PZB 39: Build 3

Anti-Tank, Custom builds, PZB-39 Rifle, WWII

The basic components for this build are all in place, now it is time to add in the parts that pull it all together.

Next up was to fit the buttplate, the top half of this is fixed in place but the bottom folds in to help the rifle pack up smaller for transport. 20161129_141747

In the folded position. Once the cushioned pads are in place it won’t fold quite as far as this but it allows it to fold a lot closer than it would otherwise.


I have now planed the stock down to its rough shape, adding the grooves with the router. If I was doing this again, I would definitely make these grooves sooner as achieving a straight and level cut on this shape is quite tricky!


The forestock needs another mounting point further back to really solidly hold it in place, I expect I will have to make some kind of band that slips around the action as the bottom of the tubes at the chamber end are all cut open to hold the airsoft parts. It may make sense to combine this with the rear sight, which is still yet to be mounted.


The rear sight fitted in position. This is welded into place on the front. I decided not to use this at the attachment point, instead adding a second screw well behind the first one.


Taking the buttstock home, there are a couple of bits of fabric work for this build. Firstly, the leather cheek rest, presumably added to keep the cheek away from cold metal. It certainly doesn’t provide any great cheek weld.

The second part is the cushioned buttpad, to absorb the not insignificant recoil on the original!


The leather cheek rest is laced on so it can be removed easily. The originals were sewn on but this looks the part and makes it easier to remove and maintain.


I have to make the carry handle covers, fit the foresight and re-assemble to paint it, but that’s the majority of work to come.


In the meantime, the trigger unit cover and pistol grip. I already welded the grip together, at this stage I used a bolt to line up the hinge points and the grip over the cover plate. This can be tacked down so the whole unit swivels as one.


In place. The receiver was slightly out of square, so I used a clamp to hold it in place while I made adjustments.


Although the pivoting grip unit doesn’t cycle the action like the original, it will be useful for disassembly.


It opens much like the original.



At the front, I now have a cover plate for the magazine well, which can be swivelled aside to access the magazines and change them.



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.

PZB-39: Build 2

Anti-Tank, Custom builds, PZB-39 Rifle, WWII

The next step is to make the new bolt action. This allows the bolt to be used without cutting out a section at the side of the receiver.


The front section locks the breech and operates the out of battery safety. The knob at the back keeps this in place and allows the user to grip the bolt to operate it.


The receiver of the donor rifle (a VSR clone)  screws into the receiver of the rifle.


The top of the receiver is welded in place, as are the thick back parts of the barrel. These also support the weight and hold the position of the internal parts.


Slowly, I add on the rest of the barrel. To simulate the tapered barrel of the original I am stepping it down slightly along the length at opportune positions.


This thing is now huge. It is already longer than the G98, even without the buttstock attached!


The next job was to rough fit the woodwork. This is always very challenging, especially for the VSR rifles.


Apologies for the quality of the pictures here, my camera was out of action so resorted to the ‘phone!


This is important, the carry handle makes something like this just about portable.


I bent two pieces of steel to shape by hand, two screws hold them together at the top. I will temper the steel so that it is stiff enough to hold the weight of the gun.


And the buttstock is screwed into place. I will be modifying the top screw so that the stock can be folded and unfolded easily.


The next few steps are to shape and finish the woodwork, screw said woodwork into place and mount the bipod, foresight unit and buttstock lock.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to getting this finished, it’s making my gun rack look comically small!



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.

PZB-39: Build 1

Anti-Tank, Custom builds, PZB-39 Rifle, Weapons, WWII

After some extensive design work, laser cut parts and some timber start off the build!


I started by bending the buttplate components. Part of this folds down to make a more compact package. I designed this with tabs and etched lines to make folding as precise and easy as possible. I could then weld the parts in place to maintain they shape and increase the strength of the parts.


I then welded the inner pieces of the receiver and the buttstock hinge unit.


This pivots to shorten the length of the weapon to make it *slightly* more portable, such as anti-tank rifles ever are.


A piece of steel tube makes the rest of the back of the unit. It will be welded onto the top part of the buttplate. Here you can see the outer plates of the receiver in place, which stops the stock from folding up over the gun when in use.


The pistol grip and trigger guard unit. In the original this is used to open the breech and eject the spent case. In this version sadly it won’t be possible to do this, but it will be used for disassembly.


For the front end, the bipod unit is coming together, to keep it light and strong the legs and feet are thin gauge steel plate, folded and welded into shape. These will then be attached to the hinge which is thicker steel for strength.



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.

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

PZB-39: German Anti-Tank Rifle

Anti-Tank, Custom builds, History, Products, PZB-39 Rifle, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

The anti-tank rifle was, for many years, the only device capable of disabling a tank. In the Great War, British tanks were faced with the German T-Gewehr, a huge single-shot, large calibre Mauser rifle, which was moderately effective at short ranges but resultantly terrifying to use. Combine this with the shoulder-destroying recoil and this was a less than satisfactory solution.


The T-Gewehr itself was supposed to be a stop-gap until Germany could bring its anti-tank machine-gun into production and deploy it. However the end of the war came before this could happen and as a result the only infantry anti-tank technology anyone had seen in action was the T-Gewehr.


0.55 inch Boys Anti-tank rifle.

In the inter-war period, some development was carried out by all major nations into infantry tank-destroying technologies, all based around the anti-tank rifle. The only other option was the small artillery piece carried by infantry regiments. By the opening of WWII, the most prominent anti-tank rifles were the British Boys rifle, Finnish Lahti, Polish Model 35 and the German PZB 38 and PZB 39.

Asevarikko 1. 8,00 pst. kiv/38.

Polish Model 35. Probably the best anti-tank rifle of WWII. Not that it did much to help them.

The PZB-38 was intended to be Germany’s main anti-tank weapon when introduced, but it proved expensive and complex to manufacture. It was replaced by the PZB-39 as a consequence.

Russland, Deutsche Soldaten mit Panzerbüchse 39

The first thing to note about this rifle is that it is huge. Absolutely massive. 1605mm long. This is one of the downsides of anti-tank rifle technology, they have to have a powerful cartridge, which needs a strong chamber and receiver, plus a long barrel to build the necessary velocity to penetrate armour.

52025x1 52025

As a result of this size, steps were taken to make it as portable as possible. The buttstock folds under the gun, such as it helps.

2mxlqooThe second thing to note about this rifle is that it is single shot. Every time to fire, you must open the breech and load a new cartridge, all manually. The action is a falling block, not dissimilar to that used by the Martini-Henry. It is opened by pushing the pistol grip forward, which pivots down at the front of its mounting. This ejects the spent cartridge and allows you to replace it.


The two large boxes on the sides hold the ammunition, which is held in spring clips within.


While anti-tank rifles were the only option available in the early war, they were really defunct even before it started. Only hits on a few critical areas of a tank could disable it, and these were quite unlikely under the stress of combat. The Finns had some success with Boys rifles against Soviet tanks during the Winter War, but by 1941 During Operation Crusader (the relief of Tobruk), there was not a single incident of a tank being disabled by the rifles.

The Germans took their anti-tank rifles into Russia, expecting Russian armour to fail readily, though they were disappointed in this not being the case. As a result, many of the surviving PZB-39s were sent back and re-purposed into grenade launchers in the form of the Granatbuchse (GrB) 39.

GRB-39 grenade launcher.

GRB-39 grenade launcher.

In service, these were both effectively replaced by the Panzerschreck and the Panzerfaust which were far superior, and in the case of the former was widely copied.


For those interested in learning more about the PZB-39, you should check out Forgotten Weapons’ video on one of these rifles.


You can also see the video about the GRB-39 grenade launcher.

Face protection: British WW1 Tank crew mask

Products, Protective items, WWI

My first remark on face protection in airsoft is that you don’t generally need it, especially in woodland/outdoor airsoft where you are usually at some kind of range. The exception I will make to this rule is in CQB (Close-Quarter Battle) sites. Sadly at my first CQB game I forgot my hat/balaclava and came home looking like this:

why you need face pro in CQB

The missus was not pleased and quite frankly, neither was I! So time for some suitable face protection for this CQB malarkey.

There are a few options, gas masks are an obvious choice but can be a pain for air circulation and temperature. However for the British there is another option, not strictly correct for WW2 but it fits in with the aesthetic of the era better than modern mesh and plastic.


These spatter masks were worn by French and British tank crews during the Great War (1914-18). These hardened leather and steel masks had several narrow slits for viewing and chainmail lowers to prevent shrapnel caused by rifle fire from injuring the faces of the crew.


The build naturally started with some designing in Qcad, followed by some steel laser cuttings…

The first rendition had 2mm high slots for the eyes and the strap attached via broad hooks on the sides. However this didn’t feel secure enough for use in a skirmish.


It did however give me chance to practice working the leather to fit this tricky shape…_DSF6945

With the leather in place:


The second version featured square strap lugs built into the shape and holes to mark the position of the eyelets to hold the chainmail.The vision slots are also narrower at 1.2mm.


I have lightly oil blued this with WD40 to remove the shine and lessen rust.


With leather fitted.


And with the chainmail piece as it came out of the envelope! This piece is slightly small but on the next version it will stretch from side to side.

Before attaching the chain mail to the mask I slightly heated the rings and sprayed with WD40 to take the shine off and help fight rust.


With practice, I hope to get the leather closer fitting. Like in the first version.


But overall I’m very happy with it! As with all mesh-type masks some BBs do fragment and pass through, but these will be sold with a pair of clear safety specs for people wishing to use them for airsoft.

_DSF7288 copy

If you are interested in buying a mask like this, do let us know on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or contact us through our Facebook page. They will be for sale on our Etsy page if there is enough interest.

LAW M72 update

Anti-Tank, Cold War, Custom builds, LAW, War on Terror, Weapons

I’ve been working quite hard on the LAW rocket launcher this month so far, with lots of plastic work!

I had the fortune to find two pieces of pipe which had corresponding inside and outside diameters, allowing one piece to slide snugly inside the other. My client had a model of an earlier type of LAW and had sent me the trigger mechanism housing from it (in green below) to work from.



I created a wooden mould from photographs of the A7 in order to be able to form this complex shape. My initial idea was to build a vacuum former but before going to the expense of doing that I thought I’d have a go at forming with a heat gun…


Pushing the plastic into the former.



My second attempt, getting the sharp edge in front of the trigger is pretty well impossible with this technique without splitting the plastic or creating a crease so it looks like I’ll have to build a vacuum former after all!

I also ran some tests on nerf balls to see how they performed ballistically. When put in the end of the 50mm bore tube I was planning on using for the barrel it barely fell out the end when the grenade was actuated. I then tried a smaller bore pipe which sat just around the end of the nerf ball. This produced a much better effect, shooting it maybe 10 yards.

I decided that a slightly different approach was needed. I have been playing with the idea of expanding foam rockets as an inexpensive, disposable missile system. I made a mould up from some plastic tubing…


The three components: the body tube (top), nosecone former (bottom right) and the backcap (left). I have inserted the tail fins into slots at the top. I am yet to make a rocket from it yet however! I think that this will produce a more ballistically viable rocket that will also be cheap to reproduce if lost.


Anti-Tank, Cold War, Custom builds, Era, LAW, Products, War on Terror

I received an email at the end of last year asking if I would be interested in building an M72A7. This is one of the latest incarnations of a real classic in the world of rocket propelled weapons with its origins prior to the Vietnam War where it first saw service.


The concept of the M72 series (also known as the LAW66 in some parts of the world) of rocket launches was to produce a lightweight, single-use anti armour weapon.  Anti-armour technology had come a long way since the beginning of the Second World War: At the beginning of this war tanks could only be dispatched using small direct-fire artillery pieces, though developments were made in the direction of anti-tank rifles (the Boys anti-tank rifle is a classic of the genre) these proved to be ineffective against the armour of newer tanks and were incredibly heavy and cumbersome to carry.

The US introduced the Bazooka to Europe, the first really practical man-portable anti-tank weapon. It was actually so effective that the Germans pretty well copied it when developing their Panzerschrecks. The Germans also developed the Panzerfaust,  a single-use recoilless rifle  that also proved effective against tanks and popular with users.

Sub-calibre training version in the deployed position. Smaller rockets that are designed to replicate the flight path of the real deal are used for training purposes.

Being a single use weapon, the LAW’s rocket is an integral part of the system a soldier has to carry. Many of the improvements and upgrades to the LAW66 are of the warhead or the motor component of the rocket itself, though there are a number of visual differences from the outside including different sights, end caps and sight housings.

The LAW M72A7 features an improved rocket motor to engage targets past 200m and a picatinny rail for night-sights and laser pointers (though who would stick an expensive night sight on a disposable launcher I don’t now, nor what use a laser would be in all honesty, answers on a post-card please!)*.

Another view of a modern M72, in this shot the picatinny rail is clearly visible.

The Airsoft version of this will not, of course have a range of over 200m and this is a very experimental build for me: I have never done anything like this before! Designs sketched out, my first step was to test the trigger mechanism. Once my theory has been tested, I can build it into the end product. More to follow on that later this week!


*ANSWER: My client for this build gave me a bit of insight into the use of a picatinny rail and what it was for:

“Bit of trivia RE the night sight rail, if I’m not mistaken it is for a PEQ (Infrared light and laser) box so that soldiers using night vision goggles can aim it because the goggles would prevent getting a proper cheek weld to the weapon, and also the dark would render Iron sights unusable. They’re not so much the throwaway weapons they were in the Nam era as the Americans started to learn the enemy would use them as parts of IED’s by filling them with hand grenades. As a result it is standing operating procedure to retain the spent case and take it back to base with you for disposal or to crush/render useless the tube in which case they would take the PEQ off and probably put it onto the rails of their rifle.”

M72 with PEQ box.