Over the last couple years I’ve been commissioned to make a few Bolters, each one of them unique. I’ll go over the process for my most recent commission in this article in hopes that it will help you build your own if you’re interested.
The customer made a few special requests for this Boltgun:
- Be able to ‘field strip’ the gun so the slide and barrel could be removed.
- Removable drum magazine.
- Named ‘Primarch’s Wrath’.
Overall, the requests are ones that are simple individually. Combining them all into one replica meant that I had to make a few modifications to my default design so that there was room for everything.
A couple years ago I created blueprints for a 24” long Boltgun. I printed a full size copy and started modifying my blueprint. The barrel was made from 2” PVC pipe, I used a threaded plug on the end to attach the barrel. When complete the barrel is simply threaded on and off this plug which is fixed in place inside.
The side plates were cut from ¼” thick medium density fiberboard (MDF) using the blueprint as a template. I glued form plates onto one side that had holes cut in them to allow the barrel to pass through and thread onto the plug. I cut the rough shape for the drum magazine from 1/8” thick MDF to keep the weight of the magazine down. The spring-release clip for the magazine had to be custom made from a piece of scrap sheet metal I had laying around. It allows the magazine to be pushed into place and lock in, and then a press of the lever with your thumb releases the clip and it can be pulled out.
The drum of the magazine was lined with 0.090” thick sintra plastic that had been heated and formed around a paint can that was the same size as the drum. This made the drum completely hollow, weighing only a few ounces, so that the spring clip would not be strained while waving around the finished replica. Several layers of MDF were used to make the pistol grip and then the lower portion of the Boltgun was closed up using more form plates and then the other side plate. Aside from the pistol grip, the entire lower portion is hollow. I used ¼” and ½” thick MDF on the upper receiver, which was constructed in a ‘C’ shape to mate with the ‘T’ shaped slide on the lower receiver. These pieces had to be cut and sanded carefully so they slide over each other with a snug fit and they stay in place without falling off.
At this point most of the build was done and I started focusing on adding details to the Boltgun, inside and out. All of the details were done with either MDF or styrene plastic. The rivets are actual aircraft rivets that I had lying around. I also used Bondo to fill all the little cracks and seams.
Primer and sanding are the two biggest steps in any of my builds. This typically takes a couple days of sand, prime, dry, repeat. Putting primer on a surface highlights all of the little defects you couldn’t see while building. Attention to detail here is well worth it in the end. I ended up using some 1.25” dowel on my lathe to make the two bullets that will be visible at the top of the magazine. Those joined the sanding/primer cycle as well.
Once the surface is well prepared, everything can be painted! Due to the size of my props, most everything is base coated with rattle-can spray paint. Black base coat first and then the color coats later. I usually use automotive spray paint when available, it’s usually more durable and more dependable.
Once the base coats are done the weathering begins. I use more silver spray paint and a stippling brush to imitate paint chips on the edges. Following that up with some dark acrylic wash and a dirty wash of orange, red, yellow, & blue tones helps make the replica look well used. In some cases I’ll go back and retouch some of the paint chips to clean them up and make them look new.
I’m happy with how it turned out, and I hope the customer is too. We’ll find out when he gets back from deployment and I can ship it to him!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zach Pickard has been making props and replicas as “QE Props” since 2012. He has done replicas of props from Firefly, The Avengers, Mass Effect, Warhammer 40K, The Legend of Zelda, The Lord of the Rings, and even a few custom pieces for local films. Check out facebook.com/QEProps or @QEProps on Twitter and Instagram.