The Liberator pistol was a top secret program in 1942 designed to get a large number of cheap guns into the hands of resistance groups in Nazi occupied territories in a very short period of time. The guns were referred to as the model FP-45, which stood for Flare Pistol or Flare Projector, Model 45. Even drawings and blueprints had code terms for the various parts. The barrel was called the tube, the trigger was called the yoke, the trigger guard/barrel support/front sight assembly was called the spanner, etc. No numbers, or words were stamped on them anywhere, and the only letters anywhere with the unit was the word "INSTRUCTIONS" stamped on the back of the picture book instruction set. They were contracted to be made by a division of General Motors, Inland Guide Lamp, at a cost to the government of $2.10 per unit, which included ten rounds of .45acp, and were to be air dropped to resistance groups all over Europe. GM knew nothing about guns, but they knew how to make inexpensive metal stampings and rivet them together into a working machine. The idea was two-fold; One was simply the psychological effect on the Germans finding large numbers of complete weapons systems being air dropped into their midst to be used against them. The other of course was to take a few practice shots to learn the characteristics, then use it to shoot your favorite neighborhood Nazi at point blank range, and take his weapon(s). In actual use, it would definitely have been a one shot proposition, you either succeeded with your first shot, or you were dead. About a million were made over a period of eleven weeks, which comes out to something like one complete pistol every six seconds or so, twenty four hours a day, for eleven weeks. It's often said that it takes longer to reload a Liberator than it took to make one. Even for as short a time as they were made, there are at least five distinct variations known, including a prototype two shot version that had a sliding breech block which held two rounds. Very few, perhaps none, were ever dropped in Nazi occupied Europe, but a few were dropped in the Phillipines and China. Most were scrapped after the war, and I understand a great number of them ended up at the bottom of the English Channel and in the north Atlantic along with various other unwanted war surplus materials. I have yet to see an estimate of how many survived, but judging by how many I've seen in my life (3, including this one), I'd say *not very damn many*. I've seen more Ruger Hawkeyes, and there were only 3300 of those made. The original cardboard boxes are extremely rare today, and can easily bring as much as the gun does. Although several opened boxes exist in various collections and museums, there is only one known example of a Liberator pistol still in its original sealed box. Now, let's step out on my range. This specimen shows signs of having been fired before, so I wasn't worried about depreciating it by shooting it a few times. First off was a thorough examination of the old gal to make sure she'd hold together. There are two holes in the frame, one on each side, that must either be alignment holes for the stamping press, or jig holes for assembly. Using a jeweler's loupe and a "grain of rice" light bulb inserted through one of the holes, I could see the sear surfaces quite plainly and they looked to be in excellent condition, as did the main spring and control rod. The reprint blueprints I have spec the sear and trigger to be C.R.L. (Cold Rolled Steel), and case hardened. There didn't appear to be any defects in the bore, and although I didn't mic or slug the barrel, a 230 grain FMJ bullet could be pushed through with hand pressure only. It was a tight fit, and took some effort, but there was no need to pound it through with anything. A week ago I loaded up some rounds consisting of a standard garden variety 200 grain cast SWC sized to .452" over 3.5 grains of IMR Trail Boss and primed with a... ? Yep, a ? There's no reason that I would have used anything but a standard pistol primer, but what I wrote on the box was CCI-200, which is a large rifle primer. Hmmmm. They don't appear to be high, so I think I just made a typo in my notes, but maybe not, more on that later on. First I "sighted in". (OK, it's a staged shot, play along) Next, I scouted out the hamlet and buddied up to one of the local Nazi occupiers, one Herr Rolf. A nice kid really, too bad he got caught up in this mess. Uh oh... well, Herr Rolf, I seem to have missed all five times, can we still be friends? The distance was twenty feet, and if I had I taken a couple of practice shots in the basement of our resistance group's ghetto apartment before I went out on the street to meet up with Herr Rolf, I could have placed one right in his ear from my hiding spot behind the garbage can, and would still be alive today to tell this story. The five shot group measures about 1¾", center to center, and is slightly to the left and about a foot high. The bullets showed no signs of tumbling at this range. Three of the five rounds didn't go bang the first time... CCI primers are notorious for being hard, and it's also possible that I mistakenly used rifle primers. (When yer hunting Nazis, you just load whatcha got!) Although it's a smooth bore, hence no torque, all five shots resulted in the cocking block rebounding on recoil, which was expected, but it also turned to the right as shown. A common complaint among those that have shot these things is that the web of your hand gets pinched between the cocking block and the frame on recoil, which usually draws blood. Learning from other's mistakes, I held a little lower on the grip to avoid this. When the rounds did go off, the firing pin left an impressive dent in the primer, even perforating one. This could just as well be due to the low pressure load not expanding and gripping the chamber and allowing the case to be forced back onto it too. The three that didn't go bang the first time around did not have much of a dent in them the first time. All five empties fell out easily with the push of a dowel. If this specimen is any indication of Liberators as a whole, it would have been a very effective weapon for its intended purpose. Fascinating stuff, history is.