DISCLAIMER: This is not a real gun, nor can it be made into a real gun. It’s an Airsoft replica that fires small plastic BB’s used for games. I am a registered UKARA member and so was the customer who requested this conversion.
So this was a really interesting and challenging conversion job. I was given a brand new (not even been fired) full metal airsoft shotgun and asked to make it into a post-apocalyptic looking thing in the style of Max Max, Waterworld and Fallout.
The handle and pump are both plastic, but the body is entirely metal, which gave me an idea and an opportunity to try out something my partner bought me last year but I’ve never found anything worthy of using the stuff on yet. It’s called “Swellegant” and essentially it’s a chemical that you put on metal and it ages that metal, a ‘patina’ as it’s called in the trade. She also got me a second set of Swellegant stuff that’s metal coating paint, basically paint with metal in it that you can use to coat non-metal things and then put the patina on afterwards.
I decided it was no guts no glory time and stripped off the pump to make it easier to sand the body down. I took parts of it down to the metal and some parts I left the paint on. I took less off the barrel and took a lot off the receiver section. then I added Swelegant to get the aged metal patina, I used a few different application techniques and a couple of different chemicals to build up layers of ‘age’ in the metal. The great thing is that because it’s actually aging the top layer of the metal, it doesn’t come off unless you scratch or sand it down (just like if it were really aged), so it’s more robust than paint.
I was conscious that this was a ‘working’ airsoft gun, not a display piece, so I was always very careful to leave any functional areas alone, certainly when adding the grime. If this was a display item or for cosplay, I’d have gone a bit more to town, but I know how roughly airsoft guns are treated and I didn’t want parts of it go get chipped off easily or some arty embellishment actually make the gun hard to use.
With this in mind, my next job was doing something with the handle. Since it was plastic I didn’t want to fake it looking like metal, so doing it rusty or something didn’t make sense. Instead I opted for a layer of grime and dirt and a wrapped handle, but first, I had a different problem. The whole gun was still looking too new, despite the patina on the body. I took a hammer to it (very carefully) and put some dings into the plastic and metal parts, then I used a blunt knife and added scratches and little nicks where I felt they’ve accumulate from days, years, of use and abuse fighting radioacive mutants and road bandits stealing guzzoline. After all this I sanded down the pump quite a lot, especially the underside, I wanted it to look almost worn smooth by our hero’s hands.
In some of the piles of “stuff that will be useful one day” I have a bag of belts and things that I occasionally buy from charity shops and army surplus, they are often useful for various things. In my bag I found a belt made of leather plates and with long leather cords to tie it togehter, I decided this would make a great strap, imagining that our wasteland wanderer may have traded for it along the way, and hoped it wasn’t made from human leather. The shotgun also came with 4 shells (which hold the BB’s as a very cool looking magazine). I used some scraps of swede I had left over from a job years ago to make a little four loop shell holder and used some of the long leather ties from the belt/strap to tie it to the strap itself.
I repainted one shell yellow, to make it look different, like our hero had been scavenging them rather than just getting them from a box. I also used the Swellegant metal paint to add brass to the base of three shells (the fourth is a different make and already had an awesome shiny brass base, which I left alone), then I used the Swellegant to add patina to those, again to make them look like they’ve been found somewhere.
The dirt and grime and rust along the barrel, grips in the pump and in various other places I built up using dirt from my garden, glue and sand. I kid you not, it’s real grime. I then did a lot of airbrushing with browns, reds, yellows, pale colours and generally anything I thought looked right for the part to get everything nice and dirty and apocalyptic. The wrapped handle is actually an old painting cloth that I thought looked pretty awesome. The charms hanging from the handle loop are beads from an old bracelet I found in a charity shop, woven into a strip of electrical cord and finished with some steel wire, I figured it was the kind of thing our hero might have picked up as a reward from someone, maybe someone who couldn’t pay, or it was a wasteland charm to bring luck. I did some weathering on the leather strap with oil paints just to take off the new shine it had, and then carefully painted matt clearcoat over the grime sections to seal them and help them stick.
As you probably well know by now, I’m pretty bad at taking photos, and this was particularly hard to take photos of, I think the actual thing looks a lot better than it does here.