A Teenager Built This Homemade Pistol With a Hacksaw, Files, and Hand Drill

   10.07.20

A Teenager Built This Homemade Pistol With a Hacksaw, Files, and Hand Drill

Randy Snider’s 81-year-old neighbor made this pistol from scratch without power tools
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

It’s amazing what someone can do with a little ingenuity and energy. Like make a homemade gun, for instance.

I’ve told you before about rustic gunmakers… in particular, a fellow who lived down the road from me a few years ago named George Halstead. Here was a guy who built cool little double-barrel muzzleloading pistols in a plywood shed using a few basic hand and power tools. But what about someone — a teenager — who wanted a gun so badly that he dedicated himself to building one of his own — complete with bullet mold — despite having no power tools and zero experience with guns?

Yeah. Impressive.

A recent Facebook post by Randy Snider featured these photos and the cool story behind them, and he was gracious enough to grant me permission to share them with you here.

Right side of homemade muzzleloading pistol. I love the decorative touches on the hammer. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
Right side of homemade muzzleloading pistol. I love the decorative touches on the hammer.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

Randy’s neighbor is 81 years old, and made the pistol when he was a teenager.

Left side of homemade muzzleloader pistol. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
Left side of homemade muzzleloader pistol.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

He wanted a pistol, but his family was dirt poor and had no means to buy one — so he made this out of parts and pieces from around the farm.

The trigger guard is crude but effective... and does have a certain grace. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
The trigger guard is crude but effective… and does have a certain grace.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

The only tools he had were a few files, hacksaw, chisels, and a hand drill. Power tools were not an option because his family didn’t have electricity until he was in high school.

Impressive lock... and that hammer! Sweet. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
Impressive lock… and that hammer! Sweet.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

Randy has fired this pistol and can attest to its functionality.

Inside of the lock. He simply filed sear notches into an old bolt head, and used whatever springs he could find. Apparently, it took two. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
Inside of the lock. He simply filed sear notches into an old bolt head, and used whatever springs he could find. Apparently, it took two.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

There are but a few teenagers in today’s world with real gumption and know-how who could do such a thing — unless they would dedicate their video-gaming energies to making and building things.

Another view of the inside of the lock. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
Another view of the inside of the lock.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

He says it took him a month to make this little gun. That sounds like fairly fast work, considering that he had to go to school and help out on the farm.

Rear sight and drum with nipple. He hand-filed every part to fit. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
Rear sight and drum with nipple. He hand-filed every part to fit.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

I have made some neat things, even in my teens… but nothing this cool.

The front sight was also hand-filed and dovetailed in place. I wonder why he filed this dovetail opposite the rear one? (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
The front sight was also hand-filed and dovetailed in place. I wonder why he filed this dovetail opposite the rear one?
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

He clearly had a basic idea of how a gun should be made and how the sights are usually installed (dovetail notch). Perhaps he was able to borrow one to copy?

The muzzle of the hand-made pistol. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
The muzzle of the hand-made pistol.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

Heck, just making a long straight hole for the bore must have been quite an undertaking. He apparently used antique drill bits like the one below.

This is one of the antique drill bits the teenage gunmaker had at his disposal. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
This is one of the antique drill bits the teenage gunmaker had at his disposal.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

To make a bullet mold, he found a large square-head bolt and split it lengthwise using a hacksaw. After forming and shaping the handles from the two halves of the bolt’s shank he was able to pin them together using an old nail as a pivot.

What good is a gun without bullets? So he made this bullet mold from a large bolt. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
What good is a gun without bullets? So he made this bullet mold from a large bolt.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

The closure of the mold blocks isn’t perfect but it gets the job done — and clearly shows the rustic manner in which it was built. It’s easy to recognize it as an old square-head bolt.

Bullet mold, closed. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
Bullet mold, closed.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

To form the round hollow in the mold, he first drilled a hole into the mold for the sprue, then rounded it using a valve push rod from an old engine. The push rod had a ball formed on its end, so he covered the ball in grinding compound, closed the blocks against it where he wanted them hollowed out, and turned the rod using a hand drill.

Randy says, “The shape not right. Certainly not very round. The sprue is way too big but not bad for someone with no idea of what he was doing.”

This shows the inside of the bullet mold -- and the hacksaw marks clearly visible on the handle from where he split the large bolt. (Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)
This shows the inside of the bullet mold — and the hacksaw marks clearly visible on the handle from where he split the large bolt.
(Image: Randy Snider, used by permission)

Well, that’s the story. I hope it will inspire you to reconsider what you can and can’t get done with what you have on hand. Heck, the first gun part I ever made was from an old hunk of angle iron I cut with a hacksaw and hand-filed to shape — and it’s still working fine.

Feel free to tell us about your adventures with homemade machinery in the comments below.

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