Improvised Automatic Pistol

Spec Ops Shooting

Ultimate Firearms Training Guide

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I am a bit embarrassed about the pistol designs I present here; not that they do not perform the way they were designed to—quite the contrary. These designs will perform as well as their commercial counterparts will, and are just as durable, reliable, and trouble-free. But my designs utilize the same type of stamped, brazed, and welded construction methods that gun manufacturers use to lower costs and increase production. The result is not my idea of a top-quality weapon.

The most desirable firearms are made of milled steel and wood, without use of brazed joints, castings, plastic, or alloy parts of any kind, and the custom rifles and shotguns which I build in my shop use these techniques. However, since the designs presented here are meant to be built in the ordinary home workshop with a minimum of tools, and quite possibly under emergency conditions, concessions have been made, both in the use of methods and materials.

While the dictionary defines a pistol as a small, handheld firearm, there are those who would argue with my referring to a firearm as a pistol, or calling a firearm a gun. These same experts have argued with me previously about the way I choose to label certain components of some weapons.

Well, this is my book; therefore, I feel that I can call any of the parts or components of a design of mine by any name I see fit. Those who feel otherwise would do well to come up with books of their own.

Remember, as it says on the back cover of this book, it is illegal to manufacture or own such weapons under our present laws unless the weapons are registered with the federal government.

These designs are presented then only for future use, when our survival may depend on having such weapons available.

Improvised Pistol Design


1. Magazine latch

2. Hammer strut

3. Hammer spring

4. Sear

5. Sear spring

6. Receiver retaining lug

7. Hammer

8. Firing pin retainer

9. Firing pin

10. Firing pin spring

11. Extractor spring and follower

12. Extractor

13. Rear barrel retainer

14. Barrel recoil spring

15. Slide body

16. Front blade sight

17. Front barrel retainer

18. Barrel

19. Takedown lock

20. Receiver retaining lug

21. Frame lug

22. Trigger return spring

23. Trigger

24. Disconnector spring/spring guide

25. Disconnector/trigger bar

26. Ejector (behind disconnector)

27. Magazine

Chapter One Pistol Design

In this volume, I propose to show two different pistol (or handgun) designs which can be manufactured in the home workshop.

One of these designs is for a semi-automatic pistol, and the other describes a falling-block single shot pistol. The first one is of necessity limited somewhat by the cartridge size it must use. My second, single-shot design will handle just about any cartridge that is practical to use in a handheld firearm, provided proper steels and heat-treatment methods are used.

While it is entirely practical to make a revolver in the home workshop if proper equipment is available, I have not included a revolver design in this book. Without professional training and equipment, it is very difficult to hand-build a revolver cylinder that will index and lock up properly.

As with the submachine gun, probably the most difficult part to make for the semi-automatic gun is the clip or magazine. So if possible, a suitable magazine should be obtained or manufactured first, and the frame of the gun then built around it.

The first pistol discussed here is made in .22 long rifle, .32 ACP, .380 ACP, or any combination of these three. In fact, with a magazine for each of the three calibers and a corresponding slide (barrel assembly), the same frame may be used for all three calibers. The pistol can be converted to any of the three calibers in a matter of seconds simply by turning the small take-down lever located on the left side directly in front of the trigger guard. This action releases the self-contained slide/barrel assembly, allowing it to be lifted from the frame and replaced with a slide/barrel assembly in the desired caliber. A magazine of the corresponding caliber is inserted in the frame, and the pistol is ready to use again.

Slide and barrel assemblies made from tubing no doubt will look a little crude. And neither of these pistol designs

Right side view of Bill Holmes' semi-automatic pistol, built In his home workshop from Improvised materials. The gun Is cocked by means of a pair of checkered "ears" that are formed from the breech block's exterior.

Bill Holmes GunImprovised Semi Auto Pistol

Reverse view o( the Holmes pistol. Visible on the gun's frame are the takedown lever (left) and safety. By altering this weapon's firing pin and disconnector/ trigger bar, It can be made to function on full automatic.

will ever be considered streamlined. But by the use of tubing in the manner described, I eliminate the necessity of cutting mating grooves along the length of both the frame and slide. Such a grooving procedure is a challenge even to the professional gunsmith with proper tools.

Nor do I normally endorse the idea of a welded sheet metal frame. My over-riding consideration here was that such a frame can be constructed with a couple of files, a hacksaw, a few drills, and a few minute's use of welding equipment. So if the design is lacking from the standpoint of appearance, it more than makes up for it in ease of manufacture.

In the event that you elect to make this pistol with the interchangeable slide/barrel assemblies, it will almost certainly be necessary for you to manufacture your own magazines, since I do not know of any interchangeable commercial clips in all three different calibers. If you will follow the instructions in the chapter on magazine manufacture, you should be able to make clips for the different calibers which will all fit into the same frame.

I have not incorporated a magazine safety in this design, which means that the pistol will fire with the magazine removed. When engaged, the safety lever on the left rear side of the gun blocks the hammer from contacting the firing pin. This, and a positive half-cock notch on the hammer are the only safety provisions incorporated in the pistol's design. Its firing pin is an inertia type similarto the

M1911 Colt .45, which allows the gun to be carried safely with the hammer down without the firing pin striking the primer of a chambered round. So the weapon may be carried safely with either the hammer down, at half cock, or at the full cock with the safety engaged.

Simple fixed sights are fastened on the top of the slide assembly. No sighting adjustment is provided since a short-barreled pocket pistol of this type is usually meant for use only at short range. The sights can be adjusted by filing the front sight to raise the point of impact in relation to the sight "picture," or by filing the rear sight sideways in the lateral direction you want to move the point of impact.

The single shot pistol design shown herein uses an entirely different approach to our problem. Since it utilizes a falling-block design made from solid steel, it will be strong enough to handle just about any cartridge you care to chamber it for. The barrel may be as long as you care to make it. With good adjustable sights or a suitable telescopic sight, this handgun should be as accurate at longer ranges as any other weapon of this general type.

Here again I have tried to keep its design as simple as possible. The hammer must be cocked by hand. It could be made self-cocking relatively easily, but this would demand additional parts and machining operations. Or a hammerless, self-contained breech block could be used, but this would call for extra parts plus a safety lever of some sort.

Home Workshop Weaponry

Retainer plate Stock retainer bolt Hanger

Hammer spring

Hammer strut




Falling breech block

Firing pin retainer

Firing pin

Firing pin spring




Forearm retainer bolt Trigger guard Latch

Latch spring Trigger spring Trigger Trigger bar Lever

Grip frame/breech block housing Grip stock

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