Friday, 21 October 2011

Airsoft Mauser strip and respray

I have never really understood some people’s fascination with guns. Mind you, that goes for people’s fascinations with lots of things (like cars) so I’ve never dwelt on it. However, the gun thing changed when I discovered the Mauser C96 pistol. It’s forward-mounted magazine gives it a wonderful proportion and it looks much more “chunky” than the traditional pistol. I was a bit bemused by the weird resonance I felt looking at photos of C96s, then realised that they were the model upon which Han Solo’s pistol was based. And we all know he shot first…

There are a few companies producing replicas, many quite beautiful, but most rather expensive. After all, if I bought one it was only going to sit on a shelf somewhere. All this changed when I saw a metal-bodied airsoft version at a military fair for £12. It was about 30% too small, but a girl doesn’t want to carry a massive hand-cannon so this was fine. It was, however, bright blue. Damn! I bought it anyway and the helpful man who sold it to me explained that folk often strip such garishly coloured airsofts with a paint stripper going by the cheery name of “Nitromors”.

Off I trotted to the hardware shop to buy some allen keys and Nitromors. “Hold on.” I said to the man at the till, “I want to check the size of the keys on this.” at which point I produced my blue Mauser. “So…what are you going to use that for?” he asked, mentally calculating that paint stripper and blue gun equals repainted-gun-hold-up-heroine. “A…photo…shoot” I replied, before handing over the cash and running out the door.

The trickiest bit of the whole procedure was the dismantling of the gun. It evidently wasn’t intended to be taken apart and I ended up using what brute force I could muster to prize the plastic workings out, shattering much of it in the process. Once I had the metal in component parts I put them in a baking tray and poured on the Nitromors. I had wondered how long it might take to work, and was astounded that it did its job in about a minute flat. I was able to slough-off the peeling paint to reveal the bare metal below. I then sprayed the pieces with matte black acrylic. Reassembly was a veritable Mensa test but I eventually managed to salvage some of the inner workings so the housing still slides open on a spring to reveal the mock-chamber. I darkened the rather garish fake wood with black acrylic paint and was surprised at how authentic it looked.

I am rather proud of my Mauser now in all its flat-black glory. What’s more, I genuinely intend to use it for a photoshoot soon, so watch this space.

Some of the screws on a sketch so I know where they go.

The housing in bits.

Remnants of the disassembly carnage.

The tools of the trade. I moved from left to right as I got more annoyed with the thing.

The magic juice.

The housing now stripped of its comedy paint job.

The components sprayed black. I stuck the two smaller bits to the ends of paint brushes to make the spraying easier.

The fake wooden grip now with its black stain. It looks surprisingly realistic.

The final result. Note there are a few scratches to the paintwork. This was the result of taking the thing on a photo shoot. I don't mind the imperfections and I think they add to the aesthetic.


  1. Great stuff. Is it easy to get hold of really cheap replicas at military fairs? I've been trying to find a way of getting hold of cheap, decent-looking weaponry for ages (for photoshoots, mainly to get the correct body reactions to the equipment) but I'm stumped.

  2. Hey Jason. Yes, there are usually quite a few airsoft suppliers at the fairs. The advantage over online stores is that you can see what you're getting before you buy. What do you mean by 'body reactions'????

  3. Remind me never to corner you in a bar and tell you that you owe Jabba the Hutt a whole load of money...

  4. Er, not expressing myself too well today! :) I mean, you can only get a convincing pose and hand positions if you're holding a real weapon, it's really hard to fake since I often put the props in afterwards digitally.

  5. What a beautiful pistol! I have actually fired few rounds with the real version of this beauty;)
    Too bad that people in the UK have to deal with those brightly coloured airsoft guns (thank ### we dont have them here)
    But it seems that you have done a good job turning it to look badass!
    How about little drybrushing with boltgun metal, to make it look little more worn out???

  6. You raise a good point okkiW. For me drybrushing would not be "authentic". A real gun would not be drybrushed - it would have worn paint revealing the metal beneath. When I build 1:1 scale props I always try and avoid trompe l'oeil effects unless there is no other solution. For example, I don't like shading on large props as its unnatural.

  7. sfunny that - just looking at a real one tuther day but decided i liked the cowboys guns better - then i bought neither .......

  8. The hammer is facing the wrong way!