FDE! (Fifty shades of what, now?)

A rifle with a Cerakote finish in Flat Dark Earth.

You’ve been reading this for years (and thank you for that): Fifty Shades of FDE. Chances are if you’re one of our regulars, you know what FDE actually is, but some people do not. Let’s fix that.


Flat Dark Earth

FDE is the acronym for Flat Dark Earth. In simplest terms, it’s supposed to be a specific shade of earth-toned brown. Some people say it closely resembles some of the colors that can be seen in rural Afghanistan, which is probably why the guys at Breach-Bang-Clear call it “Mud Hut” or “Mud Hut Brown” when they’re trying to describe it.

We say “supposed to be” because as with any color in the tactical/gun industry, not everyone gets it right. Each letter in the acronym is indicative of something, i.e. “Flat” means it’s matte, with no shine.

FDE vs. Black - weapon contrast
A pistol in FDE and a distant cousin in black.

Cerakote (the actual company) defines FDE as a “…medium-dark, flat brown.” There are variations and gradations, of course, which is probably why they go on to clarify:

Notice: Flat Dark Earth (H-265) and MagPul Flat Dark Earth (H-267) are very similar in color and in some cases H-265 may be a closer match to MagPul’s OEM Flat Dark Earth color.

A war belt with lots of FDE (Flat Dark Earth).

FDE is different (though varyingly close t0) a number of other colors. Some companies make up their own names, some use a generic term, others go by specific color codes defined with great specificity by DoD contract.

Field Drab, for instance, is Military Color Code 30118. Yes, Military Color Code is a thing. As in, Army Green = #4b5320.

There’s much, much more to this, and as you can tell by our publication’s title it’s something we have an interest in. Check back periodically, we’ll be updating this article a lot!



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