Gone are the days where plain old black rifles and wood-gripped, nickel-plated pistols ruled the firing range. While classic finishes are very much still popular with firearms enthusiasts, and they always will be, it is undeniable that multi-colored guns have become so popular that you can’t frequent the range or a shooting competition without catching a glimpse of at least a few, if not many, uniquely finished firearms.
From military-inspired camouflage to pop-culture-themed color schemes, we have noticed that those who customize their firearms have become bolder with their artistic style over the years. It wasn’t long ago that any non-earth-color rifle was ridiculed by throngs of detractors on the interwebs. Nowadays, we see everything from super hero themed builds to rifles that resemble hot rods, and everything in between.
For those who wish to personalize the look of their guns and gear, there are many methods to go about doing it. For those who want to do it quickly and at very little cost, spray cans of paint can be found at your local hardware store for as little as a dollar. Spray painting may be a quick way to change the look of a gun, but the results are often lacking—and let’s not even talk about spray paint’s poor durability.
Serious, functionally protective coatings have risen in popularity to not only provide stalwart surface protection, but to dish out a healthy serving of style as well. There probably isn’t a more popular coating within the firearm realm than Cerakote. This polymer-ceramic composite coating can be used on just about any material, including metals, plastics, polymers and wood. Its ceramic properties enhance corrosion, wear, and chemical resistance, as well as increase impact strength and hardness. The bottom line is that the stuff is a tougher-than-nails finish that can simultaneously add protection and serious style when it’s applied by a skilled artisan.
Enter Wes Reames, the owner of Freedom Street Defense (FSDefense). FSDefense is in the business of Cerakote finishing, and by the looks of it, business is good. The talented crew at FSDefense churns out one head-turning custom finish after another. In fact, one of the rifles featured in this issue of UN12 was coated by FSDefense. Keep flipping through the magazine to find out which one it is.
The beginning of FSDefense can be traced back about eight years ago, when Reames, wanting to try his hand at painting a few of his own guns, decided to paint some of them in his backyard. “Eventually, I was painting not only my own, but my family and friends’ guns too,” he explains. “It was then that I realized that I could make some money by starting a business doing this.”
In 2011 he opened FSDefense to pursue his passion. Concerning his early years in business, Reames tells us, “As for Cerakote painting, I was self-taught with countless hours of trial and error, fine-tuning and practicing under my belt. When I finally started taking on real customers there were not a lot of people Cerakoting, so I got popular pretty fast. In more recent days we have upgraded our equipment and now I have a small team. We take on bulk orders from various manufacturers, but still make time for custom jobs.”
When asked what are some of his favorite customization styles and designs, Reames responds: “I really enjoy painting different camo schemes. Anyone who knows me knows almost all my guns are camo and I re-do them constantly, trying to see what colors and patterns look good together.”
As a professional Cerakote applicator, we figure he must see a lot of different items pass through his shop. We wanted to know which type of firearm he likes painting the most. “Surprisingly, my favorite item to paint are shotguns,” he informs us, “even though I don’t do a lot of them.”
As for the most interesting firearms he’s painted recently, he told us that it would probably have to be a couple of Barretts that he had the pleasure of working on. Of them, he says, “They are massive guns and fun to get them prepped and sprayed.”
We love the contagious passion that Reames and FSDefense have for firearm customization through their custom Cerakote finishes. Join us as we look for more of their creations by checking out examples of Reames and First Street Defense’s work by following them on Instagram and Facebook at @FSDefense and on their website, freedomstreetdefense.com.
Text by Jerry Tsai and mages by Jay Canter