The light at the end of the tunnel, and a new(ish) project…

I am pleased to announce that I have almost finished my MFA. My thesis exhibition is installed, and I have successfully defended it from my committee. I just need to edit my thesis defense paper and I will be unemployed with the letters MFA after my name. Life is good:)

A few months ago I was trying to put the finishing touches to my AR by adding an adjustable butt stock to the lower. I emailed a company who made the one I wanted, but they were all out and so I waited. After a few months I was contacted with the news that they had made some more, unfortunately the money I had set aside for it was gone.

Wandering despondently around school I happened into a room known as the XYZ Lab. It is in there that I laser etched the stock on my hunting rifle among other projects. As it happened on this day the guru of the lab, Anthony, was fiddling with a new toy. A Makergear M2 3D printer. Now, a few years ago before I departed the UK I had had 3D printers on my mind, and had considered the possibilities of printing butt plates for my Anschutz target rifle. I was very attracted by the possibilities, but deterred by the cost of the equipment.

Now here I am a few years later, bemoaning my lack of a butt stock, but here was the equipment. And it turns out the technology is easier to get your head round than you might realise.

So I have been doing some designing, and learning, and more designing, and problem solving, and I have now printed 2 complete adjustable butt stocks for my AR15. I call them the Mk2 & Mk3.

Mk1 never made it off the drawing board. Mk2 broke as I was handling it the first time. But hopefully Mk3 will make it to the range, but then it will probably break (and that will be okay).

Here are some photos.

3D printed stock, the beginning.

3D printed stock, the beginning.

This is the first part of the Mk2 being printed.

3D printed stock project, part assembled

3D printed stock project, part assembled

The Mk2 used four vertically aligned bolts to clamp the “spine” in place. This part didn’t break, but it isn’t very elegant. The five nuts you can see on the right side are press fit into the spine and allow vertical adjustment of the butt plate.

3D printed stock project, first fit.

3D printed stock project, first fit.

Here it is on the rifle.

Mk2 Broken

Mk2 Broken

Here it is broken. The rotational forces applied to the butt stock were all being restrained by this piece, but not for long. It separated along a printed layer.

Mk3 Parts

Mk3 Parts

These are the parts of the Mk3. It is a bit more complicated. I have reduced the size of the serrations on the spine and made them an even 1/4 inch long to enable specific adjustments. The clamp is now operated by two bolts and a wedge which has more mechanical force and seems to work very well, but the placement of the bolts makes it awkward to adjust. The butt plate is now curved and more ergonomically shaped.

Mk3 assembled on rifle

Mk3 assembled on rifle

I have beefed up the part that broke in the Mk2, and I plan to apply something to the top surface of the spine to give it more resistance to sliding round the buffer tube. The buttplate can still be adjusted vertically, there are three nuts in the spine (two more are inside the lower bar) and the butt plate has five points of attachment that can be used with them.

It is still not very elegant, but it is a definite improvement on Mk2. The mechanism is good, but still needs work. Once I have done some live testing I plan to reproduce it in black plastic as I have decided that the red makes it look like a toy, and no-one will take it, or me, seriously.

I am mentally designing Mk4, but also I am considering the possibilities of casting parts in metal as that will become a possibility in the near future, but will probably require some adjustments to the design.

I am still intending to purchase a professionally made butt stock as I wouldn’t want one of these to break on me mid competition.

One day I hope to have the confidence that they wont.

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