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Painting miniatures - Design concepts - Appearance - Gun barrels

Article updated: 2017.09.09

In wargames the miniatures depict the people who fight battles. It depends on your philosophy how do they appear on the table.

The appearance of the gun barrel can be important for some modellers.

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Gun barrels

Most miniature come with guns that have solid solid barrels. Most real life guns have hollow barrels, and this causes problems for modellers. You have at least two choices:

Gun barrel 1) Solid barrel

You leave the barrel as it is.


  • No modelling required: It's the easiest way.


  • Unrealistic: As a real barrel is not solid, it won't look realistic.

Gun barrel 2) Drilling the barrel

You drill the barrel of the gun to make it more like the real one.


  • Realistic: As the real barrel is hollow, it will look realistic.


  • Modelling required: You have to drill the barrel. As guns are usually quite thin, it can damage the model.

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What is the most important for you?


For gaming purposes, it doesn't matter whether the barrel is drilled or not. There are some gamers though, who prefer drilled barrels. It really depends on your tastes.


On groups shots you won't see whether the barrel is drilled or not, but on showcase photos of single miniatures it might show.

For single miniatures you might drill the barrels, just in case.

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To make it easier for lazy people with a realistic approach, I've decided that the guns in my Imperial Space setting close the barrel automatically when they are not firing at the moment, to prevent foreign objects getting in. This way having a solid barrel is just as realistic as a hollow one.

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Dezartfox (from The Vanus Temple): Tutorial: How To Drill Gun Barrels: Tutorial article.§

Eulenspiegel74 (on Reddit): "Drilling" weapon barrels on plastic miniatures: Tutorial article.

From the Warp: How to drill out your gun barrels: Tutorial article.


Buypainted: How to drill out the bolter barrels? Space Marines Warhammer 40k technique tutorial: Tutorial video.

Chief Live Gaming: Drill Out Your Gun Barrels - Warhammer 40k Tabletop Tips: Tutorial video.

FoamShowcase: Warhammer 40k - How to drill out Boltgun barrels ( no drill needed ) Easy: Tutorial video.

Lawrence Jameson: Drilling Gun Barrels on Minis: Tutorial video.

megajason: Drill Warhammer 40K Gun Barrels: Tutorial video.

Models Workshop: Models-Workshop: Drilling Barrels: Tutorial video.


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What do you think of these miniature painting design concepts of gun barrels? What is your take on this? What are your experiences? Do you have questions about these concepts? Tell us in the comments!


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