Converting Blank Firing Guns to Fire Live Ammunition

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).

nightshooting the draco

Guns and the law

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).

If you are unfortunate to live in an area that doesn’t allow you to own real firearms, you may be able to purchase one of these P.A.K blank firing guns. You can order them online and have them shipped right to your house with no special paperwork here in the United States because they aren’t considered a firearm. You would have to check your laws for your country.

Almost real

But these 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 being 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.

SHTF/TEOTWAWKI

The point here though is to be able to convert a blank firing pistol to fire live ammunition in case of SHTF or TEOTWAWKI. Regardless of whether or not the blank firing gun is semi automatic, or full automatic. Because, let’s face it, you WILL need firearms to protect yourself, your family, and your homestead from looters and bandits if that situation should ever occur.

So, while it may be illegal for some people in some countries to make this conversion even with the semi auto version, it is still good to have the information just in case. It’s just like that fire extinguisher in your kitchen cabinet. It sits there, and sits there, and you hope you never need it, but if you do need it just one time, you will be glad you have it.

Cartridge dimensions

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.

38 spcl 1

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.

38 spcl 2

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.

32 acp 1

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.

32 acp 2

32 acp 3

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 that shows a side view of the 9mm cartridges to show 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.

9 mm 29 mm 1

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 gun fire 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 that 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, 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 EKOL Jackal semi/full auto P.A.K blank firing pistol:

Here is a video of the same blank pistol in a different configuration called the EKOL Asi:

Here is a video showing a converted blank gun firing live .380 ACP ammo:

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:

Here’s a video of a .32 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. So, if you have to go on the “black market” to get ammunition, then see which is available before you make the conversion. 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.

Parting Shot

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 if there are still laws to observe. In the case of the breakdown of society then laws won’t matter anymore, so go for it. You have to be able to protect your family. 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.

Disclaimer

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.

About Eric W. Eichenberger

Eric W. Eichenberger
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.

18 comments

  1. Avatar

    Thanks for a really informative article!Unfortunately i live in a country where it is allmost impossible to get ammunition in calibers like .380 or 32acp,due to the fact that handguns chambered for such calibers are small in size,and such handguns are categorized here as “pocketguns” wich are only available for law enforcment officers.

  2. Avatar

    if i bought the ekol jackal would a real beretta 92 barrel fit? if so then i could just slide 32 caliber barrel liner inside the beretta 92 barrel? would that work?

    • Avatar

      If you are going to do a conversion of a blank gun make sure it is front venting/firing blank gun. You will need a vise and a electric drill you will also need a special bit for the drill it is a (diamond encrusted Hole drill bit) you can pick up a set on ebay for about 7 dollars free shipping takes usually 1-3 hours with these tools only because they are basic and they get hot. You drill/grind a little at a time and make sure to clear the dust as you grind/drill after the barrel is clear you take the 8mm pak or 9mm pak ammunition and punch a hole through the middle of the green star then insert metal pellets and vise it shut. Then repeat until all the park ammunition is converted to live rounds the reason for this is because live Factory ammunition maybe too much pressure for the gun so you convert the park ammunition which was made for it.

  3. Avatar

    I have ekol jackal dual compact cal. 9mm p.a.k but it has a plug in middle of it and two holes in barrel I was wondering if I thred a Allen key plug in each hole and drill out if that would work.

    • Avatar

      John you have a great blank gun brand for convert to .380acp about that plug and hole in barrel. You need to take it off. Just cut blank barrel of with handsaw or whatever. See the ramp feed they are connect with barrel right? Cut that barrel off and drill through ramp feed to get rid off those plug. Now find .380acp barrel from any brand. Tried to insert them connect it with ramp feed. If it too big just mill it off a little big till you can insert them and glue them with epoxy and weld them a bit if you think it would be safe. Now you fun part. About magazine if you lucky you dont need to do anything about. But most brand you have to press down bullet tip a little bit with hammer or vise clamp just a bit. Now you have a fully functional gun. PS. It’s durable and safe to shoot but i suggest dont shoot it too much. About 2 box per hour would be safe and serve you more than year. Sorry for a long post and have 2 convert blank gun more than 2 year. And yes it’s illegal in my country. And no i wont buy a fucking 2 grand for a legal high point. My country law is fuck up.

    • Avatar

      What cal of live fire ammo can I use on an 8mm BRUNI MOD P4

  4. Avatar

    Do you really need the popup on every page load?

  5. Avatar

    I have a zorakim906 can I take the off and put a real 380 slide on it to fire live amno ?

    • Avatar

      I don’t know about that, but the Zoraki M2906 (basically the 906 with a beefier slide) was the 1st and so far only live fire conversion so far. What I did was cut the barrel just a hair after the 1st pin in the barrel, grind it down until the barrel was flush with the edge of that pin, and used pliers to remove it. I then bought a 5/16″ steel brake line from the auto parts store, a pipe cutter, 3×3/8″ nipple and Steel Weld epoxy putty from the hardware store. I cut both the nipple and brake line down to the proper lengths, leaving the lip on the end of the brake line. I then ran a carbide e drill bit (I think it was 1/4) through the bore of the brake line clockwise on the way in, and counterclockwise on the way out, twice, to ensure that I had some shallow but present rifling in what would become my barrel. I slathered the epoxy around the brake line, put it in the tiny portion that remained of the blank gun’s original barrel beyond the blank gun’s chamber, packed in the epoxy with a broken toothpick to ensure that there was as little air as possible between the blank gun barrel and my new inner barrel. I immediately slathered the inside of the steel nipple and the rest of the outside of the inner barrel/brake line with more epoxy, and put the steel nipple over the brake line. I then used a piece of cardboard to scrape around the barrel to wipe off the excess epoxy and to pack it into the 2 halves and the muzzle of the outer barrel, until it looked smooth and even. I then took that toothpick, picked out the excess epoxy from the bore of the inner barrel and used it to help smooth the edges then scrape off the excess around the muzzle, the chamber, basically the ends between the outer and inner barrel. I let it sit for a few days, braced against various objects to keep the barrel straight against gravity while it set. I then had to use a 3/8″ drill bit and polishing stone made for a Dremel, to widen the hole in the front end of the slide just enough so the new barrel would slide as freely as the original barrel through the slide. The firearm was complete.
      Next, I needed ammo, I didn’t trust standard pressure .32 or .380ACP rounds in a thin, zinc frame, but I later found out that I prefer hyper-velocity ammo, anyway. It performs well, like the next caliber up, but shoots easier than either, and leaves less to shooter error. Anyway, I pushed a tack into the dead center of the green plugs in 15 of my 50 9mm PAK blanks, widened the holes by tapping in then swirling around a framing nail in those (took some effort, I bent a few nails, my thumb and finger were a bit raw afterward), then used a 1/4″ drill bit and variable speed drill, to carefully widen the holes to 1/4″. Basically, the plugs were turned into parts of the walls of the cases at that point, because the case mouth had a lip that was about 1/4″ inside diameter. I then lit a couple tealight candles. I then emptied the powder from 1 of the cases into a folded piece of paper to act as both receptacle for the powder, and later a spout for pouring the powder back in. I removed the bits of green plastic from the plug, then poured the gunpowder back into the case. I did that with all 15 cases. I then blew 1 candle out, used pliers to form a spout from the aluminum that held the candle. I then immediately poured a bit of the wax into a cut .410 shell, over it’s own powder, in place of the shot cup for a shotgun reload I was also working on and packed the wax down there with a wooden dowel, twisting on the way up out of the shell so the wax didn’t stick to the dowel, because it’s easier to pour already overflowing wax into a larger diameter hole than the 1/4″ hole in the 9mm blanks. I then filled a blank to the case mouth with the wax, and immediately seated and pushed in a 1/4″ steel slingshot ball. I did that with the next 8 blanks. I found the wax too difficult to pour evenly, as predicted, so after I got a tin of .25 cal. H&N Grizzly 31 grain hollow point pellets, I did with the 2nd candle what I did with the 1st candle. That time, I loaded the pellets instead of the slingshot ammo, and I only loaded the final 7 cases that way. I also kept handy the 99% PAVA powder loaded blanks I previously made long before it even occurred to me to convert the blank gun. Yeah, I got it as a sort of pepper spray gun, and something better than any non-lethal device on the market at that time, for that cost or less. Anyway, after the wax was cool, I scraped and wiped it off with my fingernail and a paper towel, and used the tip of my finger to press down and twist the wax in the case mouths of the rounds loaded with the slingshot ammo down to smooth, neat dimples in the case mouths. I tested a slingshot ammo round, a hollow point pellet round, inspected the pistol, and found no issues. I ended up firing all my slingshot ammo loads for fun. I fired 1 into a block of 20% gel, though. 6″ of penetration seemed modest, but I had to remember than I was using 20% gel and the FBI uses 10% gel. The Hollow point I tested went about 4″ but it went straight, really slapped that gel with a hefty impact I didn’t expect, and expanded almost into a disc. I figured I was so accurate with that pistol, that shot placement would make up for 8″ of penetration, which some folks would deem insufficient, even though most organs, the biggest organs and other vital areas of the body, are well within the 8″ mark. Plus, I’d be shooting a projectile that expands to about 1/3 of an inch, from such a tiny, single action pistol with such a good, short trigger, and with such low recoil and highly accurate rapid fire capability. I called it slightly more than even with a double action .32 ACP pocket pistol. For loading the pistol, I kept the chamber of the pistol loaded with either the PAVA round (when I was outside my home) or a birdshot round I later loaded (for inside the home) as something I could fire accurately enough from the hip to get that quick 1st shot from the draw if I needed to. I kept 6 hollow points in the magazine. I later modified the magazine to hold 7 rounds, but it lost the last round hold-open feature. That’s okay, since the pistol only came with 1 magazine, and I couldn’t find anywhere to buy a spare magazine for that blank gun. I even contacted the manufacturer about purchasing a spare directly, I tried both the US and Turkish locations, but received no reply at all. Now, I didn’t really want to make more ammo to fill my modified magazine, so I just kept the PAVA in the chamber, the birdshot at the top of the magazine for a sort of 2nd warning shot that’d cause a lot more pain to a burglar or assailant, give me a bit more time to steady my hands in a time of great stress, then 6 hollow points after that were loaded and could be used if necessary. I had that pistol for well over a year, but then I did something stupid. I thought I’d port the slide for even lower recoil, just for the heck of it. Mistake. I ended up botching it. Like the magazine, spare slides aren’t available. So, I demilled the pistol and threw it away. I was quite disappointed with that and myself, but now I see that I can get a double action/single action pistol that holds 15 blanks, has a longer barrel, is less than 1″ larger than my previous build, and it’s something I know I can convert the same way, just with longer parts, higher quality epoxy, and maybe a set screw to hold the barrel in more securely, just in case. Plus, 15 and 25 round spare mags ARE offered. I like it. I know what my next pistol build will be! I hope this info helps you. Good luck 🙂

  6. Avatar

    911 blank gun to convert it to shoot 32 acp
    What would I need to do

  7. Avatar

    do you have an ( EKOL- ASI ) OR AN ( P. A. K. ) that fires live ammo. can you let me know the prize you have on those two items. can build one with a silencer. what would be the prize on an item like those I just mention. here is my email and name. can you call me or tax me 956 279 5591.

  8. Avatar

    Hello,
    Can you tell me which white pistol is the best that is close to the real thing to change into a real ball at the moment? And what is the method to modify?

    thank you

  9. Avatar

    What’s the easiest blank gun to convert? With out access to any tools or a lot of $. Please advise

  10. Avatar

    Anybody no if its possible to get the metal rod out of a zoraki 2918 fume barrel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *