A service offered by Utah Airguns when you order an FX rifle from their shop, is Hydro-dipping. And what makes the tough finishes that much better, you have the choice between some great patterns!
It’s no secret that a couple of my favorite hunting rifles are my Crown and Wildcat. The Wildcat is a .25 caliber, and I have a .25, .30, and arrow barrel for my Crown, though I mostly use the .30. Both of these guns are tackdrivers and produce excellent power output for whichever caliber is being used. I’ve used these guns for small game, predators, and feral hogs over the years, and besides their core performance, they are both very shootable guns, and I like their profiles. So how to make them better?
One of the ways is to dress them up in camo. I’ll often apply camo tape to a stock, and have painted a few of my guns with differing levels of success. But both of these guns are too nice to take a chance of using for a craft project. But on a visit to Utah Airguns last year, I saw that they were offering a Hydro-dipping service that looked very interesting. The finishes that I examined looked great, but more importantly they looked like they could stand up to heavy use.
I was in the process of ordering the Crown, so too the opportunity to order it with a customized stock. There were several patterns available, but the one that looked like the best fit to the range of backgrounds I hunt against was the Kuiu Vias pattern. It looked like something that would break up the rifles outline and fit in when I was hunting in the Texas scrub, late fall/winter woods of the midwest, or South Dakota grasslands when things were not too green. I realized I didn’t need an exact match, but rater something to break the pattern without colors that were completely foriegn to my surroundings.
After I got the Crown with Kuiu Vias into the field, I was pleased that the pattern worked for me in all the different venues I was hunting, but the finish stood up to two years of hard use that included scraping through thorn bushes and cactus, and being dropped a time or two….. though I don’t recommend this! I liked it so much that I sent my Wildcat MK2 in for the same finish.
My next gun to be shipped off was my original Wildcat, and this time I opted for the STRATA Timber pattern. This is a much tighter pattern and one that fits in well with the woods where I spend a lot of time once squirrel season rolls around. Actually, I’m getting to the point where I’d like to send one rifle after the other to sample the many patterns Utah Airguns offers. The price is $174.99, and I was just informed that they have opened up the service for any rifle you want to have finished. This could get me started on a hydro-dipping journey, I have about two dozen rifles I’d like to start with!
The only thing lacking, was that while sitting in the woods on a hunt I noticed how much the blued barrel of my gun stood out. The hydro-dip only covers the stock. About the same time, a guy down in Texas by the name of George Wells, sent me a sample of a product called Custom Fit Airgun covers. These are a stretch fabric available in several colors/patterns that slip over the barrel, bottle, and scope of your gun, and was a perfect addition to my guns.
I know some of you more compulsive shooters might not like the fact that the patterns are not a match, however in the field I want effectiveness, and this is a brilliant way to really break up the pattern of your gun. It kind of matches my approach to the camo I wear, it’s been a long time since I cared if all my articles of cloths were a pattern match so long as my pattern was effectively broken up. Part of this was a shift in my way of thinking, from when I was trying to actively blend with my surroundings to instead just trying to break up my outline.
At any rate, I started on the hydro-dipping and want to wrap it up on the same topic. My experience has been that this finish is tough and stands up to the abuse I sometimes throw at my gear. It effectively breaks up the guns outline, and the patterns I picked work in a variety of landscapes……. and then there’s the cool factor. These guns look great!