The Liberator pistol

Designed to be as inexpensive as possible, assembled from mostly stamped sheet-metal parts, the Liberator was a single shot pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge the US military was using for standard handguns and submachine guns. It was so cheap that each one set the US government back only $2.40 in 1942 money. A million were made in less than three months during the darkest days of WWII, to be airdropped to Resistance fighters in enemy occupied territory.

Read about it at Hell in a Handbasket.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • ericire12

    I cant believe you have not done the Liberator Pistol before now.

  • Carl

    They should do this over places like Darfur instead of sending in international troops.

  • Matt Groom

    By all accounts, a bear to shoot. KOBE. They should have built it in .22LR, .380 ACP, or 9mm, all of which were more readily available in Fortress Europe.

  • Thank you so for the link!

  • Thomas

    hay Steve whare colud i get one of these

    • Thomas, at an auction for a LOT of money.

  • Steve B

    Thomas, Steve: I saw a Liberator at a gun show in North Carolina this past weekend, actually. Price tag on it was $4500.

  • Greetings from Texas,
    The last one I saw at a gun show was $2,000.00 but the guy that had it was bad about sky high prices. There was a company making firing replica’s for about $500.00. This is one of those guns that everyone who get’s one has to shoot once. Generally just once.
    I would love to have one of these in my collection and the programs I do but don’t think I would wear it out.

  • El Duderino

    I believe the purpose of the Liberator was to shoot a very inattentive German soldier or Vichy French turncoat and relieve him of his MP-40, P-38, Luger, Mauser rifle, etc. At the kind of range you would have to be at to hit anything with one of these, I think walking up and stabbing the schmuck would have been a lot more quiet…

  • El Duderino

    I guess if you read the article, you’d already know what I posted. QED.

  • CEOofEVIL

    A funny, albeit painful story concerning the Liberator:

    About ten years ago, my grandfather whom had participated in WWII as a sailor in the USN, decided that He’d like to sell His collection of weapons that He’d amassed from his tour of duty. Now, my grandfather was never a big shooter – in fact, I can’t EVER remember him shooting once before he expressed his wish to sell his guns. Keep in mind, I’m not from a hunting or even outdoor sporting family so interest in firearms isn’t something that a lot of my relatives have.

    At any rate, He had a few old .30-06’s, perhaps a few Arisaka-type rifles and many other old bolt rifles I can’t even begin to name. I was young at the time (around 14 or so) and didn’t have any background experience with guns. I’d always been described by friends and family as my grandfathers “shadow” accompanying him every place I could. So it was only natural that I went with him to a local gunshow where we managed to sell most of his old rifles, for what seems to me now as something below a “steal” (if such a pricing category even exists!). During one of the visits to the gunshow, one of the items he wanted to sell was this “Strange old gun” that looked almost like a poorly made toy. Yup. It was a Liberator. Before we’d left to the show, he showed it to me at his house, and to say that it was an impressive artifact of days gone by was an understatement!

    I’m not sure where my grandpa had picked it, but He was told that a few of the pilots aboard his ship (the USS Chenango) carried them “Just in case they were shot down”. The gun even had the original box it was packaged in (which was not much larger than the gun itself), including the instructions (which were drawings of how to load and fire the gun – I don’t recall much writing on them) and a few old rounds of .45 ACP! The condition was amazing considering He’s had it stored in the drawer of a dresser since his return home!

    Alas, at the gun show most of the vendors had absolutely NO CLUE what it was and didn’t even want to give it a second look. I believe it was actually a attendee at the gun show that realized what it was while we were showing it to a vendor. “Oh, that’s a liberator!” and he went on to explain what it was to My grandfather, myself, the vendor a few older WWII looking folks. We were pretty happy that someone at the show at least knew the name for it, let alone what it was intended for (Air dropping in occupied europe to support insurgency against the Nazi’s). So, the vendor looks at my grand father and says “Well… how about 200 dollars?”. My grandfather agreed and he traded the odd little piece of firearms history off for a small amount of cash.

    Now that I’m older and I’ve become an gun nut, I think back to that day and wish I could have told my grandfather to NEVER sell it! What I would given to have the awesome little gun in my collection today! The moral of the story is, if you ever find a piece of history like the Liberator in your gun related ventures – NEVER GET RID OF IT!

    Hope you enjoyed! Thanks for Jogging my memory with this blog entry Steve!

    • CEOofEVIL, oh no! You must have been devastated when you later figured out it was a liberator! I to would never have sold it.

    • tjr

      I have a better story. My grandfather was captain of the guards on al alcatraz. When he died it, along with boxes of Alcatraz stuff went to my mom, who also lived on Alcatraz. When she died, my brother and I packed up her house and divided the stuff for safe keeping. I have the liberators. Two stories handed down with it. He either bought it during the depression, and could not afford the bullets or he confiscated it during his employment with the bureau of prisons. I do have a picture of him holding a display boardwith items confiscated including the liberators. Who knows?? I also have three original keys to Alcatraz.

  • XxleoxX

    i want one!

  • Nate Adams

    Reference the earlier comment on the repro Liberator…I just got one and it’s really cool. They made only 1000 of them and they are sold direct from the website at http://www.vintageordnance.com. The actual cost is 599.90 plus shipping and whatever your dealer charges you to transfer it which beats $3000 for a real one that doesn’t even have a box and that you can’t shoot for fear it will blow up. The maker, Vintage Ordnance Company in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, uses the name “VOCO” and “E-town, KY” on the bottom of the barrel in consideration to collectors that don’t want their gun marked up excessively. All the markings are really small and don’t detract from the historic look. Four of five guys that should know better did not peg it as a repro even after handling it for five minutes. The rifling is there but doesn’t seem to do much to stablize the bullet since they keyhole pretty quickly. Apparently the originals shot this way too. The guns are sold without the firing pin hole drilled all the way through so I did it myself with an electric drill. The makers tell you not to do this but they also provide lots of safety and shooting info. They probably don’t want to be sued. The gun kicks heavily with ball. Really its just a novel historical replica. I take it out of my collection for WWII buffs to try out. I got to the point that I could hit a GI helmet at 5 yards consistently by my 5th shot but after putting 25 shots through it, I don’t really think I can take anymore. It’s fun watching compentent and experienced shooters struggle with the little beast. My hats off to the partizans that used it for real. Another cool thing is you get all the packaging materials with it that are dead on accurate.

  • Linda

    My father-in-law has one of these he’s wanting to sell.

  • Linda

    It is an original, not a reproduction. He also has all the stories you’d ever want to hear to go with the gun!!