Army issues instructions for painting M16s, M4s

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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 19, 2010) -- Soldiers already have uniforms that blend them into their surroundings. Now there's instructions on how to have a weapon that blends in too.

In April, the Army released instructions on how Soldiers can apply spray paint to their M4 or M16 rifle, without decreasing the effectiveness of either the weapon or the installed optics.

"The Army has always had techniques to camouflage the Soldier ... we have techniques for the Soldier and the equipment," said Col. Douglas A. Tamilio, project manager for Soldier Weapons, Program Executive Office Soldier. "We found in Iraq and Afghanistan that Soldiers were starting to paint their weapons. It wasn't really approved or disapproved for them to do that."

Tamilio said the Army worked with the Army Tank-Automotive and Armament Command as well as the Army Research, Development and Engineering Center to put together the instructions.

The resulting document, "Maintenance Information Message 10-040," is titled "Camouflaging Specific Small Arms." It focuses on where to apply tape to protect sensitive areas, what areas should not be painted, and what kind of paint to use.

"It just shows Soldiers how you tape your weapon up before you go to spray it," Tamilio said. "We are just trying to make sure the Soldiers don't do the wrong things with their weapons. So we make sure we don't reduce the reliability of our weapons system."

The new MIM explains the rationale behind why Soldiers would paint their rifles.

"Warfighters must be able to conduct tactical operations while reducing/limiting detection by the threat," the message reads. "Camouflage paints provide for reduced visual detection and enhanced warfighter survivability via neutral, non-reflective, and predominantly non-black colors."

Additionally, the message explains, the color black is "highly infrared reflective" and it can also "provide a high degree of visual contrast when carried by camouflaged uniformed warfighters."

The instruction goes on to explain the materials a Soldier would need to clean his rifle before painting, the types of paint he can use and where to procure them, where to put masking tape on the rifle to protect sensitive parts, and how remove the camouflage after it is no longer needed.

To protect the inside of the barrel from receiving paint, for instance, the message tells Soldiers to "take a foam ear plug and insert it in the front of the barrel using firm pressure. Do not use a cleaning rod or any other tool to do this."

On actually applying a camouflage pattern to the weapon, the message suggests Soldiers have a plan in place beforehand, and that their design focus on effectiveness rather than beauty.

"Remember, most great camouflage is not pretty," the instruction reads. "The goal is to blend your weapon in with the environment in which you are operating. If you are operating in an environment that just has light tan sand, then just paint your weapon tan with limited black breakup ... This procedure's purpose is not to impress. Its purpose is to provide safety and another tool in defeating the enemy."

While the Army has provided an official guide on how Soldiers can paint their rifles to provide camouflage in an environment where camouflage may be needed, Tamilio said the instruction is not permission for a Soldier to paint his weapon. Permission, he said, comes from a unit commander. The instruction is simply a guide on how to proceed if a commander gives that permission.

The full MIM 10-040 instruction is available online at In order to access that document, Soldiers will need an account with Army Knowledge Online.

A more abbreviated version of the instruction, with photos, is available at
I clicked on the .pdf link and get an error message, anyone els have this problem?

That said, why don't we start buying "Brown" M-4's? SCAR isn't black. We could do the same thing for the M-9.
Worked for me. Too much tape for me, but I dont have one so bleh...:P
2 years and the last weapon I seen was an A1 that was stamped "Mattel" I shit you not......... It could have used some paint.:)
Sadly it doesnt cover M249s or 240s. Also all the paint must be removed before handing the rifle back. Some anally retentant pouge is going to get his Hitler on over that little part. Stripping a weapon of paint is a F#%*<€$ mission in itself.

Still a big step forward.
I AM NOT taping and painting any of mine! It would start to rub off and look like crap in no time! Gotta be a better way! Oh like buying a new M-4 that is already in camo! Now just to convince the wife I need another M-4.

Although Detroit has been a free fire zone for weeks and weeks now so maybe that won't be too much of a challenge convincing her! Hell one for each family member! Although I want the SCAR in 7.62mm.

Try using Duracoat.
My preferred method is get a coat hanger and hang the pea shooter from the flash hider, get to paintin' ... often consume X # of beer while i wait for it to dry.
The uglier the death stick is, the more effective... I saw one dudes, he spend about 8 hrs cutting out little squares to make it digital before he painted his. It looked gay as hell.

Any man who follows instructions to the letter, needs his Man card revoked.
I no longer have an AKO, the first link, after adding security exception, got me to:

Enter with your AKO or AEPS information.


Can anyone copy and save the file and email it to me?
I want to see how well the instructions are compared to my painting an M4 thread:
p.s. didnt that thread used to be a sticky??
I have it, PM your e-mail to me.

Pretty gay, but at least the guys will be taping some of the critical parts.
I still think most of PEO Soldier should be retired.
RB does a great job of painting your M16/M4 rifle. He did Headshots M16 in about an hour at the SSSO III.

You'd have to ask him what kind of paint was used. Cerakote maybe ?
RB does a great job of painting your M16/M4 rifle. He did Headshots M16 in about an hour at the SSSO III.

You'd have to ask him what kind of paint was used. Cerakote maybe ?

An amazing job, though I'd have to say Headshot's request was a little weird...

Better then nothing, something odd for the Army to give a go a head with.

FYI: Regular paint stripper will take that shit off pretty well and it dosen't mess up the finish or plastic...
If you are really interested in camoflaging your rifle, not for cosmetics so it looks cool for your buddies, then forget painting it. Buy some camoflage cling tape, they sell it at most military/gun shops (and it comes in all kinds of colors, ACU, Marpat, woodland, artic), apply it to all of your accessories (optics, torch,etc.) then to your rifle. After you get to your AO, get some foilage and tuck it into the tape in areas that don't interfere with your weapons operation. The advantages are that you can change the color scheme quickly, and it's doesn't need any special clean up when you are done. It's not as pretty as these paint jobs but it gets the job done quicker and blends into the enviroment way better and you can re-use the tape because it doesn't stick to the weapon, it sticks to itself. You can cut it up inIto smaller strips for optics, etc. I use it a lot for turkey hunting with a ghillie suit that I made and I have had deer walk within 5 yards of me without even knowing I was there.
I painted all my team's guns with Krylon, it's done just fine- barrels and everything. If it starts to wear off, just touch it up, who cares if it starts to wear and look bad? It's a deliverer of death, not a piece of art. I use a brown, tan, and green paint and a handful of twigs or grass to give it a neat little pattern- I try to go for about the same mix and tones as multicam.

I wouldn't paint pistols though- a painted pistol would inevitably become a dropped pistol, in a palm grove, at night. I've always figured it'd be better to let it contrast against it's background since it's not coming out of it's brown holster anyway.
I used to paint mine, it seemed to defeat the purpose of applying cam paint and having all matching kit at much expense to the tax payer and then brandishing a a single toned object. Personally I think it looks better when its all messed up, only cherries have nice tidy looking rifles.
I wouldn't paint pistols though- a painted pistol would inevitably become a dropped pistol, in a palm grove, at night. I've always figured it'd be better to let it contrast against it's background since it's not coming out of it's brown holster anyway.

Not only that, but if the pistola is out of the camo holster it's a bit past camo time anyway. lol
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