1/6th Scale .50 BMG Field Gun

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
The Rotac Ltd. ORDNANCE, Q.F., 17-PR, in .50BMG (ROTAC)

Ever wanted your own field gun but never had the garage space to keep one? Well look no further, a small group of British gunsmiths have developed a working scale replica of the World War Two-era British Ordnance QF 17-pounder!

The 1/6th scale replica of the iconic anti-tank weapon from World War Two fires the .50 BMG round. The replica QF-17 is a long time passion project of Chris Roper, Rotac Ltd’s managing director and founder. Chris originally worked on the project with his gunmaker father, Bill, and has been joined by military historian Mark Khan and other experts who have helped bring the replica to life.

17-pdr anti-tank gun in action in Tunisia, 1943 (IWM)

Developed in the early 1940s, the Ordnance Quick-Firing 17-pounder, entered production in 1942. The QF-17 proved to be Britain’s most effective field gun of the war. It was an exceptional anti-tank gun firing a range of armour piercing 76.2×583mmR shells. Able to penetrate German Tiger and Panther armour, the QF-17 was also the gun used to arm the formidable Sherman Firefly. The QF-17 was used throughout the war in North Africa, the Far East and during the liberation of Europe, it later saw action in Korea before it was replaced by the QF 20-pounder.

A view of the Rotac Ltd. QF 17 Mk1's breech (Rotac)

I spoke with Chris, Rotac’s managing director and founder, and asked him what sort of challenges the project encountered. He explained that designing the 1/6th scale replica gun wasn’t too difficult “but what was the major hurdle was replacing the ‘hammer and nail’ pistol of the full size gun into something that could handle the .50 in 1/6 scale without looking totally out of place and getting a workable recoil system.”

The Rotac QF 17, Mk1 with a .50 BMG about to be loaded into its breech, note the rifle scope mounted on a length of picatinny rail (Rotac)

The Rotac team also had to come up with a way to reliably extract the rimless .50 calibre round. Rounds have to be manually extracted from the first prototype but Roper reports that production models will eject spent cases when the breech is opened. While Rotac developed the prototype Mk1 replica to chamber the .50 BMG round they also plan to offer it in various other commercial or military calibres.

Mark and his team still have to finalise the production model’s traverse and elevation gears with testing of the Mk2 gun scheduled for early 2018. The barrels will be either 316 stainless or Chrom-Moly steel and will be rifled by a firm that supplies the London Gun trade. Rotac hope to have production models ready for 2019. Rotac estimate the guns will cost around £25,000 / $31,500 and will be available worldwide.

Here’s a video of the prototype Mk1 in action:

Video processing... Video processing...
Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: TheFirearmBlog.com & Overt Defense.com. Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at: matt@thefirearmblog.com

More by Matthew Moss

Join the conversation
4 of 59 comments
  • Hdfhjdhj Hdfhjdhj on Nov 04, 2017

    If the original fired 76.2×583mmR, wouldn't it make more sense to do a 1/10th scale version firing 7.62×54r?

    • See 1 previous
    • Secundius Secundius on Nov 04, 2017

      @hdfhjdhj Try looking up the Specifications on the Russian 7.62x54mmR...

  • Alec Rawls Alec Rawls on Nov 04, 2017

    Terrible camera angle. I was watching to see how the lock-up operates and as the operator was about to close the bolt his arm and shoulder came up to block the view. You don't have any better video?