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Milwaukee Tool Time! Coating Firearms the UnPewFessional Way



Introducing the ultimate Milwaukee Tools Cordless Hole Puncher!

The shooting sports arts are serious business. Even so I truly believe that you can have fun while shooting. Coating/refinishing a firearm to match your personality or quirkiness is a great way to show off your individual style, and is UnPewFessionally approved.

Before we move on, understand UnPewFessional does not mean “unprofessional.” UnPewFessional is the mantra that I live by. You don’t always have to be as serious as a heart attack. You are allowed to have fun, and have permission to smile. Having fun and having a good time does not mean we’re unsafe. Safety always come first and foremost, but I can be safe while wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shooting a My Little Pony rifle. (Twilight Sparkle is my spirit animal!)

This brings be to my latest creation—and yes, I already understand it’ll turn off half the shooting community. I decided to make a tribute to the best tool company out there, Milwaukee Tools, by transforming a boring old Glock into the the ultimate Milwaukee Tools cordless hole-puncher. This project from start to finish was a combining of different skill sets and technologies that pushed my comfort zone–even after 20 plus years of coating this old dog learned some new tricks!

I started the process going back old school, by taking a profile picture of the Glock 19 pistol. I printed the picture out on a sheet of paper, then spent 30 minutes looking for a pencil. I sketched out my design of what I was looking for, erasing what did not work. After a fantastic design that I was happy with, I took a picture of the design and added it back into the computer. After some fancy nerd stuff, I ended up with a scalable image of the design pattern.

The next step was off to a different computer program (Lightburn, if you’re wondering), to figure out how to take my shape design and add it to a texture design. Long story short, you have to perform a boolean operation. All this means is you are either cutting one part out or adding one part into another. Think of a cookie cutter in the shape of a gingerbread man (my design). Then you have rolled out cookie batter (the texture pattern). Next you push the cookie cutter into the batter and you end up with a cookie in the shape of the cutter, ready to bake.

Now I’m ready for the laser. I need to figure out how to burn the polymer Glock just enough to burn in a pattern, but not so much as to completely destroy it. Instead of jumping headfirst onto the project pistol, I have some junk de-milled Glock frames that I can practice on. With laser machines, you basically have to balance the speed of the laser beam as it moves, the power of the laser beam, and frequency of the laser beam. Light travels in waves just like sound, and some materials respond better to certain frequencies than others. Sometimes a light touch with the power goes a long way. Polymer requires less power to vaporize material than, say, metal or paint. Tthe longer the beam is in one area, the more hot that spot gets–if you are too slow, you risk burning through the polymer. Once you can nail those basics down, you have to do it all over again for each different material and if you are etching, engraving, or just removing paint.

Taking the project in steps back and forth, I engraved the slide first, since paint could go on secondary. I went ahead and engraved all of my slide logos in place over the stock black slide color. The laser ate through the black and gave me some of the best clean and crisp logos I have ever done. In the past I would have used a vinyl cutter to cut the logos and painted them on the slide. The plan for the ultimate tribute used deep engravings that after coating I could used white paint to fill in the engravings for the best visual look. After we engraved the logos, the slide was ready for Gunkote.

The other half of our project involves paint, specifically KG Gunkote. For our Milwaukee tribute, we will need, red, black, titanium, and white and flat-clear all layered on top of each other to recreate the look of a used dirty working tool. Here is where art, experience, and science works. When coating a complicated multi-layer project you need to have a game plan thinking the whole process out. For example, the main color of the pistol is red. Well you could just spray the pistol’s frame red and go from there … hmm, nope.

Experience tells me I need to start with white and use it as a primer coat to cover the black of the pistol. Red is a relatively light color when compared to black. So if you just try to shoot red over black, you would have to lay the paint down thick to cover the black enough to not color shift the red a darker shade. Using a thick coat is not professional and looks sloppy. Instead my white “primer” gives me a lighter surface to work from, allowing a nice thin even coverage of red. The bonus with my primer also applies to the slide. I had to abrade blast the slide, which removes the black, leaving the grey raw steel color. Applying my white “primer” means both the black frame and slide start out the same white shade for the red paint to be applied so each part matches each other. Both the slide and frame were fully coated with red and cured.

Next, it’s the frame’s turn with the laser. Using different settings from the metal slide, the goal was to use four total passes of the laser for each panel. The first pass’ goal was to remove and vaporize the red paint in the shape of our pattern. The next pass was to further etch into the polymer, creating a relief and border edge for the stippling. For the next two passes, we combined our texture and pattern together, explained like the cookie cutter analogy. The 3rd pass sets our texture, with the 4th creating the deeper valleys and hills of the texture. This process was repeated 12 separate times to create our black areas for the frame. In all the frame took about 6 hours of laser time from start to finish–the slide was around 5 hours total.

Back to paint! To complete the frame ,we used a flat black to add some shadow and depth to the frame. The goal was to add some “dirtiness” to the tool. The final step for the frame was a top coat of flat clear, to dull the sheen and really bring out the dirty look. For the slide I taped off my red, leaving the front and back exposed. The next layer was titanium, a nice dark silver grey to match a Milwaukee tool’s front end. At the same time we covered the back of the slide in flat black. I removed the tape exposing my center red patch and fully cured the Gunkote once again so I could add in the white color fill.

After cooling, you can fill in the engravings using an acetone-saturated rag to wipe off the excess, leaving the white filled-in engravings and a clean slide. The clean, brand-new looking slide no longer matched the frame, so we added in some ghosting with the black to match the “dirty” frame. A final top coat of flat clear and back in the over for a final cure. It’s alldown hill from here, all we have to do is reassemble everything and not mess up our paint job.

After I posted the final glamour shots of my Milwaukee tribute gun, I was asked why?

I will admit that the process was a tedious one, going back and forth from laser to paint, from slide to frame. In the end it was all worth it and at the end of the day, I am a better coater, and at least arguably competent with the laser. I was able to go outside of my comfort zone and create something that is for sure a conversation starter. As I tell people if I can do something like this, your project of etching a punisher logo or your name on your gun will seem simple by comparison. Don’t be afraid to show your UnPewFessional side, there are plenty of John Daly types that have your back.

James the “XDMAN” Nicholas Mr. UnPewFessional Himself!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. FJB

    April 29, 2024 at 9:59 am

    Might want to look up the Milglockee and see what that would look like.

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