Richardson Guerrilla Gun in Congressional Testimony

A reader/viewer named John sent me this letter after seeing the Richardson Guerrilla Gun video. It was written by Richardson himself in 1965, as part of the formal record on Congressional debate of HR6628, which would have strengthened the Federal Firearms Act. Here’s what Richardson had to say:


Senate Subcommittee To Investigate Juvenile Delinquency,

Washington , D.C.


I am writing this statement, at your invitation, in lieu of appearing personally to testify against the proposed legislation H.R. 6628. I would like this to be inserted in the printed record.

Briefly, this type of legislation, if enacted, would not accomplish its purpose, i.e.,stopping criminals from getting guns.

I am qualified to testify on this subject as former Chief of Staff in the Philippine Guerrilla Forces on the island of Leyte, where our jungle arsenal made these same guerrilla guns by the thousands between 1942 and 1944. In addition, I was the first “zip gun” manufacturer in the United States. My company, Richardson Industries, East Haven,Conn., produced and sold over 2,600 guerrilla guns in 1945–46, which sold nationally for $4.98 to $7.98.

Serviceable shotguns, parts and labor, in quantities of 1,000, can be manufactured in any plumbing shop in America for less than $3 each. For an electric type trigger, for high accuracy, the same gun could be produced in quantity for less than $8 each. Fully automatic shotguns, for less than $20 each.

The reason for this low price and ready availability is the fact that the guns can be manufactured from standard 3/4- and 1 1/4-inch water pipe, steel rod, a welding torch and a metal disk with a nipple as a fixed firing pin. The gun is operated by bringing the barrel and shell manually back against the fixed firing pin. There are no moving parts. The electrical model would employ the electrical elements of a Brownie Flash Camera, available at your drug stores anywhere.

Summing up, teenage gangs in any large metropolitan area have made their own “zip guns” when necessary. This is a matter of record and some concern to policemen everywhere. If H.R. 6628 were to be enacted, law enforcement is further complicated by the fact that no record of these homemade gun sales could be made, and that the component parts could be shipped anywhere without fear of detection ,

For those who would deny the effectiveness of this type weapon , I might add that with the refinement of steel tubing, chambering the barrel, electric firing and the addition of a 48- to 56-inch barrel, front sights and magnum load shotgun slugs, the normal “zip gun” can become as accurate and effective as most any model presently available. We did this in the Philippines during the war, by necessity, in less than 6 months. We could and would do the same thing here if the necessity arose, but it wouldn’t take as long.



Rochester, N.Y., July 12, 1965.

Interestingly, this also gives us a rough production total for the original Richardson guns (2,600), assuming the number has not been exaggerated here.

Here is the segment from the Congressional record as a PDF, for those who are interested. Thanks for sending this, John!



  1. I applaud Richardson’s courage, and he makes many good points, but that last paragraph doesn’t help him / his position.

    • He wasn’t supplicating. At one time, we expected men to behave like that.

      Besides, it was the truth. “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid.”

      • His principles were honest. His own company’s facts and figures were as well. Backing principled arguments with facts, especially the hard, verifiable mathematical kind, can be powerful indeed.

        That’s a two-way street, though. Some people lack the facts to refute any numbers, and some are too kind (or intimidated) to question an accomplished expert. On the other hand, when you attempt to bolster an argument with BS numbers and “facts”, and any of your listeners are critical thinkers who might know a thing or two, you torpedo your credibility. From that point forward, even “The sky is blue” or your own name become suspect.

        Do you seriously believe that some sorcery happens to a[n unrifled, much larger than projectile diameter] piece of pipe between the magical lengths of 48-56″ to make it as accurate and effective as any [i.e. the best firearms] available?! The only thing that happens by making a shotgun the length of a Brown Bess would be to make it completely unconcealable and fairly useless for crime. Shotguns traditionally have long barrels because of blackpowder combustion characteristics, and because their moment of inertia makes them swing-through well while leading birds. No improvement in accuracy is possible solely through lengthening a barrel that doesn’t fit or spin the projectile. There’s no velocity gain, either, since smokeless shotgun charges are small, fast-burning (often the same powders as handguns) and burned in a very large chamber with no bottleneck. It’s BS – pure and simple – and instantly undercuts his otherwise principled, honest, and brilliantly argued testimony.

        • I admit that part struck me funny, but I’d at least like to hear the man out before I dismissed what he said. He had been there and done that. You had not, and I suggest you put more respectful words in your mouth. If you can’t do that, I’m happy to meet you in person to discuss it.

          • He had been where and done what? Are you contending:
            A, that the jungle base where Richardson and his guerillas waged their desperate struggle had a sophisticated (more so than any actual scientist before or since) ballistics lab where he had proven his ridiculous assertions using rigorous testing according to the scientific method?

            B, that his military service (my own lifelong career, thank you very much) grants him some sort of exemption from telling the truth about simple, observable, self-evident principles of high-school physics? or

            C, Just challenging me to a brawl – i.e. forfeiting any claim to a rational, factual argument – because I called out an absurd and blatant falsification of material facts? No, I don’t and won’t respect that from him, you, or anyone.

          • I didn’t say brawl. You’re looking for a way to back out of the discussion with raillery, as you have since the beginning of this exchange. Back out and be damned to you, coward and fool.

          • So it’s not C – thanks! Simple question remains – Do you believe:

            A, that Richardson’s magical thinking is correct – making not only me, but every other shooter, gun or ammo inventor / builder / smith, physicist, engineer, ballistics lab, etc. (before or since) stupid and wrong?

            Or B, that physics remains valid, but Richardson’s service granted him a lifelong license to not only lie (under oath) about simple facts, but be accorded “respect” for transparent falsehoods?

        • I think you missed the list of refinements and went to the barrel length as the only improvement.

          Adding sights on a long sight radius improves the accuracy of the weapon (as in the centroid of many shots will be close to the point of aim.)

          Improving the barrel and projectile:
          precision steel tube vs iron pipe
          a proper chamber for the shell
          electric ignition
          (the brownie burned magnesium ribbon, would have near zero lock time)
          (rifled?) slugs that fit the barrel
          All would improve the precision of the weapon
          (reduced circular error around point of aim).

          There is no reason to think these modifications could not produce a highly accurate shotgun, competitive with the finest now available. Not a sniper rifle, not a gun for quail, but eminently suited to man-size targets at jungle (urban or not) distances.

          • I didn’t miss his other claims; I “went to the barrel length” as an example of the precept I cited – that attempting to bolster one’s credibility with exacting details actually erodes that credibility (with any thinking listener) when one’s “mathematical facts” are unsupported and transparently false.

            If there is such a thing as “precision steel tube”, it may be available from specialized laboratory suppliers, but certainly wasn’t “in the Philippines during the war”, as he directly stated. The closest approximation in common use may be chromoly aircraft tubing, one of my own favorite home-gunsmithing materials, which is still not as consistent (across a wide variety of specifications) as factory barrels and unfortunately does not come in IDs anywhere close to precisely fitting shotgun slugs.

            Also, his statement read “the normal ‘zip gun’ can become as accurate and effective as most any model presently available.” “Model” probably didn’t mean “model of zip gun” (the most literal reading, but an absurd one). He didn’t specify “model of shotgun” either (which would have been a tallest-midget-in-the-circus argument proving nothing toward his overall goal) – so I read it as “model of firearm”, the only meaningful claim that might have contributed to his argument.

  2. The electric trigger sounds interesting. Are there any samples of it or is there any documentation or drawings of it? It might make an interesting project for someone to try to make a replica of it, even if they don’t use the original camera parts that he mentions.

      • There actually are electrically fired firearms. Many cannons for example. But this requires different primer caps that react to the electric current.

        Otherwise one may MacGuyver a trigger from the internals of a mechanical photocamera. Maybe that is what he meant? Or does the mentioned Kodak Brownie Flash camera have a solenoid in there somwhere? That would make a trigger mechanism easier to build. Hmmm.

        • Flash bulbs were filled with finely divided magnesium and air (usually foil ribbon) When a current passed through, they ignited in a white flash. If you remove the glass and let the flame ignite the shell, you have electric ignition. Simplest is like a match or flintlock, but with a flashbulb in the pan. Next would be to pull the primer from a shell and insert the flash (sans bulb) in the casing, with the an insulated pin epoxied in the hole. The circuit is from firing pin to “primer” pin, to the magnesium filament, to the shell’s brass base, to the chamber. Tie both chamber and firing pin to the battery (through switch/trigger).

  3. The second amendment is the only amendment that shall not be infringed.
    That means you cant alter this right in any manner. Every gun law except the second amendment is unconstitutional.
    Our politicians work for the la cosa neuestra.The federal government is the worst enemy the people of this country have.

  4. I have to go along with George Carlin when he says we have some stupid mfs in this country. Both political parties work for the Wallstreet mob. We have no choices. We need to clean house. Dont vote for people associated with political parties.

    • Gun bans don’t stop violence. They only make murderers resort to other methods of murder, which may be untraceable until it’s too late. Just look at the Kansas City bombing, done with fertilizer that had ammonium nitrate as its primary ingredient. And then what about people who resort to vehicular homicide? Should we ban cars altogether?

      • Cut down on fat people if we did; ban cars. Imagine them all waddling to work. Do them good, less fat less chance of poppin it via rona.

        • Reckon it can live off fat me; bats live upside down, bat snot thus falls to earth- gravity, thus bat viruses… Trinosome, ribbsome some shit “forgot” well maybe it falls and hits dead mice/fatty fruits etc on the floor of the bat cave. Anyway, dead fat makes no difference, it just hits it and “lives” thus when the bat eats its dinner it gets the virus.

          Virus beats upside down creature after billions of years.

          • So maybe the pawpaw that African leader sent for testing… Did have Rona; the ribo thing just hit the fat and converted thus surviving till a bat ate it.

          • I was looking at the many branded kait snake, thinking why do bats live upside down; snakes, quick exit from snakes… Letting go, is quicker via gravity; than say a bird which must leap up away from a snakes very quick bitey gob. Then I thought snot. What if its snot, thats why bats are full of mad bugs scratching there head how to get them.

            About time we opened pubs and all got pet bats if it is fat as its won clearly. Might not be mind; hands face space, taje the vaccine etc.

          • Should test that; some of you have money, to buy fancy 16th c guns etc.

            Vaccines if it is fat, could make it worse; it will treat us like a bat, it will never, ever give up till we get it.

            And perhaps really. It to us is basically a cold.

          • Do you generally reply to yourself a bunch of times? I think I’ve seen you do this before. It’s okay, just unusual in my experience.

          • I do yes, sorry… You are right to notice. Way my brain works; can’t help it really. I appreciate it takes up space, so I do attempt to curtail it somewhat.

  5. “We could and would do the same thing here if the necessity arose, but it wouldn’t take as long.”(С)

    I am ready to sign under every word.

    In this regard, I recall a certain gentleman from New York(?) Who established his own small business, making dozens of similar devices and selling them…
    to the police department, for actions on voluntary paid surrender of firearms. LOL

    Any attempt to discourage those wishing to acquire a gun, is as senseless as banning home brewing.
    It’s VERY easy to do. And any ban only creates preconditions for corruption.

    • They say:
      ” An intelligent person who learns from his mistakes.
      A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”(C)

      It’s amazing how stupid an animal must be to not draw conclusions even from their own bruises and bumps…

  6. A most excellent ,accurate & truthful statement! Richardson was obviously a resourceful ,courageous & intelligent man! As a new entrant to the metal industry 60 years back I`saw many apprentices “manufacture” weapons of dubious quality but all simple (& lethal!)> Since that time things have only got easier! Always bureaucracy try to focus on the item NOT the Quality of the owner!! Here in little NZ our eurocrats are embarked on a drive to make the country “safe” which in reality can only result in more stuff in bad hands! How do we get such third grade politicians!

  7. What I’m interested in is the fully automatic shotgun design Mr. Richardson refers to in the letter, I wonder if it’s something he had designed himself or something he had seen built before

    • I think he’s full of BS, since apex of his gunsmithing and (completely nonexisting) gun designer talent was the slam bang shotgun he sold, electronic trigger and such is a further complete fantasy.
      If he was in car industry, he would have sold Flintstones type of vehicle, and then talk to Congress how flying electric cars would be soon built.

      • Funny, no electronic trigger was mentioned. An ELECTRIC trigger and the Brownie camera were. The Brownie was a very cheap camera, it used little flashbulbs filled with Mg. Run current through, the Mg burns white hot.

  8. Courts are by nature conservative and ours have ruled that private gun possession and use are legal under the 2nd amendment. Who knows what a different set of more 21st century justices might say about that ignored verbiage about the militia. It sounds vaguely like the Swiss ‘take your Army reserve machine gun home with you’ idea: or the US civilian marksmanship program.
    OTOH a strictly constructionist and old school justice or three might notice that the US militias are deader that Gen Franko and Sheldon Adelson, and that we have the Reserves and the Guard for that function now. So ipso facto, no Militia, no 2nd amendment rights.
    But here’s the insane meme force fed the Right via the vast right wing conspiracy, we are guaranteed arms so we can overthrow the legal US government. No government could allow or consider such nonsense. That’s treason in time of war-which is always these days.
    If you believe this seditious notion then right now you are probably deleting your twitter and parlor accounts and throwing your cell phone in the river. Instead of buying new guns you’re maybe burying them or giving them to a cousin. Time for a long vacation?

    • The Founding Fathers were wise Masons who understood well that it was impossible to plug all the holes with one finger. It is impossible to keep track of order in such a large territory, moreover, inhabited by such different people.
      The only way out is to give trust to people who have shown their confidence by choosing them as their head.
      And when the state demonstrates its unwillingness and helplessness to engage in such “trifles” as the protection of its citizens, but at the same time prohibits these citizens from defending themselves…
      IMHO, such a state is a direct accomplice of all such crimes.

    • A) I wonder if you learned to construct English sentences in school. The Second Amendment has a explanatory clause (A well regulated militia being necessary to security of a free state) followed by the operative clause (the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.) The “verbiage” about the militia is not ignored, it explains why the latter portion is important. Below I expound on why a constructionist or originalists would not consider the Reserves militia. But first:

      Militia or not is irrelevant to the main point. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is the meat of the amendment. Who has the right? The people. Note, the right is not the right of the state, or the militia (the entities previously mentioned.) Each individual person has the right, thus it is the right of the people.

      What does the amendment instruct the government to do? Shall not infringe. Now we’ve had various “progressive” statists whittle pretty hard at this in the last century, so there are a bunch of laws that have been tolerated under the stare decisis doctrine that violate the directive. The argument for all those has been these aren’t really regulating arms appropriate to a militia, so it’s OK to infringe just a little.

      As for that insane meme? That’s the Founders’ meme. It’s snuck in with a little word in the first clause, “free”. A free state is a state where the people are free to, among other things, tell the King to sod off, like they had done over last decade or so. I’m glad you chose the word legal. We are allowed arms to protect and preserve legitimate governance. An illegitimate government, (Idi Amin comes to mind) can make lots of laws. Read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist writings. The arguing over this new constitution included concerns that the people would end up back under a overbearing central government. Part of the federal design is that the central state is weaker than the states, and the states are weaker than the people. So yes, we are in fact specifically allowed arms to oppose legal governments (or illegal, makes no difference).

      The militia is the portion of the populace considered suitable for military service, but not serving in the military. Military reservists are still in service, not militia. National Guard is a little less tightly tied to the Feds, but they are still not militia. If you are not severely physically or mentally handicapped, not a convict, not already serving, between 18 and 65 years of age, (and at least until recently, male) you are in the militia. The Reserves and the Guard are ways for the military to keep their hooks in more service members than they could otherwise afford. It’s all the rest who are the militia.

    • “(…)2nd amendment(…)”
      I will not discuss meanders of English language/18th century (which are too scary too me) but want to notice that intention of author is important. If I am not mistaken James Madison is known to be author of your constitution and according to
      The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.

    • You might be able to use NiTi for… Quasi electronic operation, as oppose flash bulbs or whatever, via heat; you put a disc (clover shaped say, to allow the flash to pass) of Nitinol above the primer in a normal berdan primer case “which has a bit of a deeper primer well, to accomodate said disc” anyway, heat activates the Niti and the disc turns into cone, detonating the primer thus I.e. Back to front, ignition albeit the flame still going forward.

      Might not work, but it might…

      • You can set Niti to “function” at specific temps; ok the the shell in the mk108 is not in the chamber fully, but I bet theres a temp generated which you could set the Nitinol for at that point. Intial firing via a 9mm blank or such above; gas port to the round.

          • Heat; changes the NiTi to its set shape… You set it as a ^ shape with heat, without heat its – flat, now! If the disc – yes… Can’t move up, due to the case being in the way it should go ^ and the apex of said point squashes the priming compound “pinfire” detonates it: Flash ignites main charge.

          • I think you can do that with Nitinol, if you can’t; well I have only been on about it for a year etc “in various forms” couldn’t somebody have said he he.

          • Once one ejects, from the mk108 “chain fire model” the heat in the chamber area, at that point… Is what we set the primers at.

            Cheaper and simpler; less parts.

          • We can use the saved material for tin hats; got a serious problem with allied bombing up there. Agree. “Yes” Well f’off then an try it. I will fiddle with something else.

          • Chain fire in regards… A runaway gun, chamber heat sets of the rounds; belt fed. Not in regards a ye olde black powder revolver; chain fire.

      • Cheers! But I am still saying constrained NiTi which can generate 100,000 psi apparently (although I am not sure about what that means, in… Regards… What? Against anything. Tungsten? What happens if it is suppressed, does it compress air or what. I know for someone who goes on about it so much I seem to have big gaps in my knowledge, I have tried to fill them.) I get the battery lark, but thats what I mean NiTi may make electric… Operation easier.

        • I am saying, it will act as a pin in pinfire when contstrained. It will turn into a “pin” and have enough “squishing” power to detonate the primer compound.

          That is all I mean.

          • 1st shot. Could be electric generated heat. Could be a blank. I don’t know much about electric circuits etc; whatever is easier. I know this though; on the face of it that is simpler/cheaper than putting flashbulbs etc into rounds to be electronically operated that way.

          • Slam fire, the round has a cap in it; slam it heat, detonates cap… Fire! Chamber heated; auto fire. Maybe, burp.

  9. Mr Ramos in several Palladin Press Books from the 70’s had designs for phillipine full auto shotguns perhaps the war saw early experiments in this direction. In fact apparently a grease gun weight bolt is enough for 410 gauge shells
    The use of brownie camera parts might refer to using a camera flash bulb to ignite loose blackpowder in a muzzle loading shotgun

    • Not books, but an article. Its unclear are they actually local or did Ramos design them, because there are no photos of filipino made ones, just his colorful drawings.

      • Actually he did a series of 3 books about various homemade philipeno guns full auto silenced concealed etc
        I have somewhere the gun mag in which he did the article
        You may not have seen the books as I bet you are younger then me (68 sob)however they are available on internet

        • Much younger yes, however I’ve seen these books long time ago (they are in pdf on lot of places on the internet)
          They are a mix of various “home” designs more or less complicated (emphasis on more) ranging from 22lr to .30,
          but all is in overall idea,as there are no dimensions and such crucial details; iirc none of the content in these books suggest direct filipino origin or copy.

          The direct impact of these books is dubious, as from internet sources there are none examples of directly built designs (other than some rendered as 3d models), which is a different case from, for example, Luty books.

          I would like to see if book author really built all, or at least any of the proposed designs – could be also a good forgottenweapons video, linking the book to real world.

          • Because there was no “single design”.
            Everyone makes such things from the materials and tools that are available.
            And in the way that he considers the most convenient.

          • True, however the people skilled to pull it off without blueprints (like it is in these 3 books),
            in the end do not follow any book or published design, because they see the shortcomings and devise their own solutions.
            In many 3rd world places you even have people that are “old timers” (like bobtail) who have never seen the internet, or any of such books and instructions.

    • This is kind of the reason this website exists: so that stuff is not forgotten and invented all over again and again and again.

    • Lot (loads!) of the interesting stuff is hidden in old publications, books, mags etc. which not many people today want to research and re-read,
      they only search the internet and often parrot myths and dubious info they read, posted by unverified sources.

      I dream one day that many or most old magazines would be scanned and online in a way so you could search through them like googleing (some of it exists today on google books)

    • “Not to insinuate rona ain’t nothing but bat kebabs” all it takes; 1 bat kebab & underfunded/organised healthcare… Pop; 2020.

      Piss poor really.

  10. A few thoughts.
    He refers to the long barrels and electric ignition. Seems he is referring to black powder powered weapons or at least, not using factory ammunition. In the absence of factory produced shotgun ammunition, reverting to black powder or at least crude paper cartridges, with black or smokeless powder, seems a viable alternative. Especially considering it’s easy to make paper cartridges. Whether they use black powder or smokeless doesn’t really matter.
    Also of note, most of the people I know who are big old-school shotgun nuts, refer to shotgun barrels as tubes, not barrels.
    I’m not trying to justify anything, but I am trying to understand the author as well as possible. He isn’t very clear and some clarity would have been a welcome addition. Or, avoid the odd details without explanation. As it is it seems like he added enough details to bring up questions but not enough to answer them. Also his manner of writing is subjective and suggestive rather than expressive and concise. The poor expression of the letter is more detrimental to credibility than missing details or the odd additions leading to said missing details.
    Would have been better if he had somebody rewrite his latter with more precise language and either less or more details.

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