Team Fortress 2 Sniper Rifle Prop


I was asked by a friend of mine, who is into Cosplay and making costumes, to create the Sniper's rifle from Team Fortress 2. Here is how I did it:
_________________________________________________



This is a stock image of the rifle I began this project with. It is a WELL-MB07 bolt-action airsoft rifle. It has a plastic stock and aluminum receiver and barrel. I purchased this in Chinatown in Los Angeles for about 115 bucks and it is quite the powerful airsoft rifle.

My first step involved measuring and then cutting down the stock of the rifle to better match the length of the rifle from TF2. Unfortunately, in order to maintain the functionality of the rifle I was unable to cut it down as far as I'd have liked, but lopped off as much as I could. I used a hacksaw for this job.

Upon looking for something to use to hang the stock up to dry after sanding and washing I stumbled across this hanger from Ikea which happened to fit perfectly into the magazine slot and with a snug enough fit for me to feel comfortable hanging it as such.

Next I measured, cut, and crammed a block of floral foam into the magazine well in order to sculpt around it with Apoxie Sculpt, the hardening clay material I use to fabricate many pieces I use on my props.

I also needed a blank to prevent the clay from filling in the screw hole in front of the magazine well: A colored pencil and some elbow grease proved to do the trick.

After wrapping painters tape around the necessary parts on the barrel to prevent the stock from prematurely adhering to the barrel I began to roughly shape out the widened end of the stock; a key feature of the TF2 rifle.

During the first attempt I did not have enough Apoxie Sculpt to finish the job, so I returned with another round, this time using the natural colored Apoxie Sculpt. Same material, different color.

I regret not taking enough picture of this step, however if you'll notice in the stock photo of the airsoft gun I used the trigger guard is not quite the circular shape the defines the trigger guard on the TF2 rifle. My solution to that problem involved using a heat gun to soften the plastic and stretch it into a more circular shape. Due to the properties of the ABS plastic used it began to bubble creating a rough and unwanted texture. I used Apoxie Sculpt to make it sturdier and fill in the volume lost when stretching it into tit's new shape. I would go on to revisit this 3 more times before finalizing it. The picture above depicts the guard after a first round of rough sanding.

Here is what the trigger guard looked like on the rifle at that stage.

Here is a show of the fore-grip about 85% sanded. It was here that I discovered that natural colored Apoxie Sculpt is translucent; A feature that could be taken advantage of for other projects I'd imagine.

At this point, I decided I needed to tackle the unwieldy muzzle break the rifle came with. I had to drill out a pin before hammering the thing off. The broken pin went on to mar the barrel, something shown and fixed later down the road.

While I had the Dremel out I decided to cut out the middle section of the picatinny rail mounted over the ejection port on the receiver I then sanded it with a course grit sandpaper.

Here is a picture showing the finished foregrip.

And here is the rifle assembled with the trigger guard and foregrip.

Next I needed to take a section of the stock's butt off to better match the downward slant the rear of the rifle in TF2 has.

After the rear section was removed I sanded down the rough edges and cleaned it before moving on.

Cutting the rear of the stock off created a hole that I needed to fill. I chose to do this with Apoxie Sculpt, however ran into issues with covering such a large hole. In order to conserve time and materials I used a relatively thin layer and, once sealed to the edges, used a hole on the interior of the stock to inflate it, giving it a rounded appearance. I then used a knife to cut off excess material to avoid having to sand it off down the road.


Here are a couple of shots of the assembled rifle up to this point, showing a finished sanded butt. Here is where I begin to see the resemblance to the TF2 rifle.

Next I needed to sand the barrel and receiver section before beginning to mold on top of it. The flutes proved to be impossible to sand, so I left those be for the most part and used 120 grit paper to take off the paint.

The idea behind this was more to create a surface for material and paint/primer to adhere to, not necessarily to remove 100% of the paint.

Here is the marred section of the barrel that I spoke of earlier. I sanded it down to that it was not longer sharp, however knowing I would later cover the entire section at the end in Apoxie Sculpt, did not spend too much time on it.

Here is a shot of a pieced together scope. I used 3 inch ABS pipe for the longest section, a 3 inch coupler for the front end, a 3 to 2. inch adapter for the downsize at the rear, and a 2.5 to 2 inch adapter for the last section. The 3 inch pipe ended up being a tad too think in the end, but was far cheaper than maintaining that level of accuracy.

I used a section of particle board to create the 3 hole piece below the scope. I entirely regret this and have reserved myself to particle board solely for structural pieces in the future. The wood absorbs all sorts of paint and ended up being an eyesore to the finished rifle.

To avoid a large heavy chunk of solid Apoxie Sculpt, to tackle the trapezoid piece under the scope I measured a cut a slightly smaller than needed piece of floral foam.

Here is the aforementioned piece of foam. I bought a package of paddle bits and this bit you see here came with it (I guess as an incentive to buy it). Fortunately, I needed just this bit and used it to hollow out a 3/4" section of the foam for which to insert the dowel rod that will bridge the receiver. As you'll see in the next picture I ended up having to cut off the bottom section to allow for the rail, however having a form fitted half circle to fit the dowel into was certainly an advantage.

Here are the three pieces adhered with gravity! The next step which, due to time issues wasn't documented as well, involved me taping a piece of high grit sand paper to a piece of leftover dowel and sanding a groove in the bottom of the foam to better sit on the barrel. I then covered it in a thick-ish layer of Apoxie Sculpt and pressed it on the barrel.

Here is another quick-pic mock-up with the freshly Apoxie Sculpt-ed barrel piece.

After shaping up the front trapezoid piece I, with solid Apoxie Sculpt, fabricated the rear square and shaped it up a bit. My method for carrying out the top section was very flawed and, if I had to do it again, I would make the boxy pieces separately to allow for easier shaping. I would probably also build them from a flat material and not attempt to use clay.

I used a triangle file to cut under the edges and a flat file's edge to mold the parts adjacent to the dowel rod. That was quite a laborious task, just taking a little bit off at a time until it was flat.

Here is a assembly photo.

You'll notice that at this point I had revisited the trigger guard, trying to make more of an inner circle.

The supports underneath the scope were tough to crack for me. One idea was to cut down a piece of leftover 3" ABS tubing in half and use the heatgun on that. That actually might have been a better idea, but I instead used some leftover lexan. I used a tailor's measuring tape and eyeballed how long the pieces would need to be in order to cover about a third of the circumference. I then cut the lexan that length and used a heat gun to slowly heat them until they were somewhat pliable and tap them against a scrap piece of pipe. Because of the specular quality of lexan the minute imperfections seem really big (as you can see in the photo) however aren't noticeable once painted. I will say that I sanded them quite a bit to even out what I could. 

This was after the sanding, and as you can see it helped eliminate some of the peaks which is what caused the patchiness

I once again used particle board (never again) to create the mounting block for the laser. I once again used the dowel with sandpaper to make a small indent on the bottom of the block as you can see in the picture. This gave the super glue more surface to adhere to. I cut 2 slightly larger than needed squares and superglued them together using a C-clamp to keep pressure. Then I used the clamp to keep them steady while I sanded the edges down into an even square.

I ordered an 11 dollar trigger mounted laser that worked out really well for this quick laser. I screwed it's little horseshoe shaped mount to the board and then screwed the laser to the mount.

I then used a modified piece of specialty PVC pipe and attached it to the laser with a layer of Apoxie Sculpt (that stuff is so awesome). This actually allowed me to unscrew the entire laser from the gun and turn it on and off. It also would allow me to make a better laser, this one was not designed to match the actual gun and is something I would like to replace.

It was at this point that I was getting rushed and started to prime the pieces I knew were finished.

I wanted the scope to be mounted using magnets. So I bought these very strong rare earth magnets from amazon and molded this top piece with a magnet inside and drilled out a hole for the sister piece to sit in the block. I would later cover that with Apoxie Sculpt.

One magnet ended up not proving to be enough to REALLY secure it to the gun. It worked for the convention I took it to, but if held upside down the scope would all off at the slightest bump.

I still plan to add a second magnet in the front section, but was opposed to doing so as the trapezoid has nothing but foam internally. I also should mention that I used a layer of Saran Wrap to cover the pieces mounted to the barrel while I molded the pieces mounted to the scope. This allowed for a tight fit and absolutely no chance of adherence by the Apoxie Sculpt (painter's tape should NOT be used). It is very apparent here the unevenness that making these parts from clay is prone to. I would very much enjoy access to space and equipment to make better pieces, but is still something I strive to make as perfect as possible with the materials I have. It was re-shaped after this picture was taken.

Here is the last assembly before I began to prep for painting.

The last piece I really needed was the switch that is mounted on the left side of the scope that activates the laser for the sniper in TF2. I bought a 10 dollar double panel light switch, broke it apart, and cut it in half (half of what you see above). I then used a piece of 3" pipe with sandpaper attached to make a small curvature on the back to better sit on the scope.

Here is the stock being painted in it's base coat, just an off the shelf brown I thought suited the overall base color of the stock in game. After it dried I would sand it down, and spray another coat. I did this twice. The finally coat I used a 320 grit fine grain sand paper to lightly remove some of the sheen.

Here is the scope's base coat of green. Looking back I would have chosen a more yellow/brown green. This was too hunter's green for the look of the weapon, but after some faux finishing and weathering it wasn't terribly out-of-line.

For the trigger guard I used an interesting spray paint called 'Hammered' which gave the effect of hammered metal. This was a very interesting paint to use and I like the finish it gave. Far more interesting than your flat paints.

I used the same 'Hammered' paint in a lighter shade to paint the barrel assembly. This got 2 coats with sanding in between as well and came out with a very nice finish.

I then used acrylic paint to go over the parts with a darker finish. This is where my use of wood parts without some sort of sealing process became my most regretted mistake on this build. The wood would absorb and expand creating sort of wood-grain shaped cracks along the dowel and separation of the particle board. 0/10 would not use again. I ended up using about 4 coats of acrylic, but notice that a day later it had once against absorbed and cracked. For photo and film purposes this isn't apparent, however I strive to make my props look good to the naked eye, as well. A state I haven't yet fully achieved but am certainly headed towards with each build :).

Here everything is assembled with the base coats of paint.

A test of the laser... LAZERZZ!

After a midnight session with some acrylic I ended up with a pretty good looking final product. I used a lighter shade of orange brown acrylic paint mixed lightly with water and sort of sketched out wood-grain designs with a brush, then used my hands with latex gloves to mess it up a bit and make it a little more transparent. The overall finished effect does look like wood in person. I also used black and brown paint to add weather and grime to separations and nooks throughout the gun.

Here you have a shot of the final product which was brought to Anime Expo L.A. 2012.

I hope you enjoyed this progress blog. I had a lot of fun, and learned even more, during this prop build. I'd like to make more progress blogs like these in the future as well, so feel free to leave commetns and questions and I will answer them when I can! Thanks for checking this out! I will leave you with a list of materials:

  • Well MB07 Airsoft rifle
  • Apoxie Sculpt
  • Painters Tape
  • Lexan
  • Various ABS and PVC plumbing parts
  • 3/4" Dowel
  • 1/4" Particleboard
  • Trigger-guard mounted laser by NCStar
  • Rustoleum brand spray paint and primer
  • Super Glue
  • Floral Foam

If you'd like to see more, there is a slightly larger gallery of the Cosplay here!





 Also, I use em', might as well plug em'! I love Dewalt products.
Dewalt Power Tools 12 Volt Max Drill Driver & Impact Driver Combo Kit DCK211S2




7 comments:

  1. OMG I WANT IT REALLY BADLY...but sadly i probably cannot pay the price of it. :,(

    ReplyDelete
  2. this is my email can we work something out? karatetommy@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. https://www.etsy.com/listing/105183778/team-fortress-2-sniper-rifle-prop?ref=af_shop_favitem

      I have plans to redo the above barrel assembly out of aluminium. And make the scope more accurate in color and shape. That would be included in the price if you decided to purchase it :)

      -HVD

      Delete
    2. How much would it cost to make an exact replica?

      Delete
  3. I think I want one and I'd ask my mom for the money I will already have a sniper costume

    ReplyDelete