It’s no secret to anyone that knows me. I like guns. As a matter of fact, you could say I love guns. I love the mechanics of firearms. I love the challenge of putting that little piece of copper-jacketed lead onto a small target so far away that I couldn’t even see it without a scope.
I love taking an old, beat-up, rusty gun and breathing new life into it by refinishing and repairing it. I love the smell of the powder when I shoot guns.
I love the noise. I love the flash of the powder as it leaves the muzzle (it’s especially cool at night as you can see in the picture below of me firing my Draco AK47 pistol).
Unfortunately, though, many people never get to know the joy and thrill of firing a loud, powerful, firearm.
From the biggest, baddest, handgun, to the most elegant and beautifully engraved hunting rifle or even just a boring ol’ “black rifle” (AKA the AR15), firearms come in all shapes and sizes (and calibers).
P.A.K blank firing guns have the look, weight, feel, and sound of a real gun, but without the projectile (unless you want them to, i.e. live fire conversion).
Just in case you don’t know, “P.A.K” stands for “pistole automatik knall”, which is German for “automatic blank pistol”. There are also revolver versions for those of you that are into revolvers. But for me, I prefer the semi and full-auto versions.
There are about 18 different manufacturers of blank firing guns, 20 models of which are convertible. Some of these blank gun manufacturers also manufacture real firearms as well.
Makers like Taurus, who makes a model LOM-13, 9mm P.A.K caliber revolver based on their model 905 revolver. The blank firing gun is made from steel, just like a real gun. This blank gun is VERY easily converted to fire live ammunition.
In my state, in my country, converting the SEMI AUTOMATIC blank gun to fire live ammunition would be perfectly legal.
However, converting the fully automatic blank firing gun to live fire would be illegal for the average citizen.
There are certain licenses you can get to become a gun maker that can make NFA weapons, but they can only be sold to military and law enforcement.
Big money, big headache
Private Citizens in the United States CAN buy and privately own fully automatic weapons. The catch is that we can’t buy any NEW ones. We can only buy those manufactured before 1986(?).
I’m 99.999% sure that year is correct. Because of that law, although it IS legal to own full autos here, it is still very difficult to get them.
The reasons are that first off, there just aren’t very many of them. Maybe somewhere around 100,000 and someone already owns them.
On the occasion that someone does put one up for sell they are exorbitantly expensive. For example, a full auto AK47 or M16 runs around $25,000-30,000 dollars!
There are “cheaper” alternatives, like an Uzi with all the fixins’ for around $15,000. Or you can get a really “cheap”, Mac 10 or 11 for around “only” $8,000.
You can also buy certain parts that will make your AK or AR etc. become fully automatic, like a drop in auto sear for example. That part is considered the “machine gun”, and that is what is registered.
Those parts are still very expensive. But the upside is that you can buy a cheap AK or AR and shoot it until its dead, then buy another one and put the part in it, taa daa, new machine gun, perfectly legal.
On the other hand, if you buy a complete machine gun the receiver is what is registered. If something happens to it, if it breaks, no more machine gun.
That’s all just such a ridiculous hassle. Those prices have almost doubled in the last 7 or 8 years. I will never be able to afford one. But I can legally simulate full auto with a slide fire stock, and I have several of those.
But you can see why it might be tempting for some people to buy the blank firing gun because it’s a cheap alternative to play with and have all the sights and sounds of a real machine gun, just no bullets come out.
Unless, of course, you convert the blank firing gun to fire live ammunition.
The blank cartridge is 9×22 mm, which is shorter OVERALL than an actual 9mm Luger/9mm Parabellum cartridge. The 9mm Luger has a case dimension of 9x19mm, but then the projectile extends beyond the case.
This is why you are able to fire the .380 or .32 ACP from the blank gun. (On a side note, I find it interesting that Parabellum means “prepare for war” in Latin.)
The .380 ACP case dimension is 9x17mm, and with flat nose jacketed projectile, or a wide throated hollow point ammunition, like a Hydra-Shok, the cartridge will fit the magazine and feed. A 9×19 Luger cartridge won’t even fit in the magazine.
There is a 9x21mm cartridge, I wonder if that (or maybe even the 9x19mm for that matter) could be loaded like a wad cutter and fired from the blank gun. Probably not, because it probably wouldn’t feed.
(A wad cutter, seen on the left in the pictures to the left, is a cartridge that the bullet is seated flush with the casing, for those who didn’t know). Second from left are a semi-wad cutter, a semi-jacketed hollow point, and then a flat-nosed full metal jacket. All are .38 Special.
The same goes for the .32 ACP. It has a case length of 17.3 mm, but even it, with a round nose FMJ (full metal jacket) bullet might still be too long for the magazine.
But by using a flat nosed FMJ, or a wide throated hollow point projectile, like the Hydra-Shok (which the .32 ACP measures 23mm overall), it then would fit the magazine.
Pictured above are 3 .32 ACP cartridges. A Czech FMJ on the left, a Federal Hydra-Shok in the middle, and a Magtec hollow point on the right.
You can see the length differences in the picture below. You can also see the difference in the throat of the two hollow point projectiles.
Below are pictured several variations of the 9mm Luger cartridge, just to give you some perspective on the many configurations available of the same caliber.
From left to right are a subsonic lead round nose, a common round nose full metal jacket, a flat nose full metal jacket, a Starfire jacketed hollow point, a black talon jacketed hollow point, and then last on the right is a Winchester brand hollow point.
The next picture below shows a side view of the 9mm cartridges to see that the same caliber can come in many different total lengths.
This is something to consider when making a conversion to live fire, because some cartridges of your conversion caliber will work, while others will not.
What Is a P.A.K Blank Firing Pistol?
It occurred to me that many of you may not even know what a P.A.K blank firing pistol is. Well, there are a few brands (18 or so), but the one that caught my attention was the EKOL Jackal because it looks similar to my favorite handgun, and has select fire.
Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about fully automatic gunfire that just gets me going. I love it.
There is another EKOL blank gun, the ASI model that looks more like a sub-machine gun. But in reality it’s just a plastic cover around this pistol.
These two particular blank firing guns have a select fire switch to select semi-automatic or full automatic fire. They shoot fast too! If you have never fired a full auto weapon it’s not really that much different than firing a semi auto except that you have to maintain control of the firearm longer.
That part takes a little practice, but within just a few magazines of ammo most people can get it under control.
If you already know how to fire a weapon then you are a step ahead of the game, but to be safe I always suggest that the first time you fire a fully automatic firearm you only put five or six rounds in the magazine. That way the gun can’t really get away from you too bad.
One time a friend of mine shot one of my AK47’s on “fast fire” mode and he stepped back a few steps and the muzzle rose up to an “unsafe angle” by the time he got to round 6. Fortunately, round 6 was the last round, so no harm was done.
I can’t help but wonder if the magazine had been full, would he have had the mindset to release the trigger?
If the magazine had been full (30 rounds), and he didn’t release the trigger, then he would have fired over the berm and off into the distance. No telling what, or who, he may have hit.
He was a fairly small-framed guy. Weighed only about 140 pounds (about 65 kilograms), but he was strong for his size. He was an arborist, so he worked hard, lifted heavy chinks of wood, and swung a chainsaw all day.
But that AK, it almost ran away from him. We all got a good laugh and teased him about it.
Here is a video of the blank pistol in a configuration called the EKOL Asi:
Wound potential of the .380 and .32 ACP cartridges
The 9mm P.A.K blank firing guns fire a blank cartridge that has an overall length very similar to a live .380 ACP or .32 ACP rounds.
Because of this, the blank guns that fire the 9mm P.A.K blank can easily be converted to fire the .380 or .32 ACP cartridges.
Granted, the .380 or .32 ACP cartridges aren’t the most powerful handgun cartridges available, but they are capable of causing a lethal wound. Quality expanding hollow point ammunition is the answer to make up for the lower power of the cartridge.
A quality hollow point .380 or .32 ACP round can expand to diameters nearing one-half inch. They can also reach penetration depths in ballistic gel of ten to twelve inches, as you can see in these videos here.
Here’s a video of the .380 ACP being fired into ballistics gel:
It really can’t be argued when there is video evidence proving that a .380 or .32 ACP can cause a lethal wound. This wound potential is exacerbated when taking into consideration the fully automatic mode fired in short bursts.
Firing in short bursts allows the shooter to maintain control and accuracy, and will put four to six rounds in your target in about one-quarter of a second.
No one is going to survive that without rapid emergency medical attention, especially if they are hit in the vital organs like the lungs, liver, and heart (or brain).
Converting a P.A.K blank firing gun to live fire
This is all very interesting you say, but how can I fire .380 or .32 ACP ammunition from my 9mm P.A.K blank firing gun? Well, you can fire .380 or .32 ACP ammunition from your blank gun by converting your blank gun to live fire.
Issues to address when converting the blank gun to fire live ammunition include:
- Cartridge dimensions
- Weak points on the blank gun
- Sourcing a barrel or making one
- Ammo availability
If you have a pile of .380 ACP then you know you want to go with that caliber, the same could be said for the .32 ACP. If you can’t buy guns where you live then you probably can’t get ammo either.
Also keep in mind that while the .380 ACP is bigger, it is also hotter than the .32 ACP and so will put more stress on the gun. Just something else to consider.
Here is a video explaining some of the finer points to making a conversion, specifically, strengthening the slide:
To convert the blank firing gun to fire real ammo the first thing you will need to do is replace the blank barrel with a steel barrel.
If you can get your hands on a genuine barrel of the correct caliber then you are halfway there. The exact steps will vary depending on which model of blank gun you have.
But the generalization is that, you drill the blank barrel out, and then you install a barrel liner of the proper caliber. You literally glue it in place with gun smiths epoxy barrel liner glue.
Online stores like Brownells have everything for the gunsmith. You can buy rifled barrel liners of the correct caliber, then a chamber ream to chamber the liner to the correct caliber chamber.
Once you do that, you basically have a real gun. There are some areas on the slide and frame that will need strengthening. You can do this with steel and epoxy as well.
If you are trying to convert the blank gun to live fire on the cheap then you can replace the blank barrel with a steel barrel.
You can buy a surplus barrel of the right caliber, remove the blank barrel, machine the real barrel to fit in its place and epoxy it in.
Keep in mind that if you make this conversion YOU will be holding onto this gun when the trigger is pulled. So you better do it right. It can be done, that’s a fact.
There are videos all over the internet of people doing it. It goes back to what I always say. Your brain is your greatest tool and your most dangerous weapon.
Put it to good use. If you see a problem, solve it. If you need a gun, make one, or convert a blank gun to fire live ammunition.
Some of those online have smooth bores, those will work up close, but they won’t have any real accuracy at distances.
If you want a good gun, that is safe and accurate, then you need to do it right. But the blank firing gun, look at it, study it.
It is most likely modeled after a real gun, look up the diagram for the real gun and compare how it looks to how your blank gun looks. Try to emulate that, or get as close to it as possible and, most important of all, observe the laws in your area.
You could buy the blank firing gun now, and just put it up. Source the parts you will need to convert it and source the ammunition that you will need. Stash it away, hope you never need it, but know it’s there if you do. Just like that fire extinguisher.
The contents of this article is for information purposes only. Neither the author nor www.SurvivalSullivan.com shall be held liable for the misuse of the information contained herein or for any damage, injury, death, or any other negative consequence. We are not advocating that you replicate the steps and the advice offered in this article. Neither the author nor www.SurvivalSullivan.com shall be held liable for any product you create using this article.
Eric Eichenberger is an avid outdoorsman, skilled marksman, and former certified range officer and instructor with nearly 40 years experience handling and repairing firearms.
A skilled craftsman with a strong love for working with his hands, Eric spent 20 years as a carpenter and custom woodworker in high end homes. As a gold and silversmith he has created hundreds of pieces of jewelry over the years using the lost wax casting method.
The grandson of humble country folk, he was raised with the “do it yourself” mentality and so is accustomed to coming up with unique solutions to problems utilizing materials at hand.