Review: Robar NP3 Plus

I was markedly skeptical of NP3 Plus when I first heard about it, because it sounded too good to be true. It offered the look of satin nickel with less glare and more durability. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the same corrosion protection offered by any of the best polymer coatings on the market today with exponentially greater life. Naturally, Robar must have been lying. They weren’t.

NP3 Plus is self-lubricating, due to the PTFE (teflon) deposited in the nickel matrix, and it has an almost “slick” feel to the touch. The slickness obviously applies to carbon and other residue as well, though; anything that has gotten on the magazine I had plated has wiped right off with the t-shirt I use as a gun rag (and nothing else). That makes NP3 Plus a fantastic fit for high-friction, high-buildup applications like frame rails on a 1911 or the bolt carrier group on an AR.

According to Robar, the reason for even more corrosion resistance on NP3 Plus as compared to the initial iteration of NP3 is due to the former being a “duplex” coating. And while I don’t really know what that means beyond using a substrate that is even more corrosion resistant than the nickel plating, the result is undeniable: a 1mil (.001) thick coating of NP3+ can withstand a salt spray corrosion test of 1000+ hours. I’ve sweated on the magazine a little and used it in humid environments without cleaning it, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll never surpass that threshold, so I’ll have to take Robar’s word for it.

While most people might not think of a magazine as a suitable testing platform for such an industrious finish, the 1911 is very magazine dependent, and when it comes to the magazines on which my life could depend, anything I can do to decrease the odds of buildup or oxidation negatively impacting the operation of my life-saving device is well worth the money (it was only $22 plus a small handling fee to have the magazine coated). Initially, the follower moving within the magazine tube felt slightly more gritty than the standard Checkmate dry film against the polished stainless finish on the inside of the magazine tube, but once I loaded and unloaded it a few times I literally felt the teflon start to kick in, and after that it was every bit as smooth and more.

On firearms with tight tolerances, NP3 outperforms any other plating on the market. It is thin enough to keep dimensions from negatively impacting function, tough enough to protect your investment, and slick enough to run dry after break-in. It also goes on evenly due to the fact that the process of applying it is autocatalytic instead of electricity-based, which prevents problems like throw (deposits being thicker around corners and thinner in shielded areas) that are commonly suffered by hard chrome. NP3 also removes hydrogen embrittlement and cracking from the equation. In addition, it’s perfectly suitable for aluminum or alloy-framed guns, as the NP3 is harder than hard anodizing in some applications (it can be heat treated to Rc 68-70), and just shy of it in most others. Hardness alone, though, should not be equated with durability, and NP3’s combination of a low friction coefficient and high lubricity (even without any lubricant) amounts to a very durable, low-wear finish. If that isn’t enough, Robar stands behind all of their NP3 products with a lifetime guarantee against corrosion, peeling, or flaking for the life of the firearm.

There is a lot to be said for peace of mind. Robar makes it their business to see it to it that your guns and accessories are one less thing for you to worry about. They are currently offering some of the best coatings in the industry, and NP3 is no exception. This magazine was a test for me, and it exceeded my high expectations. I’ll be sending them a carry gun very shortly.

-Colt Driver; price varies by item

*Originally published 3/14/2013

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