Recent history has me thinking of this weapon, why it existed, and why it matters today...
"Close that door a moment, will you?" He said.
him unwrapping a vapor barrier bag, it was pretty clear he was about to
show us a pistol of some kind. But... what slid from the bag and onto
the padding of the thick blanket was something I never expected to see
without thick glass between myself and history.
A FP-45 Liberator pistol. Before
that, I had seen exactly two of these in my whole life. One, decades
ago, in a display case at the Army's Aberdeen proving grounds, and the
other in a tiny gun shop in Indiana. The second one had been crushed in what I consider a clear example of all-to-common misguided and small minded government bureaucracy.
'Liberator' pistol is not fancy. In fact, it's hard to imagine a
firearm less fancy than the FP-45, unless it's made from water pipe in a
Prison workshop. The Liberator pistols, over a million of them, were
made from crude sheet metal stampings, a blob of zinc casting, and a
It's a single shot .45acp pistol with crude
sights, a terrible trigger, no accuracy at all past a few yards, and a
form not even mother could love.
Made by the Guidelamp Division
of General Motors at the behest of the US Army over a few months in the
Summer of 1942, the Liberator was never intended for use by our armed
forces. Turned over to The Office of Strategic Services (OSS... the
forerunner to the CIA) the Liberator had a more interesting future
The idea was simple really, even if diabolical. The
pistols would be air dropped by the hundreds of thousands into enemy
occupied territory, where it was expected the Germans would never be
able to recover all of them. Useless as a battlefield weapon, the
issue of providing useful weapons to the enemy was moot. On the other
hand... as a weapon of terror in the hands of the resistance, the
Liberator might have had extraordinary value. A common civilian, alone
with a conquering German soldier, suddenly produces the single shot .45
and drops the man in a surprise attack, afterwards making off with the
soldiers weapons. Now the German Army is down one soldier, the
resistance has one more battle rifle, and every other German soldier has
to wonder.... will he be next? I
say might have had, as the OSS never carried out the plan to any
degree. Aside from a few FP-45's finding their way to the Philippine
resistance and perhaps China, the Liberators were not deployed as
expected. They languished in warehouses, and after the war... almost
all were destroyed.
The history of this ugly little $2.50 pistol,
and it's extreme rarity, leads us to where we stand today. A lonely
little Liberator will usually fetch $1200 to $1400 at auction. In its
original cardboard box with a short wooden dowel for ejecting spent
cartridges and the original 10 rounds of .45acp the pistol was supplied
with, it will bring upwards of $2000. Add in the original cartoon
instruction sheet printed in 1942, and the auction may reach $2500;
100 times what the pistol cost to produce in scarce wartime dollars.
This places the Liberator on a collectable plateau normally occupied by
rare Winchester rifles and early Colt 1911 pistols.
it ended up in my friends hands is his story to tell. His allowing 'Ol
Carteach to handle the unique and rare find... that's my story to
share, and I do so in the images below.
There is one thing more.
Looking at the small piece of history as it lay on the table where we
shared breakfast, he wondered aloud if I might have any mild .45acp hand
loads on hand. At the question, my jaw dropped just as it had when
the pistol first fell into my view. He meant to fire