Looks do matter !


note: articel first appeared in June 2015

Yeah…try to figure this one out with the two pictures…and make the connection with prepping…

Several years ago I built my first AR. I used a BCM upper because I didn’t want to screw-up seating the barrel, shoulder BCMlogospacing, etc. Besides, BCM makes one of the, if not the, best uppers on the market today. Everything else, each individual part, that went into the build was bought for a specific reason – quality.

It was a great experience and I really learned so much during that build, it truly helped me understand my weapon better. And the end product was an amazing pair of AR’s, one for my wife and the other for me. But it didn’t stop there.

Whenever people see my AR in the field they always kinda look it over pretty closely. Most can tell that the parts and pieces are high-quality, but others look a little astonished at the mixing of colors of my carbine. I don’t own one of those “black” guns.

The colors on my carbine are black, flat dark earth and a dull flat darkish bronze kinda color. And my two-point sling is a padded BlueForce multicam. So the weapon looks a bit like a weaponized quilt.

So why no cool “back gun” look for me?

Well, look at the picture below…

GunCammo1A black gun pretty much stands out like a sore thumb doesn’t it. There is no mistaking it for anything other than a military grade weapon. And I don’t like that. Nope, I don’t like that one little bit. So when I built our AR’s I wanted something that blended in to the background a bit more.


Oh come on now, you know why. If they can’t see you, they probably won’t shoot you. You don’t always have the safety of “cover” so I will take its ugly, distant cousin “concealment” if I have to.

The human eye is genetically trained to pick up certain shapes and such. We are wired that way to help us stay alive from lurking predators that would eat us for dinner, or shoot us to take our stuff. The key is to trick the predator’s eye into by-passing us if we happen to be exposed (i.e. not behind cover). Changing up how your carbine looks is one of the tricks.

So here is a mix-color AR in the same setting. Is it a bit harder to see?

GunCammo2But notice the black upper and the black magazine “complete” a picture for your mind to associate with a “danger” signal and you can recognize it as a gun. The black shadow also gives it away. What could you do to reduce the shadow and the black mag visually?

The next coupe of pictures show the same gun with a variety of magazines…

OD color magazine

OD color magazine

Flat dark earth color magazine.

Flat dark earth color magazine.

Cammo paint job on magazine.

Cammo paint job on magazine.

Notice how just using the right color magazine can dramatically reduce the gun’s signature profile?

Now I want you to look at this AR that I had painted (Duracoat) to match the environment it is meant to be carried in. Notice the difference?

Painted gun with black magazine.

Painted gun with black magazine.

Notice how the AR blends in but the black magazine makes it stand out again and makes the weapon recognizable. The Black magazine draws your eye to it and then your mind pulls the rest of the gun into focus to make it recognizable…complete the narrative.

But let me swap out a magazine. Now what do you think?

Cammo'd gun with flat dark earth magazine.

Cammo’d gun with flat dark earth magazine.

Notice that just swapping a magazine now allows the whole gun to fade into the background because it gives nothing for your eye to be drawn to.

A little bit of changing up can make a big difference, a difference that could save your life. But let’s take it the next step further. Here is a fully cammo pained (Duracoat) carbine. What do you think?

Cammo'd gun with cammo painted magazine.

Cammo’d gun with cammo painted magazine.

With the cammo painted magazine the gun fades even more into the background and it is hard to see the magazine at all. But slap a black magazine into the weapon and all of the sudden you can stat seeing the gun again even with the entire gun cammo painted.

GunCammo9So here is what the Duracoat painted carbine looks like with a cammo painted magazine in it and laying in the environment that is was meant to be used in. The profile is very low, with a hard to see signature. It is called an “advantage.”

GunCammo10I hope by now you can see the value in keeping your profile and signature as low possible. Remember, they won’t shoot you if they don’t see you. And when times are tough I would think you would want every possible advantage you can get.

You might be asking me about now, “What do I do if I already own a black gun?”

Great question! Several answers come to mind:

  1. Find a quality gun painter in your area that paints weapons with Duracoat or similar system. Have him show you several patterns for the area where you will be using your weapon BEFORE you decide on the paint job.
  2. Buy a couple cans of spray paint for metal in earth tone colors. Store them for when the time comes and paint your own weapon. You will have to clean your weapon thoroughly in preparation to paint it to remove not just dirt, but the oil as well. But in the meantime you still have your pretty black gun.
  3. Just don’t worry about it all, keep your black gun intact and just let luck run its course. Make sure you have a black sling as well, it make it even easier for the bad guys to see you. (yeah, not such a great option huh?)
Have a great day!!




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