The ‘Ghost Guns’ That Time Forgot

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history's forgotten ghost guns home made homemade

Reader James Kaleda writes:

Last year gun rights deniers were all up in arms (pun intended) about 3-D printing and the making of “ghost guns.” Many states, such as New York and New Jersey, have jumped on the bandwagon, proposing bills that would prevent people from purchasing certain parts, downloading 3-D plans, and all kinds of other silly restrictions. Silly, not just because prohibition never works, but silly because the instructions for making your own firearms have been readily and easily available for decades.

I don’t know when the first book on how to make homemade guns was printed, and I don’t know when the first person noticed that certain pipes at the hardware store were the same diameter of a 12-gauge shotgun barrel. But the knowledge and expertise have long been out there and you can still buy books on how to build your own from Amazon (for now). In fact all of the books below were, at least until recently, available on Amazon.

The idea of 3-D printing a firearm is nice, but the current level of technology still doesn’t lend itself well to building firearms for most individuals. In the meantime, obviously, we still want and need to protect our First and Second Amendment rights. It is likely that 3-D printers will, someday, become one of the best options for manufacturing firearms parts on an individual basis. Until then there are several books available for free on the internet at allow you the build firearms with tools you have lying around your house.

history's forgotten ghost guns home made homemade

Homemade Guns and Ammo by Ronald Brown (which you can still buy through Amazon from third-party sellers) provides instructions on how to make a shotgun out of some pipes and scraps of wood…or just a couple of pipes. And quite a bit more.

If you have a bit more skill with tools than I, well there’s at least five sources available online right now — for free — on how to build submachine guns with parts you can get at Home Depot and tools you probably have in your workshop.

Expedient Home Firearms – The 9mm Submachine Gun

Expedient Momemade Firearms, VOL II – the .32/.380 Machine Pistol

The Sten MKII – Complete Machine Plans

Home Workshop Guns for Defense and Resistance – 22 Machine pistol

A Do-It-Yourself Submachine Gun

This is probably a good time for me to include the obligatory disclaimer about following all applicable gun laws, regarding background checks, unregistered gun parts, lower receivers that are untraceable, unserialized firearms, and other federal laws administered by law enforcement agencies including the ATF and FBI. It’s generally illegal to make your own untraceable full-auto gun in the United States. P.A. Luty, author of Expedient Homemade Firearms, was incarcerated for making some of his designs.

history's forgotten ghost guns home made homemade

All of that said…do you want something a little higher power? Bill Holmes has instructions for making a variety of your own guns here. He also has instructions on how to build a 50 caliber rifle.

If that’s still not enough, there is a manual out that shows you how to build a DIY bazooka.

All of this kind of makes the Liberator pistol seem a little superfluous, no? Now maybe you’re thinking, “That’s all fine and dandy, but now anti-gunners are talking about regulating or banning ammunition, too.” That’s OK, you can find instructions on building your own ammunition at The Home Gunsmith.

Gun Powder? There’s The Do-It-Yourself Gunpowder Cookbook by Don Mclean.

Want to quiet things down a bit? Well there’s are plenty of resources out there for that, too (including plenty of options still on Amazon):

How to Make Disposable Silencers

The Hayduke Silencer Book

Workbench Silencers – The Art of Improvised Designs

More Workbench Silencers

With all of the attention that 3-D printing, 80% lowers and “ghost guns” without serial numbers have gotten in recent years, it’s easy to forget that all of this information is available for free, and has been for years. So why are the gun bigots so excited now? Could it be that they never noticed that free bazooka plans were available online? Or is all the outrage just pretense to make further infringements on our Second Amendment rights? 

James Kaleda is an outspoken gun rights activist and Anarcho-capitalist, known for challenging anti-gun politicians. He is the host of the Out of Order Gun Rights podcast, which is a member of the Self Defense Radio Network. The podcast features in depth interviews with pro-gun authors, gun rights activists, firearms trainers, hunters, and those who have used firearms defensively. He aims to dispel anti-gun myths created through media bias. You can find him at, Facebook, Twitter, minds, mewee. The podcast is available on iTunes and pretty much everywhere else.

James has also created the following useful sites for gun owners:

  • Gifts for Gun Nuts — Where you get great gift ideas for the hunting and shooting enthusiast in your life.
  • Nag Your Rep — Get your free guide on using social media marketing tools to automatically and systematically remind your reps about gun control.
  • Sell More Firearms — Where you will find a free guide for FFLs on using social media to increase sales.

To learn more about government regulation of firearms manufacturing, check here:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 

To learn about hobbyists manufacturing 80% firearms for personal use, check here:

Ghost Gunner CNC Machines Now Completing 80% Pistol Frames (Story describes Cody Wilson‘s Defense Distributed Ghost Gunner desktop CNC machine; 80% AR-15 lowers, 80% handguns, making 100-percent receivers, 1911s, GLOCKs, Ghost Gunner pistols; personal firearms manufacturing, restrictions in California and other state laws, untraceable guns, “Ghost Guns,” hand tools or drill presses; tabletop CNC milling machine, drill bits, 80% frame, Brownells, Polymer80 frame, upper receiver)

To learn more about state response to mass shootings (with so-called assault rifles), check here:

Santa Monica Shooter’s AR-15 Built From 80% Lower

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  1. serbu has a nice pistol plan available.
    i always forward this category of info to machinists. never know when someone will be bitten by the inspirational muse.

  2. Of course it is a way to get non gunners riled up about full automatic ghost guns, like they are new and all gun owners have murder in their hearts.

    The fact that there are so many guns in so many hands and so few shootings shows to the character of the average gun owner.

    I have never wished anyone dead, or maimed – even the doctors that crippled me because it cost more to do a total knee replacement the first time I needed it – not wait 11 years of pain for me to ruin the bone so the total knee replacement I finally received was substandard

  3. It’s worth noting that the author of the Expedient Home Firearms books is from the UK and got pinched in the UK. He would have gotten in trouble for having a butter knife that was too sharp. Ian of Forgotten Weapons fame did a video on a few of his guns to.

    I’m wanting to make a side feed (like a Sten) eventually. Oddly, I already have an FCG to use and it’s from a Brass Eagle Marauder paintball gun. The reason why? It’s got a disconnector built in and it’s fairly self contained, so it should be easy to modify in order to use for a semi auto setup.

    • full auto, open bolt straight blowback type weapons are absolutely the easiest type of guns to make…they’ve even been manufactured in prison workshops…the brits were cranking out sten’s for roughly 9 bucks apiece…

  4. After seeing this it makes me wonder; has anyone actually seen if the DOJ ever released the undated guidelines on the distribution of gun designs? After Feds settled their case with DefCAD they said that they would, but I never heard any updates beyond that they were going to do so. I’m curious to see what the extent of those rules are. Honestly, I’d love to get into the ‘business’ of producing videos and e-books on the home fabrication firearms.

  5. Once again, they’ve got people distracted by a side issue. With 3D, there are things which can be made to precise tolerances formerly available only through the use of expensive machines operated by skilled technicians. l’m scared by the proliferation of low cost 3D. Law of nature. New technology gets used, then gets misused. Things could get interesting. -30-

    • Oh it’s not just those regions. There’s been recorded incidents of high quality SMGs being produced in illicit shops in Canada, the UK, and Australia. If dudes in grass shacks can cobble together guns with basic hand tools anyone with moderate skill and modern machine tools should be able to build just anything if they have access to the right documentation and materials.

      • Happens here in the USA as well…or they just make existing semi-autos into full autos…already illegal, of course.

        • I don’t doubt that they do show up on occasion, both homemade guns and full auto conversions. But they don’t seem that common, even here in the US. Generally they don’t seem worth the trouble for most criminals. Commercial guns are just better and cheaper than something scratch made for the black market.

  6. I am horrified, horrified.

    Information about building guns and making ammo should only be available to highly trained police forces. The general public cannot be trusted with instructions on how to build dangerous items, like guns. We need mandatory regulation of weapon manufacturer. If producing homemade guns is allowed, we will see thousands of gang members and other common criminals making guns that cannot be traced, exploding the number of guns committing crimes.

    Now I am really afraid of my neighbors who work for plumbing and home renovation companies; their trucks are full of stuff to make guns in their homes at night. Every website that stores or transmits (upload/download) instruction manuals for killers should be shutdown immediately.

    Why doesn’t the government have a “kill switch” to stop this sort of dangerous transfer of knowledge on the internet? People might not like it, but sometimes we really need to be protected from ourselves. Why do “why” and “whine” sound so much alike?

    Beware the shallows.

  7. Point is well-taken. And, it should be emphasized and promoted.

    Legislators and gun-control advocates have concentrated on laws – existing and proposed – to regulate transfers of guns. The more they try to regulate at “point-of-sale” the more they burden law-abiding gun-owners.

    As each year passes, the quest to control sales of guns becomes more futile. If criminals and crazies won’t trouble themselves to make their own guns then clandestine manufacturers and smugglers will supply the demand. Regulating burglary and private-party sales is pointless.

    All this is plenty clear to gun-owners. We imagine it ought to be clear to legislators as well; but such is not necessarily the case. Even gun-owning legislators are so far removed from the details that they are oblivious to things we see clearly. Yet, educating legislators is pointless. Legislators respond to voters.

    We need to educate the voters. We need to convince voters that their gun-controlling legislators are LYING to them. When the politicians tell their constituents that one or another law will “Do something!” they are just blowing smoke. The more laws they pass the more guns will be stolen, smuggled or manufactured illegally.

    The only gun-control that has any potential is criminal-control. Enforce felon-in-possession. Intervene with the rearing up of successive cohorts of mal-adjusted juveniles. Diagnose and treat depression. These COULD help. Harassing law-abiding gun-owners is a futile diversion of effort.

    • The strength and force of a comforting thought is way too underestimated. For a person to “change their mind” is not just an exercise in evaluating facts. It is an exercise in self-correction; determined and intentional self-correction. Once we have adopted an idea to the level that the idea becomes us/we/me, dislodging that idea requires acknowledging a critical mistake, and a willingness to admit error. These are not trivial undertakings.

      It is possible to quickly decide that chocolate really is better than vanilla. But to decide that the earth really isn’t flat is to admit to ignorance based beliefs. So it is with “convincing the voters”. Once, back at Base-X, a philosophical discussion erupted regarding the perfectibility of human kind. After lengthy discussion, my squadron mate declared, “You may be correct, but I’d rather believe what I believe.” A lesson never forgotten.

    • just bought a pistol tonight…first one in about 10yrs…took somewhere between a half hour and 45 min to get through all the crap….times have changed….

    • Your mistake is thinking that the reasons they give for gun ontrol are the real reasons.
      Gun control is about disarming the citizens. So they can be oppressed.
      Once you see it thru that lens it all makes sense.
      They don’t care about crime, terrorists, children or common sense.
      They want the people disarmed.
      So do not appeal to reason, statistics or logic.
      Complete resistance to ANY gun control is the only course to take.
      Bump stocks, magazine capacity restrictions, assault weapon bans, are all baby steps to complete gun ban and later confiscation.

  8. These do not have the hi-tech of 3-D printing…nor the instant gratification.
    Takes knowledge and workmanship. Use of actual tools.
    Can’t even have a realistic gun emoji…LMAO
    And yet Hollywood gets away with just about ANYthing gun related.

  9. Someone should make a cane gun that is attractive and put it in the hands of an anti-gun legislator or other busy body and after they admire it fire off a shot. Their reaction would be priceless! 😉

  10. They made guns pretty much by hand with no electricity, computers, or high tech materials 175 years ago. Blocks of metal is what they started with.

    How can they think people can’t do it today?

    They hope laws against it will hold water for them.

  11. The reason why the 3D issue raised the profile of DIY guns is that legislators, their aides, the intellectual pygmies in the press, et al – they could finally envision that someone as dumb as they are could make a gun.

    Before that, they had no idea what was involved in making a gun – it was shrouded in mystery, their profound ignorance of all things that gets one’s hands dirty, and a complete lack of knowledge of past firearms manufacturing.

    Consider how easy it would be to make a Sharps falling block. There’s no need for a mill. Heck, you can make it mostly with a drill press and a good selection of hand files.

    • You sir, are as smart about politicians as you are about guns. True words about the average politicians’ ignorance about the things they vote on.

  12. I am really kind of surprised and disappointed there was nothing here speaking to ‘Build Your Own UZI In 9 Simple Steps,’ or something of the sort. Proto-Israelis were making them in garden sheds and barns from the mid-1940s, individually and in small groups. They were designed to be simple to make and simple to use. They were the most iconic ‘Ghost Gun’ of the 20th Century.

      • All that’s really needed for an open bolt full auto is a metal tube, a cap for said tube, a main spring, a chambered barrel, a magazine, and a cylinder shaped breech block.
        Without a milling machine, cutting the face of the breech block so it can pick up the rounds from the magazine becomes somewhat problematic, but it can be done with a drill, a dremel, and some patience.
        To bad open bolts are a legal problem, because they have a couple of fantastic features. First, they’re the easiest and cheapest by far, and second they work on rounds that are too powerful for straight blowback actions from a closed bolt. Just a little thought will make clear why.
        In an open bolt blowback, the bolt is still moving forward as the round fires. That means that the recoil of the round must first stop the bolt from moving forward, before it can begin to move it rearward. This means a lot more power can be contained by an open bolt blowback than a closed bolt one. Without doing all the math, it should allow about double the power. Thus 9mmP and .45 ACP work fine in Stens and M3s, but not in handguns. From a closed breech, blowback is only practical up to about .32, or maybe .380.
        Yes, I know all about hi-points and the like. They are straight blowback and in bigger calibers, but look at their size. Blowback can work on any round, but it’s the needed mass of the bolt that limits its practicality. Back in WW1/2 era the math was done for a blowback .30-06. It turns out that the bolt alone would have to weigh over a hundred pounds!
        Not exactly practical as a rifle that a man has to carry and use. Hi-points are just about the limit. Twice the size of similar locked breech handguns, but only half the price. That’s a trade off that enough people make to keep them in business. More serious shooters seem to prefer the smaller size, even if it does cost double(or more).

  13. Producing full auto weapons is already illegal. Politicians are just using the usual tactics of fear and ignorance to peddle this to the public. If you notice the bills introduced start with banning 3D printed guns but expand into other categories. If you don’t read the entire bill you miss all the riders tacked on. Sam I Am, go cower in your basement until you feel ‘safe’ with more laws enacted. It’s not really going to change anything that hasn’t been going on for centuries.

      • Aside from the content in Sam’s paragraphs, I think he wisely used dramatic opening and closing lines that warn and remind the reader of sarcasm, or at least something literary or not quite factual.

        “I am horrified, horrified.” … “Beware the shallows”

        The speed at which most comments are read and the diversity of people and time of the day when reading comments sadly lends itself to sarcasm misinterpretation. We can only hope that this individual returned to the previous comment and read it with sarcasm in mind.

        Have a nice day.


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