Liberator Pistol

Type Pistol
Weight 445g
Length 141mm
Barrel Length 101mm
Rifling None; Smoothbore
Magazine Capacity None; Single Shot
Caliber .45ACP
Muzzle Velocity 250 meters/second
In Service Dates 1942-1945
Country of Origin United States

One of the cheapest military handguns ever produced, the Liberator pistol was made for behind the lines work. As a single-shot, smoothbore pistol, its offensive capability was a strictly short range.

This single-shot pistol came about as a U.S. Army Ordnance project to arm partisan or other resistance forces within the Nazi-occupied territory. It was mass-produced for distribution by the OSS to clandestine troops in occupied forces. The Liberator was designed to be an inexpensive, single-use, ‘disposable’ handgun that could be dropped behind enemy lines is sufficient quantities to allow partisans to easily and effectively neutralize opponents, and capture the enemy’s superior quality arms.

A single-shot pistol design was chosen. It was quickly produced by sheet metal stampings, welded and riveted together. A significant trigger guard allowed operation with a gloved hand for winter operations. The relatively short, barrel tube, chosen for ease of manufacture, did not allow accuracy past point-blank range, so the high .45ACP cartridge, already in heavy use in other handguns and submachine guns, was selected.

The contract was granted to General Motors’ Guide Lamp Division, who completed the tooling and production of about 1000000 guns in the record time of only thirteen weeks. The last rifles were produced during August 1942. Each weapon was individually packaged in a paraffin-coated cardboard box that held an instruction sheet and a wooden ramrod. Ten rounds of standard military ball .45ACP ammunition were included. Five loose cartridges can be carried in the hollow butt accessible through a sliding plate.

To fire, a simple twist-and-pull breechblock was opened, around was placed in the chamber, and the breechblock was closed. After firing the breach was opened, and the empty case ejected by pushing some suitable implement down the barrel.

The Liberator was a crude firearm—produced in haste—that proved a contribution to the Allied war effort. It proved beyond doubt that any firearm is better than none at all.


The Liberator was designed to be dropped to ethnically diverse Resistance groups behind enemy lines in Europe. For that reason, each Liberator pistol was accompanied by a construction sheet comprised of simple pictures and no words.

An Experimental Two-Shot Liberator? Hmm…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *