Insurgency Pistols

The term insurgency has evoked differing connotations over the past century, especially in regards to American foreign relations.  Today we hear of insurgencies in a negative context; evoking images of people fighting against American interests in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  The term “insurgent” has even been linked with the term “terrorist” over the past decade by some who incorrectly assume the terms are synonymous.  But regardless of current political complexities, insurgencies were once very strongly supported by our government and were very useful tools in fighting stronger forces.  One of the best examples of an insurgency is the French Resistance during Nazi-occupied France.

The only cheese-eating surrender monkey I see here is that Nazi bitch.

And the French Resistance is a very cool piece of history.  The resistance insurgency engaged in more than just outright fighting, especially because many of their own countrymen bowed down to the Nazi powers in the form of the Vichy Regime.  They were outnumbered but continued to engage in subversive tactics that were difficult to counter when the occupying forces were conditioned for traditional warfare.  In mountainous areas, where trains traveled downhill, members of the resistance would remove the bolts from railroad tracks so that the supply trains of their enemies would hit loose tracks at high speeds.  Unable to see the danger beforehand, the trains would violently derail and spill down the mountainside, killing everyone on board and dumping the cargo across the countryside for the insurgents to steal.  Often they were able to obtain dynamite and use it to sabotage armament factories; they would engage is mass strikes and pockets of guerrilla warfare would erupt in urban centers.

Mein trains!

But of course, no insurgency is complete without some form of psychological warfare thrown in for good measure.  A train could be derailed or a few Nazi soldiers killed, but those could all be replaced.  But if the enemy’s morale was damaged, that was something that could carry over and affect the long-term war effort.  And so General Motors came out with the ultimate Saturday Night Special, the FP-45 Liberator.  Made of just 23 stamped steel parts, these pistols were mass produced at a cost of just $2.50 a piece.  Over one million of them were made in just eleven weeks.  They were simply designed and developed as a single-shot handgun, firing the .45 ACP.  After each shot, the casing would have to be manually ejected using a wooden rod and another bullet meticulously loaded to replace it.  The barrel was not rifled and so accuracy and effectiveness beyond 25 feet could not be guaranteed.  Asthetics be damned, this gun was designed for functionality and nothing else.

The idea behind the Liberator was that, due to its small size, it could be easily concealed in the jacket pocket of a citizen in occupied territories.  This would make it easier to kill an enemy guard or soldier and steal his equipment.  The gun was never intended for front line use, and was basically designed to be a stepping stone to obtaining someone else’s weapon, which could then be used for a more proper insurrection.  The plan was for American forces to mass drop these guns into occupied France, where of course many would be recovered by the Nazi’s (but be unusable as front line weapons, thus worthless) but impossible to be totally kept from the public at large.  Thus, there would be mass proliferation of easily concealable guns among the general public with the effect of not only actually inflicting losses on the enemy and a better arming of the citizenry but also an infliction of a deep wound upon Nazi morale.  Guarding and controlling an unarmed population is easy, but keeping control over a population that may or may not be armed with near impossible-to-detect guns designed for sudden and surprise kills is exponentially more difficult.  The soldier/occupiers would then be constantly on edge, so the theory went, because they never knew when they would be shot down next.

And as we all know, it only takes one shot from The Golden Gun.

It really was an ingenious plan to mass drop these weapons over France during World War II.  The very characteristics that made it useful to the citizens made it worthless to the Nazis.  The only problem with the plan was that it was never really carried out to any extent during the war.  The OSS (the precursor to the CIA) didn’t see the point in delivering these to the Allies, and only small numbers were dropped at all, mainly in Japanese occupied territories in China and the Philippines.  And because the guns did not come with serial numbers, after the war the ATF set about destroying these guns en masse.  Because of their rarity these days, what was once a $2.50 gun can fetch up to around $2,500 if it is in good condition and more if it comes with the rare cartoon instructions.  I would absolutely love to own one of these pieces of history one day.

This is everything that came in the boxes that were to be dropped - a collector's dream.

Where things go from cool to weird is when the OSS evolved into the CIA, the World War evolved into the Cold War, and the Vietnam “conflict” evolved into a full-scale war.  Before large-scale fighting broke out, a similar occupation/insurgency was taking place in North Vietnam, and the CIA believed the same concept behind the FP-45 Liberator could be utilized to fight off the communists.  And thus the Liberator evolved into the oddly-named “Deer Gun”.  It was a supposed improvement over the Liberator while based upon the same concept; retaining the single-shot nature of the gun while utilizing a 9mm round instead of the .45.  The CIA, true to nature, continues to deny to this day that the Deer Gun was ever developed, but it seems there is enough corroborating evidence out there to show this weird-looking weapon was at least designed at one point for insurgency purposes.

Someone saw an ear thermometer at the doctor and thought "Let's make that into a gun".

This hot-glue gun-looking monstrosity has sparse support for it’s existence, and the Wikipedia page for it cites only two sources: Some obscure book with no ISBN number and a Soldier of Fortune magazine from 1983.  Regardless, some claim to have found a few on occasion, and at least one purported cartoon instruction for it (much like the Liberator) has been discovered.  It is hypothesized that mass quantities of the Deer Gun were produced for an insurrection during communist occupation, but when the conflict broke out into a far larger war than expected, the plan was scrapped along with all the guns.  To fire the weapon, one had to unscrew the barrel and load the bullet into the barrel itself before reattaching it to the gun.  The plastic “safety” attached to the hammer was to be removed and reattached as a sight, and then the single shot fired in the hopes of stealing the enemy’s rifle.  It is hard to imagine this gun had any sort of accuracy or range beyond extremely close-quarter use, and from what I can tell, there are no anecdotal accounts or videos of one ever being fired beyond the testing stages at the begging of the war.  Below are the instructions for use:

Click to enlarge. Look closely and see the Hammer and Sickle on the sleeve of the enemy.

In closing, neither of the guns ever saw any real use in either of the conflicts they were designed for, and it is unclear if any similar concepts have been used in more recent times.  But it is an interesting and intriguing idea for insurgency support, and I’d love to have the chance to fire either of the guns above, even if the cheap production value means there would be a good chance they’d blow up in my hand.  Oh well, one can dream…


2 Comments to “Insurgency Pistols”

  1. great article…lots of information I did not know!!

  2. Love the connection between The Golden Gun for James Bond to the liberator. Funny stuff.

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