Making the HULK: 50 BMG Cerakote and Laser Imaging

Here at Ultimate Reloader, the custom rifle builds just keep getting better and better! I’m having so much fun putting these rifles together- and now with a full Cerakote and Laser Imaging capability, these rifles can also be “works of art”. In this story, I’ll cover the process of mixing custom colors, cerakoting this “mammoth” rifle, and laser imaging over the Cerakote.


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Recap: 50 BMG Build

My 50 BMG build went really well, and has been so much fun to put together! Here’s an overview of gear:

And the video covering barrel work:

Tools of the Trade

Cerakote Certified Applicator Training

Anyone who’s current on firearms knows about Cerakote. This thin-film ceramic coating has become prolific across factory and custom firearms: it’s become the industry standard. Due to huge demand, many Cerakote applicators are backed up for months which has created an opportunity for new shops to enter the market. And that’s where Cerakote’s Certified Applicator training program comes in. Here’s a video covering my experiences taking this training:

Cerakote Booth and Shop Tour

Following my official Cerakote training, I built a Cerakote shop here at the Ultimate Reloader Ranch. Here’s the full tour!

Since this tour, I’ve upgraded the lighting which has helped out quite a bit!

Light Armor Cerakote Oven

I use the Light Armor 2500B powder oven and consider it the best deal available, especially if you use the code OVEN125 for $125 off any oven with a circulating fan. Check it out!

Preparing for Cerakote

I’ll admit it- green is my favorite color. So you can guess what direction I went with the Cerakote color scheme on this rifle. One of the colors I took a real liking to is Cerakote’s Jesse James Eastern Front Green (H-400). I did some test spraying, and decided that a two-tone green was in order, and that a darker shade of H-400 would be a good “second tone”. So I got out my H146 Graphite Black, and decided to try a custom mix (more on that later in this article).

Then it was on to prepping the parts! In general my process is as follows:

  1. Fixtures: building any custom plugs and related masking fixtures (allowing for hanging and racking and also masking)
  2. Pre-cleaning: wiping parts down and removing the bulk of any grease and oil or other residues
  3. Acetone wash/dip
  4. Masking for blasting
  5. Blasting
  6. Unmasking
  7. Compressed air blow-down
  8. Remasking
  9. Applying Cerakote
  10. Baking Cerakote
  11. Unmasking

Here’s the Bat EX receiver masked up prior to blasting:

Sandblasting the receiver with 100 grit aluminum oxide blasting media:

Custom Mix “Midnight Green” Cerakote

The Cerakote mix was pretty much “seat of the pants” mixing on the fly. Here’s the exact ratios for my “Midnight Green” (first attempt):

  • 110.7 grams H-400 green (93%)
  • 7.0 grams H-146 black (7%)

*For next time, I’ll go even darker with this mix so that it contrasts a bit more with straight H400.

That’s the fun of Cerakote, there’s limitless possibilities, and you can really “make it your own”.

With the color mix complete, it was time to fire up the Cerakote iPhone app and calculate catalyst weight, and finish the mix.

Spraying Cerakote

Every time I spray Cerakote, I’m looking to refine and improve how I “lay it down”.

Each color has its own characteristics including:

  • Catalyst mixing weights (hence calculator that’s color-specific)
  • Coverage characteristics
  • Appearance
  • Color change properties when laser imaging

Because of these considerations, I like to perform test spraying passes on flat plates and cylindrical objects to get an idea of how things lay down, spraying techniques, and using these test pieces as “swatches” to evaluate effects and color combinations. It’s a lot of fun!

What I found with the H-400 Jesse James Eastern Front Green is that it takes a bit more material to get full coverage.

Spraying the chassis:

Spraying the barrel:

Laser Imaging over Cerakote

One of the really cool things about Cerakote is the ability to alter the appearance and color of the Cerakote with a fiber laser. I’ve shown this with multiple projects, and this time we went a bit further with a distressed flag design on the side of the Accurate Rifle Systems ELR Chassis:

In order to set things up I typically do the following:

  1. Mock-up the design in Photoshop or Illustrator
  2. Create or obtain vector artwork (scalable without degradation)
  3. Process the artwork into an engravable design file
  4. Test engrave on samples
  5. Tweak and optimize the position, scale, and laser settings until the perfect effect is obtained
  6. Laser engrave the object

It’s a lot of work, but it’s WELL worth the effort!

First Shots

With a 60 MOA rail, and no rifle optics on hand with that much elevation adjustment, we had to get creative with this one! We ended up aiming about 1.5′ low to get on target during break-in, and had a great time shooting this rifle. Definitely not as much recoil as you may expect, thanks to the Gen 2 XXX Bastard brake from APA.

My friend Luke from TFB was over for a visit, and he had a great time shooting the HULK as well:

Get the Gear

Cerakote’s Certified Applicator training

Light Armor 2500B powder oven use the code OVEN125 for $125 off any oven with a circulating fan

Components and parts:

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