Photo of the Day: AR15 Bolt with Robar NP3

At the suggestion of my good friend Freddie Blish, I recently sent out a mil spec AR15/M16 bolt to Robar Guns for their NP3 Finish. Though I have known of Robar and their NP3 for decades, I really didn’t know much about the finish other than it was based on electroless nickel. A quick phone call to Freddie got me up to speed. The Cliff Notes version is that the Robar Companies spend most of their resources fulfilling industrial contracts, including plating of critical aircraft components for the military with many of the same finishes seen on their firearms. And Robbie Barrkman is no stranger to custom guns, as he was the original gunsmith for Jeff Cooper at the American Pistol Institute a.k.a. Gunsite.

Freddie highlighted the benefits of the latest iteration of NP3, including extreme corrosion resistance (1000+ hours of salt spray resistance), embedded PTFE in the coating makes it self-lubricating, exceptional abrasion resistance without being excessively hard so as to cause abnormal wear on softer parts that mate up to the coated surface. The coating is also easy to clean, and in most cases fouling will wipe right off the surface. What does this mean? Freddie expects that my bolt will have an enhanced service life and asked me to shoot the gun completely dry to see how long it will run before failure. This is a completely foreign concept to me as I keep my AR/M4 platforms wet with lube as a matter of practice, but I will grit my teeth and do as instructed. Results will be posted here.


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About Tim Lau

Tim Lau has over a decade of experience as an end user, armorer and instructor. He has worked for several well known firearms training organizations, and holds multiple firearms instructor certifications. He owns and operates 10-8 Consulting, LLC, which provides industry consulting services as well as marksmanship and specialized firearms training to qualified civilian, law enforcement and military personnel.

10 thoughts on “Photo of the Day: AR15 Bolt with Robar NP3

  1. Looking forward to reading how it holds up. How does the NP3 compare to Nickle Boron as a coating?

  2. NP3 is a barrier plating for steel and metal alloys that combines sub-micron particles of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), otherwise known as Teflon, with electroless nickel.
    • Little to no lubrication is needed on opposing surfaces
    • Cleaning is minimal, usually requiring only a soft cloth
    • Permits firing for longer periods of time between cleaning, as dirt and powder residue has no wet or oily surface to cling to
    • NP3 has a micro hardness of 48-51 Rockwell as plated (nickel matrix)
    • NP3 is very corrosion resistant, a 1 mil (.001) coating exceeding a 240 hour salt spray test
    • NP3 has a high lubricity and low friction co-efficient; therefore, the life expectancy of a firearm will be greatly increased due to reduced friction wear
    • NP3 is a satin gray, non-reflective color
    • NP3 gives a smoothness to the action not found with any other coating
    • NP3 is guaranteed against corrosion, peeling or flaking for the lifetime of the firearm
    Many people try to compare Nickel Boron to NP3, but it is a completely different finish. Other than being nickel based there isn’t a lot of similarity. Nickel Boron uses Boron vice phosphorous nickel, thus very little to no corrosion resistance and more susceptible to carbon build up, as well as not being self lubricating. NP3 is a high phosphorous nickel with PTFE (Telfon), thus high corrosion resistance and easy to clean, as well as requiring very little lubrication. Nickel Boron is a harder plating than NP3, Rockwell hardness of Rc 62 versus Rc 48. However AR500 steel has an Rc of 51 and NP3 an Rc of 48, so basically it is almost as hard as armor plate. NP3 and Nickel Boron are both electroless processes thus they plate evenly. Keep in mind that standard gun metal breech lugs have an Rc 32, thus bolts/bolt lugs with excessively hard Rc from NiB (Rc 62) or Hard Chrome (Rc 72) can cause metal shavings off the breech lugs as the NiB or HC bolt lugs lock and unlock.

    • Thanks for the info! I went to the Robar website looking for pricing and found all the NP3 vs. Nickel Boron info there also, I appreciate you taking the time to put it here too.

  3. I had a LW 1911 with NP3–best wearing finish I’ve ever had on a firearm.

    • Because great minds think alike…my “pet” LW Commander was sent to Robbie two decades ago as a complete disaster finish wise. After twenty years, in its Norton Special trim, it is still one of my favorite pistols. Essentially, NP3 has a long history as a very good finish for wear, and the lubricity benefits are huge.

  4. I first had Robar do this to an AR bolt over 10 years ago, and it works great.

    I have NP3 on a number of 870’s and I use them in the rain, bottom of the boat and float plane in Alaska, throw them in the case damp, and they still look brand new years later.

  5. PS, don’t tell Bolke this, but NP3 on an HK P7, is the ultimate application of this coating in my book.

    • Pssst…….wait till you see my next article that will be coming out in an Annual Edition from FMG next year…..P7M8-Robar-and Milt Sparks Shark. There will also be a Robar’d HKP9S 45 Target. Don’t worry, I am way ahead of you on this one. Because of the unique operation, metal surface hardness (they don’t take blueing well) and maintenance requirements of the P7, NP3 is one of the best things you can do to them.

  6. I had some coupons from the NRA show in Houston so I sent in 2 carriers and bolts to get the NP3 treatment. Admittedly, I’ve not run my ARs very hard yet.

    I sent in my T/C Encore to get coated in NP3 as well as it had a few specks of rust on it from the wet on our Africa trips so now it’ll be gtg for any future outings.

  7. Robar is great!!
    I have a gagle of Glocks with either NP3 Plus or Poly T2.
    Great finishes. I’m going to be getting a Colt AR. I will be talking to Freddie. Did you just do the bolt or any other parts in any of the Robar coatings?

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