Replacing some of your AR’s parts with anodized alternatives is a practical, easy-to-make upgrade that just might boost the performance of your rifle.
But, before you replace anything on your gun with AR15 anodized parts, here’s basically everything you need to know.
How AR15 Anodized Parts Are Made
Anodization is the process of changing the surface chemistry of aluminum, leaving behind a thin oxide layer that is extremely wear, water, and corrosion resistant.
To apply an anodized finish to gun parts, first, the parts must be cleaned and the aluminum substrate exposed.
Depending on the luster desired by the manufacturer, the surface may then be blasted to improve or refine its texture.
After the surface is prepared by cleaning and blasting, the aluminum part is then submerged in an electrolyte solution and an electrical current is run through this solution.
The electrical current catalyzes a reaction in which the surface of the aluminum develops a very thin oxide layer.
This oxide layer is the “anodized” surface itself, which offers the following benefits when AR15 anodized parts are installed on your firearm.
Basically No Maintenance
One of the great things about AR15 anodized parts is that they require basically no maintenance.
Naked aluminum, though more corrosion-resistant than steel, is still prone to corrosion. It is also a fairly soft metal that can easily be scratched, gouged, or worn.
This is not the case after it’s been anodized. Anodizing produces an extremely tough finish that requires effectively no care.
Caring for anodized parts is as easy as wiping them down when they get dirty - that’s about it.
Arguably the greatest attribute of AR15 anodized parts is that they offer excellent wear resistance.
The hardness of aluminum depends on the alloy as well as its heat treatment and temper, but regardless, aluminum is a very soft metal that wears easily and can be damaged by contact with harder materials.
Anodizing aluminum changes that dynamic entirely. In fact, anodized aluminum can be as much as 10 times harder than naked, untreated aluminum.
This improves the wear resistance of these parts and components by orders of magnitude. Aluminum can easily be worn or scratched by dirt, sand, or even dust, but anodized aluminum? Not so much.
This also carries substantial benefits for components like grips and handguards that are prone to wear. The harder, and tougher, the better, and anodizing them is one way to make sure they can stand up to hard use.
Another great thing about anodized aluminum parts is their exceptional corrosion resistance.
Again, aluminum is not as suspect to corrosion as steel is, but in the presence of corrosive influences like fouling, chemicals or saltwater, it can still be compromised.
But not anodized aluminum, at least not easily.
The thing about anodizing aluminum is that you are creating an interposing barrier between the elements and the aluminum underneath.
Think of anodizing like putting a thin layer of a special type of corrosion (oxidation) on the surface of the aluminum.
The aluminum can’t “corrode twice” so this barrier layer insulates it against further chemical ingress and alternation.
It’s an interesting way of looking at it, because the aluminum oxide layer actually makes the aluminum better, but it’s still technically accurate.
At any rate, if you allow fouling or dirt to accumulate on an anodized part, it’s not that big of a deal. You still shouldn’t do it, but when you do get around to wiping it down, the anodized surface underneath will likely be slick as a whistle.
Permanent Dry Lubricity
One more interesting thing about anodized AR15 parts is something that’s not often the first-quoted. They offer excellent permanent dry lubricity.
That’s a mouthful if you’ve never heard the term before so let’s break it down.
Dry lubricity is the quality of having a low coefficient of friction without needing any special treatment. That is, the surface of anodized parts is slippery when dry, without needing to apply a liquid lubricant.
For instance, graphite has good dry lubricity, just as an example.
Permanent dry lubricity means that this innate trait does not wear away. When clean and dry, anodized parts will offer excellent dry lubricity as long as the finish remains uncompromised.
This has a few benefits for users. One is that moving parts that are anodized need little to no liquid lubricant, which helps prevent them from wearing down because liquid lubricant traps abrasive particles that accelerate wear.
The other is that AR15 anodized parts are exceptionally easy to clean, and typically without solvents. More often than not, all that’s needed to make them sparkle is to wipe them down with a clean rag.
Anodized surfaces are naturally non-porous, non-absorbent, and fairly smooth, making them easy to clean.
Personalization: They’re Available in a Wide Range of Colors
Last on this list because it is not a functional attribute, one final reason to invest in AR15 anodized parts is that you can personalize them in terms of color and finish.
This is something that keeps anodized parts popular. They are available in a wide range of colors and finishes and you can trick out your rifle in the color of your choosing, easily and fairly affordably.
Investigate Other Firearm Finishes
We’ve previously published a guide on several different popular types of firearm finishes before. If you’re interested in other types of finishes, check that guide via the previous link.
Bolt carrier groups are also available in a number of different specialized finishes that can improve cycling performance and simplify cleaning and maintenance.
Get New AR15 Anodized Parts at MCS Gearup
Looking for new AR15 anodized parts? We carry a wide range of options (in different colors) here, including grips, buffer tubes, charging handles, and handguards. We make it easy and cost-effective to upgrade your rifle platform.
For more information take a look through our collection to see what we offer or get in touch with our customer service directly at Sales@MCSGearup.com or at 239-848-6757.