What is Nickel Boron Coating – Interview w/ Wynn Atterbury of WMD Guns


U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Nickel boron coating on firearms parts is all the rage and for good reasons. The first thing the coating does is cut down on friction. It accomplishes this feat by cutting down on the surface-to-surface contact between the siding parts of the firearm by using the columnar growth (imagine columns on a microscopic level) of the nickel boron.

The rounded shape of the nickel boron also dissipates heat better than other material. This heat dissipation saves the firearm from wear and tear. With less wear and tear on the firearm along the reduced friction, you get a gun that is less likely to have a malfunction and will last longer.

One of the pioneers in the field of nickel boron is WMD Guns. They have developed their own high-end type of nickel boron coating called “NiB-X.” Not all nickel boron coating methods are the same. Some companies just dip their firearm parts in a nickel boron compound and then ship it out. While other companies employ people, who hold a PhDs in chemistry or metallurgy, to help with the application process.

WMD Guns is one of the companies that do it right. I got to speak with WMD Guns’ President, Wynn Atterbury, about NiB-X, their other offerings, and his background.

John: What is your background?

Wynn: Mechanical Engineer. 18 years in DoD working missile testing to science and technology for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The last six years of my DoD career were in the Pentagon.

I was working a technology problem and came across nickel boron coatings as a potential solution. I started working with the inventor of NiB in 2003 to apply the coating on Defense Articles-ships, vehicles, planes, and small arms.

I worked with the inventor to apply the coating to a host of military firearms. Long, but interesting, story from the introduction of the greaseless gun concept to the Army when we started fighting in the moon dust of Iraq to the final testing of a lubrication-free M4.

John: How did you start WMD Guns?

Wynn: I started WMD Guns in 2011 to build out a platform of performance coated firearms, products, and services. The vision was to optimize the users shooting experience through the application of these coatings onto firearms and components.

We did this through the introduction of our own WMD Guns products, providing coating services to OEMs and builders for their products, and by bringing these industrial coatings direct to consumers to coat and upgrade their firearms.

Every firearm has a coating of some type but most of the legacy coatings are hundreds of years old. The new coatings can provide friction, wear, and corrosion protection far better than the legacy coatings. This provides the shooters an enhanced experience for the entire life of the firearm.

Coatings can ease the cleaning and maintenance of the firearm, reduce wear on the components, and increase the reliability of the entire system.

Another aspect that enhances the shooting experience making components with an aesthetic quality to them, or a cool factor. People like to personalize their firearms, and with our arsenal of coating technologies, we can help them do that.

We just released our Accent Build Kits in a plethora of colors which allow customers to personalize and stylize their AR. NiB-X is inherently different as it is naturally a matte silver finish. So, it really stands out when you are on the range with one of our Beast Rifles.

We are also introducing formally our Survivor Series Beast at the NRA [Convention] which is a Battleworn, or a distressed look to the Beast. As coating experts, we work with customers to get the right coating on the parts.

Survivor Series Beast
Survivor Series Beast

One coating does not satisfy all needs, or else there would only be one coating. The great thing is now we have choices. No longer are shooters stuck with Manganese Phosphate, Black Oxide, and Hard Chrome as our only choices.

John: What is the difference between NiB-X and other nickel boron coatings?

Wynn: NiB-X represents a fully engineered nickel boron process and product. Nickel boron is a hard process to run and thus there were only a couple of processors historically. I’ve worked with the inventor of nickel boron for 9 years.

When we pioneered nickel boron into the firearms market and it became noted as a premier coating, several mom and pop shops started trying to coat parts for people and it didn’t work out too well.

Several things are very important when coating nickel boron; boron content, chemistry balance, process control, thickness control and proper substrate cleaning. If any of these are out, then the coating can chip or flake and not operate properly.

We know of a couple of facilities that are using the nickel boron that is meant for the electronics industry and is NOT a wear coating at all. This will not work in a firearm environment.

The process and chemistry determine the final performance characteristics of the final coating deposit. So, without getting into anything proprietary, The X in NiB-X stands for X-pert chemistry, processing, engineering and application which yields Xtreme durability, performance and reliability of systems it is put on.

John: What are some of the advantages of using a nickel boron coating on a bolt carrier group?

Wynn: The technical advantage of using NiB-X is that it is an RC-70 coating, which is harder than the steel it is applied on, combined with a coefficient of friction just above Teflon.

Additionally, it is impervious to extreme environmental conditions such as hot, cold, sand, dust, fouled gases, etc. For the user, this translates to longer wear life of components, easier cleaning, and maintenance of the parts, longer usage cycles between cleaning or maintenance, added reliability in harsh environments and the ability to run lubrication free.

John: Without getting too far into the chemistry weeds, how does nickel boron cut down on friction?

Wynn: It is a combination of the chemistry content and the surface texture inherent in the deposited coating. Boron compounds are known to be very lubricious (yes, that’s a word!). The fact that the material structure of the coating is uniformly nickel boron and not just an additive makes it more effective than matrix coatings such as nickel Teflon where the nickel wears and releases Teflon particles. The surface texture of the coating also contributes to low [Coefficient of Friction] as the topological texture has micro-domes that reduce contact surface area.

John: Other than bolt carriers, what other firearms part would see an improvement by using NiB-X®?

Wynn: We sell NiB-X on all parts of the AR platform. People see benefits on the entire BCG, fire control group, charging handle, upper receiver, barrel extension (smooth locking/unlocking of a coated bolt), buffer tubes, and barrels. The coating provides extra durability to all parts, but on the exterior of the barrel it helps dissipate heat as well (again, due to the functional texture of the coating at a microscopic level).

John: What other products do your companies offer?

Wynn: Our Beast line of rifles are the first all nickel boron coated firearms ever offered. They are well built, rugged and shoot tacks in many different calibers. We offer coated components in a number of different coatings and colors.

Our Beast line of rifles are the first all nickel boron coated firearms ever offered.
Our Beast line of rifles are the first all nickel boron coated firearms ever offered.

For consumers, we offer an upgrade program so that individual shooters can take advantage of our commercial technologies. They can send in their firearm, and we will take it apart, strip the old coatings off and recoat in our performance coatings.

As far as high-volume coating services for OEMs/Manufacturers, we offer a cadre of coating solutions such as salt bath nitrocarburizing (Nitromet, Melonite, Tennifer), PVDs (e.g., Titanium Nitride), Diamond-Like Carbon, plasma nitride, nickel Teflon, nickel boron nitride, ceramics, and powder coatings.

John: Is there any plans to offer your pistols in any other caliber than .45 ACP?

Wynn: It is in our strategic plan but not imminent.

John: Does WMD Guns have any future plans you can share with the Ammoland readers?

Wynn: We continue to leverage our plating and firearms expertise to bring out new products to the marketplace. Our line of suppressors is in R&D right now, and we have a patented buttstock with integral sling that fills a need in the marketplace as an example. We are privileged to have a great team and work with some great partners and customers. Together, we continue pushing the edge of technologies to improve the shooting experience.

Readers can find WMD Guns on the web.

About John CrumpJohn Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%’ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.

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Timothy Votaw

Yeah, good information, helps separate fact from the unknowns. So many claims about coatings, but if we don’t
have knowledge of metallurgy, we’re at the mercy of honest manufacturers. A real temptation for the ethically-challenged out there, even those who employ treatments without correct QA/QC. Bolt burn-outs or breakdowns due to heat are not cool. We know heat is not a friend in firearm function. So sayeth this old Marine (who witnessed FTF’s in the “field” due to heat, at inopportune moments).

Green Mtn. Boy

Mr. Crump

Thanks for doing the interview and explaing just what N.B. is.