Cerakote Suppressor (suppressor finish comparison)
When shopping around for suppressors, you’ve probably noticed that they don’t all look the same on the outside. Sure, most of them are black, but you’ve also probably noticed that they aren’t all the same shade and texture black. Some are shiny; others are dull. Why is that? Of course, some suppressors aren’t black at all, but instead are coyote tan, flat dark earth, white, grey, camouflage, and so on.
Why is it that some suppressors are available in myriad different colors and others aren’t? And why oh why isn’t the color black uniform across the board?
The answer to all of these questions lies in the different types of finishes that can be applied to suppressors. Note that we said finishes and not colors because color options vary based upon the finishes. The three most common types of finishes for suppressors are Cerakote, anodize, and physical vapor deposition, which is more simply known as PVD. We’ll take a look at each and see how they compare and contrast from one other.
Cerakote is the type of finish that you’re probably most familiar with out of the ones we’ll cover here. Cerakote is a polymer-ceramic composite coating that can be applied to metals, plastics, polymers, and wood. Due to its versatility, you have no doubt seen Cerakote finishes available on just about every type of material that you can find on a gun or gun accessory.
Because of the material’s versatility, you can find it in a wide variety of different colors, with some companies offering and specializing in more artistic applications to create unique patterns, designs, themes, etc.
Most often, you’ll find Cerakote being applied to stainless steel silencers. However, as we mentioned above, this type of finish is incredibly versatile, so it will adhere to basically any material that a silencer can be reliably made from.
How it Works
Cerakote utilizes a high-temperature curing process and is applied as a thin layer of film made from a high-performance coating. The properties in this coating ensure total protection and extreme strength against the incredible heat generated by firearms and suppressors.
The result of a Cerakote application is a finished suppressor that is abrasion, corrosion, and chemical resistant in a dizzying and almost endless variety of color palettes.
Anodizing is a chemical process that creates a coating on the surface of a piece of metal. This coating provides durability, combats general wear and tear, increases corrosion resistance, and makes the metal easier to paint in some instances.
There are two different kinds of anodizing, known as Type II and Type III.
Type II is the most common form of anodizing, and it creates a coating < .001” thick on the outside of the suppressor. Type II anodizing is more porous than Type III, so you can paint or dye it in different colors to suit different purposes such as camouflage, gun matching, etc. Type II anodizing is easier to do and, by extension, costs less, so it’s a more economical finish than Type III anodizing.
Type III anodizing refers to any coating between .001” and .004” on the suppressor. This type of anodizing results in a less porous finish, so painting or dyeing a suppressor that has received Type III anodizing is not possible. The Type III process is more complex, so you can expect to pay more for a suppressor with this type of finish. Its final color will also be duller and less shiny than that of a suppressor with a Type II finish.
Anodizing is most often used on aluminum suppressors, but titanium cans are also good candidates for anodization. While titanium doesn’t need the added strength provided by anodizing, aluminum does, so it’s a great way to add strength without a lot of weight.
How it Works
Dipping the metal in sulfuric acid then running an electrical current through the liquid is the most common form of anodizing. This process causes aluminum oxide to form on the surface of the metal, making it considerably harder than bare aluminum.
Because this film of aluminum oxide is somewhat porous, it can be dyed/painted in various shades to provide camouflage or color match with the suppressor’s host gun. Remember, though, that if color is important to you, make sure the suppressor has Type II and not Type III anodizing.
Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD)
Physical vapor deposition, or PVD, refers to a variety of vacuum deposition methods that produce thin films/coatings to help protect various objects. It’s a concept that has long been in use in the medical, automotive, and aerospace industries but has only recently crossed over into the world of suppressors. Despite being an industry newcomer compared to Cerakote and anodizing, it has already proven its effectiveness.
PVD finishes offer high-temperature adaptability, good impact strength, top-notch abrasion resistance, and overall impressive durability.
Of the three finishes, PVD is a harder and more corrosion-resistant product than Cerakote and anodizing – but that’s not to say the others are bad; they’re just different.
Stainless steel and titanium suppressors are the most common ones where you’ll find a PVD finish.
How it Works
The PVD process involves material changing from a condensed phase to a vapor phase, finishing as a thin film condensed phase. In simpler terms, it takes a solid material, vaporizes it in a vacuum, and then deposits the material in a film onto the desired product – in this case, a suppressor. Despite the end result being a thin film, it’s incredibly durable and offers top-notch performance on a suppressor.
Due to the intense changes in temperature during the lifecycle of use for a suppressor, the color of the unit can sometimes change. Since PVD deals especially well with high temperatures, its color is less likely to change colors after repeated use. So if you want to run your suppressor hard and often and want it to still maintain a like-new color, look into ones that have been finished with PVD.
How to Choose
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each of these products will help you decide which finish is going to be best for your chosen suppressor usage.
Make a list of what construction materials, usage conditions, price points, color availability, and more are most important to you. Then check the boxes next to each of the finish types and see which one(s) come out on top.
Find Out if a Cerakote Finish is Right for Your Silencer
Cerakote is an incredibly versatile material, so it makes sense that it’s also a very popular finish for suppressors.
At Silencer Central, we sell all different kinds of suppressors with all different finishes on them. Our staff has shot plenty of different makes and models with Cerakote, anodize, and PVD finishes. If you’re having trouble deciding if Cerakote is right for you and your silencer, give us a call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have and make sure you get the right product.Find the right suppressor for you!