The DeLisle Commando Carbine: Introduction

Cold War, Delisle, History, Rifles, Suppressed, Weapons, WWII

The DeLisle carbine was born of a need, usually by special forces units, to dispatch enemy soldiers quietly. This came from the rise of raiding tactics used by British forces against Fortress Europe, the only way that precision strikes could be made against German targets.

Although large-scale raids did occur, many were smaller scale and undertaken by the newly formed Commandos and Parachute units. Taking out one or two sentries discretely before moving up to the target would allow soldiers to get much closer to their objective before the main, noisy assault. 3-1

The carbine itself was the lovechild of an SMLE, (receiver and furniture) a 1911 (magazine) and a Maxim style suppressor. The reason for its near legendary status as one of the quietest arms ever made is that every aspect of it was either chosen for its quietness or modified to achieve it:

  1. The ammunition: .45ACP is a subsonic cartridge. This means that, never breaking the sound barrier, it does not have a sonic ‘crack’. A quiet ‘whizz’ is easily drowned out by ambient noise.
  2. The SMLE has very few ‘clicky’ parts already. The safety is already silent, the cock on close action means there is a fairly quiet slide into battery. The bolt was baffled so that when opened it would not make a loud clack. For when it was being closed the bolt handle had a baffle so it wouldn’t clack against the receiver band.
  3. The suppressor is huge. Much, much bigger than you could reasonably carry on a pistol. It also proved very effective at catching and slowing gasses down before getting rid of them at a low enough pressure to reduce the noise massively.

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It is known that the DeLisle was issued to and tested by Combined Operations (who ran the Commando type raids) in the field, but finding solid accounts of their use during WWII in Europe is pretty tricky. The only account I have found so far is one by a Jedburgh Commander who says that one was used to successfully dispatch two German officers (1944). D1-4

Other more substantial accounts outlining more specific details of their use have been recorded in the Far East against the Japanese and during the Malayan Emergency. They point to it being used very much as a psychological weapon, taking out individuals during ambushes at night or on roads during the day, killing one or two men in a lorry. Being almost silent, the Japanese involved struggled to know they had been fired upon and even more-so where from.

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Similarly it was deployed against bandits and terrorists in Malaya, allegedly by plantation operators. One man caught out alone in the fields had a significant advantage when he could fire on a group of hostile enemy without giving his position away. Just a couple of men so armed would have a significant force multiplying effect. 

 

Just before I wrap up, the folding stock ‘Para’ version does deserve a mention. Originally, these were supposed to make up 50 items of the order, but it looks as though they were left until last. As a result, when the order was cancelled there was only this sample produced as far as we know.

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And in case you are not familiar with the Vintage Airsoft format by now… I will be building a De Lisle carbine! This build will be VSR based, using my new MkII magwell and almost certainly making use of my lovely ‘new’ mill (more to follow on that when it arrives!).

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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.

Enfield No.4: Introduction

Cold War, History, Lee-Enfield, No. 4 L-E, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

The British had been looking at replacing the Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield No.1 MkIII for some time. In fact from the adoption of the Lee-Metford, the general design had been replaced in general service at least twice and with dozens of minor modifications to boot.

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Trials had even taken place to find its complete replacement before 1914, though the outbreak of the Great War (along with some problems with the .276 Enfield cartridge) prevented the Pattern 1913 Rifle from being adopted and issued. For those not familiar with the P13, it was very much a departure from the Lee design.

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  • It used a Mauser type bolt, front locking rather than rear locking (greater potential for accuracy)
  • It had a rear-mounted aperture sight, rather than a notch mounted halfway down the barrel. This longer sight radius improved accuracy potential and the aperture is a much more natural sight for acquiring mobile targets
  • A 5-round built-in magazine well rather than 10 round detachable. Given the Lee design was put up against Mausers of the 5 round built in magazine type during the Boer Wars and been found drastically wanting it clearly wasn’t seen as much of a disadvantage

These concepts did see some use in the form of the P14 rifle which was almost a .303 version of the P13 and later in the M1917, a version produced by the US in .30-06.

After the end of the Great War, once armies had begun their conversion back to a peacetime footing it was clear that there would be more SMLEs and P14 rifles than they had any use for and the idea of replacing such a plentiful inventory with yet another rifle built from scratch did not hold much water with the Brass. Doing so would also require political motivation and this was lacking in a war-weary country, member of the disarmament-prone League of Nations.

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There were some attempts to bring in the valuable aperture sight, with the added benefit of cheaper manufacturing (the SMLE is an expensive design to produce), though the No.1 MkV of the 1920s proved to actually be more expensive than its predecessor with the rear mounted aperture being quite fragile, though the No.1 MkVI of the 1930s is the predecessor of the No.4, even though it wasn’t adopted (well, sort-of).

As a result, Great Britain and the Empire began WWII with exactly the same rifle as they began WWI. Not an alteration, updated or refined version. Exactly the same. They had even put the magazine cutoff back in place to spite that bit of efficiency saving made during the last war.

However as before, the rifle was still expensive to manufacture and a replacement had to be found. While there were some reserves of SMLEs and P14s (and the US shipping over their unloved M1917s for use with the Home Guard) after the fall of France, Britain needed lots of rifles, fast.

 

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The No.4 MkI was the answer. Adopted in 1941, this design ditched a lot of unnecessary machining on the left side of the receiver and charger bridge and had a simpler stock design. The barrel was heavier and free-floating, meaning greater potential accuracy and last but not least: the aperture sight was mounted on the receiver and was here to stay.

Savage Enfield No. 4 Mk I

 

Further modifications were made during the war for efficiency resulting in the MkI* and postwar the No.4 Mk2 (note the change from Roman Numerals to Arabic in 1944) made improvements to the trigger by attaching it to the action itself rather than suspending it from the trigger guard. A number of MkIs and MkI*s were modernised in this way and the buttplates swapped back to brass after the war efficiency saving of zinc alloy models.

 

The No.4 didn’t make it to the Far East during the War. India and Australia just kept making the SMLE and these were used throughout the campaigns against the Japanese. Postwar No.4s were used in Korea, but by the Malayan Emergency in the late 50s British soldiers were at worst carrying the No.5 Mk1 and much more likely to be seen with the SLR L1A1.

 

This was a long introduction, but the Rifle No.4 was a long time in coming and it seemed a shame to not cover its long and rich design history. If you want to see the very sexy No.1 MkVI trials rifles you can see them here at Forgotten Weapons.

 

I am currently building a No.4 MkI from a VSR for a customer, 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.

Stopping Rifle: Build 2

Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Sporting Arms, Stopping Rifle

At the end of the last post, we were taking a look at the woodwork. Since then I’ve had to take some time out from the workshop but work has not halted!

The rear sight parts have arrived and need some rubbing down and smoothing off before painting up.

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Back in the workshop, the APS shells have finally arrived and been modified to fit the cartridges. This also gives me an opportunity to do a test fire with most satisfying results!

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This was also something of a preview of the finished item. In this shorter format it will make for quite a nice coach gun for suitable games.

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Out came the gouge to finish the front of the comb. I went for a very steep scoop on both sides.

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The depth of it means that I have a nice reference point at the front of the comb.

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The rear sight fitted in place, using the screw thread already built into the gun for the front securing screw and a second one drilled and tapped for the rear screw.

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I may have to fill the screw heads, which being Phillips are a bit unsightly.

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Each of the leaves folds down and back up nicely, though the front is a little floppy at present. I’ll add some material to increase friction before finishing.

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Using the dremmel I etched out an ‘S’ on the tang. When the safety is on, the ‘S’ is visible, when the gun is hot it is covered. Without a positive visual identifier of condition I found this safety design was difficult to check without moving it.

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It’s now really starting to take shape.

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I need to make a new forestock and buttplate, but these are all finishing touches compared to the rest of the work.

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If you are interested in this project 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.

 

 

Inert Welrod Replica

Cold War, Complete builds, pistol, Suppressed, Weapons, Welrod, WWII

This is a little side-project I have been working on due to several requests. This replica Welrod is almost entirely 3D printed. I’ll be offering it in kit and complete form.

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The trigger and grip safety are both sprung.

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Both rear and foresight have blobs of phosphorescent paint to simulate the glowing radio-luminescent sights

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The bolt opens and locks like the original.

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It has a detachable magazine.

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And the shroud can be removed to access the suppressor and barrel.

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The suppressor internals, showing the spacers, rubber wipes and washers.

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And the rebated muzzle, which allowed the gasses to expand a bit for a slightly tidier kill when used pushed up against the body of an unsuspecting target.

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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.

 

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

Stopping Rifle: Build 1

Custom builds, Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Sporting Arms, Stopping Rifle, Weapons

The Stopping Rifle is being built from a Hwasan double barrelled shotgun. The guns themselves are alright, however their standard shells are pretty awful. As a result…

The first step in the stopping rifle build is making usable shells for it. I’m wanting to keep the chunky feel of the standard shells, but with the reliability of something better. Many Hwasan users convert their shotguns to take APS shot shells, I’ll be doing something along those lines by making special shells in the style of .700 Nitro-Express.

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These are 3D printed, painted up and, though I say so myself, look great. This is one type next to an airsoft Webley shell for scale.

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This will have a barrel in it to increase velocity of the 1-2 BBs it will take for a bit more range over a standard shot shell. I’ll make some shot shells for close up work as well.

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On top, I’ll fit these distinctive Express sights. These were designed to allow the shooter to shoot quickly in an emergency as well as fairly precisely when more time was had.

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On the original rifle each leaf was for a fixed range, typically between 50-500 yards depending on the calibre.

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These could be folded down quickly to change the range easily.

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When lined up, the vertical white line helps with foresight acquisition.

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In the real world, I cut out my walnut buttstock.

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Cutting and fitting it to the action was a very involved process.

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To get to this stage took about two hours of solid work. The receiver cutout for this is incredibly complicated, with lots of nooks and crannies.

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Another hour and a half or so later, the action is pretty much fitted.
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The metalwork is recessed quite deep into the wood at this stage, which can be cut back to fit closely. This excess makes it harder initially to fit the metalwork, but it does mean that there won’t be a big shelf between the metal and the wood.

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As you can see, there’s a tiny gap between the stock and action, which I will fill with an oil finished steel fillet which should make a nice contrasting join.

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Next I use the electric planer to take the thickness down to meet the action and add some very rough curves.

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Before achieving the rough shape with the hand plane, drawknife and palm plane.

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If you are interested in this project you can see the introduction 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.

 

Stopping Rifle: Introduction

History, Imperial Era, Inter-War (1918-1939), Sporting Arms, Stopping Rifle, Weapons

The Stopping Rifle is an oddity today, a hang-over from the Golden Days of trophy hunting in the deepest, darkest parts of Africa and the sub-continent.

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Theodore Roosevelt, prolific trophy hunter. Famed for sparing a bear cub and inventing the ‘Teddy’ bear. This elephant was not so fortunate.

The stopping rifle is still part of the (now much rarer) expedition through dangerous game country. When dealing with large and dangerous animals such as the hippopotamus, lions, elephants and tigers, you need a gun that is capable of not only killing the animal quickly, but dropping it on the spot mid-charge.

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While many conventional rifles may be capable of killing an animal at range, if an animal is close enough to your party to make a charge such projectiles can go clean through even a critical area, with the animal not realising it is dead until it has mauled you.

 

As a result stopping rifles fire heavy, slow bullets. A typical 7.62 NATO bullet is 10-11g, a .450 Nitro Express bullet on the other hand is closer to 32g. .700 Nitro Express at 65g is another level entirely.

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.500 NE compared with some more common rounds. Bigger than this you really only have heavy military use rounds and oddball cartridges like the .950 JDJ.

So, why two barrels? Well, given the need for a quick follow-up shot has been around since before the invention of the modern cartridge a second barrel was the only option. However this design classic has survived through not only the bolt-action era but even beyond semi-automatics.

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A taxidermy exhibit at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, Yorkshire, Great Britain. The hunter appears to be using a double percussion gun while his guide reloads the first one.

Firstly, you can switch between triggers very quickly, far faster than operating a bolt. Although modern semi-autos could handle the pressure of these large cartridges, they are far more prone to being affected by the dirt and dust which on long expeditions is a fact of life: especially for a gun that has to be carried ready to fire at all times under severe pressure.

Express sights feature a huge V-notch, with several separate leaves for different fixed ranges. This unusual BSA design also has an adjustable leaf. This design allows for some precision use at close range when there is time, but also allows the shooter to use the foresight as a bead in emergencies.

 

So this hold-over from the Victorians still has its uses and these rifles are still some of the most beautiful examples of private and custom gunsmithing around.

I will be building my own stopping rifle for airsoft use of course, for a safari-type load out, probably paired with the Webley MkVI.

 

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.

Sten MkIV: Build

Custom builds, Sten, Sten MkIV, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

The first major hurdle for me was that my Sten was missing the massive chunk of aluminium that houses the barrel and hop up unit. I measured up one from another gun and created a 3D model to be printed. I added a section to the front for the flash hider which is a separate piece. Running through this and the other part is some 16mm steel tube for strength.

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The stock is made from pieces of laser cut steel. For the very sharp bends I made cuts with the angle grinder, made the folds and welded them up.

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The locking bar is kept in place with two screws. These ride in slots that stop it from travelling too far back or forwards.

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The pistol grip slotted into place, welded on the bottom which was then ground flat to allow the stock to pivot. The trigger guard is huge, the bend was made with wooden formers and the shape was checked against my paper template.

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A close-up of the locking system. This is a pretty solid system, with only the wobble you would expect from a typical Sten stock.

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Once the stock unit was welded onto the backplate, this really started to take shape. Shown below with the stock stowed.

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And the stock deployed. So far it’s more comfortable than it looks, the next step is to make the wooden grips.

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These are made from some leftover walnut I had sitting around. I printed a paper template, cut them out and drilled the screw holes. Then fine fitting and shaping was done with files and the electric hand sander.

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Then it was time to strip everything and finish her up.

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The grips got a quick soaking with some dark red woodstain, followed by hardwax oil.

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All that’s left now is reassembly, fitting a foresight and doing some internal work on the Sten. I’ve swapped the barrel out already for a shorter one but the trigger needs some TLC.

You can see the complete item 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 smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

Sten MkIV: Introduction

Sten MkIV, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

The Sten MkIV has very little written on it, so this introduction will be rather short.

11. Mk 4 sn 3_Web

It was an experimental design to make Britain’s Sub machine gun more compact. This has several possible reasons, but the most likely seeming to my eye (lacking access to original documents) is the Airborne theory. A more compact sub-machine gun than the standard Sten MkII and MkII would make sense for airborne troops and this definitely meets that requirement.

This was ultimately met by the Mk5, which could have its buttstock removed and replaced with a blank backplate.

There were two versions of the MkIV, the ‘A’ which had a hand guard style trigger guard (some say to accommodate arctic mittens) and the ‘B’ which has the trigger and pistol grip advanced to halfway down the receiver. This was apparently an improvement but not enough it would seem!

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The reason the MkIV was rejected during trials was that it was ‘uncomfortable to fire’. This does seem a little bit ironic seeing it was designed to replace the ergonomics-violating MkII and MkIIIs, but judging by what was eventually adopted the general effort was towards a significantly better gun comfort wise rather than a slight improvement.

 

The other possibility is that, being much smaller in the body than a ‘normal’ Sten (especially in the barrel) the recoil, muzzle blast or ejection may have been pretty bad. It’s pretty much impossible to say without access to trials reports or getting to fire the (so far as I can tell) only remaining piece at the Royal Armouries. I suspect it will grow legs and walk out before I am allowed to do that however!

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I’ll be making a MkIVa replica based on the example in the Royal Armouries, as a bit of  change of scene from the bolt actions and machine guns I’ve been building a lot lately!

You can see the build and completed item here. You can see more Sten projects 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 smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

P.S.: Bonus photo of a suppressed MkIVa apparently in the NFC, Leeds.

Suppressed Mk 4A(S)Sten - National Firearms Centre, Leeds, UK (Photo by Frank Iannamico)

State of the Vintage Airsoft 2017 1 of 2

Complete builds, Custom builds

So, the New Year has come round once again. It’s time to look back at the last year’s work and forward to what’s coming in 2018!

 

2017’s top projects

The MG08/15 is FINALLY FINISHED! Hurrah! This thing has been the bane of my life for three years. If something could go wrong, it did go wrong. Several times.

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The Sten MkIV. I’ve not shared the build for this yet as it was a quick side project. This is very fun to use and the ability to make it compact very quickly is a really nice feature.

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The G43 (MkII version!). I know there is some excitement around this, although it’s not a world first by any means, I am very pleased with the end result.

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The Webley snubnose was another side project, starting out life as a Well Webley this is now a useful little sidearm to tuck into my battledress for emergencies!

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The Lee-Enfield No.5 Mk1 ‘Jungle Carbine’. A personal build, quite a few people have asked for them but no-one has committed, so I decided to make one anyway! This is my up close and personal sneaky rifle, with a custom piston and cylinder head to keep noise to a minimum. In that respect rather unlike the original…

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The Pritchard-Greener bayonet has proven very popular. Its novelty value and iconic design is so appealing and I’m sure it will prove popular in Great War Airsoft circles. You can find it on the Etsy store here.

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The K98k VSR conversion is a beauty (though I say so myself). This gun was for a friend of mine, I can see these being a great first conversion job for a rookie airsoft gun builder and I’ll be offering kits to help people do this.

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This LMG25 is I believe a unique airsoft piece. Taking AK magazines, this was built for a contingent of Swiss Border re-enactors so you may see it on the UK show circuit this year.

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I’ve done a few infantry portable artillery bits this year. I did a light version of the SMBL 2″ mortar, ideal for mid-late WWII units, this is one of the more practical mortar designs for regular skirmishing.

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A more sophisticated light mortar was the M2 60mm mortar, this has full elevation and windage control to allow for very precise targeting of enemy positions.

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I converted the D-Boys G98 conversion to VSR, I now use this myself with a Mancraft kit.

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The FG42, probably the second most popular project, only beaten to the top spot by the G43. A lot goes into this build, the details of the folding and adjustable sights, trigger unit and bipod, not to mention the intricate hollow furniture makes this an involved process but with a very satisfying result.

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The Lanchester was probably my favourite customer SMG this year, I’ve been wanting to do one for ages, and would love to see it paired with a Royal Navy Commando load out.

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I’ve also expanded the range of rubber knives this year, including this NR-40, for Russian re-enactors and airsofters.

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Stuff I’ve done that isn’t building guns (directly)

One of my major advances this year is building a furnace in which I can melt aluminium. The next step is to build an oven so that I can heat up and dry out my investment moulds more effectively to get production quality castings.

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I got chance to play American Civil War Airsoft in the latter half of 2017, muzzle loading guns and blatting off three shots per minute is so much more fun than it sounds. I sincerely hope to see more of this in 2018.

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I also jumped forward in time from my usual WWII-era equipment to something a bit more modern. My mid-1970s impressions are developing slowly, with the next major step being to sort a helmet. Then I’ll be covered for most of my Cold War impressions.

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And I finally lost my rag trying to balance my webbing on normal coat hangers. I made a heavy duty, straight backed hanger so that the webbing would stay on it in the wardrobe. 20 minutes well spent preserving my sanity.

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Upcoming in 2018

2018 already has some exciting projects for me. I’ve already got another unusual LMG underway, a couple of rifle builds in the works and I’m hoping to finally have the Welrod done.

I’m also hoping to have a Vintage Airsoft meet up event, once I’ve secured a site I’ll be sharing details here and over at the Facebook page.

 

Wishing you all a happy and interesting 2018,

Dom

 

Sten MkIV: Complete

Complete builds, Products, Sten, Sten MkIV, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

The completed Sten MkIV. Perhaps not a looker, but definitely one of the most practical SMGs I have built to date. When folded, this easily fits in a backpack making it a much more portable choice than my usual long rifles.

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The large trigger guard makes it ideal for use with gloves in cold conditions.

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The buttstock when folded also makes a handy foregrip. In CQB this is very practical for when poking round corners.

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When  you want a little more shooting precision, just grab the inner tongue and pull it towards the buttstock.

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You can then unfold the stock and lock it into position at the back.

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This is pretty comfortable in this layout, though I am not sure if recoil would be easy to control. I can see how the flat steel would be uncomfortable for prolonged periods of shooting, but no more so than many of the previous models of Sten gun. Frankly compared to the prolific T-stock this would still be a huge improvement so I don’t understand how this was rejected due to being uncomfortable while shooting.

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If you missed it, you can see the build post for this project 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 smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.