By: Sal Palma
Much of what I enjoy about the defense industry is the enormous pool of talent and creativity. A large part of that industry is comprised of small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs like John Copper from South Africa.
I became aware of John’s work through a post on The Firearm Blog, which sparked my curiosity. I decided to make contact with John to gain a better insight of his concept rifle the Exo-A1. I share the results of my interview with Mr. Copper here.
Q: Is it your desire to produce a complete rifle? In what caliber or calibers (or perhaps multi-caliber)? Will it offer interchangeable barrels?
John Copper: I would like to produce a complete rifle, but I lack the time and especially the capital to purchase the millions of dollars’ worth of machinery to produce rifles that can compete with the best out there. Not even to talk about the legal aspects of producing firearms in my country. At the moment I am designing weapons because I enjoy it.
No, the current rifle is not multicaliber, the main reason was because the sniper rifle itself was not the main focus. There are already so many rifles out there, so I did not see the point putting a lot of time, energy and research to try and do something somebody else did. I just tried to come up with something new and creative. So the main focus was protecting the rifle and telescope.
Q: Do you have plans to manufacture an Exo-A1 chassis to accommodate a Remington 700 long and short action?
John Copper: I designed the rifle back in the start of 2011 and don’t have the engineering drawings with me at the moment, but I believe with minor changes the rifle can be modified to accommodate the Remington 700 action. The current action has a square base, but it won’t be difficult to manufacture a foot plate that can adapt a round action to a square base. This transformation can then also be done without any special tools or modification to the stock.
Q: What consideration was given to materials and system weight vis-à-vis ruggedness and accuracy?
John Copper: The balance game between practicality, accuracy and cost I’d say is the most difficult part when it comes to designing weapons. I tried to use aluminium and polymer where I can to keep the weight down. Unfortunately the parts of the rifle that bares the most weight is also the most critical, so no compromises can be made there, it had to be steel. The main aim was to keep the weight on par with most sniper rifles out there.
Q: When do you expect to have a prototype available?
John Copper: Well, like I mention earlier, I cannot manufacture the rifle, thus no prototype unfortunately.
Q: Where in South Africa are you?
John Copper: Sorry, I am bit cautious to say where I stay, there are many people out there that for some reason don’t like people that design weapons, especially if they say they do it for fun. There is a huge misconception when it comes to people that are involved with weapons.
John’s story is an interesting one, and stands as a clear example of a bureaucracy’s incalculable proficiency at defeating its own prosperity.
Irrespective of your assessment on the merits of his concept rifle, you have to admit that John is a very talented individual. His inability to achieve his goal of firearm design may be your opportunity, and it would certainly be productive to have a meaningful dialogue with John.
Opportunity knocks and this may very well be the one you’re looking for!
John Copper can be reached via e-mail: email@example.com