Published on June 15th, 2013 | by Nate Schultz (nsz85)
How to Refinish USGI Magazines
I am sure that some of you may recall that the process of refinishing USGI magazines was quite popular during the Clinton AWB/Magazine ban in the 1990’s. Even if it is not as popular now, it is still a fun and easy project to do on a day off from work.
When I refinished my magazines, I also upgraded each of them with Magpul anti-tilt followers and Magpul Ranger floor plates. For me, this allows for better functionality and also gives my magazines more of a modern appearance.
Please keep in mind that there are many different ways to refinish your own USGI magazines, and this guide explains how I chose to refinish mine. I elected to use the mil-spec coating known as Perma Slik G. It is not paint, but actually a dry-film lubricant and is the same coating that the magazines would have had coming out of the factory as new. With that said, let’s get started.
- USGI magazines
- Cleaner/degreaser (I used Simple Green)
- Tooth brush and steel wool- A way to hang the magazines while spraying them (I used wire coat hangers)
- A bullet tip, or other small tool to help with removal of the magazine floor plate
- Perma Slik G dry film lubricant
Disassembly and cleaning
You will need to disassemble your USGI magazines by sliding off the floor plate and removing the spring and follower. Using a bullet tip or other small tool, slightly pry up the floor plate until the indent clears the edge of the magazine. Once that’s done, the floor plate will slide right off. This will allow you to fully clean and degrease the entire magazine inside and out.
Most importantly, as with any paint or coating application, surface preparation is the key to a successful refinish. You will need to remove all the dirt, grime, and oils from the magazines. This is the only way to effectively get your new coating to adhere properly.
I chose to take a large plastic container, fill it with hot water, and pour in some Simple Green. Make note that Simple Green is known to affect aluminum differently than other metals and materials, but as long as you do not soak them for an extended period of time (more than 10 minutes), and thoroughly rinse them in clean water, you will not have any issues.
For the most part, I used a toothbrush to scrub the inside of the magazines and then used the steel wool to scrub the outside. I found this to be the quickest and easiest way of removing all of the dirt from the magazines. I spent roughly 3 minutes scrubbing each magazine.
After you have finished scrubbing them, rinse them off in clean water and set them on a paper towel to dry. If you are impatient like me, feel free to wrap the magazines in a paper towel and throw them in the oven for 30-40 minutes on the low setting. This will make sure they are nice and dry for the next step.
A fresh new coat
This is my favorite part of the whole process since it brings the magazines back to life. I also recommend going outdoors for this step as the fumes can be hazardous if there is not enough proper ventilation.
I freely hung my magazines from wire coat hangers on a saw horse type structure. Make sure to keep some space in between each magazine so that they do not touch each other. Using Perma Slik G, I sprayed each magazine evenly from approximately 12 inches away. This assisted with making sure I did not apply thick coats. I ended up spraying a total of 2 coats on my magazines while waiting an hour in between coats.
I elected to follow the directions on the Perma Slik G can and allowed all of my magazines to air dry for a few hours. Per the directions on the can: “items can be handled after 1 to 6 hours and will be completely cured in 24 hours.” I would say it took about 3 hours until mine felt dry enough to handle.
After I brought them inside and installed the Magpul anti tilt followers, springs, and Magpul Ranger floor plates, I let them sit overnight.
Ready for the range
To assure proper function, go through and insert each unloaded magazine into your rifle and make sure that the magazine seats correctly. Then, operate the magazine release button and confirm that each magazine falls freely. Now you are ready to load them up and head to the range.
Have you ever refinished any USGI magazines? If you have, share your experience with me.