Words: Rich Norman
Being ‘dropped in the shit’ and considering ‘dropped in’ to be ‘the shit’, are two entirely different things.
In part one I dealt with the phenomenon where USSOF rifles are often seen with clean uppers and painted lowers. The upper is said to be ‘dropped in’ and it gives the rifle a two tone look.
In this article I’m going to look at tonal differences between upper and lower on clean blasters.
If you’re going absolutely clone correct with your replica, chances are you’ll want to represent a tonal difference between upper and lower even on a clean blaster.
First let’s look at a really obvious difference – the RAL8000 HK416A5. Although RAL8000 is a specific colour, to H&K it seems to mean any colour that’s sort of brown or sort of green.
Here, we have two unofficial variants to choose between: one we’ll call the prototype and one we’ll call the issued model. Both feature tonal receiver sets.
It’s pretty clear that the prototype is two tone:
(Pic credit: SMGLee)
It’s almost as if H&K used the prototype to test different anodising dyes or processes.
However, the issued model also has a two tone receiver – albeit more subtle:
The idea here is that uppers and lowers are anodised in different batches. As more uppers – for instance – are passed through the dye bath, the dye depletes as the oxide on the surface of the aluminium soaks it up. This means that the uppers become progressively lighter until the dye is topped up.
Not only that, but because uppers are often service parts, they get replaced more often than lowers. Hence ‘dropped in.’
Companies like Geissele are up front about colour variations due to the anodising process.
Of their Desert Dirt Colour (DDC) they say this:
Geissele DDC, or Desert Dirt Color, refers to the variety of shades of desert terrain. Differing shades of DDC are desired on a military small arm to breakup the outline of the weapon.
These colors can vary from color seen in the picture of the product, and can also vary from each other when comparing one product to another product. So it is possible that your accessory rails will not match exactly to your rail…
Due to the chemical process that takes place during Type 3 Hardcoat, the finish on the product can vary from one to the next, even if it is the same batch. The only way to receive a uniform finish on all parts and accessories to match a color you desire, is to have it recoated or painted with a different finish, for example Cerakote ™ or DuraCoat. However please be aware, that these other types of finishes will not be as durable and will be more easily prone to scratches and scrapes.
As for replicas? Well, trusty ‘ol HAO has delivered a near perfect prototype A5 model:
(Pic credit: Bou Yan)
The issued model, however, is yet to be perfected in a replica. However, VFC has made a brave attempt with their glitter-paint finish:
(Pic credit: Begadi)
How about the CAG 416? In some pics, there doesn’t seem to be any tonal difference at all – as if upper and lower has been anodised in the same batch:
However, this pic does show a two tone contrast:
Tan Rifle skilfully delivered a tonal variation in his real steel receiver set:
(Pic credit: Tan Rifle)
Likewise, Tokyo Marui has produced a photorealistic two tone upper and lower for its tan Delta product; although like VFC they’ve been unable to anodise.
Looks – not process – is 90% of cloning, however, so they’ve done a grand job:
(Pic credit: upperz_downerz)
And now the thorny issue. Two tone black – which is really shades of grey.
If there’s one element in the clone correct community that’s embraced the two tone black look, it’s L119A2 builders.
In order to tie their Angry Gun rails into their builds and make their uppers look monolithic, some have taken to Cerakoting their uppers. Some have even gone to the trouble of having their lowers Cerakoted in a subtly different shade to the upper, post engraving and milling.
As for real steel clones, HRW’s WIP A2 build is top of the line and exhibits the tonal contrast to the max:
(Pic credit: HRW)