Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifled Musket: Introduction

Custom builds, Imperial Era, Muskets and muzzle loaders, P53, Weapons

For nearly 150 years, the British Army’s main arm had been the smoothbore musket referred to generically as the Brown Bess. This name covers a number of patterns that were used through this time and includes both the original flint-locks and the percussion cap conversions.

 

The Rifled Musket was the next major step for field armies. Unfortunately, the necessity of having a snug fitting projectile meant that the rate of fire that could be achieved with a smoothbore couldn’t be managed with a rifle. As a result they were not widely used (although some were adopted prior to this, usually for specialist units).

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The invention that changed this was the Minié ball (Minnie ball in British slang). In the late 1830s-1840s a series of expanding bullets were designed that were smaller than the barrel (so could be loaded as quickly as a round ball) but when fired spread and engaged with the rifling.

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This all happened at much the same time as everything was kicking off in the Crimea between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire. As a result this war was fought with a mixture of rifled and smoothbore muskets, with the Pattern 1853 making its debut there the following year.

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This rifle served in a number of other actions, most famously the Indian Mutiny, the US Civil War (on both sides) and the Second Schleswig War.

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Eventually, the P53 was replaced with… itself. Well, the Snider conversion allowed the P53 to take cartridges through an inexpensive breech conversion, but the story of the Snider-Enfield is for another day.

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I’ll be building a P53 Enfield over the next few months for American Civil War airsoft, eventually I hope to upgrade it to the Snider pattern for a slightly more skirmish-able gun.

 

If this project interests you, you will find the build posts here as they happen.

 

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.

Lee-Enfield-Mk.V-sides

 

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.

 

 

Vz.24: Introduction

Inter-War (1918-1939), Rifles, Vz.24, Weapons, WWII

The Vz.24 rifle was produced from 1924 and was part of the generation of universal short rifles that followed the Great War, where long rifles proved unnecessary at best and an inconvenience or danger at worst. The hassle of issuing different arms to different unit types was more hassle than it was worth: the short rifle format as used by the British and US proved its worth up to any expected combat range in the way warfare turned out to be fought, with the extra length of the long rifle no longer needed for fighting in line. 

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Czech soldiers on exercise in 1939.

The Czechs had been using a domestically produced version of the G98 previously with a few of their own preferred tweaks, but presumably wanted something handier and lighter.

The Vz.24 was originally produced in 7.92 Mauser (8mm Mauser to most people), but were also produced in calibers to suit users other than just the Czech military (it was originally manufactured for) which were many: China, Spain, nearly a dozen Latin American countries, Iran, Romania and even Germany.

photo ecuador officers 1924

Ecuadorian Officers in the 1920s with their pristine Vz.24s. Ecuador was one of many Latin American countries to adopt this rifle.

After Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Brno’s production was turned to German use. A version of the Vz.24 was produced for the occupiers (renamed the G24(t)) with some small modifications, until the production line was turned over to K98k production.

SS Vz 24 in training

SS training with a Vz24. These rifles were mainly second line use but the SS, being outside of the normal military procurement system, seem to have ended up with them. 

The G24(t), the Germanised version of the Vz.24, features some nods to the K98k; including the disassembly tool in the butt and the alternate sling arrangement, with the deletion of the wrist-mounted swivel.
 

G24t-tiltI have a VSR-based Vz.24 in the works at the moment for a customer. It’s using an original stock and as many original parts as possible.

 

You will be able to see the build process 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.

Vz. 24: Build 1

Inter-War (1918-1939), Rifles, Vz.24, Weapons, WWII

The printed parts for this arrived first. The design is based on the K98k I produced previously. 27710779_10156349726138623_307322835_o

The main difference is in the back of the sight, different in shape and in the profile of the notch. The sight base is less the scope mount on the K98k.

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The bolt back cap is the same as the other Mausers. Shown here is a bent bolt handle, though I’ll be fitting this rifle with a straight one as per the early Vz24s.

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At the front end, I’m using a short section of tube as a place holder for the full length barrel I’ll be putting in later. The top guard has to be custom made to accommodate the VSR and will be quite thin when finished to try and keep the shape as close as possible.

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The rear sight base screws into place and should be reasonably solid, given its being surrounded by wood.

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The wood around it had to be lowered slightly to give access to the sight. I’ll shape the wood around it.

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The foresight, 3D printed and then cast in resin from a silicone mould. The barrel crown holds the front of the inner barrel.

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With the addition of the faux cleaning rod this build is coming together very nicely!

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The next step is to make modifications to the receiver to make it look right, plus a few details like the wrist sling mount and buttplate.

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: 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.

G43 AEG Mk2: Complete

Battle Rifles, Complete builds, Custom builds, G43 MkII, G43/K43, Weapons, WWII

I know some people are quite excited about this project so let’s get straight stuck straight in with some pictures!

Left side:

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Right side:

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The 3D printed receiver.

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The rear sight, adjustable for elevation via the leaf. The rear sight adjustment is controlled by the bar across the leaf which is held in place by teeth and spring tension.

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The receiver open. You can now see the finishing touches to the slide, which has been painted up using a mix of acrylics and coarse sand. This simulates the rough cast surfaces left over that were not milled flat as a manufacturing expediency.

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The foresight unit, 3D printed and pinned in place. The blade is adjustable for windage once the hood is removed.

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The barrel is black painted. Production versions of this may be oil blacked, though the fore-end cap will likely be printed rather than metal.

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The magazine well and trigger guard. I may have to beef up the trigger guard in future versions. The magazine release is the small catch between the  magazine and the guard. Although not greatly ergonomic, the original was designed to be fed with stripper clips to be fair.

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A second view.

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The buttstock needs a bit more work for production, but it’s a satisfying result. For production I am going to try and put a sling mounting through it as per the original.

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The buttplate comes off to access the battery compartment.

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A quick view down the gun from the back.

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I’m very pleased with this build I must admit. It looks the part and has a nice heft to it. Of course there have had to be some dimensional changes to fit the airsoft internals, but they aren’t any worse than AEG M1 Garands and without a direct comparison it ought not stand out too much.

Finally WWII airsofters have an option for a rifle that isn’t a K98k or an STG44.

 

If you have enjoyed 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.

 

 

G43 AEG Build 2: Part 3

Battle Rifles, G43 MkII, Weapons, WWII

The last leg of the G43 build are the details that will make it really look the part. First up: the rear sight leaf. This is adjustable for elevation, using a spring and teeth that engage on the right side of the leaf.

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At the front, I’ve had a spring 3D printed. This slots into the nose cap provided by the client.

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At the back of the receiver, the new one has the disassembly lever.

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The rear sight in the flesh. It is kept down by the spring in the front of it.

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Eagle eyed viewers will notice that the receiver has changed a bit, there are now two scoops in the side up by the chamber. There are also stronger rails which had proven a little bit weak to stand up to repeated disassembly.

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The rear sight in place on the new receiver. 

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The foresight is pinned in place with two 3mm pins. The foresight blade is adjustable for windage, so with the rear sight elevation adjustable you have a good range of adjustment.

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Although this is now nominally all in place, I need to do some last bits of finishing. Although it is all there there is something missing to give it that ‘X-factor’. I expect it’ll all come together once the painting has been done.

 

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 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.