Introduction: Replica M-98 Black Widow From the Mass Effect Series
If you've got your own galaxy to defend or just want a nice piece to display on the wall, here's a set of instructions for how I made my M-98 Black Widow replica. Follow me on Facebook at QEProps if you like it and want to see more of my builds and projects!
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Step 1: Models And/or Reference Pictures
It helps to research the model you want to build as much as possible. In this case I snapped a few pictures of the M-98 on the workbench in ME3 and I used as many pictures as I could find online for reference. If you can find someone that has created a computer model of it then you can usually print out full size blue prints of each side to work with also. In this case I used all of my pictures to create a solid model in SolidWorks and then made my full size blueprints from that. Scaling off the pictures the rifle measures just about 50" long.
Step 2: Materials and Tools
MDF sheets of varying thicknesses
2 part epoxy
body filler (Bondo)
radial arm saw
If you want to have functional lighting you will also need:
hot glue gun
Step 3: Main Barrel Shroud
To start out I used 1-1/4" PVC pipe for the main barrel and 1/2" PVC for the under-barrel. The main body of the barrel shroud was cut and glued together to form a square box. I used 1/4" MDF for the forward and rear barrel shrouds so that the 1-1/4" barrel would fit inside. 1/2" MDF for the center section to give a little more bulk and to mount the barrel to. After the body dried I used a radial arm saw, set at an angle to produce the slotted vents in the side.
I cross drilled several holes in the back where the LEDs would light up the heat clip ejector. I then cut a box opening on the top of the body for access to the wiring. The LEDs were soldered together in a temporary jig and then mounted inside the body. All of the connections were coated in hot glue to keep them from shorting out.
Step 4: Grip and Trigger
Two pieces of 5/8" thick MDF were cut to the profile of the grip on the scroll saw. The trigger assembly was laid out and a pocket was cut out with the Dremel tool. (Second picture shows a different gun but the same type of layout.) I used the spring from an old ink pen to keep the trigger in the forward position. Once the trigger assembly is mounted between the sheets of MDF you can glue them together and use a belt sander to begin shaping the grip to your comfort. Use a dust mask for this part because the belt sander with 80 grit will put out a lot of dust!
At this point I placed a piece of acrylic over the LED's. I used Bondo to fill in the gap between the acrylic and the MDF. It was all sanded smooth after it cured.
You will notice in the picture that I used EVA foam on the back side of the grip. This is the same foam that is popular for armor sets, If you want to do this also you will need to heat the foam with a heat gun and wrap it around the back side of the grip. The grip should be cut back with a Dremel tool or a router to offset the thickness of the foam. Once it's formed to shape simply glue it in with hot glue. This was a difficult process, and I'm not entirely convinced of the results yet.
Step 5: Buttstock, Rails and Scope
The buttstock was completed the same way as the grip, and the forward portion of the grip was added also. The top and bottom rails were added to cover up the channels where the wiring run for the LEDs. There is a hole in the bottom of the scope as well as the rail to pass through the wires for the batter pack and switch in the scope. Notches were cut on the radial arm saw
The scope box was constructed the same way as the main body. A hole was cut on the side to pass the battery pack through and the on/off button was put on the side also.
The scopes both needed a coupler placed over them to use as the connection with the bipod legs. These couplers have a small ridge in the middle to keep you from pressing the pipe to far, these were removed with a sanding bit on the Dremel tool, the insides were sanded down until they fit over the pipe and slid back and forth smoothly.
Step 6: Barrels and Scope
Once both barrels had a coupler that slid over them easily, I cut and glued a piece of 1/4" acrylic between them to keep the barrels parallel. The main barrel had a 1-1/4" to 3/4" slip adapter glued to the end of it to make the barrel walls look thicker. The under barrel has a piece of styrene glued to the end to cap it off. All of the connections were sanded smooth and the coupler/acrylic connection piece was glued in place.
The scope was built using 3/4" PVC and a coupler. Use a couple coatings of Bondo to make the tapered section between the coupler and the 3/4" pipe. A small piece of MDF was cut and carefully sanded to be a snug fit inside the PVC to make a convex lens surface.
Step 7: Final Assembly and Primer
Scope box was completed with some extra pieces of styrene and more PVC for the eyepiece. The barrel assembly had 2 more pieces of acrylic cut and glued in place for the bipod legs. The acrylic over the LEDs in back was given a light coat of red so that the LEDs could still illuminate from behind but is still a nice red color with the lights turned off. I masked off the acrylic that covers the LEDs and began priming everything. All rough spots were sanded down, this takes a very long time. The barrels were given a coat of gunmetal metallic paint and allowed to fully dry. Once everything was dry I mixed up some 2-part epoxy and glued the barrel in place. Pieces of MDF were cut and sanded to a saddle shape and stuffed down inside the body on the top and bottom of the barrel. This adds support to make sure the barrels don't break off from the body.
Step 8: Texture and Painting
The barrels were fully masked off, a long strip of tape was slipped down the length of the body so that the gunmetal barrel wouldn't be sprayed through the vent slots on the side of the body.
The grip and buttstock of the gun received a rough texture. Mask off around the grip with painters tape and then sprayed the texture on. This texture paint takes a while to dry. Once the texture was dry the remove the masking tape and the entire gun receives a coat of nickel base coat. You'll see why when we get to the weathering. Let this dry fully before continuing on to the top coat.
I used a combination of flat, satin and gloss blacks when painting this but I'll leave the overall scheme up to you. The actual model in game is lacking in markings and paint details because of its unknown origin, so I made a few changes just so the replica wasn't too bland. After you have sprayed on the topcoat and it has had a chance to dry, mask off and paint the silver stripes on the side of the gun. Remove all of the masking tape from the rifle.
Step 9: Weathering and Finishing
With the body now painted and looking nice and clean and shiny, it's time to mess it all up. With a hobby knife blade flat against the surface and perpendicular to the surface I gently scraped the black away from the silver undercoat in areas that I thought would see a lot of contact or wear. This is usually edges that would be in contact with a table or workbench or where someone would rest their hands. After scraping away portions of the paint I sanded with 320 grit in those areas to feather the edges and remove some of the knife marks. 800 and 1000 grit followed after that. Do this as little or as much as you want.
I added several hex cap screws to the body of the rifle to at least make it appear it's held together using something other than glue. I used a very sharp countersink bit and screwed/glued the fasteners in flush. The panel on the right side of the scope box hides the hole for the battery pack. When the battery dies I will simply unscrew the panel and pull out the pack.
Step 10: Display or Play!
And there you have it! Hang it on the wall or go display at your local sci-fi/gaming convention!. If you do take it out in public I recommend some orange electrical tape around the barrel tip, or paint it on there if you want to. Don't want to get in trouble with the cops because you've got the most realistic looking space gun around!
If you liked what you saw here, this rifle is actually for sale. You can like my facebook page at www.Facebook.com/QEProps and see all of my other replicas from video games, movies, or even some custom props. I'm also available for commissions if you want me to build something specific for you! Just message me at facebook or send an email to QEProps(at)gmail!