A “Distressed” Discussion On Firearm Finishes

By Andy Loeffler


A recent Facebook thread made its way through the gun community this weekend, in which the author was offering to make new firearms look used and abused, for a nominal fee. His technique involved hauling guns to the range and actually using and abusing them until the desired effect was created. For a modest upcharge, your gun could be dragged behind a truck for that ultimate “hell-n-back” chic!
All very fun stuff and his point was well-taken- why would someone artificially “pre-distress” a perfectly good new firearm? Maybe so they wouldn’t appear to be such a novice next weekend at their upcoming “Extremely Tactical Close Quarters Dynamic Carbine Combatives Course” or whatever?
There was a good deal of grumbling about what a bad idea this is…and that tearing up your guns the old fashioned way is part of the fun…and only real “operators” are entitled to have guns that appear to have “operated” (which is weird, because the operators in question would have returned their weapons to the government entity that issued them in the first place)
It’s your gun. You can decorate it in any combination of color, finish, and accessories that appeal to you. And you are responsible for that gun. Nobody cares if I go to the furniture store a buy a brand-new oak dinner table that has been treated and finished to look much older than it actually is- American primitive is a classic look- and I can enjoy it without endangering a real, valuable antique. Where it becomes an issue is if I were to turn around and try to pass it off on “Craig’s List” as an authentic antique piece.
So the reality is that pre-distressing your gun and covering it with Krylon and hundred-mile-per-hour tape for that “Global War on Terror” look is Okay. Telling everyone that it just came back from there is not. Choosing to ding up your new gun through actual use- not technology- is okay. Berating a fellow gun owner who likes the look is not.
We don’t accuse Civil War re-enactors of Stolen Valor and we shouldn’t assume that somebody’s “pre-distressed” firearm is anything but personal preference. Unless, of course, they open their mouths and tell us different…

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