Need a Gunsmithing Project?

As you may have noticed, Defense Distributed has been in the news quite a bit in the last few days since the State Department decided that their posting of single-shot pistol plans violates ITAR regulations. I love the idea of a 3D-printed functional firearm, but I don’t expect many of the folks reading Forgotten Weapons have 3D printers to tinker with. What I would expect more of you to have in the garage are small lathes…so who’s interested in a cool gunbuilding project using old tech?

Model quick-fire cannon drawings

Thanks to Keith, we have a copy of a really neat article from “The Model Engineer and Amateur Electrician” magazine. Printed in England in 1900, it is a set of drawings and instructions for building a .22 caliber model of a Hotchkiss-style quick-fire cannon (just like the designs covered in A Gun For All Nations). The model design is fully functional, of course, and includes a recoil and automatic ejection mechanism. As drawn, it uses a smoothbore barrel about 14″ long, so it would be an NFA item (just like the DefCad Liberator, interestingly). Of course one could lengthen the barrel a few inches without trouble to avoid that legal complication (or scale the whole thing up to, say, .38 Special size).

I think it would be a very educational project to take on, because it is written with the expectation that the builder will be making all the parts, not like most modern kit projects where you start with most of the work already done. The article includes directions on making the springs, screws, nuts, bolts, barrel, and patterns for casting some parts. And yet, this is all done with technology from 1900 – the tool list consists of a set of calipers, a small lathe (4′ bed), good set of files, and a solid vise (plus casting equipment, if you don’t want to outsource that work).

So…great end product, pretty low starting cost…all you need is patience and time. What are you waiting for?

And anyone does decide to take this on, please send me photos – I know I speak for everyone else reading when I say that we would love to see your construction process and finished product!

You can download the article with its drawings here, as a 3MB PDF file: Quick-Fire Model Article.


  1. I so want to make this thing, unfortunately since I live in Denmark I’d have to make it non-operational. Still, it would be a great project.

  2. I have had the plans for a while. Saying that they are in terrible condition is an understatement. The Xeroxing of them over time has not been kind and there are details missing in the match up area where the 2 drawings were joined. I did manage to find a neat mint original edition of the magazine with the plans in them and make my own scan from the originals. I was hoping they would yield a bit better detail into the workings of the gun. Unfortunately the original design was drawn as a assembly and is extremely difficult to determine different parts from each other. I started on a Solidworks model of it but I have yet to finish it.

    For those that assumed, the design is 22 caliber but it is not 22Lr.

    For guns like this there is no requirement for the barrel to be 16″ in length if it is rifled. Just like the Tippman semi belt fed miniatures, it would fall under the classification of “firearm” since it is not designed to be fired from the hand or from the shoulder. There is no barrel or OAL requirements for such guns. Scale it to what ever you like.

    To see the real version of this gun go here This gun is obviously not on the original mount.

    When you read the article you will see there is a lot of tinkering that will be required to get the system balanced. Larger the caliber the more easy it would be.

    I have found pictures of all sorts of different scaled down deck guns but never this model. It has become a bit of a hobby of mine and I have designed several of my own miniature deck guns but never built one since I’m an engineer and not a machinist.

  3. IAN, you know that at my age I should not take on such a project, BUT, I will.

    If by chance you can bring a set of print outs of these pages to our video shoot, I’ll make one and you can help me document the build. I am a novice at video and would love to have one to match my 22 GATLING GUN.

    For the record, the gatling gun and the Hotchkiss-style gun are not required to be 16″ in barrel length since they are not rifles.

    I will be examining the drawings to see if the structural strength of the receiver is adequate to scale it up to 38 SPECIAL or 357 MAXIMUM.

    If so I will be posting data on the FORUM.

  4. If making it rifled would ease legalities, bore it out to 8mm and epoxy or solder in a .22 liner. Brownells and Midway USA both sell 22 liners to reline corroded out old 22 rifles. Think they run around $20 – $30 or so. Have to be chambered and head spaced, but a heck of a lot easier than figuring out how to thread barrels in your basement workshop.

  5. Once I have a set of plans I will make available to all the CAD Drawings.

    I work in INVENTOR and should be available this summer.

    I am also looking for a .22 Nordenfelt either th single barrel or as my greatest wish would be the 5 barrel version.

    MONGO, I’d like to discuss the plans you have.

    I am both a retired mechanical engineer and was a Tool & Die Maker.

  6. Since this was chambered for the .22 Winchester Center Fire, can someone suggest a comparable round in power and size, but of more common availability?

  7. My gunsmithing project involves the sights on my Boys antitank rifle. Specifically, the lack of a rear sight. A previous owner had converted it to .50 BMG back in the 1980’s, apparently discarding the factory sights in the process, and substituting a fabricated scope mount that was machined to fit the complex receiver dovetail. I managed to obtain an original front sight, but cannot locate the rear. I’m to the point of giving up on finding one and just trying to have one made if I can find a drawing that’s detailed enough to have it machined. I really need a full scale blueprint with dimensions in order to have it properly positioned with regards to the front sight. I have all of the springs, screws, and full set of apertures needed, but just need the sight body if a complete unit can’t be found. I would be happy with either the earlier adjustable version or the later fixed sight, just so it can be operational with factory type sights. Anyone have a source for either a proper sight or a blueprint?

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