Improvised Arms and Ammunition, Part 2

You can read part 1 here.

If the time should ever come (hopefully a very long time from now), that society collapses and you are left to your own devices to survive, you may have to do things that you wouldn’t ordinarily even consider a viable option.

Making do with what you have, making something from nothing, re-purposing items and objects to serve purposes they were not originally designed for; these are all things you may have to do sometime. Some parts of the world may have, or are already experiencing this scenario as a normal way of life.

I myself have experienced this on occasion throughout my life, many times actually. You see a need and you do what you have to do to fulfill that need. Now I am aware that many people are “prepping” for just such an emergency, but seriously, let’s be realistic. What will you really do?

Realistic Thinking

If you were born in a world where you just go to your average bigbox store for goods and groceries and you have become accustomed to that way of life, what will you really do if it’s gone? If you’re accustomed to a life where you just bump up the thermostat if you’re cold, and if you just go to the fridge for a drink, what will you really do if it’s gone? The answer is you will do whatever you have to do to survive. However silly it seems, if it works, it works.

The reality is if you don’t already live this lifestyle of self-sufficiency, at least to some extent, you may find yourself in quite the predicament if it were to suddenly come upon you. Think short term, a bad storm hits your area, hundreds of homes and businesses are destroyed, what will you do? What if it’s worse than that? What if it’s long term? What will you do?


One thing many people do now to try to prepare for such an emergency is to stockpile goods and materials. Food, medical supplies, guns, ammunition, reloading supplies, these are all things people stockpile, but what happens when they run out?

Eventually it will come down to needing to not only know how to reload your own ammunition, but how to make your own components too. Casings last a long time, but without a primer, powder, and a projectile they are useless.

If you don’t know how to make your own stuff the next thing you can do is improvise. Yep, that word is in the title, improvised ammunition. Many projectiles have the same bullet diameter but they have different cartridge sizes. So if you have different ammunition than you have a firearm for you have to think outside the box. You have to make do with what you have, you have to improvise.


I have owned several and currently own a couple of the Mosin Nagant rifles and CZ52 pistols, and I love them both and love those calibers. Well, one day several years ago while ammo shopping online at I found a neat new little toy.

It was a conversion cartridge that looked like a spent 7.62x54r casing that was designed to insert into the rifle chamber and then put the 7.62×25 pistol cartridge in it.

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Fun to play with, and fairly quiet, I decided to keep one with each of my Mosin rifles along with 100 rounds of the 7.62×25 pistol ammo so that the rifle would serve a broader purpose.

The only downside is that when you eject the adaptor you must do it carefully so you don’t lose it, then you have to push the pistol case out by hand so there are no fast follow up shots. Another thing about them is the sights are totally different, but with a little practice you get to learn how the bullet travels and can hit what you’re aiming at.

Thinking Outside the Box (of Ammunition)

But even though it wasn’t perfect that got me to thinking what other versions of this could I come up with? Turns out a few; another version of this I made from a spent steel case 7.62×39 casing. I thoroughly cleaned the spent case then filled it up to the neck with solder. I then drilled from the primer to the neck the size of a.32 case and yep, I could fire the little .32 auto from an AK, (and probably an SKS but I didn’t try it).

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I wanted to try to fire the 7.62×25 from the AK but drilling the casing out for that pistol cartridge left virtually nothing of the 7.62×39 case so I didn’t try it. I’m sure it would probably work like if you had no other options, but still.

However it did get me to thinking; my .308 Winchester caliber rifles are metric caliber 7.62×51, so I tried that with the 7.62×25 and it works too. I can’t find any of them I filled and drilled and didn’t feel like making another one but here I show pictures of the cartridges side by side and you can see it would absolutely fit.

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Actually if you think about it any rifle cartridge that the 7.62×25 pistol cartridge would fit in you could also make an adapter that will fire the .32 caliber round. Also, it doesn’t have to be just the .32 auto cartridge; if a .32 long or even a .32 magnum will fit inside the case then you can make an adapter.

Here’s a video using a chamber adapter:

For example, if a .32 magnum would fit in the 7.62x54r rifle cartridge and the bullet went into the case neck then that would actually be a better fit than the 7.62×25 pistol cartridge as it is shorter and so will have a longer jump to the rifling.

Of course in a perfect world you would take a steel rod and chuck it in your lathe and turn down an adaptor, in a perfect world. But that’s just the point, the perfect world is gone and you have to make do with what you have.

In an absolute “Oh crap, I really gotta have something that will make a hole in someone/something,” you could wrap paper, foil, or tape around a cartridge like a .357 or .38 special and fire it through a .44 or .45 revolver. It will rupture the case and the bullet will keyhole and only be accurate for a couple dozen yards tops, but it will make a hole.


I know a guy that fired a .45 Long Colt through a .410 shotgun, it seemed sketchy to me and I didn’t do it, but I saw him do it and so I know that if there were no other choice it can be done. Speaking of shotguns, I saw a youtube video that I would absolutely not do.

There was a guy that fired a .50 BMG through a single shot 12 ga shotgun. He did it remotely with a string, of course. It fired, but I’d never hold the gun and try it. Those .50 BMG are like a hand grenade going off. (We’ll get to those eventually too, but only in theory)

Here’s a video of some guys firing a .50 BMG from a 12ga. Not advised:

What I have done with a 12 ga and a 20 ga however, is that I drilled out the 12 ga shell so that the 20 ga would fit in it. It fires fine, sounds funny though. I’ve done it several times and nothing bad happened.

A more devastating way of doing that is to cut partially through the plastic hull of the 20 ga shell so that when it fires the entire shell, plastic and all comes out like a big plastic and lead hollow point slug. That thing was nasty! If you needed to hunt deer or similar sized game and had a 12ga shotgun and 20ga shells you can make it happen.


Another thing you can do with a shotgun shell is if all you have is birdshot you open the crimp of the shell and dump out the shot into a cut off pop can or something. You melt the lead and pour it into a mold for a shotgun slug. You can get fancy with a mold or you can poke your pinky or finger in the mud.

But you can make a slug out of the shot and hunt deer etc. with a regular old #8 or whatever shot shell. Another thing I’ve done with shotgun shells is if you have some muzzleloader round balls, yep, you guessed it.

Open the shell and put in a couple or few .50 caliber lead balls in place of the birdshot and now you have a devastating defense round instead of a birdshot round. I also took a .410 shell and dumped the birdshot out and in its place I put two 180gr .40 cal JHP. That turned a little wimpy .410 birdshot shell into a serious defense round.



Final Shot

While this all might sound crazy to some of you, the fact is that everything I said here I have done, and it worked. What it all comes down to is necessity, a need that has to be met by any means necessary. Do whatever you have to do to get the job done to survive.


The contents of this article is for information purposes only. Neither the author nor 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 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.

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