MG08/15: The last furlong?

Custom builds, Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Machine-Guns, MG08/15, Weapons

Thos of you who have followed Vintage Airsoft for some time will recognise this and be like: “Is he STILL working on that?”. Well, yes. I swear if something could go wrong on this build, it did. At least once. 

So, here’s hoping this is the last build post at long last!

One of the problems was the air seal between the gearbox and the hop unit. This it turned out was caused by flex between these parts, resulting in variation from shot to shot.

 

In the end, I re-designed the mounting plate to feature a hop-up ‘vise’ to hold the unit in place really solidly. There isn’t any wobble in this sod. 

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I had to make a few mods to the trigger unit design and the bottom of the baseplate to work together, but now the trigger raises a sear which sets off the microswitch in the gearbox itself.

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In place, clamped down! I’m still using the same feed system as before. 

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The feed tube comes out to meet the magazines.

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Oh yes, new grips. I wasn’t happy with the old ones, one wasn’t quite spot on, but as with all things the second attempt was much better. I’ve used hardwood this time (as opposed to laminate) and cut in cross-hatching for grip.

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Topping up the paintwork. 

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I’m really looking forward to having the finished photos on this at last.

 

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. 

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Spring SMLE: Complete.

Imperial Era, Lee-Enfield, Products, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

At long last, the first spring rifle is complete! I’m quite pleased with my first attempt at a VSR based SMLE, though there are a few tweaks I shall be making to production versions.

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I think in future versions I shall sit the action lower down in the stock to achieve a lower profile. Then I can add things like a charger bridge, maybe even splitting the back of the receiver for added authenticity.

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This example is using an original rear sight leaf. In future versions I hope to make reproductions to minimise the number of irreparably modified originals. The rear sight will also host the TDC hop adjustment mod, saving you a helpful upgrade.

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I may have to use No. 4 Enfield swivels unless I can find a way to reproduce these, swivels are becoming harder to come by.

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After the success of the 3D printed Sten MkV foresight, I have continued to use this technology here to create the outer barrel impression and foresight unit.

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The barrel has been trimmed down to fit. The VSR barrel is a little long so I removed it, cut and re-crowned it on the lathe.

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Here’s an important feature, I have lined the magazine well with steel which means magazine release should be consistent and not pinched by the wood. Other VSR Enfields don’t have this lining and I have seen magazines get stuck. There is a new design for this which I will use in the production versions to allow very fast magazine changes.

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The fake magazine is solid resin, painted to look right. There is no need to destroy a perfectly good magazine for this build!

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The original buttplate. I’m hoping to make reproduction ones for future versions. As this is an original buttstock you would still be able to fit an original if this happens.

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I’m hoping to improve the bolt handle and back of the bolt shape. However I am pleased with where it now sits, nice and authentic on the rear band you can achieve quite a good rate of fire.

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So, there are some changes to come for production but I’m very happy with this first go!

You can see the whole VSR SMLE build 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. This will be available soon.

Spring SMLE: Part 4

Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

I’ve had the mould sitting about from previous projects for SMLE magazines. I took a resin cast from this, cut it down to size and added some screws into the top to secure to the gun. I painted it with acrylics, which are great for getting metallic and weathered finishes.

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I’ve removed the rear band assembly to do some detailing and finishing work.

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I thought I would attach a few pictures of the band before being cleaned up here as I forgot to show the build process for this part. I’ll let you work out the details…

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Markings will be kept simple for this, no attempt to replicate the originals as they would require a very random set of stamps.

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As I’m replicating various Mks of firearm I can’t use the Mk system to denote changes in the designs of the airsoft versions as ‘SMLE No.1 MkIII MkI’ is a bit confusing! However I’m not going to stamp ‘V0.1’ onto this as it would look out of place, so it will be denoted as MkI. Confused yet? Yeah, me too.

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Now it’s clean and marked up, it’s heated up and into the oil it goes for that lovely, black satin finish.

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Finally, screwing on the buttplate and some last finishing touches before assembly….

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You can see the whole build so far 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.

Mad Mondays: 9. Percussion

History, Imperial Era, Mad Mondays, Weapons

Last week and the week prior, we looked at Colt’s revolvers and some early repeaters, which benefitted hugely from the introduction of the percussion cap. This week we shall look at the more conventional mainstream military uses. Although the Colt revolver did slowly catch on, it was still a freak in military terms, every other man on the battlefield was still using a single-shot, muzzle loaded musket or rifle. The rate of fire had not changed for the majority of soldiers since the mid 1700s.

manualofarms

We’ve already looked at the development of the percussion cap here so we shan’t go over it again. There were clear advantages to military adoption of the percussion cap over flintlocks in the form of reliability (in nearly all conditions), consistency, ease of loading and the lack of the initial puff of smoke and sparks from the pan that makes it easier to hold your aim.

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In spite of this, it still took around 20 years between the initial development of the percussion cap and its common military adoption.  Once the technology had proven itself, the changeover was actually relatively painless in comparison to later developments. Muskets and rifles could be fairly readily modified to take the new technology at relatively little expense.  As a result, this is what pretty much every world military did and it is quite difficult to pin down the first adopters of the percussion cap as there are no distinct new firearms having to be produced to accommodate this new technology.

brown-bess-percussion

Some early examples of the percussion cap in military use include the ‘Brown Bess’ musket, which was converted in fairly large numbers from 1842.  the US adopted a form of the breech-loading M1819 Hall rifle which used a percussion cap in 1833, though this was far from standard issue. The French converted a handful of their 1766 pattern muskets.

fifth1819-hall

It appears that once the concept had been proven, many countries started to build firearms exclusively for this system. Changes were afoot however, which meant that the smooth bore musket  had seen the last of its military usefulness.  Rifles were far superior for accuracy, all that was holding them back was a way to load them at least as fast as a musket so that they could be used for regular troops…

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You can find other articles on the development of firearms overall here and on historical interest pieces here.

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Spring SMLE: Part 3

Custom builds, Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

The last SMLE build post was a view of the rear sight on its own. It is now mounted on the rifle, awaiting the rear sight leaf.

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The foresight unit for this is experimental, 3D printed in ABS. This design isn’t perfect but it’s not a bad start!

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The ridge on the back was accidental, I considered cutting a recess for this to fit, but decided against it. I cut this off and filed it flat.

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A view of the back of the foresight, which has slumped a bit in printing. The next version will hopefully be more square.

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I cut a flat section at the end to take the nose cap insert. The back of the insert doesn’t reach the back of the nose cap, so there is a piece at the back cut to a curve to fit this part into. The hole drilled through is for the vertical  bolt that secures the nose cap.

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In future versions I hope to have wood going further forward into the cap itself, with the transverse nose cap screw going through it. This system is still pretty strong though as it still has a substantial bit of walnut at the front.

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In place, the eagle-eyed among you may notice that the top guard is different to the last picture of it. I’m making a new top guard that is a bit chunkier and rugged than the original for durability.

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There’s still a good bit of material to remove, but this will just be a couple of hours’ work.

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Then some alterations to the rear sight before sanding, oiling and finishing up!
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You can see the whole build so far 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.

Mad Mondays: 5. The Ferguson Rifle

History, Imperial Era, Mad Mondays

The disadvantages of a muzzle-loading firearm at this point were quite clear. They were slow to load, inaccurate and could not be easily re-loaded on horseback. 

The solution would be to switch over to a breech-loading option. This allows for faster re-loading, the ball does not have to be squashed down the barrel or patched (for accuracy) or loose fitting for speed of loading.

The trick was finding a suitable system that could be batch produced. Interestingly, for a time when thread standardisation was a major difficulty in manufacturing, a tapered, 11-thread screw provided a possible solution.

fergusonriflebreech

The inventor was Major Patrick Ferguson, modified from an earlier design by Issac de la Chaumette. Ferguson acquired a patent in 1776 and was permitted to take an Experimental Corps of Riflemen to fight in the rebellion going on in the American Colonies.

The only actions these rifles saw that can be seriously verified are the Battle of Saratoga and the Battle of Brandywine, in which Ferguson was wounded and while recovering, his Corps was disbanded.

 

So, how did this work?

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At the back of the chamber, there is a brass plug. This has a tapered thread. The tapering was important, as once it had been fired fouling would build up on these threads, the tapering would allow free movement of the action once the initial break was made.

The 11 parallel threads meant that instead of a number of revolutions, the breech could be opened in one fluid movement.3388773_02_ferguson_breech_loading_rifle__640

You can then insert the ball into the breech (remember, you’re loading from the breech, not the  muzzle now!), followed by your powder charge. Screw the action closed, clear loose powder off the barrel and prime the pan.

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Although this sounds like an involved process to modern readers, it is significantly faster than reloading a musket correctly, as demonstrated by the rate of fire being 6-10 rounds per minute. Even a very well trained infantryman may only manage 3-4 shots per minute with a muzzle loader.

fergusonriflelargeviewsideplateside mbo51-1b

The Ferguson is widely recognised as being the first breech-loading rifle ever adopted by a military. Although it only saw limited service, it paved the way for other breechloaders to be tried and used. In the US, the M1819 Hall Rifle was adopted and used in the American Civil War, though the first military to adopt a breech-loading rifle as the standard arm for infantry was Norway (the Kammerlader).

Kammerlander

The Kammerlader

 

You can watch a great video on the Ferguson over at Forgotten Weapons here.

 

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The Webley review

Customer Reviews, Imperial Era, pistol, Weapons, webley, WWI, WWII

I thought it was about time that I took a look at the new Well Webley. Having owned a Wingun for some time and having seen the incredibly low price point of the Well I had to see what it was like.

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First impressions:

Side by side, these two guns look very similar in shape. It’s clear that the Well is a plain clone of the Wingun, differing in a few small details, other than the obvious differing finish. Although the Wingun is available in a black finish, I’ve never had one to compare to this.

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The Well finish is thick, when you first get it it needs breaking in a bit to make the action smooth both in the hammer, trigger and break-action.

The Well lacks the detail of trademarks, but in use these are not things you will realistically notice. It does however have some seamlines which would need filing off for the optimal aesthetics.

Weight-wise they are very similar, with similar heft and balance. On the scales, there is only 10g between them. It is quite clear that the Well is a direct clone on the basis of this. Aside from the finish and trades, the only clear identifier of the Well is the screw that controls the cylinder lock. This is a Phillips head rather than a flat head. I have no idea why they chose to do this as they use flat head screws elsewhere.

 

The shells appear to be interchangeable (however see below for more detail on this), I can drop Wingun and Well shells into each revolver with both cycling absolutely fine. The Wingun shells are better fitted and finished, with the heads of the Well shells being a little more rough and a little softer. The Wingun shells also have ‘Webley .455’ written on the back, which may seem to make them more authentic at first glance, this is disregarding the diameter of the shells being .38.

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In terms of feel, both are pretty much identical. The Wingun is perhaps a little smoother, but to be fair it has seen heavy use ever since I bought it, meaning any rough edges have long since worn off. The break action is slightly easier on the Wingun, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I have had this revolver open on me in the field: resulting in either spilt shells or a delay while I close it in order to fire. The Well appears to have a little nodule on the action lock which gives a slightly more positive lock-up.

The Well, on first opening the revolver, had a very loose fitting cylinder. The cylinder lock does not work like the original (which is very well replicated on the Wingun), but appears to be entirely reliant on the two screws that hold the locking piece itself. These were initially far too loose, meaning that the locking piece did not grip the cylinder. On tightening, the cylinder no longer fell out, however it became unreliable to cycle in double action. Loosening the cylinder lock slightly allowed the cylinder to remain locked in place and cycle fairly reliably.

The auto eject works well on both guns. The Well is perhaps a little heavier, but again this could be due to wear on the older Wingun. The barrels, on all airsoft revolvers I have experience of, move forwards and backwards with an attachment that interfaces with the cylinder to provide a seal and reduce gas loss. On the Wingun, this is aluminium. On the Well it is some kind of rubber. I’m yet to see if it actually makes any difference in wear over time but it does seem to make single action use slightly heavier for the Well. Not so much that you would notice in anything other than a precision shooting environment, which these replicas are really not designed for.

On the note of precision, the Well has a feature the Wingun is seriously lacking. The Well comes with a fixed hop pre-installed in the barrel. Although it is not a majorly difficult feat to install a fixed hop using either the o-ring method or a flat hop, it is nice to be saved a job, especially given it would not have been a difficult thing for the original manufacturers to do.

Testing

Conditions of testing:

Chronoing and accuracy testing will be with .25g BBs. The Wingun is not in stock configuration, it has had an o-ring hop added. The temperature outside hovered around 1 degree Centigrade. It was probably colder in the workshop.

 

Time for the fun bit. Firstly, I loaded a new CO2 cartridge into each gun, fired off 12 shots from each to take the edge off (good practice when you are shooting at people!) and loaded the shells. I started with the manufacturer provided shells, then shot some of the Vintage Airsoft single and shot shells

The results were… interesting and somewhat unexpected. To the point where I will probably retest at a later date. It was VERY cold in the workshop which will account for some of the results but not the inconsistency.

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After firing off a couple of batches of shells it felt like the Well was low on power, so I put it aside to run the same tests on the Wingun. When I finished two Wingun tests, I picked the Well up to continue testing and it was back up to strength. Interestingly it seems like the Well suffered from cooldown much more than the Wingun, which considering their build is near-identical is surprising.

Accuracy:


Accuracy tested at 5m, obviously you will generally be further than this. I may come back and do further testing on this at a later date.

On these Huns head targets, the bull is 30mm, the second ring is 70mm.

The Well:

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The Wingun:

wingun

In this test, the Wingun produced a significantly smaller group. In fact the first Well group was largely not on the paper. Further testing is definitely required.

Notes on use:

The extractor of the Wingun is a a bit more positive. The Well sometimes fits the shells and sometimes does not. It seems random as to when it does or does not, I presume this is due to cylinder movement as described in the first part of this review.
It is hard to see the spacing issue with the VA shells due to their being white, in the picture below you can see that the rims sit proud of the cylinder. It’s no more than a millimetre but it prevents rotation and even lockup.

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How it should look:

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Also, when loading the CO2, the Well grip panel did not click back into place easily. I had to bend the spring clip a few times to try and get the correct angle for it to fit into the lock and hold the grip in place properly.

Another issue I had with the Well was that it did not always cycle reliably, the hand would push the cylinder but not push it all the way around somehow.

 

After using the Well for a bit, this happened:

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The extractor snapped. Hence having to come back later.

Summary

In summary… if these revolver were the same price, from my experience of these two samples, I would say the Wingun edges it. It is more consistently reliable and hasn’t broken in my extensive use of it whereas the Well example I have broke in the testing phase.

The Well does have a more positive lockup, which is nice. Also the ready-fitted hop is a good thing, though when firing the shot shells it appeared to have very similarly tight groupings to the Wingun with its o-ring hop.

So the difficult bit is that they are not the same price point. The Well is, at the time of writing, 1/3rd of the price of the Wingun (on a good day). It is hard to say that you should spend so much more even when out of the box reliability is such an issue.

 

I am sure that the Well could be made reliable, but it will require time and effort. The Wingun is a pick up and play gun with minimal maintenance required to keep it going.

 

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Revolvers, giving you hop. Colt Single Action Army stripping.

Imperial Era, pistol, Weapons

Our willing volunteer to have a hop added is this gorgeous blued Colt Single Action Army.

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First step, remove the side plate.

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Then take out the spring and the hand (the part which pushes the cylinder round).

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You can then pull out the centre pin and the drum.

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There is a pin at the top of the barrel in the frame, push this out with a punch and a second pin that holds the ejector unit in place.

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With both of these removed you can take the barrel off.

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You can then slide the inner barrel out. At this point get out the o-ring and round needle file. The o-ring should be 1-2mm thick.

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Then, start working on the barrel. Keep the channel the file produces on one side, by the time you work through to the inside you want about 3-4mm of the circumference removed from the inside. You may wish to give yourself a little extra space on the outside to hold the o-ring. Use a very sharp knife to cut the rubber roughly to size.

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Once in situ, use the knife again to chamfer the edges of the o-ring so that it sits fairly flat against the barrel. There should be minimal space between the rubber and the barrel to preserve the gas seal. Through the barrel you should see just a flat, small line of rubber across the top. It doesn’t need to be much, just enough to catch the BB as it passes. If you can’t see it, file away a little more but go slowly, you can’t add material back on.

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Use the collar at the back of the barrel to hold the o-ring in place. Check inside the barrel to make sure the o-ring hasn’t slipped in. It should be firmly wedged in place by the collar, depending on the pistol you may wish to seal it with electrical tape or PTFE.

Some pistols have a locating lug on this collar, which keeps the barrel oriented in a specific way. This gun does not, but if yours does then make sure the hop window is oriented correctly to the top.

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Put it back in place, make sure the hop window is at the top.

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Re-assemble the gun, there aren’t really any specific tips to put the SAA back together. While you have it open however, oil the moving parts with a little light oil (3-in-1 is perfect) and if you haven’t a CO2 cartridge in, put silicone oil into the cartridge pin and on the seal. Revolvers don’t need a lot of maintenance, but a bit of oil every now and then keeps them going nicely.

 

If you are so inclined, you could use a flat file and install a flat hop instead, though this fixed hop is quite adequate. 

 

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Gewehr ’98 Part 4

Custom builds, G98, Imperial Era, Rifles, Weapons, WWI

I used an epoxy putty to fit the buttplate due to the awkward shapes involved.

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I also replaced the bolt handle, which had been secured with a small M3 screw which wasn’t solid enough to endure repeated use. Now it is secured with an 8mm plug and pinned in place. It is now also steel, so it shall wear better and keep its colour.

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I also replaced the front band/bayonet lug with an original, stainless steel one.

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Pretty well finished now! Just got to put the band and top hand guard back together. Completed pictures to follow.

 

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.

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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.

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