All in all this was a very big learning experience, both technically and process-wise. I worked on this for a good portion of yesterday and today, and when I got home today I looked at my final and realized it was pretty much horrible ( Link ) and so I started completely from scratch at like 9pm with a much better understanding of the process and goals and got a much more successful result.
Though I think I got a cool shape and the action is nice in the first attempt, I failed to provide so much necessary information for this particular kind of rendering, the weapon is just vaguely rendered in an undetermined value range, there's no description of different surfaces, barely any description of color, and the piece itself just doesn't show off the weapon well which is the main point. So in starting over, I made it much more of a point to focus on properly rendering the weapon, gathering reference for the different types of surfaces, and making a much clearer value structure. So I'm definitely pleased with how it's all turned out, and I feel like this is a big step closer to giving assignments my absolute best, rather than just turning them in on time.
But, enough rambling, hope you dig it and have a good one!