View Full Version : repro Liberator

July 7, 2010, 05:39 AM
I've long been fascinated by the idea of the WWII Liberator pistol.

I wonder if a small, cheap but reliable single shot pistol could easily be made by a home workshop enthusiest.

The liberator was intended for use by civilians in occupied Europe against the Nazi and Vichy soldiers. Now that so many countries have banned pistols it seems like the idea of a disposable handgun is once again pertinent.

With that in mind, I find myself thinking quite a bit how a person could build one with nothing more than a drill, a vice, a 4" grinder or file, and basic material that could be found at a typical hardware store.

Basically, the idea is a higher quality zip gun. In order for it to be legal in the US, it would have to use a rifled barrel. That could be found easily enough on gunbroker as part of a kit or modified from a common pistol with available replacement parts like the 1911.

It would be a fun project I think, and if it could be built as a 2 or 4 shot derringer would actually be something that would have a practical application as a back up gun.

The original Liberator was a .45 ACP, but a 9mm would be good too. A .45 LC, .44 sp, .38sp, or .22mag would probably be even better since a rimmed round is much more forgiving in terms of headspacing. Handloading to reduced pressures might be a good idea for some of the more powerful cartridges.

Has anyone else here thought about this, or actually attemped to build one?

July 7, 2010, 10:10 AM
I think the BATF regs are probably what've kept the idea of making one just that-an idea, for most people, myself included, but it's sorta a fun thought exercise. By the way, they did make a 9mm version during Vietnam, called the "deer gun" probably for secrecy reasons. It was supposed to be given to resistance movements against the VC/NVA infrastructure. I've actually seen pictures of one, I think the breach is screwed on rather than sliding closed, but it's pretty much the same gun, and was unrifled as well. By the way, is that specimen in the pic yours, and what did you have to do to make it legal? One would think that an original would be on the CRF list by now.

July 7, 2010, 05:18 PM
There is a company making a repro of the Liberator pistol and offering it for sale. Since smoothbore pistols are illegal, it is rifled, of course. Search the threads here on TFL, maybe about a year or so ago.

Here it is

James K
July 7, 2010, 10:02 PM
That repro is made as a non-firing gun; the maker says it is sold as a firearm and can be made to fire, but does not recommend doing that. So, it is effectively a dummy.

Making a single shot "zip gun" is easy. But making a repro Liberator in the way the originals were made would require a lot of very expensive machinery, including stamping presses and spot welders, machines usually found in (surprise!) automobile factories.

I have a Liberator, and have fired it two shots just to see if it worked. It did, but I am not going to toss my Model 19 or M1911A1 and use the Liberator.

There is a lot of misinformation about those guns, mostly by people selling one. They were never dropped anywhere in Europe to anyone at any time. The ones sent over kicked around depots with no one wanting them and were finally dumped in the ocean after the war. A few were reportedly used in the Pacific, but the only documented use was by Philippine police right after the war until they could get something better. A few turned up in China.

There seems to be no solid evidence that any Liberator pistols were ever used against the enemy, ever killed an enemy soldier, or ever "liberated" anyone. It probably seemed like a good idea when someone said it fast, but in the end it was just another waste of money.

BTW, in spite of the smooth bore, BATFE has specifically removed them from the purview of the NFA and designated them curios and relics. There is no need under federal law to put a number or any other marking on the originals.


July 7, 2010, 10:42 PM
To clarify, the picture in my OP is one I found on the net. I was just tossing the idea around of makind a single shot throwaway gun as a cool project with the liberator as the inspiration.

James K
July 9, 2010, 03:27 PM
Just FWIW, the whole idea was based on a John Steinbeck novel, "The Moon Is Down". Supposedly, if the citizens of an occupied country had even crude guns, they would rise up, kill enough of the occupiers to get better weapons, then overthrow the conquerors.

That may work in fiction, but it is not easy to believe that a tired French housewife, coming home from the bakery with her baguette, would find a gun and suddenly turn into a vengeful Jeanne d'Arc, slaying Boche right and left. Those who did join resistance groups had far better arms and were regularly supplied by the British with STEN guns, No. 4 rifles, Enfield revolvers, and BREN guns; they would have laughed at the Liberator.

Further, the concept was that the guns were to be just dropped, no parachute. Most would have ended up buried deeply in the ground, or would have made holes in roofs, not a good way to win friends.

In a way it is sad that they were mostly destroyed, but had they not been deep sixed, mine would be worth $10 instead of several hundred.