Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sculpting Pistols

Howdy, pilgrims,
Today's post concerns the way pistols are depicted on 40mm miniatures. One of the challenges of sculpting any military miniature is making weapons to scale. If gun barrels were 1:48th the diameter of a real .45 caliber pistol barrel, it would be as thin or thinner as a guitar string. Even if you could cast it reliably, it would be so fragile it would snap off with the slightest handling. Here are some photos of people holding real weapons.

First, a so-called "Pocket Navy." If you are playing Warhammer's Legends of the Old West, it would be a typical "sixgun". They were popular weapons because of the speed with which they could be brought into action. Large guns like the Walker Colt were totally impractical as a street fighting weapon due to their bulk:

Here are a number of Colt's cap-and-ball pistols. Notice the variety of sizes available:

Here's a feller on horseback carrying a Peacemaker. Notice how small the gun appears in his hand, especially with the large animal in close proximity:

This reenactor is firing a Peacemaker (or perhaps a Frontier), considered a "Heavy Pistol" in Warhammer's Legends of the Old West:

Finally, here's another "heavy pistol" as defined by LOTW; in this case, a Colt's 1851 Navy:

It's easy to see how delicate a gun diligently modeled to scale would be when scaled down. Sculptors, therefore, have to make compromises. Guns have to be made thicker to be durable, but not so large as to resemble artillery. When you make a gun thicker, you have to be careful how long you make it, otherwise the visual effect produced by the overall massiveness of the gun will make the entire figure look ridiculous. Here are four types of guns I have sculpted for Knuckleduster's 40mm figures:

First, a LOTW "sixgun"; in this case, an 1851 Colt's Navy Sheriff's Model.  I have chosen to use small sixguns like these on a number of my sculpts:

Next, a .45 Peacemaker with a 7.5"-length barrel:

Here's a derringer (the generic term; the first company to produce them was called "Deringer," with one "r"):

Finally, here's a full-size Navy revolver:

Finally, a figure on horseback holding a Pocket Navy. Compare this figure to the mounted reenactor previously shown:

The real advantage of 40mm over 28mm, is that weapons can be made a bit more delicate while still retaining the strength needed for handling.

I'd like to put in a good word for the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS).  Some of the reenactors pictured on this post compete in Cowboy Action Shooting, a championship target shooting sport which a lot of really nice guys participate in all over the world. The skill, knowledge, and safety record of this organization really can't be beat. We toy soldier people can learn a lot from what they do. More info is available at http://www.sassnet.com/index.php

Until next time, Adios!
Forrest Harris
Ol' Knuckleduster

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