Building a simple break barrel shotgun from scratch

Here is a classic traditional style break barrel 12 gauge shotgun built entirely from scratch using scrap steel plate and tubing which can be found at any decent hardware store. Using the the drawings here as a basis, the builder managed to produce something which functions well and is aesthetically close to a factory made piece. The building process is documented below.

“And it begins. I finally got hold of the 1/4 ” plate steel I needed to start cutting out the frame for my 12 gauge break barrel. There will be two pieces on each side of the internals. One piece on each side will have all the cut-outs for the moving parts, then the two outer layers will be solid except for the holes for pins and bolts. This will give it some weight to buffer some of the recoil.”

Internal components.

Hammer and trigger. A single spring powers both.

Using a drill and a jewelers saw to make cut outs in the side plates.

Everything temporarily bolted together with the stock.

Sanding the chamber in the steel tube barrel.

Trigger guard and latch fitted.

“Well, test fire of the 12 gauge went well. The only problem was the butt stock. If cracked on both sides. I kinda figured it might be a problem since I made it out of what I had on hand, which was a soft pine of some kind. But, all the hardware worked flawlessly! Now to locate a chunk of hardwood and start carving.”

“New stock update: Cut out two sections of the red oak and glued and clamped for 24 hours. Lined up all the holes and it looks like a good fit. I shortened the neck area where the stock meets the frame, and I’m reworking that connection area. I’m thinking of reinforcing that area with a wrap of brass.”

The finished gun:


  • Not just a super cool DIY project, but also an excellent reference page for anyone who wants to see one of the most basic reasons why gun control is a ridiculous ideology.

    • noob

      I kinda dread the day the elites drop the facade and admit what they really want is people-control.

      • Big Daddy

        They have already ya just gotta know how to read them.

      • I believe that’s known as “Europe”.

        • duh

          What you on about , I probably own more guns then you.

      • It is coming soon enough when Satan sits in Jerusalem and declares himself God.

        • Zebra Dun

          Wait wasn’t the thread on single shot shotgun making?

    • Stuki Moi

      Gun control is not primarily about controlling ultimate access to hardware. But rather to make that access is complicated enough, to ensure that those who pursue it, are a minority small enough to be easily demonized. So that the overwhelming majority, can be reliably scared into accepting ever more invasive government. In order to protect them from those scary gun-nut hobgoblins.

    • Mel Kimlinger

      But we will have gun control and confiscation in this country.

      It’s not a question if, but when.

      Afterwards, the mopup operation will proceed to rid this country of gun nuts.

      • As long as we’re dreaming, I’d like a pony.

        If you honestly think that any kind of Australia-type confiscation scheme is going to happen in America, people with guns aren’t the ones who are nuts here.

        • Wow!

          You sound more like one of those democrats trying to enact gun control by the day.

          • Politicians often express a desire to balance the budget or lower taxes on the middle class or invest in highway infrastructure, and those are all things that could happen here in The Real World™ but never actually do.

            Confiscation is a paranoid fever dream, it ain’t happenin’ in America outside of cheap sci-fi.

          • Wow!

            Politicians don’t balance the budget or lower taxes not because they can’t or are not motivated, but because they profit otherwise. High taxes means more money they can use for bribes by allocating funds to X or Y special interests in return for promises of favorable votes. A unchecked budget allows them to cause inflation, which allows them to print money and devalue the dollar (essentially stealing money from peoples saving without them knowing about it) during big sellouts for votes such as the obamacare or wage increases.

            The day that we underestimate the politicians and say that they can’t confiscate, is when they are most capable of doing so. And confiscation doesn’t have to be a Red Dawn scenario. Just look at the sig brace as an example. All they did was put out a letter that said using a brace with intent for an SBR will cause them to get angry, and all these people got all scared thinking they could never shoulder the brace (read the letter, it never said shouldering was illegal, but using with improper intent). If just a letter is enough to control our actions, just think about how weak the resistance of gun owners are if a statement is actually backed by force or if the restrictions come in a series of bills.

            Collectively, we are not as steadfast as we may think we are, and so individually we must be more vigilant.

    • Wow!

      Gun control only exists because we propagate it by obeying it when the law says otherwise.

      • Yes, what a terrible shock that the vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens with no desire to commit crimes.

        • Wow!

          The law says shall not be infringed. A gun owner of all people should know at least that.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Pardon me for asking the obvious question, but how legal is this?

    • Flounder

      perfectly legal in probably 100% of the United states. It is a single shot after all and it appears that he obeyed the NFA and all other relevant laws.

    • David B

      As long as it stays in his possession and complies with all laws regarding barrel and overall length then completely legal. To manufacture a firearm to sell I believe takes a certain license, and the firearm has to be serialized, but I could be wrong.

    • Full Name

      Perfectly legal to make your own gun as long as you never try to sell it or move it across state lines.

      • It’s perfectly legal at the federal level (some states prohibit it though) to build a firearm and sell it without any kind of license, as long as you don’t make a business of it.

        Of course, “making a business of it” isn’t explicitly defined by statute, which means ATF are the ones who decide on a case-by-case basis whether you get charged with something, and they kindasorta suck real bad. You can almost certainly make and sell one without issue, but I’d be very careful about selling more than that.

  • noob

    One spring does everything thanks to clever geometry 🙂 this is how all machines should be.

    And the design could be elaborated to a side by side or over under with two hammers and two triggers


    This is what I love.

  • jamezb

    I would be proud to take that gun hunting. Congrats to the creator!

    • jamezb

      It’s got homegrown American CLASS. …which defines as simplicity at beauty/genius level.

  • Brian

    what kind of steel is used? I thought it would have to be hardened steel to make safely fire the shotgun shell? Is that incorrect, did you just use mild steel or what? Just curious about the type of material as I may try this just to prove a point about how easy it is today with widley available tools and milling machines available cheap for home setups that anyone with even a little skill and a brain can make decent capable firearms so banning them all will just take them from legal owners while criminals make them and smuggle them without any trouble with a shotgun needing no more than a saw and drill to make. So is it just everyday mild steel? I prefer not to lose an eye.

  • AD

    Very impressive! The final product looks factory-made!

  • Edeco

    Splendid. I like the 3-layer plate construction. I bet one can get and use great material, like hard, nasty-to-cut steel, in plate form.

  • Terry Bennett

    Weekend. Ha. That would take me months and I’d be afraid to fire it…mine, not yours. Beautiful work.

    • Ernesto

      If you are afraid to fire it, try the Kentucky method of shooting guns of unknown quality. Tie it to a tree with a string on the trigger. See how much bark you knock off the tree before putting to your shoulder.

  • Mr Saturday Night Special

    Does anyone have a link to the original build site for this project?
    Mr Saturday Night Special

  • dltaylor51

    Building a gun from scratch should be a mandatory requirement for all high school metal shop students.

  • Zebra Dun

    There are those who state a single shot shotgun is a Machine gun by definition.
    One pull of the trigger for multiple projectiles.
    I love the idea of making one LOL that is cool!

  • Colonel K

    ATF may yawn at this, but watch the anti’s have a cow when the the 3-D printed version comes out.