Cerakote is a ceramic based finish that can be applied to metals, plastics, polymers and wood. The unique formulation used for Cerakote ceramic coating enhances a number of physical performance properties including abrasion/wear resistance, corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, impact strength, and hardness. Each of these properties is rigorously tested to guarantee that Cerakote products remain at the forefront of the ceramic coatings market. Cerakote ceramic coatings utilize state-of-the-art technology to out-perform any competitive coating in both laboratory settings and real world applications.
THE PROJECT:I had purchased a Bersa Thunder9 Ultra Compact (herein simply referred to as UC) Pro quite some time in the past. Its purpose in life was really nondescript other than having an inexpensive 9mm sub-compact handgun to shove in a BOB, GHB, or the center console of my vehicle along with a couple of spare magazines. The Bersa Thunder9 UC Pro is an inexpensive firearm but it does benefit from a Beretta heritage due to one of the two engineers that started the company. Although it does suffer from the usual heavy (but smooth) DA/SA trigger, the firearm is accurate and reliable enough to serve as a ‘combat’ arm should the need arise.
I purchased a second Bersa Thunder9 UC Pro to serve as mainly a back-up and source of spare parts for the first firearm. I also was able to obtain a second Bersa Thunder9 UC Pro at a reduced price due to the finish of the firearm’s slide.
You see, Bersa pistols were initially shipped wrapped in a plastic bag that prevented rusting. This is a known problem with the matte finish guns and was something about the oil that they coat the pistols in at the factory is causing the plastic of the bag, in which they are wrapped, to bond to the matte finish of the slide. When you pull the bag off, the residue of the plastic stayed behind. That was later corrected, but unfortunately, early models suffered from “splotching” of the slide’s finish.
I also have a Bersa Thunder45 UC Pro that suffered from the same malady. It; however, was made somewhat presentable with a little buffing compound and rubbing to the point where the finish is more reminiscent of ‘aged’ bluing of the firearm’s finish. Since the Bersa Thunder45 UC Pro was a daily carry, I was not concerned with the finish; it simply looked like a pistol that had been used – a lot. Although the slide is steel, it has not shown any signs of rusting, which tells me that the finish may be more than just skin deep, which is a good thing. But, I digress.
While I tried some buffing compound and light buffing, the finish on the Bersa Thunder9 UC Pro’s finish did not take like the Bersa Thunder45 UC Pro and the slide remained, well, splotchy. I, for some reason, needed to do something about that.
You may at this point ask, “Who, in their right mind, would spend the effort to re-finish a slide on a Bersa Thunder9 UC Pro pistol?” I could also see the viewpoint of the question. The Bersa is not an expensive pistol; it has no historical value, nor is it a collector’s item. First of all, if the Bersa had historical significance, or if it were a collectible item, I would not refinish it at all because that would take away from the value of the pistol. As it is, the Bersa is simply something that can be carried on a daily basis for the purpose of self-defense and it fires a 9mm cartridge just like a plethora of 9mm pistols on the market. The Bersa really has no significant value; except to me, perhaps.
I will say that the pistol lay on top of my desk for quite a few days as I pondered its future.
I started researching various finishing options and decided that Cerakote finish would be the best cost-per-value option. However, putting a Cerakote finish on this firearm was beyond my gun-smith skills; the slide had to be stripped of all parts, blasted, and thoroughly cleaned, coated, and baked. None of which I could do with Break Klean, a spray gun, and a hair dryer. It was time to call on some professional help. I made a call to a shop in Monroe, Georgia (see RESOURCES) that specializes in Cerakote finish. After talking to the gun smith (Justin) and going over what needed to be done, I still delayed taking the pistol to him.
Finally, I made the trek to the shop for a face-to-face with the gun smith that would be doing the work. After he showed me some samples of his work, and we decided on a Matte Black finish for the slide, the Bersa Thunder9 UC Pro was left in his capable hands. The Matte Black Cerakote finish was chosen since the slide was originally in a Matte Black finish, the new Cerakote finish would be like the original, but somewhat more muted. Should the finish wear at the edges (which is entirely possible) the wear will look more natural to the gun.So, time has passed, and I received a call from the shop that the pistol was ready for pickup. I headed out to the shop with somewhat trepidation in my gut. I have never had a Cerakote finish applied to a handgun or rifle before, but I have several pistols that came with Cerakote from the factory. Can I expect the same finish? What will I do if the end result is not what I was hoping for? How will I react? How do I want to react? All of these thought, I think, are normal whenever we have a firearm worked on. We want the best, but have to be prepared for the not so good.
The Bersa Thunder9 UC Pro was inspected, paid for, brought home, and here we are. The Versa Thunder 9 UC Pro looks better than new with the Cerakote application.
The Cerakote was applied evenly throughout the slide, including the internal sections of the slide. I could not be happier with the result. I was concerned with the edges, most of which are sharp or well-defined but, I had no need to worry. This finish will probably outlast me.
I think that I just may put the Bersa Thunder45 UC Pro in Justin’s capable hands for the same treatment. A Dark Earth color, maybe. But, then again, I may not want to shoot it because it will look to good. Nah!
Personally, I would like to thank Justin at Trading Place Indoor Gun Range in Monroe, Georgia (see, RESOURCES) for his fine work in bringing a badly finished Bersa Thunder9 UC Pro up to bragging rights from me on his work and the final product.
- Cerakote: Trading Place Indoor Gun Range, 1412 S. Broad Street | Monroe | GA 30655, (770) 266-0281, http://tradingplacepawn.com/cerakote-custom-work.html
- Carakote Coating: http://www.cerakoteguncoatings.com/