First, a quick few words on the project plan I had written to so far:
Specs: function, use existing stock material, don’t fall apart quickly, no additional materials or tools needed
constraints: motivation, time, trying to shoehorn in any design or aesthetic considerations:
Problem: In development, this project was an excuse to use the leather stock I already have to make the moccasins I had been planning for a year or so. There is little to no design involved other than concatenating existing historical designs into something functional using the leather I have, and I struggled to bring myself to force aesthetic considerations into it.
Therefore, have I decided to change my project to something that is easier for me to care about, and actually involves design such that I can alter the aesthetics as I see fit. As a hobbyist gunsmith, I have been building a personal rifle, and now plan to design a forend or handguard that allows for a free floating barrel, which is a feature that can greatly improve precision. The rifle I am building was not originally designed to accommodate this, and as such will require a more robust mounting system, as well as a significant change for the mounting of the front sight.
This somewhat late stage project change may seem rash, but I know from personal experience caring about a project makes working on it frequently much easier, and often greatly improves the process and final product. To make up for lost time, I will go over the same thought processes as described in previous posts.
Originally the handguard was designed of stamped steel and wood, mounted at the front and center of the rifle, and is completely static, styled similarly to the image below.
Below are some conceptual sketches of mounting solutions and a potential wooden grip, as well as an integral bipod, which shall be the dynamic element. The current plan is to mount the rear strongly, with a milled steel adapter that will index and clamp to the rifle and allow a carved wooden handguard to be bolted on, with a separate mounting solution at the front of the handguard for the front sight block.
As with the previous post, I considered two drastically different aesthetics. Above I attempt to fit the mid cold war design of the original rifle, with some minor considerations to ergonomics, hiding machined surfaces, and allowing cooling. Below are two sharply contrasting aesthetic options. The top sketch is perhaps minimalist, or more likely industrialist, with exposed struts holding the front sight block in place, and a simple wooden grip that doesn’t cover the barrel, which would allow for cooling, but would not be the most ergonomic. The bottom sketch is a much more organic design, with a swooping handguard somewhat reminiscent of a beetle’s shell.
Finally, bringing my concept generation up to date for this project, specifications and constraints.
Mount to the rifle without interacting with the barrel
Hold the front sight block in place, at most by connecting to the cocking tube that runs above the barrel.
Integral, collapsible bipod
Must support the rifle before, during, and after firing without shifting or breaking
And finally, the aesthetic aspect, which I am still considering. My first thought was to avoid mismatching aesthetic with the original design, but the organic or brutal industrial aesthetics are somewhat appealing, and I find myself drawn to creating a combination, with simple, industrial framework over which a much more organic shell could be mounted. If you manage to read to this point, I would appreciate feedback on this matter, especially if you are unfamiliar with firearms. What aesthetic would be an interesting complement or counterpart to the rest of an early cold war designed tool?
Material acquisition: decent quality metal stock and fitting wood or synthetic material, depending on chosen aesthetic
Tooling: both time and access to a mill and lathe to manufacture the mounting piece and front sight block, as well as woodcarving tools, mine of which I left at home, two time zones away.
Time: every assignment and project of mine is done through triage these days
Secure and reliable mounting solution: this rifle was very much designed without such a modification in mind, and more intrusive alterations may be required
Rigidity of entire assembly for consistency of orientation of front sight block, including tolerance stack up, and shifting during shock and vibration during firing.