Comparing Gold To Titanium Nitride Gun Coating
Gold And Titanium Nitride Gun Coatings
Many people desire their gun parts to be finished in Gold or Titanium Nitride (TiN). Some people desire their gun parts to be polished as well (especially in Gold and TiN). Part of the reason is because matte Gold finishes are very porous and oxidize more easily; And polished TiN finishes simply look awesome! In reality, however, all TiN and Gold finishes turn heads. There are some obvious pros and cons to either coating, as well as other interesting differences. Understanding the benefits and downfalls of a gold gun coating or a TiN gun coating can help determine the most appropriate finish for a gun.
Gold Gun Coating (Electroplating)
Electroplating is an older, well-known process for coating guns. This is especially true when it comes to Gold. Gold plating cannot be applied to all surfaces. For example, aluminum requires a special bath plating process to produce a brighter nickel finish before the gold plating can be applied. Similarly, a blued finish needs to be removed in order to reveal the base steel before gold plating a gun.1
Electroplating is also sometimes known as electrodeposition. It is a bath process that plates ions of the desired coating out of the bath, requiring them to be regularly replenished. It is common for a gun to be coated in nickel plating before gold plating, so in the event the plating wears, the bare steel is still protected. Gold does increase the substrate material’s resistance to corrosion (as well as anti-tarnishing properties).2
It is important to note gold plating can also be brushed on, although there is no control over the plating thickness and it is very hard to apply the coating evenly.1Most people prefer the bath plating process due to its ability to get the entire gun (and/or gun part) coated evenly, even in the deepest crevices. Yes, the entire gun can be gold plated. Yes, independent gun parts can be gold plated. Though it is important with the bath process that the entire part or gun can fit into the beaker or bath.
Titanium Nitride Gun Coating
Titanium Nitride coating is sometimes known as TiN or “Tinite” for short. It is very durable, made of sincerely tough ceramic material. It is used to coat titanium alloys, steel, carbide, and aluminum. TiN greatly improves the surface properties of a gun part. It is gold in appearance and creates an outstanding custom look for a gun. TiN reduces friction and allows a firearm to be used more frequently with less oil. It also makes cleaning the firearm a lot easier.3
Titanium Nitride coating is considered a PVD coating. PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating that requires a vacuum deposition process, but produces increased adhesion and offers a wider range of deposit materials. No harmful chemicals need to be disposed, and it is considered an environmentally friendly process.4The gun parts are essentially coated in a vacuum chamber. The process transfers a material from a condensed phase into a vapor phase, and then back into a thinner condensed phase (producing a thin film).5This does mean that the parts must be all one piece of metal and conductive.
Titanium Nitride is commonly combined with other elements to create different looks. While the standard TiN coating is a gold color, adding Copper creates a rose color (TiCN). Adding Aluminum can create a carbon-like black color (AlTiN). And Titanium DiBoride (TiB2) creates a grayish-silver color. The standard TiN coating is lightweight, durable, and has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio.2
Final Comparison: Gold vs Titanium Nitride (Which Is Better?)
Both finishes provide extra durability to the surfaces of gun parts, making these coatings extremely practical. While Gold is a very attractive coating, Titanium Nitride tends to be a better option. Electroplating is a very outdated process and PVD coating is becoming a more popular standard for finishes.4The TiN coating is a lighter weight, more durable and affordable. While it is possible to PVD plate Gold, it is a newer process. Gold is also much more expensive to coat using the PVD process.
Pro Tip: For the final finishing to be correctly polished, the polishing process needs to occur on the actual gun parts before the coating is applied. And remember: the coatings are extremely thin and polish is very abrasive. Polishing the coatings themselves can cause significant wear and fade!
1Post Info Graphics. The Basics of Gold Plating Guns. Retrieved from:https://www.postinfographics.com/the-basics-of-gold-plating-guns/
2Sharretts Plating. Which Metal Finishing Option Is For You. Retrieved from: https://www.sharrettsplating.com/blog/which-metal-finishing-option-is-for-you/
3Smith Outfitters. Titanium Nitride. Retrieved from: smith-outfitters.com/services/titanium-nitride/
4North East Coating. PVD vs Electroplating. Retrieved from:www.northeastcoating.com/products/pvd-coating/pvd-vs-electroplating
5Hanlon, J. (1992). 1st ed. Handbook of Package Engineering. Retreived from: Chapter 4 Coatings and Laminations
About the Author:
Mark Doberman, The Proprietary Gun Smith
The Proprietary Gun Smith is a marksman, expert gun handler, ammunition specialist, survival guru, and lifetime gun enthusiast. He owns (or has owned) nearly every legal firearm and ballistic available, has fired nearly every gun, and regularly consults professionally in the firearm world. He has studied firearms and similar tactical lifestyle for more than 40 years. In addition to writing for ArmoryBay.com, TheProprietaryGunSmith has guest written for more than a dozen other sites and/or magazines in the industry.
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