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Once the mechanism was finished I could really start to think about what I wanted this prop to look like. Though the engineering was interesting, this was going to be the fun bit of the project.

DISCLAIMER: As this is now looking a bit more realistic I wouldn’t want anyone getting the wrong idea. This is purely a ‘toy’ rifle designed to shoot Nerf gun type darts. Though I’m designing it to be used in Larp personally, I cannot make any claims about its suitability to be used in such a manner.

The moving parts defined a lot of general shape of the ‘gun’ and some areas would be influenced by the barrel length. This was still up in the air until I’d got a test fireable prototype done. If I had the time, I’d prototype the mechanism then do the design but I’m short on the schedule to do it sequentially, so the design elements will have to run in parallel. I plan to leave a section of the body adjustable so I can choose a length once I have the barrel defined.

"The EN-8B bolt action model was produced in the late years of the Pre-Apocalypse conflicts"

Aesthetic Design

Chance to sit down and actually work out what the new toy was going to look like, increasingly I was feeling wanting to do something fairly chunky and with a strong Fallout-esque aesthetic, but with a focus on retro British Design rather than the US 50’s style. I also wanted to bring out a strong retro-future space gun vibe but wasn’t too sure on how I wanted to do that. I have lots of ideas for how I’d like to do an energy weapon prop now, but nothing too appropriate for this weapon.

I originally went into the project really liking the Fallout 4 assault rifle but the more I looked at is the unhappier I was with the water-cooling jacket and other machine-gun design elements that wouldn’t really suit a bolt action weapon. As a bolt action mechanism, I wanted it to look and feel like a battle-rifle rather than an assault rifle but at the same time not to look like a sniper rifle. Ideally to look like something that would be issued to heavy-troopers/power-armour-units in the pre-war years.

I like the look of the low-magnification scope from the Fallout 4 assault rifle, so I’m planning to use that element if I can find a cheap x1-1.5 red-dot sight on eBay.

As a starting point, I printed out a side view of the mechanism of the rifle and began sketching over it. Firstly, I wanted to build up a silhouette that I liked, then to add definition and details until I had something that worked for me. I’m a big believer in starting every design from a strong silhouette, if nothing else it makes the piece recognisable at a glance/distance.

Concept Sketch

The rear half of the rifle is pretty defined by the long length required to accommodate the piston plunger and action-spring. For this bottom section I set a stock a bit lower than I would do normally so the top-rail of the rifle sits high, where hopefully I can get my eye to it even when restricted by armour. I want a large stock with space for a good grip for shooting fully geared up. I also want plenty of space around the magazine and trigger for use when wearing armoured gloves.

I’m planning to avoid wood where I can, to keep the weight down, but I plan I’ll add details where possible to give it that mid-20th century look, probably for grips and an off centre carrying handle.

Initial design model

Finally, as a retro British rifle it needed a classic-British manufacturer – the old Vickers-Armstrong badge looks great so I think I will be modelling up one of those to stick onto the side.

As I worked through it I began to build up a story for the design; the EN-8 Battle Rifle, issued to Heavy Infantry troopers when it was found the range of the standard EN-6 Assault Rifle wasn’t up to the engagements it was being used in. Early models, the EN-8A, featured a semi-auto mechanism but with the objective of increasing accuracy, but rumoured to save costs, the EN-8B bolt action model was produced in the late years of the Pre-Apocalypse conflicts.

Once I had something I liked I began modelling it up and refining the details as I went along. Partially to keep away from something that looked too gun-like I brought in some elements from other vintage design, machines, aircraft, cars and bikes. Chopping these around I liked the general design but has some issues with the details. I went back to 2D sketching, but by this point my printer was out of toner so I sketched digitally – including dropping in a reference image for the sight I plan to be using.

Refined concept sketch
Refined concept: Distressed

I decided that I wanted something a bit more solid than plastic, wood and resin holding this prop together so I designed in a 20x20mm square steel box section strong-back to run most of the length of the gun. This would give me a solid surface to mount handles and sling points.

Modelling this up and detailing as I went I was finally happy with what I had – pats on the back all round. I’d gained a load of superfluous bits and pieces, that probably didn’t have much of a job being on an efficient gun design but I really liked them. And they helped add to the space-gun feel that I wanted, and help stay clear of the inconvenient VCR 2007 Regs.

Refined design
Finalised Design

Time to get something made...