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

We here on the El Reg gun sensation desk considered getting Gaz to make an unimportant part or accessory for his Lee Enfield out of 3D printed plastic, or in some other fashion involve a computer, which would probably have led to excited writeups in the world's media about Brit GUN NUT 3D PRINTS working SNIPER RIFLE in SHED, …


  1. graeme leggett

    That's the way to build a gun properly

    And how's your "mad minute"?

    1. AndyC

      Re: That's the way to build a gun properly

      That made me laugh.

      For anyone that doesn't know, the 'mad minute' is 15 aimed rounds in 1 minute.

      Doable and very very good fun!

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge


      Isn't that the type of button-cell battery it requires?

  2. Vociferous

    Scrap metal?

    He cleaned up a working but dirty (very slightly rusty) receiver and trigger assembly, had a store-bought barrel attached and tested by a professional gunsmith, and bought a ready-made new wooden stock for it.

    That's a fun wood-shop project, not "building a sniper rifle from scrap metal".

    1. pepper

      Re: Scrap metal?

      Indeed, scrap metal would have led me to believe the author when on a metal-casting binge and decided to smith it into a replica weapon!

      Nice job nonetheless, must have been very satisfying!

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Scrap metal?

        If you take it as meaning 'metal that would otherwise have gone to the scrap dealer' then I'd say it's scrap metal.

        Same way that a written off car is scrap metal, unless someone with some skills buys it, fixes it, and re-registers it correctly. So yes, semantics, but I can accept it ;-)

        Steven R

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Scrap metal?

          Agreed, a fine bit of metal destined for the smelter was salvaged into a fine work of art. The veracity of it being a sniper rifle will be determined at the range.

          To the author, you have a hunting season to take it to the range and improve your group to minute of angle with handloads. Two minutes of angle is acceptable for a service rifle but sniper rifles have a higher standard.

          Edit: I take it back; assuming iron sights you're right on. I'd love to see the results with proper telescopic or laser sights.

          It seems a fine piece. Carry on.

          1. Grease Monkey

            Re: Scrap metal?

            I've built a car before. Sure a lot of the parts; engine, transmission, uprights, rack, column, brakes, etc. were from the scrap yard, but the chassis and suspension components were home built from steel tube and plate.

            The two problems with your title:

            Scrap metal - scrap metal is unusable junk. The metal in this case was salvageable or perfectly usable second hand parts.

            Built - Nope assembled from parts. To say you "built" a machine to me means you actually fabricated significant parts or at least did some serious work in making those parts fit. Assembly - sticking stuff together that was intended to go together. Building - fabrication or at least serious adaptation.

            So "Brit GUN NUT assembled WORKING SNIPER RIFLE at home out of spare parts." FIFY.

            1. Graham Dawson

              Re: Scrap metal?

              No, scrap metal is metal going for scrap. It can be perfectly useable but no longer useful - like the old cast iron radiators we used to scrap all the time when I was a builder. They worked. They didn't work well, so they were scrapped. That made them scrap metal, even though they were fully functional.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Scrap metal?

                like the old cast iron radiators we used to scrap all the time when I was a builder

                And now they are worth a small doubt in a pile next to the Belfast sinks everyone got rid of.

            2. Kiwi Silver badge
              IT Angle

              Re: Scrap metal? @ Grease Monkey

              Built - Nope assembled from parts. To say you "built" a machine to me means you actually fabricated significant parts or at least did some serious work in making those parts fit. Assembly - sticking stuff together that was intended to go together. Building - fabrication or at least serious adaptation.

              You mean like where the writer talks about doing serious fettling and so on to get things to fit? :) Sure, it is largely assembled, but he did resort to hand-tools to re-shape stock materials.

              As to the scrap.. As a former metal finisher, and previously a worker in a foundary and other related parts of that factory, and also time in a few other places where engineering skills (including various metal working skills that would put my metalwork teachers to shame) were required - and with a few "significantly repaired" cars and complete bike rebuilds behind me, I add my vote to those saying "it's scrap". In farming, a weed is "an unwanted plant". A rose is a weed if it's not wanted in that area, as is cabbage or tulips or whatever. Much the same for for metal.

              A friend of mine got a new never-used stainless sink and benchtop a few years back for the price of the scrap metal (and a little extra - had to be nice). Perfectly functional, hours spent making it, beautifully done, and it was scrap. Because the builder gave the wrong dimensions, so the maker put it out for scrap. I brought it and friends of his built a bench to suit. It's not scrap now, but if I hadn't been there at the right time to see it being loaded on the scrap truck (and had a friend needed some kitchen improvements), it would've been melted down shortly afterwards.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scrap metal?

      The backyard gunsmiths of the Philippines, and elsewhere I'm sure, actually do make guns from bits of scrap metal. Revolver, from scratch, two weeks, $100 retail.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Scrap metal?

        Yes. Artisan gunsmiths in Afghanistan can and do build AK47's from scratch. Imports and salvaged guns fetch better prices, but there are perfectly usable and completely home-made AK47's for sale there.

    3. Halfmad

      Re: Scrap metal?

      The Reg are taking tips from the latest edition of the "Daily Mail - how to create headlines" manual.

  3. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

    Not an entirely accurate headline - at home and scrap metal?

  4. tkioz
    Thumb Up

    Better title needed.

    Bit of a misleading title, but still a very nifty little bit of work.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Better title needed.

      You are missing an important rule in journalism: Never let facts stand in the way of an alarmist headline. Indeed, the Reg missed an opportunity to call hysterically:



      as the Daily Wail might have done

  5. Ejit

    You did vary your certificate...

    didn't you?

    The article didn't mention (or I missed it) that the rusty receiver wot you found in the shed is just as much a Firearm as defined by the 1968 Act as the finished article.

    Section 1 (b) Firearms Act 1968 as amended ..."any component part of such a lethal or prohibited weapon;"

    Would hate to think that people are strolling around with bits of firearms thinking that the Act doesn't apply to them 'cause the whole weapon is not there.

    1. gazthejourno

      Re: You did vary your certificate...

      Read the bootnotes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You did vary your certificate...

        Curious how painful the paperwork was. Assuming from the bootnote the receiver was with the RFD until you'd completed the rifle and transferred it to your ticket? I'm guessing that would be less complicated than trying to build & proof it on your own FAC. But congrats, and now you just have to resist upgrading it :p

  6. DUNCAN E.

    If you want hardcore manufacture of vintage firearms

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am not a huge gun nut but this chap's channel is fascinating.

      1. jason 7

        Further interesting reading here -

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dirty gun porn!

    now where's the like button?

  8. Goobertee

    Agree and agree

    First, I agree that the headline made me think he was melting down soup cans and railroad track to cast pieces for a gun. The title was more exciting than the article.

    The actual effort was a noble work of restoration. Regrettably, such efforts, reported accurately, are remarkably dull and boring. Scrape this. Cover this rusty area with oil and rub with a coarse rag until it's shiny. Make this fit. When it doesn't fit, take it apart, do something to it, and try again. Repeat. Then do something else that has to be done that will similarly test your commitment to finish the project. Try to keep your emotions under control so parts being manipulated don't suddenly take flight across the shop.

    My Ford Model T came to me from various sources in quantities of rusty pieces that had to be disassembled, cleaned, and fit together again. That your rifle came out functioning at 3 minutes of dispersion--and feeding from the magazine on top of that--reflects well on your attention to detail. I would bet you learned a great deal, in addition to developing quantities of patience.

    Well done.

  9. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice job.

    A surprising source for many ex-British WW2 small arms in good nick is Israel, which used a hodge-podge of European and American weaponry for many years. Wartime issue revolvers, rifles and parts often turn up on US dealers' websites, some not having been released from the Israeli reserve stocks until the late Eighties. They usually have a Star of David marking added to the standard British markings and have usually been well maintained. A common source of bad furniture, as I suspect the author stumbled on, is India. Whilst they used to make good parts at the factory in Ishapore, they also had a habit of selling on even parts that failed proof testing and these have also turned up on websites. Buying parts from eBay is not something I would recommend.

    Happy shooting!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scrubbed Clean...

    ...not the rifle but the metadata on the photos, if not...oh dear!

  11. HKmk23

    Nice job, shame about the repercussions.....

    Nice restoration, shame about your location I would think the police helicopter is just about overhead and what passes for a SWAT team over there is hiding in the bushes in your garden about now.

  12. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge


    Sorry, but while its an interesting article, its about as much work as upgrading a ruger 10/22 in to a tactical rig. You didn't really do any of the hard work.

    But since you live in a country where its difficult to own a gun, my hat is off to you.

    I hope you enjoy your rifle and think about upgrading the barrel and taking the receiver to a proper gun smith to see if they can further tune your rifle.

    And yes, a 3 MOA gun is not a sniper rifle.

    1. gazthejourno

      Re: Meh.

      Oh, agreed - the real work was done by the gunsmith, who fabricated a thin bushing to get the barrel to time correctly, and headspacing it with a big tray of bolt heads and a set of go/no go gauges.

      Mind you, given the space available there wasn't time to write about setting up the sights (ever tried to do that when the rearsight isn't true? Damn that axis pin - might have been bent as well as peened), the weeks of patient work it took to bed the thing properly, and my Heath Robinson solution to correcting the offset zero.

      3MOA - worth bearing in mind factory reject standard for the No.4 was 4MOA. In addition, the bedding on this one could be a lot better and the barrel's an all-but-shot-out 1955 Mk.2 unit. With some proper attention I know I could easily add a minute to the accuracy, but for now it's fun and it's mine.

      I don't have the money for an as-new original stock No.4 barrel (~£600+) and I certainly don't have the money to order a custom barrel, bearing in mind the condition of the receiver it's going onto. I'll keep that money for my target rifle!

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        Re: Meh.


        Don't get me wrong.

        Most of the fun is in doing the build.

        My point was that while you're at 3 MOA, its not a sniper rifle. AK-47s are considered good if they are 3 MOAs. Sniper rifles? That's sub .5 MOA or less.

        The issue is that the title of the article is a bit off. (Not built from 'scrap' and not a sniper rifle.)

        You could work on bedding, but with a barrel that has a lot of throat erosion, I don't think it would help much. (Unless you want to practice learning how to do the bedding.)

        Sorry to hear that a new barrel is ~600 GBP. That's a lot for a ~$300 (USD) rifle.

        BTW, you may want to invest in a 'cheap' scope. (Although mounting it would be a challenge. ;-)

  13. PNGuinn


    That brings back memories of a year in the school cadets in the mid '60s!

    Thoroughly enjoyed the article.

    Firing off a .22 in the school range after school once a week.

    Learning to strip, clean and put back together a .303, together with learning the names of all the bits. Carrying 'em on parade on a friday afternoon ...

    A beautiful piece of engineering they were, but mighty heavy for 13 year old to lug around.

    How times have changed - I remember lugging a .303 around the local forest one Saturday morning - no adults - just us lads.

    Strange, almost emotional feeling ... maybe I'm starting to get old....

    1. Diogenes

      Re: Memories...

      Even betterer - doing rifle drill ....

      the rest on your arms reversed and the Queen Anne's Salute with the three-o and our favourite bit of "combined drill movement " the self explanatory "from a rabble to a rabble --- parade".

  14. earl grey Silver badge

    well done

    have one....

  15. veeguy

    I found my SMLE #4 propping open a door at a bait shop in Sheboygan Wisconsin (USA). I got to talking with the owner and ended up buying it for $100.-. This was around 1985. It's now a wall hanger, but I have fired it over the years. I often wonder what story it could tell about its journey in getting to that basement bait shop!

  16. Steve 114

    A 'Venus' pencil, muzzle-loaded over a .303 blank, worked well, the white plastic end acting as compressible wadding. Penetrated 4 inches into a Somerset tree at 20 yards.

    1. cortland

      In 1963 some of my colleagues in green decided to make shooting blanks on manoeuvers more fun by tying the end of a cleaning rod into the flash suppressors of their M-14's with alumin[i]um wire from a box of C-rations. Full auto, for a while, then the wire broke and the cleaning rod tip got stuck into a tree somewhere. As far as I know, nobody was wounded or killed thereby -- but some got angry after a vehicle accident and apparently managed flesh wounds with pine needles down the bore. The exercise (look up Swift Strike 3) was suspended a day or so to let tempers cool.,1509914

      Fun days,eh?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    6" grouping @200?


    Amateur. It was 1" (or more accurately, "measurable with a 2p piece") in my day.

    Nice job, though.

  18. qwertyuiop

    Funny sizes?

    There are clearly a number of El Reg readers out there who know a great deal about firearms so I wonder if one of them could answer a question that has always puzzled me: why are gun calibres (almost) always such odd sizes?

    For example, in this article we're dealing with .303"; why that "odd" 3/1000 of an inch? Wouldn't .3 be just as good - and surely easier to make? I can just about go for .45, but .44? Or .22? Why are standard NATO round 7.62mm or 5.56mm? Wouldn't 7.5mm or evn 8mm and 5.5mm or 6mm be easier to manufacture.

    Please - no flamey answers, it's a genuine question.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Funny sizes?

      Apparently 7mm would be the ultimate calibre. Whenever a group of specialists sit down to work out the best round for a general infantry weapon they come back to 7mm.

      But as Ian V Hogg states "nobody ever gets a 7mm round as a result of it!"

      Too many vested interests and politics basically.

      However, it doesn't really matter. After WW2 they poured over masses of infantry reports and injury details and found that in a combat situation you are more likely to get hit by random flak/shrapnel than a aimed bullet over 50m+ range.

      So all that's important is to be able to spray as much random lead down range as possible in the hope that something gets hit or keeps their head down. Hence the move to smaller rounds that are easier to carry but don't have the 2000m+ ranges. If it will still hurt at up to 300m it will do.

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: Funny sizes?

        "Apparently 7mm would be the ultimate calibre. Whenever a group of specialists sit down to work out the best round for a general infantry weapon they come back to 7mm"


        7 mil rounds have been around for ages, I recall using a Remington 7 mil in the eighties, I also used the French FR F1 which was 7.5, the Belgian FAL and British SLR which were 7.72, the AK 47 7.62 short up to the Stoner 50 mil (12.7 in French) and the lovely FAMAS in 5.56.

        As to the other person asking about why Calibers are so strange, it is to do with the conversion twixt metric and non metric so 5.56 comes out as .223. Now a bullet such as a 7.62 (.308)is not actually 7.62, it is generally 7.8 or 7.82 which is as it happens .308. The caliber refers to caliber of the barrel at the start of the rifling and is an internal measurement. It all gets a bit confusing and the US have used some wonderful calibers over the years.

        I recently had reason to fire an MP7 which is 4.6 caliber, a Magpul FMG9 (wierd stuff) and by my side I have an automatic pistol which is 7.65 in caliber and preferred weapon to agents who have lots of 0s and a 7 in their name.

        1. qwertyuiop

          Re: Funny sizes?

          Really sorry if I'm being even more stupid than usual, but I still don't understand.

          I appreciate that the conversion factor could result in some funny sizes in a different set of units, but if you're European (other than British) you work in metric by definition so why would you choose 7.62mm rather than 7mm or 8mm? Similarly, if you're a Brit or a Yank, you probably work in inches so why would you choose .203 or .303?

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Funny sizes?

            "you probably work in inches so why would you choose .203 or .303?"

            If you look up the measurements of a .303 round, you'll note that the round is .54 at the rim, .46 at the base, and .34 just before the crimping to put the (.31) bullet in. The round is 2.2" long in total.

            So it does extensively use imperial measurements. .303 seems to have come from measuring the bore size in 1880, which seems to have allowed a 0.01" gap on either side of the barrel, possibly to allow for black powder fouling the rifle. (The .303 originally started with gunpowder as a propellent, before using "smokeless" guncotton and then cordite in British Army use, and pretty much everything imaginable in commercial production since 1880!)

          2. asdf Silver badge

            my 2 cents

            Truly the only thing I remember/know about 7mm was remembering in the hunter safety class materials how they had just about the longest accidental kill range (ie. shoot up in air randomly) of any major common hunting rifle. Don't remember exactly but want to say it was 5 miles or something ridiculous like that.

        2. jason 7

          Re: Funny sizes?

          "7 mil rounds have been around for ages"

          Indeed, but you'll never find it in a general mass produced infantry weapon on today's battlefield.

          Even the quite sexy Enfeld EM-2 was in 7mm but that was experimental.

          1. graeme leggett

            Re: Funny sizes?

            I believe technically the EM-2 reached troop testing and got a "proper" service name for a while.

            I did watch someone poring over the construction and firing it on a youtube channel (might have been "Forgotten Weapons" as mentioned above)

            1. Bloakey1

              Re: Funny sizes?

              "I believe technically the EM-2 reached troop testing and got a "proper" service name for a while."


              It did get there, was tested and found to be a good weapon. The US however decided at the time that 7.62 / 30 Cal was the way to go and that all nations should adopt it.

              I used one of the early weapons that derived a lot of its features from the EM2. That weapon was the FAMAS and it was great to fire both on the range and in combat and it was second to none in its day for grenade delivery out to 400 metres (AP) and anti tank (actually vehicle) out to 100 meters.

              Have fired various similar weapon (Tavor, AUG) since but none as good as the FAMAS. It has recently got a new life in its role as preferred infantry weapon on the FELIN platform.

              1. asdf Silver badge

                Re: Funny sizes?

                LOL can't resist. The FAMAS is a good weapon. I know with my COD experience that its fire rate is amazing even if its recoil is a bit high. In CS GO though its not as impressive.

        3. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Funny sizes?

          7.65/.32ACP would be a round that may leave a target shaken but not stirred, the hole at the end of the barrel doesn't look too bad but the crappy little cartridge and it's small load of propellant makes it more dangerous at any appreciable distance if the pistol is thrown rather than fired,

          I had a Mauser 1934 hammerless some years ago, reasonably accurate for what it was but what my Great Granddad would have called a dog gun for scaring away the dog packs in India.

      2. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Funny sizes?

        >So all that's important is to be able to spray as much random lead down range as possible in the hope that something gets hit or keeps their head down.

        Often the keeps head down is the most important thing for many roles (not everyone gets to be Rambo). My dad was medievac in Vietnam and if they actually hit enemy soldiers they often had to fly back under fire to pick them up. He did things like use a Thompson machine gun but loaded with a certain percentage of tracer rounds to match that of a M60 firing one every 5 just to keep heads down while they picked up the wounded. He said he was also a real big fan of grenade launcher with smoke.


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