Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Featured Gun: The Richardson Guerrilla Gun

This is another combo post, both a Featured Gun article and the start of a project. 

Before we get started, maybe I should clear something up. 

When we say Guerrilla Gun, we don't mean this:

That would be a "Gorilla Gun".....the word Guerrilla is Spanish for "little war", it is pronounced like "gahreeya" and it meant to describe a small band of fighters, irregulars, taking on a larger more organized army.

If you have never heard of the Richardson Guerrilla Gun or where it came from, you are not alone.

It has been called the "clandestine brother" of the more famous Liberator pistol or  "the gun to get a gun". 

The reality? This gun, while clunky, is effective, very easy to build and most importantly doesn't cost much in materials. Its moniker is appropriate, in my opinion it is the perfect "Guerrilla Gun". We'll get to the gun in a moment, but first a little background.....

The story of the Richardson Guerrilla Gun starts with one Iliff David “Rich” Richardson, who served with both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army in WWII (he was one of a few officers to simultaneously hold commissions in two branches of the service). 

If his credentials were not impressive enough, his exploits certainly were. His stories were so amazing that a book was written to tell the world just what he had seen and done.

Which was the basis for a Hollywood production with the same name (with some Poetic license I suppose):

While serving in Philippines fighting along side the Filipino Guerrillas he was introduced to some crude, home made weapons, one of which was a slam fire shotgun, called a Paltik or Paliuntod, which was made from some iron pipe and wood. The guns were used to kill enemy Japanese soldiers and steal their weapons.  

The operation is simple. You have a fixed pipe mounted to the stock acting as the receiver. In the end of the pipe you have a fixed firing pin. The barrel/chamber consists of a smaller diameter pipe, one in which the shotgun cartridge fits snugly and also fits (with a slip fit) into the receiver pipe. 
The user removes the barrel, inserts a fresh cartridge, re-installs the barrel and when ready to fire the barrel is pulled rearward and the firing pin makes contact with the primer and BOOM! ....Bob's your uncle. 

A drawing for those from Missouri:

When Richardson returned home he started Richardson Industries in East Haven, Connecticut which as you might guess is just east of New Haven....aka gun central. 

His aim was to make a copy of the slam fire shotguns he witnessed and even used in the Philippines, he called it the M5.

Funny, he filed for patents on this idea....it is funny because it wasn't his invention, nor was anyone waiting in line to steal the idea.....

Here is one disassembled, the round part with the bolt going through it is the breech plug/firing pin.

This breech plug appears to be made of aluminum, looks factory but who knows? The thumb screw on the side of the receiver was a simple safety, when screwed in it blocked the rearward travel of the barrel.

Here is the underside, there is a rib on the barrel and a slot on the receiver, keeping the two lined up, probably to keep the front sight lined up?

A "deluxe" version was more sophisticated with the addition of a vertical fore grip and a trigger/safety. The trigger didn't fire the weapon, but rather prevented the barrel/chamber from making contact with the firing pin, unless the trigger was pulled.

The initial price of just $7 didn't help sales much, there just wasn't demand for a slow to load/unload, single shot shotgun. After about a year or so, production ended.

Here are some other examples of Guerrilla Guns:

The real Guerrilla Guns would have used tape, baling wire, twine or plumbers tape for attaching the receiver to a stock...note the portion of bicycle tire acting as a butt pad...

Check out the serial number on this one:

Some builders have made the stock as part of the receiver:

You can see they range from very crude to refined......

We will be building a tribute to the Richardson M5 Deluxe Guerrilla Gun, stay tuned for posts on the build.

Firearms History