Chapter 007 Firearms Development
Lute, 6 years old.
Most of the time since the magic liquid metal arrived was consumed in experimenting and inspecting results, by a 5-year-old kid.
Magic liquid metal was a special metal; if you imagined armor while touching it and pour in Maryoku, the metal would take on that imagined shape—it had that property.
The advantage was that it was easy to carry if you bring only a small amount.
For that reason, it seemed to be a tool of choice for assassins.
The disadvantage was that once it has been molded into a shape, it could never return to being magic liquid metal.
Unless you picture the image clearly; if you make a sword, it will be blunt; if you make an armor, it will not only be uneven, but also the size would not match.
On top of having limited use and being hard to handle and being a rare magic tool, the price was expensive.
It had become synonymous with the term – unpopular commodity.
As a result of my investigation into magic liquid metal, I realized that it was a truly splendid material.
First, the strength was proportional to the magic power poured into it.
It was possible for a paper-thin sheet of material to be stronger than a plate of iron.
When making springs, efforts like wrapping piano wire around a rod and hardening it were totally unnecessary.
Just put your hands in the magic liquid metal, and determine the size and strength by regulating the amount of Maryoku you pour in.
When you pull your hand out, you will have made a surprisingly high quality spring.
If magic liquid metal could be brought to modern society, it would not just end with revolutionizing science materials.
It would certainly be at the level of a new material revolution.
Given some time, it might even be possible to construct a simple space elevator.
Unable to hold back the excitement from the magnificence, I informed Elle-sensei who was a superior magician, but…
「Is that so…?」
I received a reply with a『even if you say something so uninteresting』nuance.
Just how unpopular is this magic liquid metal…?
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When I turned 6, the days in which I had to do my allotted chores, in addition to assisting with morning classes, continues.
By the way, nowadays, one part of the proceeds from Reversi and other toys had been transferred to the orphanage in intervals of 3 months (90 days).
At the beginning, Elle-sensei insisted that I should be receiving this money.
But currently, I was just satisfied with getting my hands on magic liquid metal. And furthermore, by orphanage rules, I can start earning money when I am 7 years of age.
Leaving Reversi as an exception, I slightly forcibly pressed the notion that I wanted to contribute to orphanage management funds. At least, as gratitude for being taken care of.
Though I made an amount of contribution to the orphanage, there was no special exemption on my allotted chores. If I mention this I might have gotten some leniency, but of course, I had no intention of skipping work.
Neither did I want to be a bad influence on the other kids nor did I want to be talked about in secret so I always did the same amount of work—after finishing up my chores in the afternoons, handgun production began.
At first, I tried producing an entire revolver out of magic liquid metal, but it failed.
The revolver I took out from the magic liquid metal had a cylinder that would not turn, a thin barrel, and the rifling was also laughably crooked.
The parts and internal structure I had to imagine were too numerous. Before I could pour my Maryoku, the image had already faded.
As a result, this thing was badly made.
So, I gave up making the whole thing all at once and changed my plans into assembling it from parts.
In my previous life, I was a military otaku; I had a special admiration towards modern weapons.
Also because of having worked in a metalworking plant, before being reincarnated, I often dreamed,『will I ever be able to make my own guns?』
Looking at diagrams of revolvers, automatic firearms, assault rifles and such, comparing them with the machines and technology used in the factory I work at, I felt that making them was possible that time.
It was one of my hobbies, grinning while drinking in my single room.
Now that I had my hands on magic liquid metal, making handguns was no longer a dream using the knowledge and technology from my previous life.
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I was carrying the barrel under my arm and brought it to the backyard of the orphanage.
Did you wonder why I did not make a self-loading pistolan automatic gun (which used the recoil of each shot to cycle the weapon)), but a revolver straight out of a western instead? There were reasons for that.
『The self-loaderautomatic one had a difficult internal structure not suitable to make for the first time.』
『A revolver has fewer parts compared to a semi-automatic pistolThere were fewer revolver parts compared to automatic ones.』
『The revolver was sturdier; Jams were a non-issue and the weapon was easy to maintain, making it suited for the Japanese police forces, who would rarely, if ever, have an opportunity to use their gun.there were no worries about bullet jammings and the maintenance was also easy(therefore it was suited for the japanese police who rarely used a gun).』
Based on the 3 mentioned points above, it was more suitable first work.
However, no matter how much simpler the internal structure of a revolver was than a semi-auto onen automatic one, there were parts that could not be made in 1-2 days even though it had fewer components.
If I had to explain why, let me first explain the history of guns.
It means to create one gun, I had used the accumulated techniques of the world before I got reincarnated and reproduced these(techniques) with my own hands in this world.
First, the gunpowder—『the Black Powder』.
By the way, let me explain the historical background: There are various theories on when and where “Black Powder” was invented, but the prevailing theory is that it was invented in China in the 6th to 9th centuries.
In those days, alchemists carried out research on elixirs of eternal youth, as one of the things produced in the process, the formula for gunpowder was recorded in the『Zhengzhou miaodao yaolüe』which was written around the year 850.
Around the middle of the 13th century, their successors developed weapons called『Fire Lances』, consisting of a short pipe packed with gunpowder affixed to the tip of a piece of wood or bamboo. (These weapons do not shoot bullets, instead they were simple flamethrowers or flash weapons).
These were the origins of gun-type firearms.
Furthermore, in 14th-century Europe,『Touch Hole-style』guns were made.
『Touch Hole』guns were primitive guns that were miniaturized versions of artillery cannons used for taking down castle walls that worked by packing a tube with gunpowder and igniting it from a hole drilled into the tube which would fire a (stone or metal) bullet.
It was called “Touch Hole” because the gunpowder was ignited by pressing a burning metal rod through a hole.
Not long after, around the 1400s, personal handheld firearms, “Arquebuses”, having the basic form of guns was likewise created in Europe. Its features were the fuse with which to ignite the gunpowder.
“Arquebus” came from the German word “Hakenbüchse” which means “pipe with hook attached”.
The “Arquebus” was further improved by the addition of S-shaped fuse clamp and trigger parts, becoming the oldest type of matchlock, the S-shaped Serpentine.
A lit fuse was attached at the top part of the S-shaped metal fittings attached at the back of the gun barrel (the gun barrel is at the center of the S), the bottom part of the S (the trigger) was pulled by hand, as the lit fuse meets the gun barrel, it ignites the powder.
Simultaneously, the metal armor worn by knights were rendered meaningless by the increase in power, tactics and strategy had to change as well.
As the 15th century dawns, the age of firearms had truly began.
Prior to that gun barrels are made by setting up iron a circle and placing bindings around them (the same process as making barrels, which is why they’re called gun “barrels” even now), but by the 15th century, the process became pouring bronze into a mold and casting the whole barrel at once.
Bronze is a copper (and tin) alloy, and compared to iron, it has the advantage of having a lower melting point and being softer, making it easier to cast even with lower technology (its disadvantages are that for the same reason, it becomes worn and crooked easily).
But by the 16th century, steel became available, and damascus barrels, made by heating up and forging together steel ribbons with differing carbon content (made by applying stress to the metal by striking), then rolling it around a center stick, and then heating it again and welding it, became widespread. (Through mixing and forging together several types of steel it develops a damascus pattern, or in other words, a unique wood grain-like pattern. Incidentally, the pattern on a Japanese sword is also one kind of damascus pattern.)
However, it does have a weakness. Because the gun barrel is made by rolling ribbon-shaped material, compared to molded barrels the strength is weak, and after the invention of smokeless gunpowder production declined. This is because it was unable to endure the pressure, and so the gun barrel becomes prone to breaking.
After that, in the year 1856, the Englishman Henry Bessemer made a groundbreaking invention, the “converter”, and large amounts of molten steel became available. The so-called Bessemer process is a method of making steel by blowing air against molten pig iron (iron produced by melting iron ore in a blast furnace, contains lots of impurities) causing an oxidation reaction, removing impurities. (removing by burning)
After that various alloys can be made.
The raw materials for handguns – chrome molybdenum steel. (alloy made by adding a little chrome and molybdenum to iron. High strength and also high temperature resistance. It is also used in bicycle frames and aircraft.)
And likewise, stainless steel. (steel containing no less than 10.5% chrome in iron. Having workability and endurance, it was called “stainless” due to corrosion resistance and is widely used)
Production of steels that can be adjusted for strength, corrosion resistance, and endurance was now possible.
If I were to produce modern weapons—handguns, I wouldn’t plan on using black powder, but instead something stronger like smokeless gunpowder.
Therefore the strength of ordinary steel is not enough.
21st century gun barrels are almost entirely made of chrome molybdenum steel or stainless steel.
For that reason I have to build a “converter”.
To say it plainly, no matter how much I remember my previous life, it is almost impossible for me right now to make it to that extent.
Effort, time, funds, talent—if I raise those there are no limits.
Furthermore, even if I were able to procure the raw materials, I would still need the equipment and technology necessary to make the parts.
Having prepared blocks in the rough shapes of the parts I want to make, I need to shape those by whittling them using a milling machine or turret lathe, “milling”.
That is unreasonable, there is also the method of forging them one at a time like a blacksmith but—
Of course for me who worked in a metalworking plant, I don’t have that kind of skill.
But all those problems had been settled by the magic liquid metal.
It will take shape according to the mental image and the magic power being poured.
Moreover, it will also have a strength proportional to the magic power being poured.
I think it would be able to withstand the temperature and gas pressure when firing the bullet.
There are no other materials in this world more suitable for making handguns.
Repenting the fact that I ran away in my previous life, I decided that in this reincarnated world I would never run away, and help anyone who is in trouble.
But I don’t have talent as a magician.
Let alone helping people, I don’t even have the power to protect the important people close to me.
Therefore as the result of my search for power—becoming aware of the existence of magic liquid metal I came to think “can I make handguns with this?”
However, even though from my point of view I had noble goals—being faced with the fact that I will be “making handguns”, I became giddy. Starting the gun making that was only a dream in my previous life made me a little excited.
In that life, I only read technical books with designs and disassemblies while drinking sake at home after work, and became jealous watching videos of people making model guns from scratch on the internet.
It had remained a dream because of the law, funds, and time.
But in this reincarnation world there is no such thing as Swords and Firearms Control Law.
The best material I could think of is also plentifully available in front of my eyes.
My dream is becoming a reality. Don’t go around grinning like that—such a consultation is unreasonable.
There are still a lot of hurdles I have to jump, but rather than worries about my troubles, the joy at being able to start working is far greater.
With a smile I can’t close I put my hands in the magic liquid metal and stirred.
“Well then should I immediately start making handguns. …… I wonder if I should try making the cylinder first as a test”
I closed my eyes, bided my time, and imagined a cylinder inside my head—
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After starting to make a model revolver of the “S&W M10”, half a year passed.
In the morning I help El-sensei with classes and take the initiative to finish routine duties from the afternoon.
I moved to the backyard of the orphanage while carrying the barrel, which inside decreased a lot.
Everyday, during free time I make the parts little by little.
But the work to carve riflings into the (barrel) encountered troubles.
A rifling is a groove carved on the inside of the gun barrel.
It is needed in order to give the bullet rotation, to stabilize the flight, and to raise the firing accuracy.
There are two representative methods to carve these riflings.
“Button method”, carving the rifling by shaving the material off using a drill-like cutting tool called a broach.
“Cold hammer method”, covering a center stick in the shape of the barrel cavity, which has the rifling applied, with the gun material, then applying pressure from the outside to stamp the form.
There are 2 kinds as above mentioned.
I used the latter, cold hammer method.
Because this method is suited for mass production many major small arms manufacturer are using it.
To make the core stick which applies the riflings is hard labor. But if it is finished once with liquid magic metal I’m able to give riflings (to gun barrels) in large quantities.
Hence the cold hammer method was used even if it is troublesome at first.
However I had more trouble making the core stick than I’d guessed.
I made a great number of versions that I adjusted often, and endlessly looked for the most suitable results for nearly 2 months.
But thanks to my understanding of gun barrel riflings I successfully made it.
I soaked the core stick in liquid magic metall and imaged that it hangs on it and poured magic power to engrave high quality riflings in the barrel after it stabilized, I was able to make it.
Besides that there was much trouble… I made light of the revolvers inner structure that was simpler(lol) than an automatic, yet afterwards I noticed the difficulties of adjustments repeated in trial and error, I got mad over the cylinder that stopped rotating at a fixed position, but at last I was able to reproduce the structure.
And then the thing I made was prototype #1!
A solid-black “S&W M10” revolver.
I also made the front sight and the rear sight. The grip is made not of wood, but knitted metal anti-slip grips. The trigger guard, ejector rod, and recoil shield are also properly made.
Furthermore, although it’s not needed, I also carved flutes (grooves cut to reduce weight) on the side of the cylinder for show.
The metal looks like it is really heavy, but thanks to magic liquid metal’s property of “having strength in proportion to magic power being poured”, it is almost as light as a toy “S&W M10”.
When I tried shooting air, the click of the hammer and the sensation of the revolving cylinder felt good.
I shot air like this until free time is over. Switching gears, the next challenge begins.
Today I was finally doing test firings. The problem now is the bullet.
In the reincarnated world, there is no black powder, nor smokeless gunpowder.
“If I remember correctly, the way to make smokeless gunpowder is…… mixing nitroglycerin and soaking cotton in it right? Un, the hurdle is too high……”
Then, even if I could make smokeless gunpowder, packing it in bullets and when it fires the bullet comes out—it’s not as simple as that.
Because the required combustion rates for handguns and rifles are different.
In the case of handguns, they need “fast burning propellant that can finish burning before the bullet exits the barrel” because the barrel is short. Therefore, modern handgun propellants are in small granules, not fine powder like black powder.
If a log of wood and an equal mass of wood chopsticks were simultaneously ignited, which one would burn up more quickly?
The answer is obvious, it’s wood chopsticks.
It’s because wood chopsticks have a larger surface area.
Just like powder, granules burn quickly.
But it’s not something that should simply explode.
As I think about it problems pop up one by one—but all those problems are solved in one stroke with magic power.
Magicians can convert magic power directly into fire, water, wind, electricity, earth, and so on.
Water and earth in particular could be created out of thin air. Even fire and lightning can’t possibly come from the energy stored inside the magician’s body. It seems to possibly be a violation of the law of conservation of mass, but even though I don’t understand the process, matter and energy did certainly appear (I can somewhat deduce that energy was born out of thin air but I don’t know whether it’s correct). However, no matter which “system specialization” a magician has, imaging is important for the creation of matter or energy.
In that case, being able to handle, even if only weakly, the four elements of magic “fire”, “water”, “air”, and “earth”, and having practical knowledge of gunpowder, I think I can produce a smokeless gunpowder substitute using magic power. With that thought, I repeatedly did trial and error using the magic power control technique I’ve learnt.
I have the basics under control. Next I should control the combustion speed using the power of imagination.
I chose the time when cylinder adjustments had been finished to make prototypes of cartridges unloaded with powder.
At first, instead of being so big that they didn’t fit in the cartridge, I made ones that do not catch and fell down instead.
Right now, having finished documenting minor adjustments, work on the bullets, except the powder, had roughly completed without a problem.
I checked the memo containing the adjustment records and put in only my right hand in the magic liquid metal.
Parts composing the cartridge—the size is .38 special (9×29.5mmR).
I put magic power inside the case.
I released magic power for the powder with the image of detonation, combustion, and explosion, and again compressed and solidified it.
Careful magic power control is necessary, but I’ve had practice. Having safely finished the solidification, I let out the breath I unintentionally held.
In addition, I made a bullet core as the cap.
As for the metal properties, I imagined lead.
I covered the faux-lead with a thin jacket.
I put in a primer at the bottom part with magic power to induce a small explosion, and finally I covered everything and the bullet is finished.
I take out my right hand from the magic liquid metal.
A cartridge from the memories of my past life was created in the palm of my hand.
It looks no different from the real thing.
“The problem is whether the bullet will come out properly or not”
I put the cartridge in the revolver at once.
It fit in the cylinder without a hitch.
I picked up a discarded brick and set it up on a wooden box I found laying around. An impromptu target.
I set it up about 9 meters away.
I held it with my right hand and jammed it in with all my might.
I made a pose of holding the revolver in my right hand and propping it up with my left.
The basic standing handgun posture.
Though my mind is 30 years old, my body is still 6.
In preparation for the recoil, I strengthened my body with body strengthening arts.
I thumbed backpulled the hammer and with my breath held, I quietly sqeeuzed the trigger with my index finger.held my breath.
I quietly pressed the trigger with my index finger.
It was not the sound of a gun being fired.
It was a kaboommisfire!
The revolver was blown up from the inside.
Thanks to body strengthening arts, the fingers on my right hand, which was close to the explosion, were not blown off.
My thumb and index finger were barely safe.
“It hurts so much I want to puke~”
“Wha, what was that loud noise just now! Hii……!?”
Elle-sensei noticed the sound of the misfire, and came running to the backyard in confusion.
Looking at my injuries sensei let out a small shriek.
Her face paled as if having lost blood.
Soon she ran over looking like she was about to cry and immediately checked my injuries.
She checked to make sure that there are no injuries besides my right hand.
After judging that it was not a fatal injury, sensei’s face regained its color.
Sensei stopped the kids who appeared, having noticed the sound, in a sharp voice.
“Everyone, don’t come! The older kids please take the young ones inside!”
On that order, the kids went back inside the orphanage.
“Lute-kun! Just what did you do that it becomes like this!”
While scolding me, sensei holds her hand out at me who is holding my hands while cowering.
“Light that burns in my hand, Heal!”
As expected from a B ranked magician.
A warm light springs forth from her hands and went to my blown-off fingers like a magnet.
The scars recovered perfectly without a trace.
“Thank you very much, sensei”
“Don’t “Thank you” me! Just what did you do to get that serious wound!”
“Well, I put too much magic power in this newly developed magic device ……”
Explaining the handgun from the beginning would be too long, it would take time to make it understandable.
Cutting down on the explanation, I made a suitable cover story.
Elle-sensei took a glance at the magic liquid metal inside the cask.
“…… I don’t understand what Lute-kun is making, but since you’re making noise and making everyone worry come along to the office for a scolding.”
“O, okay! I’ll go so please don’t pull on my ear!”
Elle-sensei dragged me by the ear just like a Showa-era mother and went back inside the orphanage.
Arriving at the office, I sat seiza on the floor.
She made me listen to a long long sermon.
Of course, I didn’t get dinner.
After being heavily questioned, I was banned from doing experiments for the next 30 days and ordered to do punishment work for making an uproar.
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30 days after that little accidentthe misfire, the ban on experiments was lifted!
While I was doing punishment work, I finished enumerating the points for reflection of last time.
The revolver misfired, but the rifling was clearly carved on the bullet core that hit the ground.
This proves that the bullet travelled through the barrel properly.
The problem was perhaps caused by the powder substitute having too much magic power and the image of the explosion being too strong.
During the black powder era, the shell casing was filled with powder.
But after smokeless gunpowder was invented, the cartridge only needed to be filled with half the amount of powder.
The space that remained is called “air space”.
When typical powder is ignited, this space became a buffer to defend the bullet against the sudden increase in pressure and regulate its speed.
According to specialists, shell cases were originally supposed to only be filled with “the right amount of the right kind of powder”.
And yet from my amateur judgement, what happens if I do not consider the air space or choose the type and amount of powder when reloading (reusing) the cartridge?
The worst case—catastrophic failurea misfire.
I had polished and polished my imaging power in order to build the revolver for no less than half a year.
Because of that, the strength of the image and the magic power that I put in was too much.
When making a new revolver, I should regulate the amount of magic power and the strength of my image, also determine the right amount of powder to put in.
From now on the time for trial and error and making notes begins.