Tony lives in the United Kingdom. Wait, what? How could anyone living in a country with such a restrictive firearms legislation create a weapon like this? Well, it turns out that this is a perfectly legal firearm in the UK. While belt-fed machine guns and even their semi-auto counterparts are banned in the UK, this ammunition feeding system itself is not. Additionally, this rifle is merely a manual repeater because it is based on a Ruger 96/44 which is a lever-action rifle chambered in .44 Magnum. Here is what Tony says about other legal aspects related to this project:
I’ve customized the guns that I already own. So these customizations are technically (legally) modified stocks, as there is no material change to the bolt/action or barrel of the gun. I am also NOT a firearm dealer or gun manufacturer and lack the necessary permits and equipment to put any of what you see on my channel into production. So I don’t have any commercial plans to sell these. My intention with this (Belt-fed Lever Gun) was to see if it was possible to make one.
Here in the UK, we can’t have semi-auto firearms BUT – we can load our guns with as much ammo as we can (no magazine restrictions!). Therefore I believe this set-up offers the most fire power you can legally own here in the UK.
The project started with disassembling the Ruger 96/44 and removing the original wood stock and lever. Tony then drew the general silhouette of the future rifle (which was inspired by HK G11) over the barreled action of Ruger 96/44. Once the overall layout was determined, he started making the bullpup conversion frame from aluminum blocks and sheets.
Initially, Tony was planning to use CNC machined conversion parts to make the gun look like a Walther WA 2000. However, the quotes from CNC machine shops were extremely high and Tony decided to build the gun all by himself with no CNC machining involved which to me, makes it an even more impressive project. Overall, the project cost Tony £500 (about $650) and was accomplished in his spare time taking him 4-6 months.
As with any other bullpup conversion, you must somehow link the new front trigger back to the original trigger mechanism. In the case of this project, besides linking the trigger back, Tony also designed a mechanism of linking the new lever back to the action of the base rifle. Below you can find pictures and animated images of the exposed action of this rifle (side cover plate is removed) showing how the lever and trigger linkages are designed and work.
Probably the most complicated and challenging part of this project was the designing of the actual belt feeding mechanism. Tony has designed a proprietary 3D-printed non-disintegrating belt. The links of the belt are elastic enough to expand allowing snapping in the .44 Magnum cartridges, securely hold the ammo, and release the cartridges as the action is cycled allowing to feed the gun. On the reverse side of the links, there are ratchet teeth that allow the feeding mechanism pawl to move the belt through the action as the shooter works the lever. The feeding from the belt is accomplished by a lifter that pushes the cartridges up releasing them from the belt and aligning with the path of the bolt which on its forward stroke feeds the rounds into the chamber. Here is another set of pictures and an animated image showing the belt design and the work of the belt feeding mechanism.
Now let’s watch the video! Of course, instead of writing up this article I could just briefly describe the subject and let you guys watch the video, however, the reason I decided to take screenshots, create animated images and write a bit more in-depth description is the unreliability of YouTube as a platform for firearm-related content. I am sure many of you have encountered a situation where you saw an interesting article online but when you tried to read it, you found out that the YouTube video the article was based on was gone. That’s why I thought to put together this article to preserve the story of this incredibly interesting project in a form of a TFB post. Enjoy the video.
If you find this kind of content interesting, I’d recommend you to check out other videos in Tony’s YouTube channel where you’ll find some of his previous projects that include interesting conversions like a new stock/chassis for a Ruger 96/44 or a bullpup stock for a Browning Buck Mark pistol. Tony told me that he does have other firearm-related projects in works which he will release sooner or later depending on how much spare time and resources he’ll manage to dedicate to these projects. I’ll be following the ADF Projects and Designs YouTube channel and will make sure to report about Tony’s future projects.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading the story of creation of this unbelievable firearm. I personally can’t find words to fully express how much I like projects like this. The unusual mechanical design solutions and merging of different types of actions, feeding systems and firearm layouts absolutely overload the coolness meter gauge in my mind. This is also quite a challenging project. Making a conversion like this takes a lot more than many may think. To plan and execute such projects one must be able to think outside the box (to come up with the concept, in the first place), understand the design and operation of different firearms, be passionate enough about the idea and firearms in general, have enough skills to execute the idea properly, and last but not least, have enough time and money to do it. Well, apparently, Tony had all these tools in his toolbox, and the result is this mind-boggling gun – a belt-fed bullpup lever-action rifle.
Images courtesy of ADF Projects and Designs