DuraCoat vs. Cerakote: Industry Feud or Deliberate Deception?

Tokarev pistol refinished with DuraCoat Can-in-Can product.

Tokarev pistol refinished with DuraCoat Can-in-Can product.

*Author’s Note: Throughout the last ten years or so, I have had firearms refinished with both DuraCoat and Cerakote. As a point of clarity, DuraCoat is currently a supporter of Student of the Gun and has been for several years. 

Regardless of the industry or area of endeavor, rivalry will always be encountered. Competition is the hallmark of free market capitalism. Honest competition is not only good for the consumer, it is ultimately good for the manufacturer as it forces them to seek improvements and to innovate.

Nonetheless, the pursuit of success or market dominance can lead to bitter rivalries and industry feuds. Most Americans are aware of the bitter feud between Westinghouse and Edison. Then there was the Edison and Tesla feud. (I’m beginning to see a pattern.)

Currently there is a public discussion going on about firearms coatings, of all things, and the gun culture is all set to feud among itself yet again. But, is this situation based upon the typical Coke vs. Pepsi, Ford vs. Chevy mentality, or does this situation have deeper roots?

Bait and Switch

The pot began to boil when it became public knowledge that Google ads were being placed that used the Duracoat and Lauer names, such as “Buy Duracoat Here”. The main problem was that the “Buy Duracoat” Google ad redirected to the Cerakote webstore. This deceptive practice led to further investigation regarding libelous claims.

In order to protect their intellectual property and their company’s reputation, Lauer Custom Weaponry (parent company of Duracoat) instituted legal proceedings. The suit has since been resolved. Subsequently, what may appear on the surface to simply be an industry rivalry is a good deal more complicated than that.

During the months from the realization of the bait and switch to today, an independent third party laboratory was contracted to conduct two important tests #1 Salt Spray corrosion testing and #2 Chemical Analysis to determine whether or not Cerakote contains actual ceramic coating material as inferred in the name. You can refer to the reference links to read the detailed findings.

Gun Culture Zealots

Let’s be honest with ourselves, the gun culture is populated with zealots. Brand or caliber loyalty has been a pseudo-religion to many for longer than I have been alive. Men, in particular, will attach their ego to their gun gear.

When confronted by the information that their favorite gun finish company may have engaged in immoral and unethical behavior, rather than consider that implications, the zealot will rail against the accuser. They will run to the excuse cupboard and relate anecdotes about “a buddy” who  used product “D” and it failed.

We witnessed a very similar situation when, after being granted design patents for their holster, Crossbreed began to actively defend their patented products. Many gun culture ninnies cried foul. They threw out childish claims of jealousy and again, the “I had a buddy who bought that and he hated it” accusation.

What the zealots fail to realize is that in order to maintain a trademark or patent, the holder must be seen as actively defending their intellectual and real property. Simply turning the other cheek or supposedly taking the “high road” as a competitor steals your design or slanders your product does real potential harm to the company in question. Simply put, a company has no real choice but to actively defend itself, regardless of the opinions or feelings of the gun culture.

Bottom Line: Trust

The primary purpose of this piece was not to throw the subject in your face, but to address it. Far too often I have seen friends in the firearms industry defend their companies against libel and slander only to be further slandered. The victim of the deceit or libel, when they take steps to defend their business are called “crybabies” or something I will not print here.

The entire situation is a bit schizophrenic. We have a gun culture, who constantly beats its collective chest about carrying firearms and other tools for defense, attacking a company that is engaged in defending itself. So, what some people seem to be saying by their words and actions is that, self-defense is a God-Given Right, unless you are defending your patents, trademarks, and reputation.

In the firearms industry there are innumerable companies making every kind of gun, holster, ammunition, and accessory. For every maker of a product there is someone else making a similar product. When given the choice, I will always defer to the company that is owned and staffed by people I like and I trust.

You could tell me that product “X” is the greatest widget in the world. I might agree with you, but if “X” is made and sold by assholes, all else being equal, I’ll defer to the next best product made by people in whom I have faith.

Dealing specifically with the Duracoat vs. Cerakote issue, I can tell you that I have never had a problem with either product. No, I have not subjected my guns to 400 hours of salt spray. I simply use them as I would any firearm.

I have known the Lauer family personally for many years now. These are people, not only that I like on a personal level but, in whom I have placed my trust. We discussed this at length on Student of the Gun Radio in the Color Wars episode.

Faith and trust in our modern world is worth far more to me than all the shiny new gear and gadgets. I fully understand that you cannot know every maker and manufacturer in the industry on a personal level. All I would ask is that you examine the facts of each case with and honest and open mind, then decide whom it is that you will place your trust.


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Paul Markel

Founder & President at Student of the Gun
Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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  1. Bob

    Also, I think you meant to say “I like” and not “it like” in the same sentence as differ.

  2. 5WarVeteran

    Finishes are nice and the are like “new rims” on a vehicle. They do not change the performance are in general, signs of having too damned much money. Camouflaging may aid in concealment but only if you are also camouflaged…
    Proper maintenance is more important than any coating.
    If you find something is crap if it fails rapidly and does not fulfill it’s promise, then word of mouth goes a long way. Share the experience.
    If you or a “friend” applied the coating and ALL procedures and preps were not followed then the failure may be your own. Whose to blame?
    If the product turns out to be like all political candidates then report it as the crap it truly is….

    1. Tom Currie

      Shakespeare would have titled this blog “Much Ado About Nothing.” While I do acknowledge the argument that companies must defend their intellectual property, most of the claims and counter-claims here can well be described as “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

      Has anyone here ever used Google (or Bing, or Yahoo, or any other search engine) to search the internet for any specific product? I’d guess that the vast majority of us have…. And, I feel equally safe in saying the nearly all of us know that most of the top results in any search will be sponsored ads either for a competing product or simply for another search engine.

      I am especially annoyed to see much effort being expended on the notion that the name Cerakote must somehow mean the process applies a ceramic coating. Do we vilify Aspercreme because it does not contain any aspirin? Is Irish Spring soap a fraud because it is not made in Ireland or because it is not made only three months each year?

      I don’t believe I have ever searched for either Duracoat or Cerakote online until today, so I can’t say whether or not there ever were any “deceptive” ads for either product in the past. Today, Google searches on each of these two product names produces exclusively results related to that specific product — and surprisingly enough the same thing happens with several other major brands where I know competing ads used to be common — so perhaps the Duracoat vs Cerakote feud has played a part in encouraging Google to clean up the algorithm used to select search results and ads.

      To the extent that this blog decries the recurring brand wars within the gun culture, I agree 100% — but I have a problem with an article that seems to say ‘Let’s all calm down and take it easy’ but at the same time also says ‘And anyway, it’s all the other guy’s fault.’

      And, by the way, none of my firearms are finished in either Duracoat or Cerakote. All are in their original factory finish as I have never seen the attraction of painting any of my guns in odd colors, especially since my personal preference is classic military parkerizing.

        1. Rudy F.

          I have looked at the two firearms coatings, it is a tough decision to make. You would like the best but it a tough job, so it comes down to for me, who has the closest shop to my home, and that would be the guy who does Duracoat? Three miles down the road! if life can be so easy. A more easier way would be just leave the gun as is, BLACK! But there’s no fun in that . All my AR’s wearing black, all dressed up and no where to go.

  3. Tom Gilbert owner Gilbert Gun Exchange LLC

    Go figure, a product developed by a former lawyer sued a manufacturer of a competitive product. Not the actions of someone winning a competition.
    I’ve run a gun shop with smithing, machining, and refinishing services for 18 years, and along with offering hot blueing and parkerizing, we’ve tried a variety of new finishes over the years, including KG Gun Kote, Brownells oven cure and Alumahyde, Duracoat, Cerakote H and C series and a few others. Hands down, the Cerakote H series is the toughest thing going. I live 15 miles from where Duracoat is based, and generally I’m one to “shop local”, ie; food co-op, farmer’s market, meat shops etc., but in this case with no prior bias, I found Cerakote to be a superior product. This is my opinion, it is based on personal experience and observation, customer feedback, and extensive in shop testing. I do not wish to argue the subject, nor will I reply to any response unless you’re willing to back it up with your own coated firearms in head to head abusive testing (any other commentary is just talk). Then after an acetone soak, ball peen hammer assault, and some creative abrasion testing, we can discuss the pros and cons at length, loser buys the beer. Note: I have Cerakoted a carbon steel fluted barrel, cut the Cerakote off the high spots with a lathe leaving only the flutes Cerakoted, then hot blued the entire barrel. That’s 3 hours in bluing tanks, that if you leave an aluminum part on a gun will completely dissolve the aluminum, and the Cerakote held up perfectly. Not only was this a very cool look with perfectly crisp Bronze flutes on a blued barrel, but established just how tough the product is. This is my opinion, based on my experience, but if you must debate the subject, bring it on….I’ll take the “Pepsi Challenge” any day. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

    1. Tom Gilbert owner Gilbert Gun Exchange LLC

      P.S.* My somewhat facetious comment regarding the mfg. lawsuit, reflects only my personal suspect opinion of lawyers and lawsuits, and is not at all based on the merits of the case, which I’m not familiar with. I had a customer get me all fired up and this was the first site I found on the subject to vent on. To be fair, the folks over at Duracoat opened the door to this market around here and I’ve heard are good people who offer a good product. As far as the do it yourself guy is concerned, I believe it is easier to achieve good results at home with Duracoat than most. I applaud their success, and wish the best to them and all those in the firearms business, we gotta stick together. To clarify, I have no personal interest in any of the industry coatings, not even Cerakote. Matter of fact, there are a few policies I don’t particularly like, especially the “certified applicator” thing. All that means is you spend the $$ and a week at school, and you get the seal of approval, it’s not based on actual work quality or experience. The product however is very good. Truth is, all of the for mentioned products are pretty good, the biggest problem with any of them is poor metal prep. (user error). Otherwise, I’ll stand behind my prior comments, I’m not afraid to be proven wrong, if there is something better I want to know, so I can offer my customers the best products available. Thanks

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