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How to Darken Stainless Steel: 3 Easy Methods for Beginners

How to Darken Stainless Steel

I remember my prey running away while on a hunt even though I was really quiet. What went wrong?

Apparently, the glare of my steel rifle can be really distracting! Therefore, I made it a point to darken stainless steel to prevent it from happening again.

Having a black stainless steel barrel is great if you’re planning on making an ambush on foot.

Typically, the barrel of the gun is the primary part where you would want to darken the metal.

The black stainless steel makes it easier for you to stay hidden compared to having the shimmering metal of a regular stainless steel gun.

Here are three methods I use to darken stainless steel so you can get rid of annoying shines too!

How to Darken Stainless Steel in 3 Methods

Method 1: Using Paint to Darken the Metal

This method is the EASIEST one I’ve used. All it takes is paint and a brush!

It won’t take up much effort, and it’s a cheap solution too! Also, this method ensures that no sort of accident will come to you.

Let me break down the steps:

Step 1: Gather Materials

First, you will need to buy black paint and a brush, or go for a spray paint bottle. I prefer using spray paint because this is the easiest method.

Make sure that the coating will:

  • Work for metal
  • Last for a long time
  • Not fade too quickly

It would be best to look for paint that has the color black, gunmetal gray, or any other hue that is similar to black stainless steel.

Of course, since you’ll be painting, don’t forget to prepare water to rinse the brush.

You should also cover the surface you’ll work on with a plastic sheet or newspaper.

Step 2: Start Painting

Brush all sides completely with black paint. Don’t forget to deal with seams and hard-to-reach parts of your gun too.

Make sure that you cover the entire gun with the paint ENTIRELY! You don’t want any missed spots.

For spray paint, just spray your gun from end to end until you cover all parts completely.

Regardless if you use a brush or spray paint, TAKE YOUR TIME! I once made the mistake of rushing the paint job and it ended up looking messy.

Step 3: Leave Paint to Dry

Inspect your firearm and see if you missed any spots. Once all areas are painted black, leave it to completely dry.

This can take hours, but it can also depend on what paint you use and how great its quality is.

Step 4: Use a Wet Sponge

Aside from using a brush, I also use a wet sponge.

The texture of a wet sponge will help SMOOTHEN out the surface of your gun that a brush might not be able to do.

Remember to make sure your sponge is wet. Using a dry sponge could damage the finish of your gun and leave imprints on its surface.

Step 5: Repeat

After that, you just need to repeat the process until you reach your desired results. The more you repaint, the thicker the paint layer will be.

When you dry it out, make sure to dry it in a clean area with no dust, dirt, or other particles that could stick to the painted surface of your gun.

black watercolor brush strokes

This method is the easiest way to darken the stainless steel of your gun, but there’s also a lot of room for error.

It’s possible that the paint can peel off, and it’s also possible that it won’t leave a smooth finish on your gun.

This might interfere with how you handle your firearm, which is a situation you probably don’t want to end up in.

Method 2: Darken Stainless Steel With Fire

black handgun firing

For this method, you’ll have to use fire to make your shiny, flashy metal gun turn luxuriously black.

Therefore, you should tread carefully and make sure to follow safety precautions to prevent fire accidents from happening.

I learned that the hard way and burned some skin off since I wasn’t careful.

Despite its risk for potential harm, this method will NOT disappoint!

To ensure the best safety, you should do this method in a place where there are NO flammable objects.

At the same time, prepare thick, fire-resistant gloves that you can wear throughout the entire process.

One unconventional way I learned to cool off my metal is with coffee grounds!

If you don’t have any coffee grounds, the next best thing you can do is to just leave your gun to cool down naturally in normal temperatures.

As much as possible, you should AVOID cooling your gun by using water as it can add a chemical reaction that can affect the appearance of your gun.

Now onto the steps:

Step 1: Prepare the Fire

First things first, you’ll need to prepare the fire.

This can be from any source, so if you have logs of wood, coal/charcoal, or a fireplace, then those should be sufficient.

I personally use logs of wood in a small fireplace in my backyard.

Step 2: Place Firearm Through Fire

You just have to continually pass your gun through the fire until it turns to the desirable black finish you’re looking for.

Find a way to handle your gun from a distance or hang it over the fire.

To reach all parts and sides of your gun, make sure to spin it around slowly and constantly.

I felt like I was barbecuing my gun!

It took me quite a while to get the right amount of darkness I wanted, so take your time and be patient.

Step 3: Coffee Grounds for Cooling

Once you reach the black finish you desire, you can place your gun inside a pile of ground coffee and leave it to cool down for a couple of minutes.

The coffee ground also helps with dyeing your gun to a darker shade, so that’s a plus.

The only catch with this method is it won’t leave your gun as black as it would be if you use paint.

That was definitely the case for me. It was a time-consuming process that I had to repeat several times.

Method 3: Using Vinegar

vinegar in a bottle

The last method of how you can blacken stainless steel is by using vinegar. 

All you need to prepare is a container big enough to fit your firearm, fill it up with vinegar, and leave it there overnight.

The acid in vinegar reacts a certain way to the metal which leads to the darkening effect.

On the downside, this isn’t a reliable method because the results can vary.

In my experience, it’s worked with some rifles, but not with others, so it’s quite unpredictable.

Depending on the material ratio of stainless steels, this method can work, and it might not work at all.

Nevertheless, it was an easy method for me to try, so I still recommend it.

Remember, vinegar is a highly ACIDIC substance!

Don’t just dump your entire hand inside when handling your gun. Make sure to wear gloves to protect your skin.

To keep your gun from floating, I place a heavy object like a rock to keep it submerged in the container.

After one night, if you see the metal darkened, it means your gun’s composition works well with vinegar darkening!

Otherwise, just like the fire method, you’ll need to repeat these steps if you want to achieve a darker and black stainless steel finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Darken Stainless Steel?

Darkening stainless steel has several benefits.

In terms of hunting, it allows to blend in with the surroundings and remain hidden from prey.

Since dark objects absorb less light, you or your prey won’t have to worry about glare or shine from the metal.

Plus, in my opinion, it adds to the aesthetic appeal of my firearm!

Can You Change the Color of Stainless Steel Appliances?

Yes, changing the color of the steel is possible.

The main method to do so is by a metal oxide pigment. Not only will it change the color of the steel, but also a bit of shine!

Is Blackened Stainless Steel as Durable as Regular Stainless Steel?

Blackened steel may NOT be as durable as regular stainless steel.

After all, all the processes like heating and adding all these chemicals will definitely affect the integrity of the steel.

However, with proper preparation and maintenance, blackened steel can still have good durability.


As you can see, there are many DIY ways to darken stainless steel of your firearm.

Granted, each process takes quite a bit of time, patience, and trial and error.

But I assure you, they will help you stay hidden from prey and lead you a step closer in accomplishing a successful hunt!

FINAL TIP: Instead of darkening , you could also blue stainless steel. If you’re interested, I have a quick guide on how to blue stainless steel guns.

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