Pattern Plate Paint

Dear Technoid,

Our squad has its own 48x48x3/16 inch steel pattern plate that we use from time to time to check new guns and old shooters for point of impact, pattern density and new bad habits, among other things. So I just read with more than casual interest your article “Technoid has fits” but you left out one important detail. When you bring your paint and roller to the plate, what kind of paint do you bring?

We tried water base but it dries too fast for recoating. The Brits talk about plumbers oakum and mineral oil but old fashioned oakum is no longer available in this neck of the woods. The same goes for whitewash (probably the classic material). The paint and masonry stores say “mix lime with water, add some salt, marble dust and glycerine” but don’t give proportions and want to sell me a 50 lb bag of lime!

We have had best success with an oil base white primer or paint, any cheap brand, cut with an equal part raw linseed oil to retard drying and some paint thinner if needed. This could be rolled easily onto the plate and re-rolled as needed after one or more shots. However, it eventually dries and builds up a thick coat on the plate. The roller is impossible to clean for later use and the paint will skin over and become difficult to maintain for subsequent use.

Therefor I stand once again before the Guru of the Gun, gimme cap in hand, and ask, “what is the very best paint to use on our pattern plate?”.

Thank you in advance.


Dear Marty,

Well, if it’s really hat in hand….

To be honest, I have always used the cheapest waterbase paint available and a disposable roller. I don’t mind if the waterbase dries quickly as repainting a surface which has dried isn’t much harder than rerolling one which is still wet. I have also used oil base paint cut with leftover salad oil from my turkey fryer. Price is right and I feel that the flavor of turkey adds something to the patterns. When someone says “That pattern’s a real turkey” they may be close to the truth. Frankly, I didn’t keep the mix around long enough to notice any hardening or skinning over. The plate is a “public” plate (Mid-Hudson Sporting Clays, New Paltz, NY) so anything painted on gets blasted off pretty soon.

I think that most people like to use some sort of paint cut with a drying inhibitor like oil. The theory is that rerolling is easier than repainting. Also, parts of the country where it gets cold sometimes, oil base stuff doesn’t freeze the way waterbase does. The rollers only cost a dollar or two at the local bargain mart, so I don’t really care about them. I guess that if you used a container with oil-diluted oil-base paint which was large enough to hold the roller submerged during storage and had an airtight cover, that would be ideal. My life isn’t ideal, so I use waterbase and tough it out. Builds character.

I am sure that there are as many variables on plate paint as there are shooters. I’ve even seen muddy water used. I’m sure SR’s readers will have some unique contributions.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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7 Responses to Pattern Plate Paint

  1. Richard Atkins says:

    The best paint I have used is one I make up myself. I pattern test all year round, hot days & freezing days; this paint works fine all year. It is fast to repaint plates and very economical as it does NOT dry out. It gives a white surface that photographs extremely well too (ideal for print reproduction in magazines).
    Just two ingredients: Titanium Dioxide & Castor oil.
    Titanium dioxide is the whitener they use to mark out cricket & tennis courts on grass etc. It is harmless and was used to whiten foodstuffs.
    Use vetinary Castor oil. This is cheap from equine stores.
    Mix approx 50%/50%. Use more oil to keep it thinner in winter; use less oil in summer to keep consistency in heat.
    After firing patterns just brush out pattern for fresh, clean plate to keep on pattern testing!
    You don’t need to add more paint for 10 to 20 shots.
    I was going to patent this ad Atkins’ Pattern Plate Painted. ..but thought I’d just share it with you anyway. Richard Atkins. UK Firearms & Ammunition tester/ writer.


  2. J. J. Smith says:

    Ditto on cheapo grease. 3M rubberized undercoating spray also works well.


  3. Al Knetsch says:

    Will a pattern plate inprove my trap shooting


  4. Glenn Jurek says:

    +1 on the grease. Use rubber gloves and roll s-l-o-w-l-y or everything will get splattered w/grease. The hole in the pattern plate is a great idea for an aim point and works really well.


  5. Andrew K. Barkley says:

    Greetings Bruce and Company,
    I have always used white lithium grease, rolled out on a metal pattering board that has a quarter inch hole drilled in the center.
    Maybe there is something abou that turkey grease that I am missing out on…



  6. bill boyd says:

    We use CHEAP grease, any color. Neither the grease nor the roller dry and you can clean the plate with kerosene if you want.


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