Nerf Guns Back in 1941

Boys will always be boys. Before guns they made pretend swords out of sticks. Before swords they made clubs. The invention of the gun presented unique challenges to boys the world over. My attempts at building a gun involved a lot of elastic and usually ended up being inefficient crossbows. Kids today have it easy. They just walk into a store (or and buy a nerf gun.

Back in 1941 Modern Mechanix published instructions on how to build the ultimate boys toy, a “Repeating Action Submachine Gun”. When I was a kid I would have given anything to have one of these!

[ Many thanks to Mason for emailing us the link. ]

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.


  • New World Order

    This is a sneaky and cleaver way of introducing little boys to the tyranny of patriarchy, heterosexual normality, racism, masculinity, sexism, patriotism, etc, etc. This has to stop and, by the will of Lucifer, we shall stop it.

    • Bagworm1

      A little too over-the-top for most people here, but I know what you mean and I agree with the basis for your argument. But, apparently, there are some little girls now that would like something like this.

    • David/Sharpie

      So only the patriots, heterosexual, racists, masculine, sexist can shoot guns? My gf has a gay friend, I’ve taken him shooting, I’ve taken many women shooting, I see many people of diff. cultural backgrouds at the range, I’ve taken feminine men to the range (another one of my gfs friend, and I see same at the range too)

      Your logic is flawed buddy

    • cc19

      Did you get your degree of conspiracy theories off youtube? In any case, you should be preparing for the invasion of the shape-shifting lizard people who happen to all conveniently be posing as celebrities and politicians.

      • David/Sharpie

        Nah, those people are snakes, not lizards

  • Netforce

    That looks pretty cool.

  • NDS

    “Tromboning action” is a phrase used FAR too rarely when discussing today’s modern firearms…

  • bp

    Nerf gun? Nah, kids now days buy airsoft “guns”. And you know what, their pretty awesome. Until we “people of normal financial means” can own a legal machine gun then airsoft and BB/pellet guns is all the full auto fun we will be getting. Now if I win the lotto, sure, I’ll buy a legal 25,000$ thompson submachine gun, a legal 15,000$ HK MP5, and a legal 17,000$ colt M16, but for now we are stuck with airguns. What’s the difference between a civilian legal M16 and a LEO/Dealer only M16? 16,000$ and a date of manufacture after 1986 is the difference. How exactly is that benefiting society? Their already legal, except only for people with lots of disposable income. Changing that “law” would only change their pricetag, not their legality.

    • David/Sharpie

      I hate to say this, but a legal, registered Thompson costs $795 in Canada. But what sucks is you can’t take it to the range to shoot it, and only a few people have licences for them

      • bp

        Yah, we have a crap mix of regulations between the two countries. You guys up north need all the gun freedoms we have (CCW, no licenses in most states, no transport to range restrictions, large magazines ect) and we need Canada’s ability to import just about anything, and not have that silly ATF regulation that it can’t be “easily” converted into a full auto. Becuase you guys can import all kinds of neat stuff, and they don’t have to change the design just for that country you get lots of cool stuff. for example, I believe your HK 91/93/94 guns are all “push-pin” lowers, they just use “safe-semi” lowers instead of needing a “shelf” welded on to prevent push pin lowers.

        Of course when you say thompson do you mean a “real” open bolt, full auto, 14″ barrel thompson, or do you mean a semi auto version (because thats easy to buy here and only 1000$ or so. But its closed bolt, and not FA, so its not really a thompson like I was discussing). And can you get 30,50,100 round mags and drums for one?

      • David/Sharpie

        Those would be “converted autos” but they’re still prohibited. I agree on the ATC (Our CCW) I support licences, but not registration. I hate needing an ATT. And I hate that there’s a big a$$ block in my SKS MAG!!

        Yeah we can import them, but next to no one can own them.

        Yup, here’s a link:

        Well, 10.5 inch barrel.

        Those semi auto ones are “Converted autos” as well, and you can no longer get the permit to take them to the range…..

  • Lance

    Back in the good old days when kids where allowed to play with toy guns and play cowboys and Indians. You got be sad now days kids cant even buy BB guns anymore.

  • Avery

    I wonder if you could build this so it could fire Nerf bullets instead of those dowel rods.

    I’ll admit, I do like the gravity-fed magazine. Too bad it’s not removable.

  • Jack Luz

    I can imagine some kid with this gun (make-believe) and saying “They can have my gun, when they pry it from my cold dead hands”.

  • armed_partisan

    That is made of awesome. I might have to build one.

  • John Doe

    Pssh, I give my kids .22s and body armor /sarcasm (that’s stupid).