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In the past two days, I've been figuring out how to build a Space Marine Bolter airsoft gun, using M4 as the base. You can see my design article on that elsewhere on this web site. But I have really been a Tau fan in the Warhammer 40K universe. I would, personally, rather use a Tau Pulse Rifle (see image blow) over a Space Marine Bolter any day.
That got me thinking about turn an airsoft gun into a functional airsoft Tau Pulse Rifle. The Pulse Rifle is long and boxy, rather easy to model if you think about it. You just need the right base gun for it.
Looking at the Pulse Rifle drawing, the VSS Vintorez (see photo below) quickly came to mind. I have been very familiar with the VSS Vintorez, because I have just gotten the Echo1 Red Star IGOR recently. The VSS Vintorez is rather long (great for supporting the model) and rather short (fits Pulse Rifle profile).
But before jumping in and modifying my brand new $230 Echo1 Red Star IGOR, let's perform a rapid prototype and a feasible test. I used Gimp to overlay the two images at the correct aspect ratio. The image below shows what I got.
As you can see, the two guns are practically the exact match. The shortened VSS Vintorez magazine is a little too long, but that's ok. The shoulder stock is a little too high, but we can probably fudge the height slightly. The shoulder stock is too long though. We will probably cut the shoulder stock to mold it like the Tau Pulse Rifle shoulder stock. But overall, the project seems extremely feasible.
I have also tried this feasibility test with a M4 for giggles. The M4 is too tall. And the aspect ratio of the magazine, trigger, and handgrip are off. It won't be a good candidate. I won't show you the overlay photo here so that I can leave you with that exercise if you choose to try it.
Now we need materials to mold the Pulse Rifle shape around the VSS Vintorez. First thing that comes to mind is foam blocks. Searching for "foam blocks" on Amazon yields "wet foam blocks" (see photo below) as possible candidates. Wet foam blocks are the base for many floral and craft projects.
It seems that we can drill holes through the foam blocks for the mock silencer. Then glue multiple wet foam blocks together into the shape of the Pulse Rifle. That would make up the front end of the pulse rifle. Then we can mold the wet foam blocks to the back end of the rifle, contouring to the shape of the VSS Vintorez with a clam-shell design. The cut shoulder stock can be hidden within the wet foam block. Then we simply paint the wet foam block to match the Tau Pulse Rifle.
Not sure how durable wet foam block is. But it is certainly worth a try. Let us know if you can think of a better material for this project.
The 9.6v NiMH stick battery that came with the Echo1 Red Star IGOR takes up the full length of the shoulder stock. If you cut the shoulder stock, then you'll have to find a small LiPO stick battery pack that fits in the remainder of the should stock. Another option is to hollow out space in the wet foam block for a more conventional airsoft battery pack.
You may even consider to forgo cutting the shoulder stock. That means your Pulse Rifle will have a longer shoulder stock than official version. If you can willing to do that, you might consider shorten the front by the same amount. The following image shows what it could potentially look like if you are willing to sacrifice authenticity.
In the image above, I did not extend the Pulse Rifle shoulder stock all the way down to match the VSS Vintorez shoulder stock. That is because I wanted to give you a reference in the overlay. When you mold the wet foam blocks, they should cover the entire VSS Vintorez shoulder block.