A Teenager Built This Homemade Pistol With a Hacksaw, Files, and Hand Drill
Russ Chastain 10.07.20
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?
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.
Randy’s neighbor is 81 years old, and made the pistol when he was a teenager.
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 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.
Randy has fired this pistol and can attest to its functionality.
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.
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.
I have made some neat things, even in my teens… but nothing this cool.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.