Heat is Key for Every GunSkins Installation (Heat Gun or Hair Dryer)
We always say "a clean gun makes for a clean installation". While this is true, there is another key element for a successful GunSkins camouflage wrap install: Heat. Without it, installation might not last as long and the skin will not conform to the surface quite as easily.
Adhesive vinyl products have been growing in popularity and demand in recent years. This may be because the number of applications it can be used for has also increased. Among these include t-shirt graphics, vehicle wraps, and of course gun wraps. Unless you're placing a window decal on your pickup, many of these vinyl applications require the use of heat for proper installation.
Heat Makes Installation a Breeze
GunSkins camo wraps are made from a high performance, heat activated vinyl. This is not the same as a "heat shrink wrap". The vinyl will not change in size and shrink down when hot, but rather, will become flexible and soft, making it easier to bend, stretch, and press into place. In a cooled state, the material is somewhat stiff and flat. Heat causes a separation from the print laminate and the adhesive, which allows it to bend easily and conform to any shape. When cooled again, the vinyl will set and seal, providing durability and protection.
If wrinkles occur during installation or the material has been stretched out of shape, we recommend hitting it again with heat. Doing so will help the vinyl "reset" and take its original form. Similarly, if there is a crease or hard fold in the vinyl as a result of the packaging or handling, this will go away when the material is peeled off and hit with heat. The wrinkle will disappear and you can lay it down, smoothening as you go.
Here's a tip: If there is air trapped underneath the material after being set in place, it can be easily fixed. Sometimes when pressing the material into place, especially around textured areas with grooves, indents, or protruding designs, air can be trapped along the edge, like a bubble. Use a sharp hobby knife or needle and poke the bubble, creating a small hole and letting the air escape. Apply heat and press firmly on the area and the material will set, re-creating the watertight seal and erasing the hole from visibility.
Can I Use a Hair Dryer?
This is a frequently asked question and the answer is yes! It doesn't take much heat for the vinyl to become malleable. As a matter of fact, we recommend using a low setting if possible. It's better to hit the vinyl with a left and right sweeping motion, warming the vinyl just enough to handle without being too hot to touch. It's also a good idea to heat the surface of the gun prior to installation. Having both the surface and the vinyl warm will accelerate adhesion and ensure maximum bondage.
During our research and development, we've even tried installing our product using a blow torch (not recommended). We have found that hitting the material with a concentrated source of high heat was not as effective as an even distribution of heat. As a matter of fact, if the material gets too hot it can discolor the pattern, blister, or burn a hole in the material. For this reason we don't recommend wrapping the barrels of firearms with the intention of shooting in full auto.
The Importance of Post Heat
Heat is required to help mold the vinyl in place as it adheres to the surface. This is important during the entire installation process, especially at the end. After a kit has been installed, we recommend hitting the entire firearm or accessory with heat for at least 5-10 more minutes. All the while, pressing down firmly with you hand. The post heat sets the material after it's been installed in place. This allows the skin to last for years and years until removed.
Once the post heat is applied and the surface cool to the touch, the camo wrap is ready to be used. There is no need to wait hours or days for the product to be ready. You can shoot your gun right away and take it outside into the elements, fully protected.
Any heat gun or blow dyer will suffice for a proper GunSkins installation. If you don't have one at home, they can be easily found at your local department or hardware store. We offer the Wagner Furno 300 Heat Gun as part of our Install Bundle, or as a stand alone purchase. It's easy to use and it gets the job done!
Thanks Nate for sharing your experience. Many others have also experienced an improvement in installation with each subsequent attempt. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but fortunately the material is pretty forgiving.
Good article. Thanks for posting. I just finished a wrap on an AR-15 and the results are pretty nice. My first test piece was a magazine and although it didn’t go as easy as it did in the Gunskins video, by the time I got to my third mag I had it dialed in 100%. Great product, very helpful videos on the installation process. Plus I had plenty of little material scraps left over to cover up some more parts of the gun and optic that needed some covering up.
Thanks Geore! We are working to offer some new camo patterns by the end of the year. We think you’ll like them!
I have used a lot of Gunskins and some other ‘inferior vinyl’ products. Gunskins acts just as advertised and is easy to install. I have yet to have it come loose when installed per the videos. Cheaper vinyl will shrink, bubble, burn, and then not properly adhere. Its Gunskins or bare skins for me. How about a coyote gunskin ?