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Former Army Ranger sniper puts homemade weapons to test in Discovery Channel’s ‘Master of Arms’

Nicholas Irving testing out a contestant’'s weapon. (Courtesy of Discovery Channel)
November 06, 2018

Discovery Channel on Friday premiered a new show that challenges weapons builders to make era-specific weaponry, and one former Army Ranger sniper and decorated marksman has the ultimate challenge of putting said weapons to the test.

Given his extensive resume and love of weapons, former Sgt. Nicholas Irving, who served in the Special Operations Unit, 75th Ranger Regiment, 3rd Ranger Battalion, is up to the task that “Master of Arms” presents.

Irving served as an assaulter, machine gunner, designated marksman and sniper. He is also the bestselling author of “The Reaper,” “Way of the Reaper” and “Reaper: Ghost Target.”

“This is the best job I could ask for,” Irving recently told American Military News. Testing and playing around with weapons “is what I do with my free time,” he said.

Each week, three weapons makers are put to the test and given about four hours to finish a “Quick Draw” challenge to create a working historical weapon. Two craftsmen move on each week to the “Master Build” challenge to create a unique piece of weaponry – one week it’s a bow, another week they must craft a blade. And, of course, there are also firearms. The weapons are judged by a panel, which includes a weapons historian and blacksmith, and put to the test by Irving.

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“It’s a mythical thing, to see the looks on their faces” when they get their assignment each week, Irving said. “It was cool to see from my end. Usually I get the end product and use it on the battlefield or hunting or in competitions. I never get a chance to see them being crafted.”

There are no machines at all involved in the weapons-making process, which makes it even more incredible to observe – let alone put to the test, Irving noted.

“It’s a lot of observing, like being a sniper,” he explained. “I had a lot of time to observe the contestants, watch them build the weapons from start to finish.”

“It’s amazing to see. Watching them make weapons is like going back in time to see it,” he said.

There is always a set amount of time for the three builders to complete their project. If they move on to the next level, they have four days to complete the weapon.

“It blew my mind in its own right,” Irving said, “that you could create a long rifle and an axe, and you need the same amount of time for both.”

It would be almost impossible to pick a favorite of the many hand-crafted weapons he was able to get his hands on, Irving added.

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“From the bows to firearms to swords, … The weapons I use now are primarily modernized with the latest, greatest technology that we can put on a weapon,” he said. “All of them were really fascinating to test out on the show.”

Irving had no idea what he would be testing until he was on set.

“I liked it that way. If we’re testing to see how it performs in combat, that’s how it works,” he added.

“Master of Arms” premiered on Friday and can be viewed Fridays at 10 p.m. EST, as well as online.

In each episode, blade, ballistic and bow weapons will be tested and judged on their design, historical accuracy and abilities.

After each challenge, one craftsman is eliminated, and one weapons builder will ultimately walk away with a grand prize of $10,000 and the title “Master of Arms.”