If you have purchased a firearm in the last several years, you likely have heard of Cerakote. I recently had an opportunity to learn more about this coating process during a project on my own custom carry system, a full-size Smith & Wesson M&P 9 paired with an M&P Shield in 9 mm.
In addition to having the pistols fitted with an Apex Tactical Specialties trigger systems and Trijicon HD Night Sights, I also decided that I wanted to have the slide and primary controls finished in tungsten-colored Cerakote. However, I knew little about the product or its benefits at that point, and I delved into some research to learn as much as I could.
Developed by NIC Industries, Cerakote is a thin-film ceramic coating that offers a hard finish that is resistant to abrasion, corrosion and chemicals—and looks great at the same time. The thinness (0.001-inch thick) of the coating makes it ideally suited to the often-tight tolerances of firearms. It can be applied to practically all materials used in firearm construction, whether it’s steel, aluminum or plastics/polymers. While NIC Industries does not do any application work itself, you can check its website to find a local Cerakote-certified applicator.
During my research, I spoke with NIC Industries Division Manager Brandon Grady about Cerakote and its background. The company developed the first generation of Cerakote in the early 1980s for the firearms industry to address the need for a chemical-resistant coating that was as thin as possible while still offering durability.
Considering that, in firearms, an additional thousandths or two of thickness at critical areas can mean the difference between functioning and non-functioning, a coating like Cerakote with its 0.001 thickness is a real advantage. Also, for obvious reasons, this coating needed to be highly resistant to corrosion as compared to more delicate finishes such as bluing.
Another important consideration during the development of Cerakote was its ability to bond to materials other than just carbon steel. With the growth of the use of polymers in the 1980s as well as the established use of aluminum, a coating that could adhere equally well to carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum and polymers was an absolute must.