Making a replica prop gun - S&W M1917 .45

Created by sa-maker on July 30, 2014, 3:34 p.m.
  • This project is made possible through the tips and help of:

    @Kerber, @TsunamiJuan, @will,@kim_a,@everfalling,@Dan Lantz

    Thanks to you and

    Since discovering have become fascinated by the replica prop movement. So I decided to make myself a Replica movie prop gun. To do this I had to learn hard edge sculpture. I'm learning this as I go, so if anybody have some tips, please leave a comment below.

    I decided to replicate one of the revolvers used in Raiders of the lost Ark. The weapon in question is a 1917 model Smith and Wesson 45 acp revolver. All the dimensions for the gun was taken off images from the internet, by scaling them relative to the cylinder.

    The process I used was to cast blank forms in a F16 plastic that I could then glue and machine to the required shapes.

    I started by making a base tile that formed the side of the cylinder. I made a silicon mold of this plasticine tile and casted six.

    The tiles I made was originally made for a 38 special, so it was too small for the 45. I taped the outside with packaging tape and filled the gaps with more F16

    I then shaped the final drum on my makeshift lathe.

    After some testing I found that it would be best to make the front and back of the cylinder from two separate discs. Using silicon molding was to expensive to cast the blanks, so I used plasticine clay for the molds.

    I sanded the front and back and drilled the holes.

    I casted 6 domes for the bullet points. I placed the machined front over these, formed a retaining wall with plasticine and poured F16 into the center hole. This set and solidified the unit.

    I did the same with the back of the cylinder. I did not like the back of the bullets and later replaced them with washers of the correct size. With all the shaping and filling the groves and slots had to be re-machined. All that tile work for nothing...

    I made the center shaft from a stainless steel rod. All the fittings was cast in plasticine molds and machined on the lathe.

    Assembled it looked pretty good against a scale cut out of the gun.

    I poured a mold for the cylinder out of Mold max 20 silicon.

    This method turned out to be a bad idea as bubbles trapped on the underside of the cast and formed an uneven texture.

    I casted the cylinder out of F16 with aluminium filling. When sanded the finish looks exactly like metal.

    Due to the bad quality of the mold the end result looks like a seriously worn piece of metal. Not what I was looking for, but quite satisfactory on another level. I have subsequently made a new mold for the cylinder that works wonderfully.

    Now that the cylinder is done it is time to move on to the body of the revolver. Stick around, and I'll show you how I did that in the next post.

  • That looks neat! I'm not familiar with this stuff, so what is F16? (besides a fighter jet)

  • @General Desire: it appears its a urethane resin in this case

    is the pitting from the mold material, or the original item? I wanted to say both Frank and the Person who made the Needler (sorry can't remember your name) both had some tricks that they talked about to avoid and reduce the amount of air that stays in materials during casting or mold making.

  • Thanks @TsunamiJuan for the link.@General Desire that is the stuff I used. I asked for a casting medium that can be machined after casting and they gave me that. It works like a charm.

    The pitting came from the mold making. The second mold I made worked fine and had no pitting. You can eliminate the air in the mold by using a vacuum chamber, which I don't have. The problem is new to me since I normally make brush on molds and not these 'block' molds. Another solution was to mount the cylinder in clay around the center line, cast the one half, remove the clay and cast the second half using Vaseline for a release agent. This way the air in the mold escapes away from the material and not toward it.

  • @sa-maker: maybe it was the guy that was building the ED-209 that i am thinking of that had a trick that didn't require a vacume chamber. He said something about pouring it in a thin ribbon, so that you can get the bubbles out during it, and i think he would poor in into a corner or something and let it then kinda fill up around the item. Instead of pouring it directly over the top and risking air bubbles as it coats the surface.

  • @TsunamiJuan: That sound like an idea. I'll give it a try.

  • If doing pour-molds stringing it out is definitely a way to minimize pitting in the casting. Also, consider the orientation of the piece your molding, I think you would have gotten a better result if the piece was stood with the tips of the bullets pointing upwards, fewer undercuts means fewer places for bubbles to get trapped.

  • wow! looking great. i donno how i helped but i'm glad i did. :D

    yeah pouring the silicon in a thin stream from high up should help break most of the bubbles on the way down. slow and steady is how you do that if you don't have access to a vacuum chamber. the way you mounted it is fine since you have undercuts on both the back and the front so you'll want the silicon to flow into those areas. better luck next time although that pitted look is kinda cool if you don't mind a severely weathered gun.

  • Thanks @everfalling: I listed everybody who gave me tips on other form postings that I used in the making of the gun.

    It is done! I'll post the wright-up and pics tomorrow.

  • heck yeah, congrats on finishing it. I have lurked this thread for a while;, never stopped in to get you props.... looking forward to pictures.,

  • So now onto the final part.

    After the cylinder was build I moved to the rest of the gun. First up the barrel. I turned the basic shape out of wood on my makeshift lathe. Then I formed the sight and bottom part out of plastic, which I glued on. This got a couple layers of spay paint to remove the wood grain.

    The blank of the frame was cut from a 20 mm wide piece of wood and the handle from a 10 mm. The handle was slotted into the frame with a mortise and tenon joint.

    The frame was cut and shaped, with the sight grove cut on the top.

    The proud bits was formed in plastic and glued on.

    The assembled gun started to look quite good.

    I filled the last gaps with automotive body filler, sprayed and sanded it. I added the ring to the handle. Nothing about the gun moves, so it would be stuck to the bottom. It was ready for the molding. I sank the cylinder and body halfway in clay and poured the mold material over.

    I did the same for the reverse, using Vaciline as a releasing agent between the silicon parts.

    I used a Fastcast Polyurethane with Aluminium filling as a casting material.

    When sanded it tuns a bright metallic finish.

    I tried a number of paint finishings, while I started with the handle.

    At the end I used a mat black spray. I wanted to make a mold of the handle sides, but the wood looked so good I decided to keep them. I'l make some handles that I can mold later.

    After some weathering, I coated the body of the gun with a clear spray and the handle, with a couple layers of linseed oil. And we're done. One .45 Smith & Wesson M1917 with a 4 inch barrel, replica to go.

  • @sa-maker: Great stuff. I love to see a WIP breakdown like this that shows that often our pieces look worse before they look better. As the steps proceeded it was obvious that it was going in the right direction, but those final pictures show how a project can suddenly come together and be more than the sum of its parts. A great result...good enough that I can guarantee it wouldn't get through Australian Customs lol.

    Thanks for posting the process, I definitely learnt some god tips along the way :)

  • Whoah, that looks amazing. The weathering and handle really brought it home! :)

  • Great job! It looks really good. Going to try your hand at making a leather flap holster for it?

    Also, this is my first time checking out this thread and wanted to commend you on your lathe setup. I may need to try something like that.

  • Thanks @Topherbean:

    I'll check out the holster. Right now I'm thinking of making a Leon (the Professional) gun case, but I have a couple of boots to make before then.

    You can check out a in depth view on the lathe here:

  • @sa-maker I am going to blame your project for bringing a project I have have had on the back burner for ages back to the front of my mind. At least somewhat blame it on you.

    I am using it as an excuse to learn solidworks better for another project.

  • @TsunamiJuan:  dude! Those looks awesome!