MAS 36: Complete

Cold War, Complete builds, Custom builds, MAS 36, Products, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

Though I say so myself, she’s rather nice. When I first took on the MAS 36 build, it was just an interesting commission. Now, I rather want one. A fascinating rifle and it’s satisfying to have an airsoft version of it.

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The far side, showing the sling arrangement.

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The rear sight is designed along the same lines as the original.

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To adjust the elevation, you press down the leaf and move the slider. The markings are visible in this picture as well, recessed deep into the receiver like the originals

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The VSR magwell, shared between the foreguard and receiver. As you can see, this is the MkII magwell, which allows you to fit an extension if you struggle with the catch, useful for cold weather if you have to wear gloves.

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The 3D printed middle band. It should be strong enough for use as I thickened it quite significantly, not to mention the steel screw running through it

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The original woodwork really adds to this build. As and when I can do another I may make the top guard a good bit skinnier.

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The bolt, all oil finished. Though I say so myself it looks the part.

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The bolt handle operates at 90º, like the original.

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At the front, something important was missing. I realised it was the bayonet. I had a MAS bayonet mould made up already for the FG42, so I made another and adjusted it to fit.

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Every rifle wants a bayonet really, but especially when it is built in. This one has a plastic stiffener running through it to prevent excessive wobble.

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If you like this build you can see the rest of the project here. If you 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 smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

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MAS 36: Introduction

Cold War, History, MAS 36, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

During the 1920s and 30s, the French Military undertook an extensive project of re-organising and updating their small arms. Although this seems rather contrary to the Treaty of Versailles, the French had a real hodge-podge of weapons after WWI.

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The Infantry rifle program had three tiers: Firstly to convert all of their existing rifles to a new cartridge 7.5mm rimless, a semi-auto rifle for frontline combat troops to follow up on the largely successful experience of the RSC1917 during the Great War and finally, when these developments took longer than expected, a new bolt-action in the new cartridge.

This bolt-action was designed to be a simple, cheap second line rifle to equip those not needing a semi-auto.

In spite of development starting in the 20s, the new rifle was adopted, as the name suggests, in 1936.

This rifle is an integral magazine, stripper clip fed rifle of epic simplicity, with 65 parts only. This was designed to have minimal user-operable and modifiable parts (what today may be called ‘soldier proof’), with most of these being the bolt and its components for cleaning.

The sights were armourer adjustable, with a simple elevation adjustment for range for use by the soldier. These were a rear mounted aperture and chunky front post protected by wings. Later versions had a fully encircled foresight.

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The bolt handle is bent forward  to be above the trigger for faster cycling, reminiscent of the Metford and Lee Speed series of rifles.

The locking lugs are at the back of the bolt, in the hope that they would be less prone to mud fouling and the bolt itself could be removed and stripped without tools.

An interesting feature carried over from previous French small arms: the MAS36 lacked a manual safety. The French taught soldiers to carry the rifle with an empty chamber, full magazine, so a manual safety was unnecessary.

MAS40

The MAS40, France’s intended frontline rifle.

French rifle manufacture accelerated in the lead up to the German invasion in 1939/40, and a good number of MAS 36s were in solder’s hands by this time. The MAS 40 semi automatic being just ready for adoption but not for production, the MAS 36 was the most modern rifle available.

French WW2
With the capitulation of France, the MAS 36’s future looked bleak. The Vichy French kept theirs, Germany captured some and some made their way out of Dunkirk. A handful even ended up with the Resistance.

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In use with Axis forces, here Latvian SS.

They saw service in some remaining French Colonies and some very limited use by the Germans. Postwar, the French picked up production again very quickly, producing the standard rifle, paratroop version as well as versions to fire French 50mm or 22mm NATO standard rifle grenades. The ’36 was sent out to Indochina from 1946 with French forces where it was used against Viet-Minh forces effectively until their war aid from the Soviets improved from bolt-actions to SKS self-loading rifles and AK47s. The ’36 was passed over to local forces and captured in reasonably large numbers by Viet-Minh.

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The paratroop version, shortened, lightened and with a folding aluminium buttstock.

The French were not finished with the rifle however. In Algeria and Morocco, it saw extensive use with French forces throughout the conflict even after the self loading MAS 49/56 started to be made available. It still took until the 1970s before this prewar rifle was relegated to its proper (and originally intended) place in the reserves.

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A MAS49/56, the replacement

The penultimate version of the ’36 was developed by the Navy for line throwing, these were still in use during Desert Storm and are likely still in storage, with the last being a .22 conversion for training.

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Senegalese soldiers with US Officer Cadets on exercise, 2009.

The MAS 36 ended up being distributed to and used by former French colonies in the main, with the highly unstable Central African Republic being the last to use it as a frontline combat rifle officially. It still serves in a number of countries as a second line or unofficial arm for militia units.

 

Or it did, until the Syrian Civil War. It was still in use as late as 2015 there with use only tapering off due to ammunition sourcing issues.
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I am of course working on an airsoft MAS-36. It is VSR based and will use the MkII magwell, 3D printed parts and original woodwork.

I would very much like to recommend these articles 1 and 2 if you want to read more about MAS 36 use.

You will be able to follow the build progress here as it is published.

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 smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

MAS 36: Build

Cold War, MAS 36, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

The first step was to fit the woodwork as far as possible. Due to the split woodwork I have to estimate it to some extent as I’ll have to fill the gap with a receiver.

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I’m using the MkII magwell, a much easier design to fit than the previous version.

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Rough fitted, I can design the receiver.

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Three days and many cups of tea later…

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This has been done in two parts, the trigger guard tang is being done separately, which gives me a bit more flexibility if a dimension is out slightly.

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And on the other side, markings. I’ve really got into doing these lately, they are satisfying to reproduce and add an air of authenticity to the replica.

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The rear sight is the early pattern one to go with the rest of the gun. Finding photographs of this variant to work from was very tricky, but the end result works just like the originals.
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The receiver, now printed, arrives!

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And amazingly, this fits first time. As does the rear sight unit.

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The underside looks a bit rough now, but a bit of filing down will smooth it off nicely.

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The rear sight is adjusted by pushing the leaf down and adjusting the slider forwards and back, a pretty unusual system.

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Once I’d cleaned out the peep hole it’s quite a nice light sight.

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The top hand guard was a bit of a puzzle. The wood of the original stock was a mystery, certainly not like anything I’ve worked on before, it has the appearance of beech but is much easier to work. I’ve decided it must be something tropical, given the French had Colonies in Africa and the Far East it’s not beyond the pail to think they may have shipped in some durable, rot-resistant timber that would be perfect for gunstocks.

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The timber I have used is also a mystery wood. Given to me by a friend its previous life was as some window frames, but this use is much better. Nothing else matched the original wood quite as well in grain structure and once stained or oiled to match it should blend in nicely.

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Unfortunately due to having to house the VSR I couldn’t be completely true to the original shape of the rifle. Once the middle band is in position it should break up that slight slope quite nicely though.

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And the nose cap or, as the French call it: Mouthpiece. This is the late type as the early type (when they are available) are about £50 at the time of writing. Understandable as they were only used on the first two/three batches of guns or so compared to the six or seven runs that came later. I’ll be modifying it to look correct for this early model.

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The next step was the bolt handle, as I was making a batch of Enfield bolts already I added this to the parts list. The main shank was turned on the lathe, left just a smidgen longer than an Enfield bolt. The haft is 8mm steel bar bent to the correct shape.

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This was a really tricky one to do, most bent bolt handles  have one bend in them and are then straight down or slanted back. This one is not only slanted forward, but has a kink outwards from the rifle as well, this with bolt operating speed in mind as the rifle was designed at a time where the replacement of bolt actions with self-loading rifles was imminent.

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From this angle you can see the outwards kink. I feel I’ve got this pretty darn close to the original though I say so myself.

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The back cap made, I’m going to have to add some detailing to this to make it look right.

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The new middle band/sling swivel arrangement. This had to be 3D printed as there were absolutely none to be found.

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The mouthpiece and front sight guard has finally been modified. I cut the top of the hood off, straightened the steel and added the lips to the wings with the MIG welder.

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The back cap details added, I put the straight lines in with the hacksaw, the letters with stamps. If I did this again I’d probably soften the metal before doing these as it turned out to be a little harder than expected resulting in stampings that weren’t as deep as I’d like.

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Fitting the trigger guard permanently in place. You may also notice I’ve done the first paint coat on the receiver, oil finished the bolt and added a finish to the top guard.

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This is pretty much the job done. There are a few bits of detailing and last touches to complete the rifle but I’ll let you enjoy the overall effect of the finished item.

 

If you want to see the finished item, you can see it here when it’s posted.

Don’t forget you can buy many of our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here

If you 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.

L42A1: Build 4

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

It has been quite a while since my last L42 post, which I finished with the famous last words: “There’s really not much more to do on this now.”

Well, there wasn’t on that one, it was alright when finished and I used it a few times in games but there were a few ways it could be improved, so I’ll share the improvements here taking over from the last build with my second model.

 

Most of the build so far has been very similar to the last L42 model. Where it differs mainly is around the receiver area. Previous models have been quite skinny and lightweight, but I’ve found them a little unsatisfactory so have beefed up the latest design and built it around the rail that is mounted on the standard VSR I use. This should help to pin it down and keep it solidly mounted, which will improve accuracy with iron sights and provide a more solid mounting for scopes.

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The side plate in place, this will need permanently affixing.

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The side plate protrudes slightly further forward than the rest of the faux receiver, a minor mistake I will correct in a future version of this.

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The top guard now slots in under a securing bracket that is part of the receiver. I’m hoping to do away with the securing screws used in the previous rendition so that the only hole will be for the hop unit adjustment.

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The new rear sight in place. This is a slightly nicer one than my previous sight with some milled parts rather than being entirely pressed steel.

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The inner barrel cut to length and re-crowned on the lathe. I made a barrel support and spacer plug in plastic.

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A dry assembly of nearly everything. I need to get the scope mount finished and fit the foresight guard.

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The receiver isn’t lined up perfectly, this is the sort of thing the dry assembly is to pick up. I can make these tweaks before applying the metal and wood finishes.

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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. 

K98k: Complete

Complete builds, Custom builds, K98k, Weapons, WWII

The VSR K98k is now finished, and she is a pretty one.

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From the outside, the only major giveaway that this is not a real K98k is the VSR magwell in the belly. The eagle-eyed may notice the bolt handle being set back a little (alas unavoidable). 

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The oil blued barrel fits in with the existing metalwork and furniture nicely. As it dulls with age it will fit in better.

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The 3D printed rear sight, which is part of the kit I will be offering people who want to do their own K98k conversion

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The back cap looks the part, even if it doesn’t function. It is certainly an improvement on the original VSR cap!

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Likewise the bolt stop, has no function on this but really adds to the replica. For the uninitiated to the Mauser system, this catch holds and releases the bolt during use and disassembly respectively.

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If you are interested in the history of the K98k, you can check out the introduction article here, or see the whole build process here.

If you 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.

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

Kar98k: Build 2

Custom builds, K98k, Weapons, WWII

The next step was sorting out the fore-end. The foresight was 3D printed in ABS, I used filler paint to hide the layers and give it a textured look. It is screwed down to the barrel. The barrel is a piece of steel ERW tube, polished on the lathe and oil finished. This gives it a nice, subtly shiny finish that looks rather like a deep bluing.

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A closer look and you can see the adjustable foresight blade.

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A quick view of the bottom, showing the new fake magwell and real magwell. The receiver screws down into the back of this section, the front of it is supported by the metal frame of the VSR magwell.
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The next step is to make the bolt handle unit. This is made in four parts. I turn the ball on the lathe, drill through it to fit a narrow diameter round bar which is brazed in place. I attach it to another part made on the lathe, which surrounds the haft of the bolt and has a cutout for the out of battery safety.

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The back cap is cast from my original 3D printed model used on the G98.

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And that, pretty well, is that. Just a few last bits of touching up paint here and there. I’ll also be making a scope mount for this soon, once I have worked out how to make one that looks ‘right’.

Finished pictures to come!

If you are interested in the history of the K98k, you can check out the introduction article here.

If you 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.

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

 

 

 

Kar98k: Build 1

Custom builds, K98k, Weapons, WWII

Now, this is a build I’ve wanted to do for a while. Having found a keen customer who had all the parts it is now nicely underway!

This is a VSR-based build, the most practical option for a spring-powered bolt action rifle. I’m using an original stock which will be modified to take the new parts. You will be glad to hear that it isn’t a WWII period stock so far as I can tell.

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The action dropped in fairly easily, a square cut for the fore-end, the back being scooped out carefully to fit snugly.

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A view inside.

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The barrel, naturally, goes through the barrel recess.

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I then chased out part of the fore-end of the action recess all the way through the stock for the magazine well. The one slight faff with doing VSR Mausers in this way is that the faux magwell meets the real one but this is not a major issue as I’m expecting to make a new faux magwell from scratch.

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The outer barrel is a piece of ERW tube, which is the perfect size to use the original fittings. This will be cut to size closer to the end of the build.

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The VSR based rifles are still experimental at this stage, I’ve produced about four or five different magazine catch designs which I am putting into different guns for customer feedback.

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I’m very please with my rear sight design for this build. 3D printed, once painted up this will really look the part and gives the user elevation control.

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Best of all it will fit snugly onto the receiver with minimal faff. It would be nice once my casting setup is complete to make this in aluminium.

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On the rifle with its Uncle the G98. What you can’t see is the TDC hop mod which is part of the sight unit. This disposes of the rather finicky and annoying side adjustment arm that is the weak point in a normal VSR system.

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There’s still a good bit more to do on this rifle, but the framework is all there. It’s really, really comfortable and I can’t wait to get the bolt handle in place along with the last external parts and start shooting.

 

If you are interested in the history of the K98k, you can check out the introduction article here.

If you 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.

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

 

Kar98k: Introduction

Cold War, K98k, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

After the Great War, the Treaty of Versailles (TofV) put strict limits on the number of weapons, ships and small arms. Germany, like all the major powers, had learned that short rifles were every bit as good as a long rifle for any realistic infantry use and frankly better in any situation other than firing in ranks.

As a result, they disposed of a lot of their G98 long rifles, keeping hold of far more Karibiner 98az models, though producing the so-called K98b (which was basically a G98 with a tangent rear sight and turn-down bolt) during the Weimar years. How many ‘b’s were produced is uncertain, but they don’t feature in pictures of the period.

During the inter-war years, levels of tolerance to the TofV fluctuated, with many civilian hunters and paramilitaries reluctant to give up their beloved weapons. As a result many were hidden, coming out of the woodwork to fight street battles between Communist and Fascist militias, the militias and the government and eventually into service with some government units.

K98k, with laminate stock.

In 1934, the German Army ordered a new design of rifle. The reasons of this are not entirely obvious, but given the timing one could conclude that it is related to: the re-armament of Germany and therefore standardisation on one rifle for all to simplify production and logistics. It would also allow for the removal of the G98/K98b from regular service and finally push those pesky long rifles to the reserves.

 

With this short rifle as standard, the Germans also standardised on the new s. S Patronen (previously used for machine guns) which produced less muzzle flash in the shorter barrels.

 

Early K98ks were blued, with walnut stocks, though changes were made to this as it went through its service life. Over time, laminate stocks were introduced, which were cheaper and required less processing time for the timber. Oak was used as a stand-in from 1943. Parkerisation was used to finish the metalwork on later models, making for a much hardier finish than traditional bluing.

The K98k is one of history’s iconic sniper weapons. Many were equipped with the ZF39 scope (pictured) and these were preferred by ‘true’ snipers.

Most famously, the K98k was the standard German rifle of WWII, but it was also used by Sweden and captured units by the USSR to fill gaps in their own equipment.

Later in the war the ZF41 scope was also issued. This clipped onto a mounting next to the tangent sight and could be removed quite easily. At 1.5x magnification it was unpopular with snipers and had a fairly poor field of view but it did allow sharpshooters to perform something of a Designated Marksman role as it would be called in modern parlance.

Post-war, it saw service with the Viet-Minh/Viet-Cong (Soviet captures sent as war aid), Korea, France, West Germany, Norway and Yugoslavia, all with their own local modifications. They also saw action in Palestine, where they were used against Arabs and British forces. Even in the latest Iraq War and following insurgency they were being used against Coalition Forces.

Participants of the Haganah revolt against British control of Palestine carry K98ks and a Sten MKII.

This really is just to scratch the surface. The K98k and its Mauser brethren went everywhere and did everything, much like its sister bolt-actions of the era well outlasting standard military use to serve in specialist roles even up to today with some armed forces. This is not to even mention civilian use.

 

Vintage Airsoft is currently working on a VSR-based K98k and will be posting the build to the blog as it progresses.

 

You can find more information on the K98 through these links:

Weimar rifle markings

Overview/test of a repro ZF41

Very late WWII Volksturm K98-based rifle

Norwegian Mauser

Israeli 7.62 Mauser

 

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.

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.