Book Review: Homemade Guns and Homemade Ammo, By Ronald B. Brown.
I purchased this book at the suggestion of Jim, and I wasn’t disappointed. Minion ghostsniper was nice enough to provide the PDF link, so download it now while you still can.
The quality of the designs outlined in this book were better than expected, and probably about as good as you’re going to get, assuming at least a minimal skill set, and having access to basic shop tools.
The plans outline the building of a 12ga shotgun as a base design. From there, it’s simply a matter of utilizing varying diameters of pipes for different calibers and gauges. An addendum to the initial plan is to add another barrel to the design, making it an over/under double. The author mentions that this is not without difficulty, but the added work is probably worth it for the quick follow up shot. This chapter also discusses barrel options for necked cartridges, or cartridges that are rimless, and also includes a chart of the pipe sizes required for specific calibers. It probably goes without saying that these designs will be smoothbores, and range will be limited when firing projectiles. One possible way around this is to build a shotgun, and use rifled slugs for increased accuracy at longer ranges. Though in this scenario, you might have to figure out a way to patch the slug to compensate for oversized bores. Also mentioned is a muzzleloading variation on the initial design, should the homebuilder find themselves in a situation where cartridges are scarce at some point in the future. Briefly mentioned is a primitive zip gun made entirely from hardwood. There are no pistol designs in this book, but the knowledge provided should be enough to allow for a pistol variation from the original design.
Later chapters deal with primer construction, as well as homemade gunpowder. I’ll summarize here, because there are about 4 different gunpowder, as well as a few different primer recipes mentioned in the book that will require some skill with chemistry, but the following option is the simplest alternative: Strike anywhere matches. The striking tips make for good primer material, and the remainder of the match head makes for a decent homemade gunpowder. Safety matches will work for gunpowder as well. As an added bit of info, I’ll mention that I have heard before that tree stump remover is mostly (if not entirely) Saltpetre or Potassium Nitrate, the key component to black powder. The book also mentions the Tap O Cap, homemade percussion cap system. This could be a handy item to have should the homebuilder have to resort to the use of muzzleloaders at some point down the road. Bottom line. Even if you don’t reload, save every last cartridge that you fire. If you should ever find yourself with more than you can use, they will make an excellent barter item, even fired, for those that are aware of their value, and are knowledgeable enough to know what to do with them.
Another very useful chapter in this book is “kitchen sink reloading” (i.e. reloading without a press). I also loved the authors makeshift bullet mould made from wooden blocks. It will be short lived, and it won’t mould a perfect bullet, and the by product will require some fine trimming, but it’s also pretty darn clever.
The overall impression here would be that this book assumes that we’re still living in a reasonably functional society, but that perhaps guns, or more importantly ammo, have been heavily restricted, or are difficult to acquire, for whatever reason. With a collapse in mind, it would be a good consideration to read through the entire book, and make a determination as to what weapons you might be considering, and having the proper materials for that particular design. It would also be wise to drill and tap some of the components in advance, while still having functioning grid power, with machinery that will provide more accurate results (i.e. a drill press vs a hand drill).
Probably the most valuable take away from this book is to purchase as many reloading components and brass as possible, while you still can. As you read through the various procedures on how to make these components, it will become painfully obvious as to why.