Brit gun nut builds working sniper rifle at home out of scrap metal

Bizarrely, no 3D printing was involved

Finding a barrel and getting it proofed

This was the tricky part. Yours truly, being a student at the time, wasn't exactly blessed with cash. Early on I decided the cost of a new Lothar Walther barrel would simply be more than the complete rifle was worth, bearing in mind the cosmetic water damage. That meant the only option was a secondhand take-off barrel scavenged from someone else.

So I walked into the gunsmiths Fultons of Bisley and asked what spare secondhand No.4 barrels they had available. Luckily, at the time they had half a dozen in stock and I soon picked out the one with the best (relatively!) throat and crown. Off my receiver** went to have the barrel fitted by a professional gunsmith - no way would I trust myself doing that, given that I have no practical experience of barrelling rifles at all - and proofed by the London Proof House.

Proof is the process by which a firearm is independently tested to show it is safe to use and won't blow up in the owner's face. The process is laid down by laws dating back to the 19th century, before the advent of modern non-destructive testing. A firearm must pass proof before it may be sold or otherwise transferred from one person to another.

Your rifle (or shotgun) is placed by the Proof House into a room with very thick walls. A string is tied to the trigger. The proof house staff load it with a round designed to develop 25 per cent more pressure than a normal cartridge, retreat around the corner and pull the string. For a .303" rifle developing a nominal 49,000 pounds per square inch (psi), the proof round thus generates a pressure inside the breech of 61,250 psi.

If your rifle, or, say, your £100,000 handmade custom Purdey shotgun, survives this treatment without exploding or cracking, it's passed as fit to use. A number of rifles and shotguns fail proof - that is to say, they are destroyed during the process.

After a month I got my rifle back from the Proof House. Happily for me, they hadn't blown it up. The next stage was to fit the woodwork to it.

Going furniture shopping

"Furniture", in the shooting world, refers to the wooden bits of a rifle that you hold onto. The No.4 rifle was fully stocked, meaning the woodwork stretches all the way to the foresight at the front of the rifle. This helped stop soldiers burning themselves on the hot barrel after sustained rapid fire.

Now, the real question here was, where would I get a decent set of woodwork from? Here I cocked up. Instead of doing the sensible thing and going to a gunshop with a knowledgeable dealer who would sell me something fit for use, I went on eBay and bought a "new, unissued" set of No.4 woodwork, which included a butt, a forend (the long piece), and rear and forward handguards.

Lee Enfield receiver with furniture. Pic: Gareth Corfield

Woodwork: And here's the first set of furniture I bought. It was unissued - for a good reason

All of the wood was unfitted, meaning I'd have to rapidly refresh my school woodwork skills (limited at the time to using a hacksaw and a file) to assemble the rifle. As all wood from the wartime factories was issued slightly oversize to allow hand fitting by unit armourers, yours truly would have to learn how to do it all on the job.

It took me about a week of gentle fettling with a fine file, sandpaper, linseed oil and wet'n'dry paper to get the butt socket fitted for that photo above. Evidently the boss of the butt was slightly too long to achieve a flush fit into the receiver socket. A few quick strokes with the file fixed a problem that was driving me to despair!

It got worse when I tried to fit the forend, using Peter Laider's excellent article on fitting the forend (acccessible via the forum, here) as a guide. I simply couldn't get this as-new, unissued, forend to bed properly - no matter what I did with sandpaper and feeler gauges, the barrel was always hard over to one side of the forend rather than resting centrally in the barrel channel.

Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021