Year 3 - Week 29
ISSN 2603 - 9931
You might ask what is the Forever Rifle? It is just what the name implies, a rifle that can be used for hunting and protection forever. The word forever has a lot of implications as it does not mean 10 years, or 25 years, it means forever.
The idea of running out of ammo, years after a TEOTWAWKI mixed with my quest for self-reliance, triggered my research for an auto-sufficient weapon system. The design concept started as my master´s degree thesis for the University of Granada, Spain, and was called the Ethernal Rifle back then, in 2014.
The rifle had to be powerful enough to allow hunting and protection and should have a projectile propulsion system that could be kept working, without the limitations of external supply of cases, powder, primers or even bullets. The rifle should be so reliable that would keep on working forever with little or no maintenance.
These three parameters were the ones I fixed as mine when I started the development of my Ethernal Rifle.
Power to harvest
Even though we are used to have huge amounts of energy in our weapons, and many run around 3000 foot-pounds (4000 Jules) and more, we don’t need that much for hunting. History has told us many lessons and one of them is that you can hunt with as little as 12 foot-pounds (16J). Of course your possibilities against a Rhino are very little but for most birds and small mammals it has proven enough. Just ask the air rifle hunters in the UK and many other countries, and you will see how much you can do with so little.
Centerfire rifles need ammo. Muzzle loaders need powder. Both things are difficult to manufacture without some industrial capabilities and both have an added common problem. They make noise.
Silent and Deadly
During the 18th Century there was an air rifle that proved as capable or better than most muzzle loaders of the time. Made by Austrian inventor Batholomaus Girardoni in 1779 it proved very advanced and was capable of launching its .46 caliber ball to be effective to 125 yards. It was the first ever military repeater and the first ever magazine loaded military rifle, with a 20 balls mag. It served well for the Austrian Army for 35 years and even fought against Napoleon.
In 1804 to 1806 Lewis and Clarke was the first expedition to cross to the western portion of the United States. They were the first that penetrated the Indian populated areas, while hunting without them being noticed. It was acknowledged that it was the silent and self-reliant Girardoni rifle that allowed them to cross unharmed.
Today´s air rifles have a huge capabilities and some have 500 ft-pounds (677J). Just check Tactical Weapons Dec 2015 article Air Assault: 10 of the most Powerful Airguns and you will see some. Even though these rifles have awesome power, my approach was more minimalistic and oriented in long term performance without pre compressed bottled air.
21st Century air power
Gamo is the air rifle world leader and they make some fine rifles. Their most powerful Gamo G-Magnum break barrel rifles are powered by a compressed an IGT air shock similar to the one that opens the rear cargo door on most trucks. With IGT they have high power, up to 33 Ft-pounds (45J), way more than the 16J hunters in the UK are allowed to use.
Gamo break barrel needs arm force to cock and after 20 or 25 shots you will realize that those 50 pounds of force are high, but they can push a .22 pellet up to 1300 fps and that is what we need.
My problem with the Gamo was not lack of energy, which was adequate for my needs, but the long term performance of those air shocks. As many truck owner can testify, these air machines cannot be considered long term and most loose pressure after 10 or 15 years. In any US town today a replacement is only hours away, but in an isolated area or after the grid comes down, you will be unable to obtain the IGT replacement.
I was lucky enough to involve Gamo in my project and I had their technical support, so I could remove the IGT and substituted it with an old fashioned spring. I also upgraded the valves and hardware so they would become so reliable overtime as to be considered Ethernal.
The first and most important was to modify the power supply removing the IGT and replace it with a 11” (280 mm uncompressed) spring with 9/64” (3.5mm) wire, that mod alone gave us the reliability we needed with still 46J of energy.
Then the O-rings of the whole system where replaced with heavy duty Viton rings and the fasteners with stainless steel screws including the trigger screws and pins.
I was tempted to use one of my Aimpoints which have an impressive 10 years battery life but it would defuse the intention of the Forever rifle. The same happened with standard riflescopes. If you have experience with spring air rifles you will already know that they have a very unique recoil pulse that tend to rattle .50BMG cal proof scopes. Therefore, and for the sake of simplicity I decided on using a Gamo air rifle designed riflescope and keep the open sights for peace of mind.
I added three pellet magazines (42 total) in the recoil pad on special magazines designed by my friend and master 3D designer Alejo Espinosa, which he printed on a 3D printer. Then to add stealth, I painted all the rifle with a hasty green foliage camo pattern and EC PAINTS to match my area.
To complete the modifications and add-ons a compact Nomad pellet mold and a small 1.5” graphite crucible kit from Alexnld.com (Israel) fit inside the Gamo stock and allow casting pellets. Such a system with a small bag of extra O-rings can be kept working reliably for several generations.
Keeping it fed, forever
The trick of the Forever Rifle system is that air is plentiful in nature, that your arm compressing a spring provides the energy and that you can shoot nearly anything that fits on the .22 bore. Everything?
Yes, mostly anything and making projectiles have proved a lot of fun too. It is true that in collaboration with Gamo I tested their commercial line of pellets and some others, and it is also true that they were the best performers, but the real fun was making my own, either casting of using a threading ¼ die. I even tried making sand shells with plastic soft drink straws that worked fine at 10 yards but proved very unreliable.
If you are a muzzle loader you know more than me about casting bullets and this works basically the same, but air rifles have a skirt that is used to seal the air behind the pellet and aid speed too.
This does not mean that you can’t launch standard mold .22 cal bullets if you polish them a bit to reduce bore friction, but that the results will be better if you stick to molds for lighter projectiles designed for air rifles.
I have used two different molds, one made commercially by Nomad in the UK and one custom made by Mp-molds from Slovenia. Both worked fine and even though the MP cast 65gr bullets were awesome at short range and they could be used in .22 cal firearms, they limited the distance for the hunt with our Forever rifle.
On the contrary, the Nomad .22 cal 25-28 gr pellets that resulted were more versatile and still gave me the energy I needed for birds and small game. Actually those pellets were nearly identical to the Gamo Hammer whose well known hunting performace is outstanding.
You can cast the pellets on any gas or electric furnace and also over a fire if you configure it like a furnace with a good oxygen feed.
Using standard ¼-20 and ¼-28 dies was also tested as you can make projectiles by threading wood and soft plastic so you end up with a threaded rod that can be cut to pieces. Not the perfect design but a good way to turn any material into a lethal bullet. I tested those on birds at 10 to 20 yards and they were devastating, specially the wood types.
The performance both in external and terminal ballistics was very good. At 25 yards it was easy to hit a 1” target and at 50 yards a 2” target was easy too. Birds around my land were harvested up to 40 yards, as were rabbits, squirrels and other small critters that fell with ease. The largest animal harvested for food was a 26 pounds young javelina that was shot 24 yards away and fell dead on, when hit between the eyes. Having to get close to medium size mammals will sharpen your skills and made will make your hunts lots of fun too.
Making a simple and reliable Forever Rifle survival weapon was my goal and I succeeded in it. I am sure that my grandsons will still use mine.
If you can compromise some long term reliability in your own Auto-Sustained system, you could use the super PCP airguns available in the US with up to 500 ft-pounds of energy. I would recommend you get a hand pump with it so you can use it as your main source of high pressure air to fill the air tanks once the SHTF.
Using an air rifle for hunting and protection might seem like a weird idea, but Lewis and Clarke proved that it can actually be the perfect weapon for stealthy operations. Now, with our new technologies and rifle designs, air-rifles are more lethal than ever and if used right could be the perfect weapon for TEOTWAWKI.
Lewis and Clarke
Lewis and Clarke at 3 Forks ,mural at the Montana house of representatives, they proved that hunting and surviving with air rifles was possible.
Using the 3D printer made magazines the Forever rifle can carry 42 super lethal Gamo PBA ARMOR pellets for the long shots against medium sized game.