Matchstick Gun

An interesting gun on a Russian Facebook page.  It is a single shot pistol. The barrel/breech swings open and you load a match stick into the chamber. The head of the match stick is facing rearwards. You cock the hammer and pull the trigger. The hammer strikes the match head igniting it and the combustion propels the match stick.

Would the ATF consider this a firearm since it does not use gun powder?

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • Mike

    It’s a firearm. It moves an object by combustion.

    • Nick

      The law is specifically vague on this:

      “By the action of an explosive”

      • Iggy

        Does that technically make Project Orion, the world’s largest gun design?

        • Trey

          I liked FOOTFALL, but I have always thought that Orion would have been built in orbit moved out of the Van Allen belt then nuke driven.

          • gunsandrockets

            The fallout from in-atmospere detonated pulse units isn’t that terrible, since the in-atmosphere nukes are tiny 0.5 kiloton power devices.

          • Trey

            MK-54 / W72 warheads more or less, but the issue is more the air resistance and need for aerodynamics for launch.

          • gunsandrockets

            Ah, okay I misunderstood your original point.

            From a purely performance based pov, ground launch makes much for sense for Orion, despite any compromises for atmospheric operation.

            Orion drive has such a fantastic advantage in performance over conventional rockets that using conventional rockets to launch Orion (or assemble Orion in LEO or HEO) severely compromises the mission payload for Orion. It’s just tremendously cheaper to (literally!) blast-off from Earth surface.

          • Trey

            I was working under the assumption of assemble in orbit. Total mass per launch would be low compared to final mass, since we are plating scifi use mass driver to put sub assemblies in orbit.

          • Mike Lashewitz

            Tiny is perfect for NNS Neighborhood Nuclear Superiority!

          • Matt Grizz Gregg

            That would make it a lot harder to hide from those damn elephant alien things.

        • Giolli Joker

          Maybe… quite possibly the dumbest.

          • gunsandrockets

            Project Orion, the best non-rocket spacecraft ever!

            Technically Orion is not a gun. In a conventional sense the nuclear ‘pulse units’ are guns and the spacecraft itself is the backstop.

            Although now that I think upon it, depending on how the pulse units are ejected from the spacecraft, Orion could indeed technically be a gun. Since a plausible system for ejecting the nuclear pulse units is gun launch!

          • noob

            “the curve of binding energy” by john mcphee tells the story of Orion engineer and physicist Ted Taylor and raises an important point – do we really want to pour taxpayer money into making really small and portable nuclear weapons?

            Ted Taylor was afraid that if he could make a suitcase nuke as a propulsion unit then a terrorist could also make such a device for less benign causes. Fortunately for the world, Ted Taylor is a genius and terrorists generally aren’t.

      • buzzman1

        Nick that is the Key. The ignition of a match is not an explosive because of the slow burn rate,

    • Andrew

      Nope. If that was true, powder actuated nail guns would be considered firearms too. And they’re not.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Technically, the powder nail guns are indeed firearms. In fact, many states have to write in “purpose built tool” exemptions for them because they otherwise fulfill all legal definitions.

      • carlcasino

        I have used my nail gun as a gun just by gumming the fins on the provided nails. The problem is accuracy beyond two feet is terrible and holding the barrel while aiming is beyond challenging.
        The pneumatic guns are another story.

    • Mcameron

      nope, its moving the match by striking it and physical force throws the match out the barrel…….if you flipped the match around, it would still fire out, just not light on fire

      • Mcameron

        ….and technically a black powder gun moves an object by combustion…..but federally they are not considered firearms.

        • Phaideaux

          Yeah, but the definition for firearm includes ” self contained cartridge ” which is why those 209 powered bb gun things are also not firearms. A match is self contained, so that’s where confusion can come.

        • John Swinkels

          So my 50 cal B.P. is not considered a firearm,?

      • John Swinkels

        Bullshit in your dreams sunshine,watch again and listen for the bang its the expansion of gas that propels the match and not the striker pushing it forward.

  • Giolli Joker

    …and it shoots incendiary rounds!

    • El Duderino

      Out of a “match” barrel!

      I kill me.

      • gunsandrockets

        I hate you;-)

      • BearSlayer338

        I hear it has match grade accuracy.

  • chooot em

    Great kids toy! I want one too.

  • lawbob

    I’d love that for my gas fireplace – I don’t have electric start and have to flick a match in there every time…

  • El Duderino

    New York: “Dat’s ten yeahs in Attica, brudda.”

    Texas: “Dang pardner, I got a bigger gun in mah belt buckle.”

    • schizuki

      New Jersey: “Hey, I gotta match for ya – my ass and ya mutha’s face!”

  • Trey

    The issue is not gun powder but the use of a “fixed round” this would be no different legally than a New Army Revolver.

    At least to this layman legal view.

    • gunsandrockets

      That’s easy. Just cut the match head off before inserting both pieces of the match into the barrel just like the video shows. Exactly the kind of dumb and pointless compliance which our dumb and pointless laws mandate.

  • Evan

    That looks incredibly fun. I’d almost certainly burn the house down with it, but I still want one.

  • Phil Hsueh

    Looks like a fun way to start BBQs, camp fires, and for lighting candles on a birthday cake. Where can I get one?

  • gunsandrockets

    Okay, that’s damned clever. I like it!

  • gunsandrockets

    Okay, thats pretty damned cool!

  • gunsandrockets

    It occurs to me that that pistol would not work with the typical “safety” matches sold in the U.S. I bet that wooden match used in the video is like an old-school match which while probably commonly available in Russia, hasn’t been made in America for decades.

    • Tom

      Could you not scale it up a wee bit for life boat matches? As I understand it those things will strike anywhere and should give you a little more oomph.

      • gunsandrockets

        Interesting! I was not aware of life boat matches.

        • Tom

          Got bored at work and had a little look, lots of lifeboat matches today are not strike anywhere which sort of defeats the purpose. Also something to consider for anyone wanting to use them in a bug out bag or similar.

    • Russian Soviet cheap matches are not strike-anywhere, if that’s what you mean. As far as I know, strike anywhere matches were poisonous or something, and also of course not safe, not to mention much more expensive. So we dropped strike anywhere the same moment you guys did. The difference was, you went for paper matches for some reason (personally I really think they’re really uncomfortable), and we went with wood.

      • Budogunner

        Could there be a flint & steel interaction hidden in the action and engaged by hammer fall?

    • kzrkp

      guarantee they are regular strike anywhere matches. the heads can be scraped in to a used primer to make a reasonably reliable firearm primer, i have no doubt they’d work in this case.

  • That reminds me a little of the “Kruger” plastic toy gun that propelled a #7 lead shot using caps. It was my understanding it was considered a “firearm” because it propelled a projectile using an explosion.

  • Southpaw89

    Loads from the breach and uses a combustion to fire, I believe that legally this would be a firearm. Still, looks like fun, but I doubt the wimpy strike anywhere matches that are available in the US now would actually work. Impact doesn’t appear to ignite them.

  • Tp

    I am not sure what part of the USA you live in, but strike any where matches are still made, and sold in any store that sells matches, WI anyway, you must live in California.

    • We have them in CA at most hardware and grocery stores.

  • Broz

    This is how the old Bonanza’s opening credit should have be’gun’…pun intended!!!

  • Cymond

    They would have to be strike anywhere, unless a chemical striker (phosphorus?) was included in the hammer.

    • iksnilol

      Didn’t look like strike anywhere matches to me.

  • Tp

    Mark, its good to see that they didn’t outlaw everything dangerous on you.

  • Tp

    Mark, I also like the primer fired BB gun. I have shot .22 that were primer fired, not much to them, I think 8 ft lbs, but now they have a rifle primer one that gets close to 20

  • L. Roger Rich

    I have one of these…

  • L. Roger Rich

    Where does one even get matches like that any more?

    • Soviet Union and its satellites used wooden safety matches, and still do. I don’t know why US switched to paper matches. I don’t like them =)

  • uisconfruzed

    Why did it stick to the paper?

    • M.Mitchell Marmel

      Target was mounted on painted styrofoam. 😀

  • Frank K

    WOW…could you imagine that with a suppressor!

  • Rocketman

    I think that the BATFE would consider it a firearm since it fires a projectile, namely the matchstick. Considering the “stopping power” of it, I wouldn’t want to face anyone down if this was all that I had. The only chance that you would have is if you were lucky enough to shoot them in the eye.

    • Budogunner

      Step 1 is a kerosene filed super soaker. Step 2 is match gun.

  • carlcasino

    I had a cousin ( WWII) Vet that converted a cap pistol, I think, that shot what we called DKM ( damn kitchen matches) . I still have the scar where the match acted like a splinter on my arm. I carried a piece of graphite from a pencil lead for over 50 years before it self exited my body.

  • Cattoo

    I’ve never heard of the primer fired bb guns before. How fun is that?

    • They’re definitely cool, but in terms of velocity (400-500fps) as well as being slow to reload (have to load a primer + pellet per shot) it’s easy to see why they haven’t caught on.

      For primer driven backyard fun, I’d prefer a revolver loaded with primed brass and wax bullets 🙂

      • Cattoo

        Hell yeah! That’d literally be a blast.

  • Cattoo

    It’s an actual “fire”arm.

  • Shawn

    I am so going to make one of those in my workshop!

  • Great_Baldung

    Times like this, I wish I knew Russian (or had someone to translate).