rifles. It seems that the trend is to use the IWI Tavor or AR-15 rifles for these projects as well. It’s bizarre to me that someone would take a functional firearm and paint it up to look like a toy or a movie replica. In someways I understand and acknowledge that people are free to do whatever they want to their guns, and that I didn’t buy them, but at what point will painting guns to look like toys lead to someone getting shot by accident ?

The idea is not as far fetched as you may think it is, all you have to do is type in “boy shot with toy gun” into any computer search engine and the dates and names start popping up. There are some out there that will say that kids should be taught that guns are deadly and never point them at people etc. That is the basics of firearms safety and I 100% support instruction and teaching kids that. The reality is that kids don’t listen as well as you think, don’t believe me ? Ask yourself how many times have you whooped your kids ass for doing the very thing you just told them not to do? How many times have they not cleaned their rooms or done chores after being told till you are out of breath ? Bottom line is that they are children and they routinely perform acts of incredible stupidity.

I’m a big fan of teaching the shooting sports to kids and new shooters, for years now we have been able to fairly easily distinguish a toy gun from a real gun. Crazy stupid colors and an orange tip = Nerf or toy gun of some sort, speaking in generalities, wood, and dark colors with no orange tip = real gun. With this latest craze in people trying to relive their childhoods as adults and painting their guns to look like toys its not quite so easy. I have seen the trend growing by leaps and bounds in the last few months, but to be honest the moment that provoked me to write this article and voice my concerns was when I was browsing an MP5 fan forum on Facebook and I saw a woman proudly holding a bright purple MP5 clone. It was as they say the straw that broke the camels back.

I don’t think this fad of painted guns will be going away anytime soon and I’m afraid it will continue to evolve into stranger and stranger ideas and designs. To many of us in the firearms community we see this trend of people decorating actual firearms to mimic toys as dangerous and irresponsible. One major concern in all of this is that being a Law Enforcement Officer is dangerous and hard enough without making it anymore complicated with real guns that look like toys. At the end of the day it all boils down to a few very simple points, owning a firearm is a responsibility and ultimately you can make your gun look like whatever you want.