TM L96: 308AWS to SMLE conversion

.308 SMLE, Cold War, Custom builds, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

Quite some time ago, a client proposed making an Enfield with the magazine in the right place. Now, this is after the Matrix SMLE (Gas) but before the newer Red Wolf No.4, making it among the few with a magazine in the ‘correct’ place.

The simplest way to achieve this was to take a TM L96, which uses a feed ramp to take BBs from the magazine (located in the correct place for that rifle) forward to the chamber as it is effectively a VSR with an added on magwell/feed ramp system.

The first job was to modify the action/magwell to be as small as possible. I kept trimming it down until it was as small as possible without losing the rigidity required for this system.

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I could then fit to to the fore-stock.

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An original trigger guard was not an option sadly, as it did not fit around the dimensions of the donor.

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As a result, I designed a custom one. My first attempt didn’t quite look right.

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My second attempt was much better though.

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The next step was to attach the nose cap unit and top guards. 

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As with the VSR builds, I fit the metal parts before doing the shaping so that the shape fits around these. In the picture below, you can see the rear top guard has been cut away for the rear sight and sight guard.

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Cut down to size and part of the shaping done.

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It still needs to be shaped round the back end a bit to improve the grip, but the overall shape is coming together. 

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It interested, you can see the other rifle builds here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

L42A1: Build 3

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, Weapons

The receiver in place on the rifle, a little tweaking was of course needed for the stock to fit the new action. Onto the side attaches a steel plate which is tapped for the scope.

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Another improvement is the first use of my newly designed Enfield trigger. This steel trigger drops into the standard VSR trigger unit.

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Although not perfect, it pretty closely resembles the original trigger and certainly gives it a nice pull.

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Another improvement is adding in a thick, steel custom nut. This is much stronger than the regular aluminium screw that is threaded into the original receiver.

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There’s really not much more to do on this now. I have a new scope mount design for the new receiver which needs making but there won’t be much to see on that!

 

It interested, you can see the other rifle builds here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

New rubber melee weapons

BC-41, Cold War, Edged Weapons, Fairbairn-Sykes Knife, NR40, Products, Weapons, WWII

It’s been a while since I did a post about melee weapons, but there are a few items now available in the Etsy shop which may be of interest to followers of the blog.

 

BC-41

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The BC-41 was an early fighting knife adopted by the British Commandos. Inspired by earlier Trench Knives, this is great for an inexperienced knife fighter who can punch and slash and be fairly likely to do some damage.

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It was fairly quickly put aside in favour of the Fairbairn-Sykes design, which was much more flexible in use due to being able to hold it in a variety of ways. Ideal for the experienced and practiced knife fighter, though some would argue of questionable use to the average soldier.

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You can find the BC41 here.

 

Fairbairn-Sykes

The mould for the Second Pattern died a death recently and I reckoned it was time to do something a little different. The new knife is a First Pattern, though at a glance it could easily pass for a Second Pattern.

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As with the previous model, it is stiffened so that it doesn’t flop about. This is aided by a new rubber I am using for thin blades which is slightly harder.

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It has an optional sheath based on the second pattern version to keep costs down, though it should fit in a repro sheath if you already have one.

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You can find the Fairbairn-sykes here.

 

NR40

For the Soviets among you, the NR40 will serve you well for WWII and post-war impressions. Although it has long since been replaced in service, privately procured ones have remained popular with Russian soldiers.

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Once again, this is stiffened and uses the new rubber mentioned above to maintain stiffness on this relatively thin blade. This is cast from a reproduction but should fit in original and repro scabbards.
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The NR40 is here.

 

You can take a look at the Etsy store for these and other interesting and unusual items, but don’t forget to join us over on Facebook where there’s nearly always something interesting going on.

LMG25: Build 1

Cold War, Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), LMG25, Machine-Guns, Weapons, WWII

The LMG25 is a really weirdly formatted gun, but with a Sten and some modifications I’m hoping to make something really interesting and unique.

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As ever, this started with a load of research and design work. There aren’t too many parts to this compared to some of my builds and they nearly all attach directly to the receiver. The first step of construction was to make this receiver, which I made a template for and centre punched for the drill, before cutting the space needed for the donor.

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The welding begins with the mock-upped ejection port and the trigger grouping/pistol grip.

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I also cut a hole for the magazine feed.

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The magazine well has an awkward and distinctive shape, so it is being 3D printed and will be mounted with metal plates and screws to the receiver.

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In place it fits quite nicely! This replica takes AK magazines which look the part well enough from a distance.

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Onto the stock. I cut it out in the usual way from the blank, but I can’t cut out the action recess in the usual manner due to the awkward lump at the front of the stock. It would have been possible to have this as a separate piece but it’s not a major issue to work around.
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The pistol grip unit is, fortunately, an entirely separate unit. This means making it is a lot easier than a one-piece pistol grip/stock. It somewhat resembles some of the early semi-auto conversions of bolt-action rifles in this respect of its design.

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There is quite a pleasing curve to the back of this pistol grip which is easily missed.

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This means that all the major working parts are in place. The next important step is to get the working parts actually working! Then we can enjoy the detailing, sights and bipod.

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If you have a thing for obscure Swiss Light Machine-Guns then you can check out the pre-build piece here.

If you enjoyed this content join us over on Facebook and check out our Etsy store, and if you have an idea for a custom build of your own just get in touch with us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

L42A1: Build 2

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Weapons

Since the last post, some of the 3D printed parts have arrived. The scope mount isn’t bad, the receiver is OK (not shown here) but both need a few tweaks to be perfect.

I’m very pleased with the shape of the 3D printed bolt parts, some minor tweaks and they will be perfect. I need to work out how to get them made in metal though as plastic simply doesn’t have the strength required for the job.

In the meantime I’ll keep using the steel handmade bolts for testing.

The receiver side plate painted. Although this will do for now I have a new design for a side plate integrated with the receiver itself.

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Moving the outer barrel off-centre means a new spacer, but it does improve the aesthetics of the rifle massively. I have also tapered the woodwork a lot more to allow use of the iron sights.

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I am also making new scope mount screws that look more the part than the temporary ones. Deep knurling makes then very nice to grip to tighten and remove, these will be oil blacked for wear resistance.

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The new screws in place. I’m going to re-dip them as the oil loosened up the flux on the joint.

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The bolt is a temporary measure, it will be replaced with a cast one once I have the kiln working.

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In the meantime it looks OK and will be oil blacked to tidy up.

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I have some tweaks to make to the receiver design and scope mount but this is the majority of the work done. The new receiver will have a steel side plate for the scope mount. I hope in the future to cast the rest of this piece.

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As you can see, it takes an original rear sight leaf. while it’s nice and secure for the battle sight, I need to make a locking system for the ladder.

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You can see the other rifle builds here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

L42A1 Build: Part 1

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, Weapons

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With some dimensioned parts, I could get some bits laser cut and underway…

Receiver and scope mount first, this is a pretty simple tap, screw and weld together job by my standards!

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Once this was done, I marked out the lower stock, indicating the depth for each section.

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I then drilled to each depth to rough out the space for the internals. Once I made my way around the outside of each section, I took the rest out by chisel.

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Once it was roughly fitted, I scooped out the lower to expose some more of the receiver.

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I made a spacer/mount for the outer barrel. These parts will all be screwed into place and covered by the top guard.

For the curious, this is the magazine well design for the production rifles I intend to make for customers. I’ve played about with it a bit and it allows for a pretty fast reload with only a little practice, which makes it somewhat better suited to those up-close and personal moments than most VSR builds.

The top guard in place, waiting to be shaped.

So far, the main thing that is annoying me about this build is the barrel, which is a bit too low in the stock. I may have to revisit this at a later date and fit a wider diameter barrel higher in the woodwork, with the inner barrel off-centre.

This replica will make extensive use of 3D printed parts for the detailing. The foresight is closely related to the Sten MkV foresight I produce. The receiver and scope mount are new designs, which should fit around the existing metal parts. Although it is possible to purchase an all-metal replica L42 scope bracket it would cost almost as much as an authentic scope, so this will take a small bore scope suited to the period, maybe with some cosmetic modifications.

 

You can see the other rifle builds here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products via Etsy.

MP18 and family.

Cold War, History, Inter-War (1918-1939), MP28, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWI, WWII

During the stalemate of the Great War, both sides took to the laboratory to try and get an edge on the battlefield and level the massive attack/defence discrepancy in their favour.

To this end each side ended up using to varying degrees: tanks, poison gas, aerial bombardment, advanced artillery spotting, mining, aerial reconnaissance, indirect machine gun fire, mortars… the list is pretty endless.

One area that was somewhat neglected in spite of its potential was small arms development. Repeating, smokeless rifles were still a relatively new thing, and commanders expected to make use of them in a similar way to the way they were used in the colonies. Blocks of men firing into an attacking force while the attacking force tried to get close enough to shoot back. Unfortunately this idea was put paid to by the enemy having very similar ballistic capabilities and ability to hit targets at quite the same ranges.

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Although massed rifle fire at range did play something of a part in the early days of the war, especially at Mons and in the defence of Paris when both sides ground to a halt and entrenchment began volley fire became almost useless.

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Of course in defence soldiers would line up on the parapet and shoot those missed by the machine guns but once the enemy was in the trench, your rifle that could shoot accurately somewhat further than you could see with the naked eye was only useful when you spun it round and used it as a club.

What soldiers needed was something with a high rate of fire that could deal with the high number of targets at close quarters experienced in trench conditions that didn’t necessarily have the range of a full rifle cartridge and certainly didn’t come with the weight of a typical machine gun of the era.

There were ready-made options. DWM already produced a carbine Luger with the infamous ‘trommel’ magazine for the German Army and a shorter Luger that could be fitted with a stock for the Navy.

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Mauser produced the C96 for both the Austrians and the Germans and was used internationally. This frankly was much better with a stock used as a carbine than as a pistol.

Mannlicher had designed a carbine that, although it looks very C96-esque, operates differently and used a very early form of intermediate cartridge. These were never produced in large numbers and as far as I know never saw service anywhere.

For some reason, the Imperial Army decided to introduce a new firearm instead. There are a few plausible reasons for this, the Luger series and C96 pistols fired at extremely fast rates. Though this could be fixed (especially for the C96) they decided a new design would be cheaper and easier to achieve a desirable result with.*

Thus the MP18/I was born. This is the first dedicated infantry sub-machine gun, though some will cite other early SMGs, the MP18 was the only one widely used and issued in WWI, anything else used at this point really only featured as a footnote in the fighting.

It saw extensive use in the Spring Offensive of 1918, where the Germans took huge (in WWI terms) swathes of territory, exhausting their country’s war effort in the process.

Post-war, MP18s saw use in the Weimar Republic, especially in urban fighting between the  German State, Freikorps and the German Red Army during various uprisings in Munich, Berlin, the Ruhr, Saxony and Hamburg. There was a good deal of rebellion and fighting, especially in the inner cities in between various political factions. During this time, the MP18 saw extensive use, showing a distinct superiority over conventional rifles and pistols in close quarter urban fighting.

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Around the same time, these submachineguns saw use in South America, China and the Spanish Civil War. These things really got about.

During the early Weimar Republic, MP18s underwent some improvements: the Government took existing MP18s  and modified the magazine wells to take stick magazines rather than Luger magazines and drums. During this later service they were issued with 20, 30 and 50 round magazines. There were also many licensed and unlicensed versions produced, with SIG and Haenel (under Schmeisser) each producing their own versions. Haenel developed it into the MP28 which the Spanish copied, having converted it to 9mm Largo.

There are dozens of descendants of the MP18, the most significant are the MP34, MP28, Sten and the Lanchester. These and their relatives were used internationally all through the late 20th century.  

Although the open bolt submachine gun has fallen out of popular use with militaries and police forces, due to so many being produced you will still find descendants of the MP18 still in service in some parts of the world.

 

Notes:

*This said, the Imperial Army did experiment with a form of the C96 with detachable 40 round magazines. Few were produced, very few survive today.

 

Identification notes:

MP18/I: Slanted magazine well, takes Luger magazines (standard and Trommel). Two-option non-adjustable rear sight. Hooked Op handle

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MP18 (type two): An MP18 in all respects except that the magazine well has been changed out to take a straight magazine. These should also have ‘1920’ stamped on the magazine well and on the receiver.

MP28/II: An MP18 but with perpendicular magazine well, box magazines and either the MP18 or a straight, tapered op handle with a ball end. Adjustable tangent rear sight.

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Mitraillette 34: An MP28 made in Belgium. Cannot find pictures but expect Belgian markings and proofs.

Sig Bergmann 1920: Rounded Op handle, with bead on end. Collar at front of barrel shroud. Tangent rear sight. perpendicular mag well. Stick magazines.

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Tsing Tao: Chinese characters, vertical magazine well. It looks like they also produced direct copies of the MP28.

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MP34: straight sides, magwell angled around the circumference of the receiver. Vented foresight guards. Bayonet lug on side. Adjustable rear tangent sight. Hinge behind magazine well to lift top cover. Unusual as has magazine charger at 90 degrees built into the mag well.

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Lanchester MkI: Brass magazine well (though if still finished this may not be visible). 50 round magazine. Hooked op handle. Vented front sight guards. Tangent rear sight. Bayonet lug for SMLE P07 bayonet. Stock similar in shape to a P14 Enfield.

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Lanchester MkI*: As MkI but straight op handle, fixed rear sight with two very large sight guards. 

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Bergmann MP35. You can take a look at the picture to ID this oddity.

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The majority of decedents from beyond this point (Stens, Sterlings etc…) are for another article really. This is a rough guide, due to their extensive re-use and circulation there will be variants on variants I am quite sure. I have tried to give you the best chance of identifying different models, sometimes using original and sometimes applying my own nomenclature to differentiate between models. If you see anything that you can prove is incorrect with quality sources, please do get in touch on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com.

 

If this content interests you, subscribe to the blog or join us on Facebook for more! Don’t forget you can buy several of our ready-made products on Etsy.

The LMG25 Furrer

Cold War, Custom builds, Inter-War (1918-1939), LMG25, Machine-Guns, Weapons, WWII

The LMG25 is a Swiss Light Machine Gun adopted, as the name suggests, in 1925. It is a real oddity, even for a time when LMG designs were far less standardised than today.

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This Swiss soldier will get a very warm thumb if he opens fire now.

It was developed at Waffenfabrik, Bern by Adolf Furrer over seven years and was produced until the end of WWII. It served into the 1970s with the Swiss military, so must have been a pretty serviceable firearm to have hung around for so long.

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So, why is this an oddity? Well, the magazine is on the right-hand side, when most side-feeders (though not all) feed/fed from the left. There was a monopod at the back for support during sustained fire which wasn’t an uncommon idea at the time, but this could be moved to the front and used as a foregrip, which was.

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Monopod used as a fore-grip in the assault role.

But most interesting of all, this is a toggle-locked design. There are very few toggle locked guns due to the complexity and expense of manufacture as it is. There are even fewer rifle-cartridge toggle-locked guns (especially that went into production). As well as the high level of accuracy required for these to function, they also need to have a very strong recoil spring and a conventional toggle-lock doesn’t provide great purchase when cocking. The LMG25 has a separate operating handle to aid with this.

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The LMG25 is also interesting because as well as being toggle-locked it fires as you would expect a support weapon to do, from an open bolt. It is the only firearm of which I am aware that is both of these.

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The open toggle. When opened, it kicks open the two-part dust cover. Anyone familiar with the Luger will recognise the parts of this.

Just in case this wasn’t different enough for your liking, it is also unconventional in that the barrel does not stop once the toggle is broken open but keeps moving backwards. The shell is still ejected as the toggle moves much faster than the barrel.

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The dust cover in the closed position below, and open above. It is in two parts to fit around the toggle. Very Swiss. 

In spite of all this strange-ness and the alleged complexity of toggle-locked guns (over-egged by those who have spent no time with them) it is very simple to field strip. One large nut at the back of the receiver allows you to remove the recoil spring, then pull out the barrel assembly. What about the bolt? Well the bolt/locking mechanism is all part of the barrel assembly on this so the whole lot pulls out together. Neat for cleaning in the field.

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The barrel/bolt/locking unit, showing the extravagant fluting on the barrel normally hidden by the shroud.

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Top view of the toggle when removed from the receiver.

While beautifully made, this type of gun never really caught on. It served the Swiss well, where money was no object for a relatively small army but for any other military the expense would have far outweighed any advantages. 

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Of course due to never being adopted outside of its home country, which didn’t participate in any conflicts during this period (or ever since about 1847) it never saw active service so it is difficult to say how it would have performed. 

 

If you want to see some footage of the LMG25, Ian at Forgotten Weapons has a nice video talking through one in Belgium here:

He also has some awesome footage of another LMG25 firing, including a lovely bit of slow-motion:

Don’t forget to check out Forgotten Weapons’ page on the LMG 25 here for more information on the gun and high-res pictures.

Vintage Airsoft will be building an LMG25 over the next few months with progress posted up here.

 

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog or drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our complete products through Etsy.

Spring SMLE: Part 2

Cold War, Custom builds, Imperial Era, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

At the end of the last post, the SMLE looked like this:

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The next steps were to permanently attach the buttstock and fit the top handguard.

I cut the recess in the top guard to fit around the action and the barrel.

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I then cut space for the middle band. Once fitted this gave a rough idea of the sizes the furniture would need to be trimmed down to.

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In place, it all looks a bit square. Time to put it on the shave horse and put it to the drawknife.

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A bit of working later, the stock parts are rounded off and level.

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There is a slight bulge above the action as it is thicker much further down the rifle than on the real thing, but is isn’t too obvious. Once the rear sight is in place it should break up this bulge and make it almost imperceptible.

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For future models I may do a Top Dead Centre (TDC) modification, which will allow me to make the action a little shorter and reduce the bulge as with this mod there is no longer a large sliding part needing space at the front.

I shall be making the rear sight from steel, laser cut. This will be easier than modifying an original as it has to fit around the spring receiver. It will however take an original sight leaf. 

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At long last, the parts arrived! Welded together and smoothed out, next step is to attach the sight leaf. 

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This will take an original Enfield sight or a copy I’m making. It will be oil finished for maximum wear resistance.

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You can see the whole build so far here and a potted history of Lee-Enfield development here.

Don’t forget to join Vintage Airsoft on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest build photos, history and classic firearms.

GaSMLE: Finished

Cold War, Custom builds, GaSMLE, Imperial Era, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

Some pictures of the finished Gas SMLE!  In future I may add a charging bridge and a cut out for stripper clips in the receiver but for now I’ll keep it as-is.

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i have left the inner barrel protruding for now as it makes it easier to chrono! I may change this in future.

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Real steel rear sight, with the rear hand guard made to fit the receiver.

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If you are like this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

You can also buy many of our finished products in our Etsy store.