Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bill Holmes .50 BMG rifle

This is a blank post for all the people who have been directed here by Google while in search of either plans or video of Bill Holmes building his .50 BMG rifle, or related issues. Some of you have emailed me and asked me questions. This is fine, I don't mind clearing the air, nor do I mind giving helpful advice to anyone else who wants to attempt building this rifle or one like it. I only ask that you remember I'm not a lawyer, a gunsmith, or a real engineer. I don't play one on TV, and wouldn't stay in a Holiday Inn express even if I had the inclination. Some of this is directed at other issues that keep popping up that I've been emailed about repeatedly. Yes, some people have found my email (not hard to do) and emailed me really strange questions or all kinds of threats and madness, or just sent me links to internet idiots. Some of this is also related to searches that turn up my blog.

First off, do not use anything other than 4130 or 4140 steel(4340, etc is even better) to build the major components of this rifle. It's not okay to use that exhaust pipe you found laying on the side of the road. I have heard of others using DOM tubing for the receiver, but that's where I draw the line. Don't rob your mom's minivan or your house's plumbing for parts. If you do, please go get a tattoo so the coroner has a way to identify your corpse, because they damn sure won't be able to use dental records after your galvanized fence pipe rifle explodes in front of your face.

Do not weld this thing together with a torch and a coat hanger, (especially plastic ones). I have welded other things with this method before (metal coat hangers, not plastic ones), because it was what I had available, and it did make a fused panel. However, this was a sheetmetal panel, not a rifle part.

Despite how much I would love to, I cannot make this rifle for you. The reasons range from the legality to the amount of time I would have to have to undertake this. I am a full-time student on top of working full-time and raising a family.

Nor will I make any of the parts for you. Again, this is a legal issue I DON'T want to be in the middle of.

Yes, this entire thing is being manufactured in my garage. The only thing that is getting farmed out is the heat treatment of the crucial parts. If you look close in some of the pics, you'll see washers, dryers, lawnmowers, and occasionally a set of very comfortable houseshoes that just happen to be on my feet.

There are no magazine dimensions for the Holmes .50 primarily because it was designed by Holmes to be a manually-loaded, single shot .50

Holmes did not design a .50 semi auto rifle. Re-wording your search does not change this.

The Holmes rifle is not illegal to build for yourself as long as you are legally allowed to own a gun. If you live in California, you're screwed. Either revolt and take back your freedoms or start getting proficient with a slingshot.

The original Holmes design .50 has a drilled barrel shroud. This is NOT a suppressor. Nor is it a shoulder-thing-that-goes-up.

I do not and will not host the Holmes video or manual here. I don't know how, and wouldn't if I did. Google Roderus's website, the homegunsmith, and drop the 30 bucks to be a member. There is a wealth of info there.

You (someone who emailed me a few times) are afraid of guns. I got that part. I don't care if you hate guns. Don't buy one. Even better, I promise I'll never force you to own one! However, your repetitive emails threatening to "call the ATF on me" have not and will not make any difference to me. I remain unfazed by your threats, and all you have spurred me into action to do is to buy more parts kits and barrel blanks. Given the number of times I have had visitors to this blog from the FBI and the ATF, I'm pretty sure they're comfortable with what I'm doing. Well, maybe they're not comfortable, but at least they know I'm within the confines of the law.

I don't pay a whole lot of attention to some ignorant beast who knows absolutely nothing about firearms but is bold enough to claim every law and change she desires is simply "common sense". Were I to take an interest in changing laws that affect millions and millions of law-abiding citizens, I would go out of my way to make sure I know what the hell I'm talking about first before formulating any opinion whatsoever. I'm not going to go to their blog and try to prove them wrong when they're doing a damn sight far better job of that on their own than I ever could.

MikeB30200324241234101010101010 (or whatever it is) is an idiot, a bigot, and a prejudiced ignorant fool. This is news?

This is not a "Barrett". Stop arguing with me about it being a "Barrett". Go back to Call of Duty or Counterstrike or whatever it is that you do when you're not polishing your knob and dreaming of turning 14 or meeting Justin Bieber.
Both Ronnie Barret and Mark Serbu, (as well as many other .50 manufacturers), make very distinguished and professional equipment. They have tools I can only dream of owning. I can only hope to one day produce firearms close to what they produce.
This is not a Serbu rifle. Mark Serbu is not going to sue me for "using his design". Mark Serbu IS actually an engineer. He is also a class 02 FFL with an SOT.(or so I've been led to believe). His company builds some awesome stuff as well, one item of which I plan to buy sometime this year (the Serbu Super Shorty). Serbu is not the only manufacturer of a tube-style .50, although they do have a reputation for having one of the best deals on a single-shot .50 tube design rifle.

On that note, I am not "illegally practicing engineering", as one has accused me of. I am not an engineer. I am a chemist. My blog name is a play on words. Around here, when someone has cobbled something together like McGuyver in a Goodwill store, it's often referred to as "jerry rigging", or (wait for it...)"redneck engineering". I am a redneck, and I'm going to school to be an engineer. I find the play on words to be funny. If you don't, get out of your mom's basement, quit spending all your time being an internet commando, and work on your sense of humor. This whole blog is not to be taken seriously. I am no armorer, I am damn sure not a gunsmith, I am just a redneck with power tools and not enough sense to ignore internet idiots.

I hope that clears up some of the confusion. Now, if someone does find my blog or, more specifically, this post, and wants advice or help in building a home-grown .50 BMG tube rifle, or wants info on anything else I'm building, I will go out of my way to help you and tell you what you need to know.
The Holmes plans suck, and I've made that pretty plain all the time I've been blogging about building a rifle along the lines of his plans. There is a lot of stuff in the plans that doesn't line up or work out correctly, and as a result there is a lot of trial and error. Do not expect to simply read his plans and pop out a rifle in a week or two unless you've got a lot of gun-building experience and access to some really killer tools. I'm learning as I go and having a blast doing it.

For my normal readers, thanks for keeping up with my projects so far. I've got a bunch of stuff to post about and build, so hopefully I can keep all of you coming back.



  1. "Illegally practicing engineering". Oh man, that was spit take time. It never ceases to amaze me that some people insist on arguing with those who actually know what they're doing.

    Still, maybe you need a T-shirt that says 'I are a redneck engineer'!!

  2. There was some scenario I read about over at Sayuncle's place wherein some guy was accused of that exact same thing, except he worked for a municipality. In some places, apparently you can be charged with such a thing.

    One of the reasons I am going back to school and working on a degree is exactly what you've outlined there, Six. I get tired of arguing with people who honestly have no idea what they're talking about. With a degree in my hand, I at least have something to stand on concerning a few things.

    Apparently, some people honestly think I'm referring to myself as an honest-to-God engineer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Shoot, I've got more time behind a mill and/or lathe than some people who refer to themselves as gunsmiths, yet I do not consider or refer to myself as a gunsmith.

    I'm digging the T-shirt ideer. I attended the Jethro Bodine school of engineering!

  3. i would love to see any more updates on your 50bmg . I have made parts for my 1022 and built a brake open 22 but want to build a tube style 50bmg some what like yours for a long time

    1. There really isn't much to update about the .50, it just works.
      I've taken it out a number of times for other people to try out, and it puts a smile on their face, every time.

      Good luck in building your .50!

  4. hi theredneckengineer i live in france and i admire your work ,i would like to know if it's possible to buy the plan of your .50 , great job and thank you in advance