Hydro Dipping vs GunSkins

Hydro Dipping vs GunSkins

There is more than one way to skin a cat... er, gun that is.  We're going to look at two very popular methods of coating a rifle, shotgun, or pistol in camouflage. The first is called hydro dipping, which is a water-soluble film based process. The second method is using a GunSkins camouflage wrap kit. This involves a peel and stick application of high performance vinyl. Both methods offer a solution to complete concealment. But they are very different from each other when it comes to the Do-It-Yourself approach. It may be important to consider the pros and cons of each method if you are considering camouflage for your firearm.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST

Hydro Dipping

Gun Skins

Cost: $100-400.

 Cost: $15-65.

Application Surfaces: Wood, plastic, metal, glass, composite... As long as the object is submersible.

Application Surfaces: Wood, plastic, metal, glass, composite...

Installation: Do it yourself. Requires specific equipment, chemicals and approximately 8 hrs.

Installation: Simple do it yourself install. Approximately 2 hrs

Permanent: Can be removed using professional bead blasting.

Removable: Has no affect on the surface of the weapon.

Finish: Durable matte clear coat.

Finish: Durable matte laminate.

Longevity: 10+ Years.

Longevity: 5+ Years.


CAMOUFLAGE HYDRO DIPPING

Hydro Dipping has many names. It's also referred to as Hydro graphics, Immersion Printing, or Water Transfer Printing. Whatever you may call it, it's clear that water is involved in this practice. This method of applying camouflage to surfaces is not limited to guns, it can be applied to any object as long as it's submersible. This includes plastic, fiberglass, wood, ceramic, and metal.

Hydro Dipping

The gun must first be cleaned and pre-treated. A base coat spray is applied to the gun to allow the graphic to stick to it with maximum adhesion. Next, the camouflage pattern design is laid to float on top of a large vat of water. The film is gravure printed, similar to the offset printing used for newspapers. Because the pattern is printed on water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol film, it can dissolve when sprayed with a chemical agent. This also activates the material for bonding.

At this point, the gun is lowered into the water, through the camouflage film. The pattern wraps around the surface of the gun. The gun may need to be dipped more than once to allow the entire surface to be coated. Lastly, remove the gun from the water and apply a coat of finishing solution to protect the newly dipped pattern. This creates a very professional looking, evenly distributed, camouflage coating that looks as if the gun were manufactured with the design from the very beginning. Every crevice, nut, and corner gets covered with camouflage.

GUNSKINS CAMOUFLAGE WRAP

GunSkins DIY Kit

GunSkins camouflage kits are made from a conformable high performance vinyl material. They are 100% waterproof and very durable. These do-it-yourself kits involve applying the pre-cut pieces to the surface of the weapon, then using heat to set them in place.

 GunSkins material doesn't just change the color of the surface, it adds a layer of material that will help take the wear and tear of every day use.  GunSkins will take that abuse, protect the gun, and even keep it from rusting. It protects the gun while the gun protects you.

Most kits include pre-cut pieces for popular types of firearms such as rifles, shotguns, pistols, and AR-15 rifles. For irregular shaped items the GunSkins material can be trimmed to fit.  Simply cut a large section of miscellaneous material from the kit template and fit it over the surface area you intend to wrap. Any excess material can be used for overlap or be trimmed away. Using a heat gun or blow dryer helps to make the material more flexible. After installing the GunSkin it is necessary to apply heat to the entire surface of the weapon to set the material. Press firmly on the surface with your hands to conform the material to the contours and recessed areas.

Hydro dipping is not inferior to a vinyl kit, but it does involve a lot more equipment, time, and cost. In the time and price of covering a single gun in the hydro film material, it's possible to wrap two or three separate firearms in GunSkins camouflage wrap kits. Removing the coating can also be difficult, and may require blasting the gun and leave an effect of the surface. If you feel like there's one camouflage pattern that can be classified as the end all camo, then hydro dipping's permanent nature will work to your advantage. In contrast, however, GunSkins kits can be easily removed or layered and leave no effect on the surface of the gun. Therefore, new patterns can be applied over and over again as the situation calls for it.

IT COMES DOWN TO PERSONAL PREFERENCE

We've had many customers who could not tell if the gun they were holding was wrapped in a GunSkins kit or hydro-dipped. When installed correctly, a GunSkin kit can be seamless, completely fitting the contours of the gun, and offer total protection for both you and the gun.

Hydro Dipped Reaper Black Pistol

Finished Hydro Dipped Pistol

Reaper Black Pistol Skin

Finished GunSkins Pistol

Hydro Dipping and GunSkins both enhance the surface of your gun for the better. Both require effort from the end user as is the nature of any do-it-yourself kit. Hydro graphics is a relatively costly and complex process that is very permanent. With little room for error and a large learning curve this process is best left to the professionals. GunSkins offer a user friendly and forgiving installation process. They also provide and inexpensive way to provide a layer of protection for the surface of the weapon while still allowing the option for future removal.

SUMMARY

Hydro Dipping

Gun Skins

Cost: $100-400.

 Cost: $15-65.

Application Surfaces: Wood, plastic, metal, glass, composite... As long as the object is submersible.

Application Surfaces: Wood, plastic, metal, glass, composite...

Installation: Do it yourself. Requires specific equipment, chemicals and approximately 8 hrs.

Installation: Simple do it yourself install. Approximately 2 hrs

Permanent: Can be removed using professional bead blasting.

Removable: Has no affect on the surface of the weapon.

Finish: Durable matte clear coat.

Finish: Durable matte laminate.

Longevity: 10+ Years.

Longevity: 5+ Years.


With over 50+ patterns to choose from, there is a GunSkin for every gun owner! Check them out! Which firearm do you own?

56 comments

  • GunSkins: April 12, 2021

    Gavino, with a stock like the Winchester we actually recommend using our large Gear Skin (8″ × 50″). This will give you plenty of material and the flexibility to customize for your weapon. Bundle with our Rail Skin if your weapon contains picatinny rails.

  • Gavino Barrera: April 11, 2021

    U have a Winchester wildcat disassembled. Do u have any skins for it?

  • GunSkins: March 26, 2021

    Brittany, 5 years is minimum expectancy but we’ve got customers running them for 8+ years and still looking solid. It entirely depends on operator usage. Sorry, we do not offer any transparent skins.

  • Brittany : March 26, 2021

    I hand paint all my guns with acrylic using stencils for designs, how do the skins hold up compared to hand painted acrylic? As one of my guns has been painted for almost 6 yrs with no wear and tear or touch ups as of yet and still looks good but I am looking to do more designs and some can be qtricky to hand paint and am wondering if skins would hold up just the same, and am I able to get skins in a clear or see through if I still wanted to hand paint my guns?

  • GunSkins: February 25, 2021

    Mark, there are no problems at all with heat. Rated up to 230 degrees. When installed properly, the vinyl creates a seal on all edges and will not peel up during use.

  • Mark Zimmerman: February 25, 2021

    I would assume it holds up to heat well, but are there any concerns about it coming loose or peeling up on any edge with the heat from normal operation?

    Thank you

  • GunSkins: February 22, 2021

    Yes John, our product can be used to wrap bow limbs. Several customers have successfully installed our Large Gear Skins on their bows. These 8” x 50” sheets can be measured and cut to fit any application.

  • John Piniewski: February 20, 2021

    Will this work on bow limbs ?? Thanks —JP

  • GunSkins: February 05, 2021

    David, our Shotgun Skin is designed for single barrel configurations. In order to properly wrap the entire over/under model, you would need more material. In situations like these we suggest using out Large Gear Skin instead. It’s a single sheet measuring 8” x 50”, more than enough for any firearm. It’s less expensive but does require the user to measure, cut, conform, and trim to fit their needs.

  • David Hicks: February 05, 2021

    Have you done any skins for an O/U shotgun?

  • GunSkins: January 11, 2021

    Unfortunately Carlows, we don’t have a license with Disney to offer a Mickey Mouse design in a Pistol Skin.

  • Carlows: January 10, 2021

    Can you do Mickey Mouse on a glock?

  • GunSkins: January 28, 2020

    Robert, hit the surface with heat and press the vinyl in using your hand or a piece of foam. This will stretch the material into the recessed edges. For the best look, however, it will be required to use a hard edge item, like a hand squeegee, and run it along the edge of each square. Once the material cools, it hardens and retains the shape for the long run.

  • Robert W: January 27, 2020

    When applying gunskins to a checkered forearm, will it shrink into the grooves when heat is applied or will you have to use a tool of some sort to press into each individual groove before the heat is applied for it to set in properly?

  • GunSkins: September 10, 2019

    Ellie, you can use our Gear Skin to wrap your stock in Kryptek Yeti for only $44.99.

  • Ellie Simpson: September 10, 2019

    I have a stock that needs a white kryptec design. Could you give me an estimate for how much it will be to dip a short action rifle stock?

  • GunSkins: June 23, 2019

    Nick, that’s great you found some amazing deals on hydro-dip kits. When we priced the two options for our comparison, we pulled the numbers straight from www.hydrodip.com, which lists a complete AR-15 for $359.

  • Nick Van Dyke: June 22, 2019

    I would like to say that you can get dip kits for your guns for around $50, or go to eBay and get a 3’x6’ for $18. $100-$400 is a bit of an exaggeration, and saying it’s complicated isn’t accurate. It’s definitely more time consuming(drying), but it gets all the fine cracks/crevices. Not saying your solution is wrong or bad, but this analysis seems very biased to me.

  • GunSkins: November 29, 2018

    Jet, yes we have had success wrapping muzzle brakes on the end of the barrel. While it won’t be 100% seamless, we recommend having the overlap/seam on the bottom so it is out of sight.

  • Jet: November 29, 2018

    Have you guys had success wrapping the muzzle brake also? I would really like to have a seamless finish if possible.

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