Vintage Ordnance FP-45 Liberator Pistol

Vintage Ordnance are producing clones of the FP-45 Liberator pistol for just $599.50 + S&H.

I have long since wondered why nobody was producing replicas. Reading their website I now know why …

Though our reproduction is sold as a firearm and exceeds the mechanical strength of the original through the use of superior materials and vastly tighter chamber and headspace tolerances, WE STRONGLY ADVISE CUSTOMERS NOT TO FIRE THE PISTOL. During production in 1942, several examples were taken from the assembly line to test under repetitive fire. Reports indicated that after 50 rounds of service ball ammunition the testers felt the weapons were no longer safe to fire. They were simply never designed handle a steady diet of powerful .45 ACP. They were made to fire ten rounds. They are what they are.

That defiantly puts me off buying one.

[Hat Tip: AmmoLand]





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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  • Bill Lester

    Lemme get this straight…the manufacturer is selling a gun that they recommend not to be shot, yet selling it for many, many times what the originals cost.

    Only in America. 😐

  • subase

    Cool, I wish I could crap out a piece of tin that can only be safely fired ten times and charge almost 600 for it.

    All you 1911 lovers are to blame for this.

  • Tim

    Yeah, that’s pretty sucky. If you can’t, or shouldn’t, fire it anyway, why not just make a non firing replica and sell it for $29.95 or some such thing? I can recall not to many years back a guy at a gun show offering to swap my dad an original one for a Springfield ’03 rifle. Springfields were going about $600 at the time. At least that one would have had collectors value as an original. These are basically just novelties, especially if they don’t recommend firing them!

  • Bryan S.

    No, ATF regs, licensing, and gobs of taxes are why…..

  • hithere

    ^^^
    Missing the point ^_-

  • ericire12

    I wonder if there are markings that distinguish these from the originals…… if not there are going to be a great number that will try to be passed off as originals (originals go for$5,000+)

  • ericire12
  • Bandito762

    I think the idea here is that you can own a piece of “history” without paying what people are asking for the orignal. I actually might consider buying one, If the price were to come down a bit. subase, I am not following you. Are you complaining that its chambered in .45 ACP like the original, because I would really be pissed if I were buying a historical reproduction and it was in the wrong caliber.

  • Redchrome

    Wikipedia claims the originals cost $2.40 to make; back when gold was (legally mandated to be, FWIW) $35/oz. goldsilver.com says gold is $1221/oz. right now.

    (2.40/35)*1221.82=83.78194285714285713238

    So it should cost somewhere around $80 to make one of these things (assuming a smooth bore and hundreds of thousands volume to amortize the fixed costs).

    This makes those russian-surplus Nagant revolvers look like a pretty good deal. 😉

    Taxes & regulations add hugely to the cost; as does the fact that dies had to be made for the stampings, and at the volume of these things they’ll probably be selling, stamping may not be the most cost-effective means of production. Unless (even if) they got ahold of the original dies (which may very well be lost to history) R&D/reverse engineering was needed as well.

    Even at this high price, I doubt anyone is going to be getting rich off it. I defy you to find me a really wealthy machinist or even machine shop owner. I doubt there’s a large number of people working for this ‘Vintage Ordnance’ and it’s unusual to find a small business owner driving a shiny new BMW or the like. I myself own a business that on the face of it should produce 50% profit margins once the fixed & variable costs of production are covered… but distribution costs and taxes and other miscellaneous expenses eat it all up.

    They do also note that as shipped, the pistols do not have the firing pin hole drilled through the cover plate; so they cannot fire. The originals were very unsafe by modern standards. If you make it capable of firing, be it on your own head. 🙂

    There’s some good pictures of original Liberators in these pages:
    http://vintageordnance.homestead.com/Liberator.html

    Note how really awful the bore finish on the nominally ‘smooth’ bore was!

    • Redchrome, interesting calculations!

  • Pete

    this is absurd, the value of original Liberators is in their collectors value thanks to the government destroying most of the remaining stock after the war….

    ..neat little pistol though, I never have read about how successful it was in the field dispatching German troops so that their weapons and ammo could be “liberated”

  • subase

    And even more insulting the gun looks powder coated, reminds me of old silver double bunk bed. They could have at least given it a nice bluing

  • John M Smith

    WHY!!!! Why would anyone want to buy one of these? I have seen some bad ideas, but never one like this. Vintage arms spent lots of money to devolope the tooling for this “GUN”. Im glad I am not an investor of this company. For 600.00 bucks I had better be able to shoot the hell out of it.

  • Canthros

    Heck. $600 for a replica Liberator puts *me* off buying it, Steve. Good grief.

  • 4Cammer

    $600.00…is the economy that good? What did these cost in the 40’s to make? It was set at a cost of $2.40 if you can believe wiki…wow inflation sucks.

  • Kyle

    Maybe next they’ll recreate the “Deer Gun.” That would actually be much cheaper to produce on a small scale and would probably last for hundreds of rounds.

  • Makes absolutely no sense.

  • Why are they so much money? They are just some shitty stampings.

  • Aurelien

    Well the original was supposed to be used one time each (with the ability to have 3 rounds stored), so the specs are not made for everyday shooting at the range.
    The concept was : use it to gun down some nazi (or Vichy militia) at extreme close range, get his weapon and ammo and fight with it.

    Well the original only cost about a handful of quarters to build.

  • Bandito762

    And you could conceivably reload your own ammo that was lighter than commercial grade .45 ACP

  • Don

    First of all, haven’t these things been in continuous production by one company or another since their inception? I remember seeing them in gun magazines all the time.

    Second, $600 for stamped sheet metal? Are you %#<&ing kidding me?

    The original production price the government paid per unit in 1942 was $2.10. This is after the manufacturer made a profit and this included 10 rounds of .45 acp. Now days that would be equivalent to about $28. Today 10 cheap rounds of .45acp will run you like 5 bucks. So now we are down to $23. Taking into account modern manufacturing and the markup I estimate that you can produce these for about $6 per unit.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/8201899/liberator-pistol-blueprints

    There are metal wind up toys to be had for 10 bucks which are more complex than these things. A $25 walmart wind up pocketwatch has more costly manufacturing procedures associated with it.

    This company must have some serious "ball ammo".

    Also @ subase; Curious, what does this have to do with liking a 1911?

    -D

  • Ruzhyo

    If I remember my history properly, the Guide Lamp Liberator pistols were made from stampings by a lamp making company contracted by GE. They were not meant for a prolonged service life, but dropped over Nazi occupied countries so that resistance members could take one, pop an enemy soldier, and secure his more reliable service weapon. They aren’t the most sophisticated firearms either, being a single shot weapon with room in the grip for storing extra rounds, rather than a magazine. They also had no extractor or ejection system, so spent shells had to be removed manually.

  • Wow, someone went through the trouble of developing a business plan for this fiasco?

  • Vak

    Actually, when you consider that original liberator pistols sell for several thousands dollars, $600 is a good price.

    (still, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever)

  • Carl

    I don’t know why they bothered putting a handle on a single-shot close range pistol. Just a barrel with a screwed on breech and a spring-loaded striker would probably do the same job just as well.

    Is the barrel rifled, by the way? Because that seems rather unnecessary as well.

  • me

    Who ever their company/corporate lawyers are, I sure as hell hope they aren’t paying them much. These guys are asleep on the job, if thats the sort of disclaimer you have to publish for your product to go out the door.

  • Shootin’ Buddy

    After WWII circa 1946 my grandfather, who owned a hardware store, received a barrel full of unordered Liberators in the truck from Indianapolis (Liberators were turned out by the thousands at the GM plant in Anderson, many were burned or crushed or went “unaccounted for” in the back of a worker’s car).

    He opened the barrel, stuck a price tag sign in them and put them by the cash register. People bought them for toy guns for their kids, sometimes painting them all kinds of “wierd” colors (my father’s Liberator was sky blue).

  • Brian

    $600.00?!! It cost $2.40 when it was first produced ($26.00 nowadays)!!!

    and subase, what do 1911s have to do with this?

  • Rusty Shackleford

    I thought the liberator pistol was supposed to be cheap…

  • Ken

    rip…off….period. If you have 600 bucks in disposable income to burn up,feel free to give it to me and I will use it better. What a crock….

  • kim

    I bet that somebody could design a gun that could be made at home for cheap out of plumbing pipe, epoxy, wood, and needing only a drill and a file to make.

    That would fulfill the PURPOSE of the liberator, and at even less cost, since the only thing you need to deliver to the oppressed victims of tyranny would be the design information and assembly instructions.

  • Don

    @ redchrome, it’s much worse than you calculated. by then we were still adjusting to going off the gold standard in around 1933 and the price of metals was kind of screwed up due to government research projects (i.e. they would melt treasury coins to make high conductivity wire for super-magnets and such).

    the buying power of 1 dollar in 1942 was equivalent to 13.35 current dollars. At $2.40 this would equal about $32, and do not forget it came with what would be equivalent to $5 worth of .45 acp ammo…

    -D

  • Cymond

    Anyone who does not understand the price does not understand the costs of manufacturing. Read about the concepts of economies of scale and marginal cost.

    Yes, the original Liberator cost between $28 and $84 when adjusted for inflation (depending on who is doing the calculations), but the original was mass produced in a factory with government backing. Over 1 million were completed. The originals didn’t have to jump through the modern ATF red tape and taxation, either. These are practically made by hand. How much do you think it cost to set up the workshop? How many do you think they’ll sell? Now divide the setup cost by the number sold and you have the set up cost per unit.

    Comparing these to the cost of the original Liberator and complaining is like complaining about the price gap between STI and RIA.

  • Redchrome

    @Don
    I agree that the figure I used was pretty arbitrary, the $35/oz. for gold having been set by fiat instead of market forces. A better metric would be based on the price of gold on the London or Zurich exchanges at that time (which of course were disrupted by war and therefore not reliable either).

    That said; the buying power of a dollar according to your figure of $13.35 may also have been affected by wartime price manipulations (anyone know when price controls went in with force?); so it may not be an accurate figure either. (In fact I don’t believe that’s the right figure either but the explanation is too long and too irrelevant for this).

    At any rate; the point I would leave everyone with is this:

    There’s a lot more to the cost of a gun than just the materials it’s made from.

  • subase

    The love history of guns instead of their practical use has made gun sales like the liberator possible. Saying that I’m a bit confused cause if they were going after the 1911 lovers of gun history, they could have at least given it a blueing or tin coating, to more accurately reflect the look of the original. This is how it’s supposed to look
    http://www.genitron.com/Unique/Guide-Lamp-Liberator-Pistol.jpg

    The price in wartime for steel was inflated and so was the equipment needed to make it, so the guns probably cost way less to make. In addition modern manufacturing tech makes the production of these even more cheap.

    And it’s seriously a lost cause. They could have easily have lightly soldered a piece of steel blocking the mechanism of the gun and sold it as a replica, thus avoiding all the gun taxes and such. Sell it for $30 bucks, and it would make a nice shtf weapon to give to the grand lady who just got robbed for the third time next door. All she needs to do is shoot once indicating that she has a weapon and that should be enough to scare off most bad guys. Because judging from the simple mechanism the gun looks pretty reliable. And self defense encounters for most people are very few.

  • Dave

    $2.41 in 1941/1942 dollars is $35.53 in 2010 dollars (from the US. bureau of statistics based on the consumer price index).

    $599 is 16.86 times as expensive as the original: assuming the same materials and quality.

    Assuming the modern rendition uses materials and quality costing twice as much: it is still almost 8.5 times as expensive. And you don’t want to shoot it…

  • Tim

    its simple people! its a reproduction. SO REPRODUCE IT IN .22 SHORT SO ITS NOT A WASTE! if it was chamber in something like .22 short or .22 lr, i’d purchase on, if they were deemed safe to fire of course, and im sure they would lso sell much, MUCH more of them.

  • f-stop

    “The gun designed to get you a better gun.” I think that’s what was said about these on American Shooter. A true reproduction should be as unsafe as the original, thus the $600 price tag. Likely $550 of that sale goes toward their liability insurance.

  • I don’t get it. I really, really don’t get it. Why spend $600 on a “firearm” you can’t safely shoot when, for the same cash, you could buy yourself a CZ-82 Makarov ($200), a Lee Enfield .303 ($230) AND a Mosin Nagant rifle ($90).
    Or instead you could buy a Glock 17 for $520.

    And you’d still have $80 left over to go to ammo for your fully functioning firearm(s).

    (All prices taken from J & G Sales website)

  • Redchrome

    @Jay-Mac
    for the same reason people buy deactivated machineguns or flintlocks to hang on the wall. Because it’s a fun thing to show people, and because it looks good when you’re riding around at your reenactment event with other people who are interested in history.

  • Well then, Redchrome, why not buy a replica Liberator?

    The same company which makes it also sells replica resin guns for less than a hundred bucks- I honestly can’t understand why anyone would want to spend $600 for a firearm which they can’t shoot instead of spending maybe $70 or $80 on a copy which does the same job.

    Seems like a terrible waste of money to me.

  • Redchrome

    @Jay-Mac

    This is quickly becoming a case of ‘If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand’.

    People want one for the same reason they want old cars, old appliances, and other old guns.

    Also note that there’s a big difference between “not recommended to be fired” and “can’t be fired”. People like to have the capability, even if they don’t use it.

  • AK™

    I’d use it once to save my life.

    But for the price? nope. I could get a Croatian XD new or a Glock new. Or a couple of used pistols for that price.

  • Considering that it was designed for someone to waltz up to a nazi and shove it in his face and blow a hole through his head, the fp45 liberator was pretty awesome! BUT!!! i wouldnt spend $600 for a reproduction!!!!

  • PeterC

    Just to clarify matters, the replica Liberator pistol has a BATF-mandated rifled barrel, plus a serial number and maker’s name & address discretely stamped on the gun. Because the original design was inherently unsafe, the current maker strongly recommends that it not be fired. This doesn’t mean that it CAN”T be fired. If you are filling a hole in an otherwise complete WWII military collection, you can buy this replica for $599.50 or buy an original (if you can find it) for $2,500 – $4,000. I guess it all depends on your priorities and your bank balance.

  • Emerson

    Thanks for the helpful information. My father acquired two of these guns during his service in WWII, and we’ve been trying to determine if they have any value and, if so, what.

  • Mr.Adventurer

    i have this pistol, my fren give it to me coz we considered it a junk.,but i surprise when i saw the original price.,my fren say that his father got it fdrom japanesse time.,

  • Mr.Adventurer

    i dont sure if it is the ORIGINAL, but i think it is coz in philippine we dont have a maker that kind of junk.,

  • Doug

    This pistol is awesome. You don’t have to explain it to me. I already get it.

    Good job.