The FP-45 Liberator Pistol from Vintage Ordnance


The FP-45 Liberator was a curious little spy pistol mass-produced during WWII
for use by partisan forces. The gun cost $2.10 back in 1942. That’s about $35 today.

The FP-45 Liberator was an inspired, unconventional idea. However, theater
commanders weren’t keen on having hundreds of thousands of uncontrollable
little guns wandering around their post-war zones of occupation. Relatively few were issued.

Datu Del Rosario nursed his cigarette and burned with hate. The accursed Japanese occupation forces had seized Manila in April 1942. Now, nearly two years later, Del Rosario and his people chafed underneath the Japanese boot.

The man had ample motivation. His sister had been dragged off to join the comfort women, attractive girls press-ganged into sex slavery for the occupying Japanese troops. Datu had resigned himself never to see her again. Tonight, however, she would be avenged.

The Japanese officer kept a girlfriend in this building. His regular dalliances had become predictable. For that, and a great many other things, this evening he would die.

As the Japanese Captain exited the structure, Datu snubbed out his cigarette. The Japanese officer wore a meticulously pressed khaki uniform and tall brown leather riding boots polished to a high sheen. He carried his holstered pistol on the right and his regulation sword on the left. His haughty air telegraphed to all comers he feared nothing. The Filipinos were little more than cattle to him.

The officer stepped into the alleyway across the street and turned to the wall. Without looking over his shoulder, the man fumbled with his fly and began urinating on the side of the building. His heart in his throat, Datu knew it was time.

Del Rosario retrieved the blocky handgun from his pocket as he staggered into the street. With one practiced motion, he made as though he stumbled and retracted the striker with his left hand. He then pressed the primed gun behind his leg and wobbled toward the alleyway.

Partisans operating in occupied areas caused no end of heartache for oppressive
Axis forces during WWII. The FP-45 Liberator pistol was designed to give these
unconventional warriors the tools they needed to take the fight to the enemy.

As issued, the FP-45 came with a cartoon instruction sheet, a dowel to use
as an ejector, 10 rounds of .45 ACP ball ammo and a wooden block to keep
everything from rattling around unduly.

This is a typical 4-meter group. Recoil is attention-getting.

The cartoon sheet that came with the weapon had showed him how to use it. Though he’d never fired the weapon before, he had practiced with it back in the privacy of his home for hours. The resistance fighter who had given it to him was nameless. At this time, in this place, names and relationships were nothing but a liability.

As he approached the alleyway, the Japanese officer was straightening himself up. He looked over his shoulder and sneered at the apparently drunken Filipino. The look in his eyes was carefully crafted to control other human beings. Datu duly lowered his gaze and mumbled an apology. As the soldier returned his attention to his fly, Datu pressed the stubby little gun between the man’s shoulder blades and squeezed the trigger.

The thunderous report was muffled by the man’s flesh, but it still split the evening air. The recoil was brutal, but Datu was so intoxicated on adrenaline he hadn’t noticed. The muzzle blast left the back of the man’s uniform smoldering vigorously. The front was torn open to expose a hemorrhaging wound the size of a walnut.

The heavy 230-grain ball bullet cut a half-inch hole through the Japanese officer’s right ventricle. His blood pressure dropped to zero, and the man died where he fell. There was a look of utter shock on his face. Datu quickly retrieved the dead man’s Nambu pistol and spare magazine before stealing a furtive glance around. Half a dozen surprised Filipino faces looked back from various points in the neighborhood. To an individual they nodded grimly and returned to their business. The reprisals would be inhuman, but this was a small victory.

Datu abandoned the sword and ran down the road, disappearing into the darkness. The long blade would be impossible to hide. Now that he had a proper weapon, he would give the stubby little single-shot pistol to somebody else; there were still three big fat .45ACP rounds remaining. That could be three more dead Japanese.

The FP-45 is actually surprisingly large. Here it is shown alongside a vintage Colt M1911A1.

Five rounds of .45 ACP ammo rode in the grip.

The Gun

The FP-45 Liberator was one of the more bizarre weapons to come out of World War II. Intended to be air dropped to resistance forces behind Axis lines in both theaters of war, the FP-45 was mass-produced by the Guide Lamp division of General Motors, the same company that produced M3 submachine guns. Each FP-45 cost the government $2.10.

Three hundred Americans worked during a single 11-week period in the summer of 1942 to produce around one million of these little guns. Alas, theater commanders weren’t convinced, so only a few thousand actually saw service. The rest were destroyed.

Each weapon came in a cardboard box with a cartoon instruction sheet, a dowel to use as a manual ejector, and 10 rounds of .45 ACP ball ammo. Five of those rounds could be stored in the butt of the gun. The FP-45 sported a 4″ smoothbore barrel.

There was a great deal of secrecy surrounding the production of this weird little weapon. The FP-45 designation was short for “Flare Projector,” an intentionally spurious nomenclature. Similarly, the barrel was called the “tube,” while the trigger was the “yoke.” The firing pin was the “control rod,” and the pressed steel trigger guard was the “spanner.” The gun had only 23 parts, most all of which were cheaply pressed or cast for ease of manufacture.

How Does She Run?

Holy crap. Imagine touching off a Claymore mine in the palm of your hand. The FP-45 isn’t a weapon. It is the tool you use to obtain a weapon. Nothing about the gun is comfortable.

The FP-45 is surprisingly large, and it weighs about a pound. To load it, you retract the cocking tab and turn it sideways. Slide the breech cover up and insert a round before sliding the breech cover back down. Rotate the charging tab back in line with the barrel, point the gun at something you dislike, and squeeze. There are technically sights, but I cannot fathom why. A smoothbore .45ACP palm pistol is not going to be accurate beyond 10 meters or so.

Recoil is ghastly. I shot 10 rounds, and I was done. I’m sorry, but I don’t love you guys enough for any more than that. However, at four meters, the FP-45 would still easily kill you.

Loading the little gun is straightforward enough.

The striker must be manually retracted for each shot. There is no
real mechanical safety and the action is fairly stupid-proof.

The cartoon instruction sheet explains in simplistic terms how to use and maintain the FP-45.

Where Do I Get One?

A perusal of the online sites shows original FP-45 pistols selling for between $1,000 and $6,000 depending upon condition and the support gear. My gun is a newly made reproduction from Vintage Ordnance. Vintage Ordnance is run by Handgunner’s own Frank Jardim. I didn’t know that before I rang up VOCO to buy one of their pistols.

Frank’s FP-45 sports a rifled barrel, very discreetly engraved identifying information and a serial number. It is otherwise a part-for-part perfect reproduction of the originals. The gun is completely safe to fire. However, trust me, you won’t want to do a whole lot of that. The basic pistol sells for $515.

Frank tells me he originally set out to build semiauto Grease Guns. Obama’s gun control initiatives chilled that project. He therefore made a limited run of 1,000 FP-45s and sells them as demand arises and his hands can tolerate the test firing.

VOCO’s FP-45 Liberator is a perfect rendition of the quirky WWII-era OSS spy pistol. You won’t be whiling away a pleasant afternoon at the range with this thing, but it does add some serious cool to even the most seasoned gun collection. The VOCO FP-45 is the WWII spy gun for the common man.

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