Why I hate Armory Primer

I really do not enjoy criticizing ANYTHING that has to do with the miniature wargaming industry. Unlike some others on the Internet, I feel that in a tiny niche like this, encouraging competition,  innovation, and value can only be good for the hobby. This is why I only like to emphasize great products instead of calling out bad ones.

But this is ridiculous, and I'm angry enough to disseminate my experience into the ether.
More after the Jump...

Let me just say first that this experience is anecdotal, but it is far from isolated. At the end of this post, I will link to others who have shared my experience with this brand.

I have purchased 3 cans of primer and 1 can of sealer of the Armory Brand. This brand has no website, although their distributor does. Even they don't really describe anything about these sprays. Each one was purchased at a different game store. The grey primer was purchased at Critical Effect in Hobart, IN, the black at Lightspeed Hobbies in Portage, IN, and the white at Games Plus in Mt. Prospect, IL. They were purchased over a span of about a year. I'm stating these details to emphasize that these were not from a single "batch" or shipment. Each cost roughly 6 dollars.

For reference, I have used primers from GW, Krylon, and a bunch of cheap store brands from Ace Hardware, Meijer, Home Depot, and Wal Mart.

These primers, in a word, suck. They are so incredibly sensitive to humidity and age that they are essentially unusable. I tried to use them in bone dry summer, moderate autumn, and in a controlled auto spray booth. I have tried to spray in a basement stairwell, where my humidistat tells me that I would turn into a husk if I stayed there too long.

In every case, my minis turned into tiny flocked stuffed animals.

The primer goes on fuzzy, and most of it can be removed with the pad of your finger. It's so grainy that it hides any groove or detail smaller than a purity seal.

Click to Enlarge

The model on the right was primed with some cheap black spray paint. Notice its shoulder pad on the left. It's smooth and has some sheen to it. The model on the left was primed with Armory Black Primer. I painted it anyway, to have an apples to apples comparison. Look at the shoulder pad, it needs a shave! And look at the sword blade. Although the limited depth of field of my camera in macro mode blurs it, you can still clearly see the terrible texture of the primer.

Nasty Primer...(click)
Nice Primer...(click)

I tried using Armory Primers on literally dozens of termagants, and I have to say that I had a 100% failure rate. This again was over the span of a year. "Luckily", the primer adheres so poorly that very little time in Simple Green will strip it away.

I would wholeheartedly recommend AGAINST purchasing or using products labeled "The Armory". Maybe in the east coast, these work fine. Maybe I just happened to get 3 separate very old cans of primer. But when a cheap Krylon rattlecan trumps three cans of stuff made specifically for gamers, that's enough experimenting for me. Others agree:

When Armory white works, it works very well, and would be one of my favorite primers. The rub, however, is when it WORKS. I have yet to buy a can that works right off the bat, and although a few cans could be saved, most couldn't. The problem is that the stuff comes out often very, VERY grainy. I'm not sure what their problem is (poor quality control I guess, or poor shipping/storage techniques) but I won't buy another can ever again... Reaper Forum
I can't count how many times it ended up going on fuzzy, instead of smooth during the Spring and Summer months. The fuzzy effect is nasty too. It looks literally like fuzz, and once dried a lot of the primer comes back off like chalk, or as a powder. It's messy, and it's really next to impossible to fix, or to paint over too. The only alternative is to strip the models right away, and re-prime them again when the humidity is lower. The problem with Armory is that it's less tolerant than most other primers when it comes to humidity too...Wargame Guru
Yeah, I'm now seeing that I didn't get a bad can, its just a bad primer. Truth be told the only reason I bought a second can is because when you get it right (You know, between 70-71 degrees, no wind, 0% humidity an an angelic choir singing my praises), the primer just feels so darn good to the touch. Oh well. I picked up some rustoleum grey spraypaint as well as some much needed bluetac and a fancy spray head to try out. Powder, BEGONE!...Warseer
Oh, but why am I angry?

Well, it's because I sprayed the rest of my Death Company (and Lemartes, not pictured) before I realized what was happening. Arrgh.


  1. Ive been using testers primers, and although I am not a great painter with little skill, I have loved how easy and clean it goes on.

  2. Krylon is by far my favorite primer. Works in any temp, humidity level, which as you know here in NWI is always fun, and dries smooth and very accepting of fine detail painting. Always wondered about trying Armory...now...I know I won't. Thanks for saving me the $ time!

  3. You know I never noticed that but now that you mention it, the white I most recently used did go all grainy. I have used several cans of grey without incident though. Weird, I guess I will only use the grey from now on.

  4. Bad priming is the worst. I spent too many hours modeling a trio of land speeders with everything magnetized, then I sprayed them down in the Florida summer. Bad idea. Now I have fuzz speeders...

  5. I came on the internet to rage about this primer and i'm glad someone else feels my pain.

    Fortunately, with thin and deliberate coats of boltgun metal much of the damage this has caused my Necron warriors has been mitigated.
    I'm sick of this crap.

  6. Oh wow I just ruined a new box of kroot didn't I? Time to break out the simple green!

  7. I have been using armory primer for years now, this primer is different, in order to use this primer you should go against how to prime, you should be close(4-6 inches) and spray with one continuous stream. your problem comes from the grit(what makes it a primer rather than black paint) drying out before it has the chance to even reach the model

  8. I just sprayed a pewter mini with this brand. The conditions (which aren't even specified on the can itself) were 85 degrees F, 40% humidity, no wind, miniature scrubbed. Like Jordan said, spraying it as if it were a normal primer leaves it pilly and disgusting, but when I accidentally sprayed it close and continuous it went on... flat, relative to the pilled areas. Even still, this area didn't dry solidly flat, and left behind bumps.

  9. I have used this primer many times and i have enjoyed it every time. The problem most people run into is they hold the can to far away from the model. As Jordan Finney pointed out you got to be close to the model. At a third of the price of Citadel primer for me it is worth it. Sucks that you all had a bad experience with this primer and I truly hope you can salvage the models that were affected.

  10. This article was written about the time I bought my 6 cans of Armory Primer that I am still using today. I just primed 5 T72 tanks for Flames of War Team Yankee. The primer is over 5 years old and came out of the can like I bought it yesterday. As for the white being grainy, that is true. True if you spray it less than a foot away from the item being primed. When I prime I mist the area being primed from just over a foot away. No grainy paint. I have used many different primers and Armory has been the best one for me.

  11. Had this same problem I am pissed beyond belief because i was priming a titan and now have to strip it to get this god offal primer off it