Building A Volkspistole, With TroubleshooterBerlin

Chuck of GunLab, exacerbated with the complexity of German “last ditch” guns, challenged our friend Troubleshooter Berlin to see if he could build the simplest “VolksPistole” possible. According to Troubleshooter in an email sent to TFB:

When I was at Chucks from GunLab in Aug/Sept helping on the VG 1-5 project he complained how complicated even last ditch WW2 Volkspistols/-rifles were. And that Germans couldn’t design simple stuff.
Agreed in all points but told him I could 🙂
So he pulled out a 32 ACP MAB D magazine which he has lots of and asked me to come up with a volkspistol design the way it should have been. Just the absolute minimum of parts to safely go bang and no features that could confuse people not familiar with firearms. And cheap to manufacture of course.
OK, in not just 4 weeks Oct/Nov I designed (one piece of paper with a few raw sketches) and built that thing with nothing but a bench drill, dremel and tig-welder.
Striker fired, semi-cocked “safe-action” trigger.
Including the glued grip panels a total of 25 parts. By eliminating 3 of the 6 screws it would be down to 22.
Oh, and non-firing prototype of course because guns are evil here…

On the gun’s specs, he wrote:

“It was designed with other calibers/mags in mind.
At part 1 the last pic – this is not the final extractor. First wanted to go with a fixed extractor which didn’t work due to the supporting rim at the bottom of the bolt face. Then switched to spring loaded design which that is the first version (way too fiddly).
And at part 2 you can see at pic No. 10 cuts and weld spots. Had to move the magazine and thus the front strap about 3mm to the rear for proper feeding. The measures taken from the deac Stock pistol (you can see in one of the pics) I used intially didn’t work. The Stock magazine has shorter mag lips and thus releases the cartridges earlier than the MAB D magazine he gave me.
Started without final drawings etc. About 75% of the design were finished in my mind, the rest was decided on the fly while doing it.
length: 167mm
height: 121mm (without mag release 114mm)
barrel: 89mm
weight: 708g
slide assembly: 230g (which fits for .32/380ACP/9mm Makarov etc.)
Slide made of 1/2″ inch plumbing pipe which we have here as well. Some of those damned inch measures survived here…
It looks bigger than it is mainly due to the large trigger guard (Germany – winter – gloves).
And I like to leave some tool marks etc. gives it a rugged appearance.”

Chuck walks us through the process for making the gun over at GunLab, be sure to follow the links below and check those posts out!

Building a small Volkspistolen

Part 2 of the Volkspistolen

Part 3 of the Volkspistolen

Chuck also uploaded three videos discussing the design and features of Troubleshooter’s little “people’s pistol”, all of which are embedded below:

There’s a lot to talk about here, from the overcomplexity of German wartime projects (including weapons that should have been as simple as possible, but weren’t), to the joys of building a weapon yourself, with your own hands, to how simple it can be to make some fairly sophisticated weapons with very little infrastructure. Troubleshooter’s little blowback .32 isn’t going to take the market by storm, of course, but it’s small projects like these that are the precursors to virtually all the greatest firearms designs. Of course, Troubleshooter’s Volkspistole itself takes a lot of inspiration from what has become the de-facto volkspistole of the Western world thanks to its simplicity and low cost, the Glock polymer wondernine. While the frame is not made of polymer, the fire control operates in a very similar way, and the gun is striker-fired.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • JSmath

    This whole thing is a ruse! Just propaganda by Ruger to make their American Pistol seem slightly less ugly.

    But really, by making the trigger a bit shorter in height, and subsequently shrinking the trigger guard vertically too, this thing would look actually look pretty damned good, especially for what it is.

  • I’m sorry, maybe you meant “exasperated” in that first sentence? AFAIK exacerbate means “to make more extreme, to further”.

  • Tassiebush

    That looks mighty pretty. I love utilitarian designs for the masses. The Glock certainly is a volkspistol by numbers and mass production, but the much maligned Hi-Point definitely fits the bill too. If something akin to a Liberator or volkspistol program were set up today I’d imagine it might be perfect off the shelf for it (assuming centralized production was acceptable).

    • Cymond

      Y’know, your right. If arming last-ditch/resistance members, you could arm 3 people with HiPoints for the cost of a single Glock. That’s really significant in that short of scenario o.

      And now that I think about it, it seems weird that people hate the HiPoint yet love the Mosin-Nagant.

      • mosinman

        i never understood that either. the only thing i can whine about with mine is the weight and the ugly looks

      • Kivaari

        The Russian M91/30 is a REAL GUN that was and remains suitable for combat. It can generally be depended upon to work under less than ideal conditions. A Hi-Point MAY work. Buy a used M&P .38 revolver for a little more than a HP. I’ve seen enough of them fail on the first trip to the range.
        Junk at any price remains junk.

      • nobody

        >And now that I think about it, it seems weird that people hate the HiPoint yet love the Mosin-Nagant.

        Mosin Nagants are quality guns (though generally rather worn) that are or at least were inexpensive because the market was flooded with them. Hi Points are cheap because they aren’t very well made (the weak magazines with inconsistent feed lips being one of the major failings, I’ve also heard about problems with the firing pins in the carbines bending if you shoot them a lot), and you may be able to send them back and get them fixed but shipping still costs money and if you have to send the gun in that’s money that you could have put toward a better gun in the first place. There are still inexpensive quality surplus and used handguns out there that you’d be much better off with than a Hi Point.

      • Kivaari

        The Russkie rifles have an appeal, they are real weapons of war. You might be holding a rifle from Stalingrad or entering Berlin. They are simple and reliable rifles. I used to collect them. My grandfather served in the Imperial Russian Army from 1898-1900. Mom said he used to march around the yard showing off to the kids while screaming commands. They loved it. I would loved to have had that rifle.

    • Kivaari

      If HI-Point would just use some better metal. I wont own any zinc guns. The magazines they supply are crude. I guess if you have to have “a gun” these fulfil that market. It’s like being found dead armed with a Raven or Hi-Point. I’d die out of embarrassment. Don’t buy junk. There are excellent handguns that sell for around $300. About $125 more than a Hi-Point. Even having one in a “bury tube” is giving them too high of a status.

      • Tassiebush

        If you have a good supply of well priced secondhand pistols then it’d certainly influence what would make the best choice but if the goal is to increase supply then I suspect a hi point would be a good solution. Another plus for hi point from what I’ve read is they replace faulty guns quite readily (i’ve only read that. No dealings with them) which is probably preferable to options with a faulty second hand gun. Most places wouldn’t have the volumes of cheap secondhand firearms the US does. Actually you folks have heaps of really good deals with second hand caravans and boats too. I’m damn jealous.

        • Kivaari

          Too many Hi-Points are defective and need replacing. Perhaps they should make better guns. Having large volumes of poor quality guns may make someone happy but I’d prefer a smaller pile of good guns.

          • mosinman

            i have not had any problems with mine, and i got it used from my father

          • Kivaari

            You are lucky. I’d be embarrassed to be found holding one. I always felt that if I was killed, and thy found a zinc Raven on me, I’d die from shame anyway. Not that the Ravens were a bad value. They actually worked pretty good. When I had a store, I bought them 20 at a time. I could sell them for $39.99 to folks that simply could not afford a better gun. Even people with limited funds deserved to have a gun that worked. If the Ravens hadn’t worked so well, I wouldn’t have sold them. The biggest issue with the Ravens, is the users would commonly put their finger in the trigger guard when trying to shoot or unload the pistol. They would have negligent discharges. So every custom got a safety class thrown in.
            One customer did negligently shoot his friend while showing the gun. Then Phoenix “upgrades” created a gun with too many safety features and poor reliability that just wasn’t a value anymore. The little striker fired guns, so common before 1990, were mostly junk. Too bad, as some of the imports stopped in GCA 68 were better made. When the US makers took control of the designs, they went from steel to zinc. Zinc=Junk.

          • mosinman

            zinc is crappy, but the gun works and shoots pretty well. i’m not embarrassed by it as it was my first handgun and a gift at that

          • Kivaari

            If you have one that works, that’s a good thing. They can be a “starter” for shooters. A first step into shooting. I’m OK with that, since not everyone can afford a new Glock or HK.

        • Kivaari

          Having a good warranty isn’t always a good thing. Like the KIA automobile I bought for my daughter. It was ready for the forth set of brakes by 14000 miles. One third of the miles were from taking it back to the dealer for work. It wasn’t her driving that caused it. We bought her a new Honda Civic and it never needed work. She drove it for years until she was hit from behind.

          • Tassiebush

            Sounds like a real headache! Yeah sometimes a warranty is a sales tool for a bad product. I recall looking at a second hand 4×4 which I got checked out by a mechanic and warned off. I took it back to the dealer and said I wasn’t taking it at which point he offered a warranty which would only have subsidized about $600 in repairs once.

  • Phillip Cooper

    “Glock=low cost”. That’s funny…

    • Kivaari

      In the scheme of things a used Glock represents a better value than a new Hi-Point.

      • iksnilol

        In the scheme of things a new CZ presents better value than an used Glock.

        • Kivaari

          The only CZs I’ve tried were the original CZ 75 and its clones. If it is just another DA/SA pistol, I have little desire to own one. If it has a striker like the Springfield XDs, then I have no desire to own one. After not being a Glock fan in the first couple of years (when the damn things did not work) I was finally issued a G2 G17 and it worked very well. I learned to love it over every other service pistol I could have. I can’t shoot them as accurately as many pistols on single action, but for police use and military use, I’d take it over anything made. Either a 17 or 19 in 9mm fulfils every thing I want in such a pistol. I don’t poke holes in an effort to get tiny groups. I want a combat arm, that does its job as well as the Glocks.

          • iksnilol

            Eh, CZ is a combat arm that has no problems poking tiny holes.

            + a new one is cheaper than a new Glock. At least here in Europe. So you get more capability for less money.

          • Kivaari

            We have many CZ and CZ clones in America. They did (may still cost less) than a Glock. I simply never liked them from 30 years back. I remember when the CZ75 was “The Gun to have”, since they were rare in the USA. Then Detonics imported one via Canada. The import duty was $1250 over the cost of the commie gun. When I first handled it, I found it to be crude (an OK military finish, black backed on enamel over phosphate) with a very poor SA and SA trigger pull. Additionally, I always looked at pistols as being suitable for general issue to any kind of armed force. Primarily to police. All of the 75-based pistols had a long reach for the first shot. That to me is an instant deal breaker. Individuals that have no problem with the reach, can certainly use them whereas I couldn’t. Then the SA pull was close to be the worst I had seen on a service auto. I don’t like squeezing the trigger and seeing the hammer move back with “crunchiness” before dropping and having excess over travel.
            I have absolutely no hands on experience with what is on the market in the last 2 years.
            I initially did not like Glocks. The first M17 was too large for my hand, so it immediately went into the I don’t need one. When the G2 17 and the G1 19 came out, I liked the size, but like we all found out the firing pin, FO stop and trigger assembly were defective and required a full scale replacement program to correct. After that, I was recruited back into police service and was going to be issued a G21 .45. Before the gun arrived I told the chief I would not be able to shoot the gun well due to it being too large. It came, I showed him, and then we ordered the first M17 for the PD. Within a short time every ones .45s were replaced with 9mm Glocks. Everyone noticed an upgrade in scores. As I told the chief, I’d rather get there with less than to miss with more. He found that reasoning to be good.

  • Kivaari

    Great article.

  • gunsandrockets

    I wonder how difficult it would be to make a single-shot rolling block pistol in .410 gauge?

    • Kivaari

      Easy if you have an action. Navy Arms imported mini-rolling blocks in handgun and small rifle calibers. I think Buffalo Arms in Pondery ID was selling some a few years back.