Childhood Zip Gun
A zip gun is any homemade, single shot firearm that has been cobbled together by whatever parts can be had. This in essence, is the epitome of the survival weapon. I have made several zip guns over the years, just for something to do when I’m bored. I’ve made them for .22 LR, .23, .32, 20 gauge, and most recently, the 12 gauge.
The 20 gauge zip gun I made those long 36 years ago when I was a boy consisted of a piece of 2×4 pine board about 16” long upon which I strapped a piece of galvanized pipe about 20” long.
I made somewhat of a rudimentary groove along the top edge of the 2×4 to seat the pipe in and then used common hose clamps to strap the pipe to the board. I put one clamp at the front and three at the rear to try to reinforce the breech. I know it’s laughable, right?
Get a Grip
I cut a makeshift handle from another piece of 2×4 and drilled a hole straight up through the middle through which I ran a large lag bolt and bolted the handle to the “stock”. For the firing pin I found a strip of springy metal in one of the drawers in my dad’s work shop. I drilled three holes in it, one at the top for a firing pin which was merely a screw, and two holes at the bottom for affixing it to the 2×4 “stock”.
So I grabbed my home made “shotgun” and met up with a few friends and off we went to the woods at the end of my street. Although we lived in a neighborhood, we were lucky enough to be surrounded by vast empty spaces of woods to run through.
We were all supposed to shoot it and I went first. I put a 20 ga birdshot shell in the “gun”, held on tight to the grip and 2×4 “stock”, pulled the firing pin spring back with my thumb and BOOM!! It worked, kicked like a mule, and it scared the bajeezus out of me!
I tossed that thing on the ground and left it lay where it fell. Now looking back, it did what it was supposed to do and worked perfectly. But I was a dumb kid doing dumb things. But looking back it is a fond memory.
New Fond Memories
Fast forward to today, I look back at my childhood now as the precursor of things to come. I was always piddling about and trying to make something that was either sharp and stabby, or that went bang or boom. I can’t count all of the knives and guns I’ve repaired or made since then. Not to mention that I have (I hope) plenty of years left to make more.
Cool Things on the Internet
Back then you just had to think it up yourself, nowadays the internet is covered with all kinds of cool things people are doing. Well, some are cool, but there is a ton of stupidity on there too. But this particular item, (I like to call it a slider shotgun) is most definitely cool as H-E- double toothpick.
And so it goes that I was looking at YouTube and saw an older guy making a “shotgun” out of two pieces of pipe. He had no stock on it, just one piece that slide into another piece. So I thought to myself, “I can do better than that”. So I drew this concept.
Here is an example:
Here’s a much nicer one:
Trip to the Hardware Store
So, I made a trip to the hardware store and spent about twelve bux on a few items. They were:
- An 18” length of 3/4″ diameter black iron gas line pipe
- An 8” length of 1” diameter black iron gas line pipe
- A 1” black iron gas line pipe cap
- 2- hose clamps (size 1 1/2 – 2”) For the AR grips if you use those
If you use an M4 stock you will also need a piece of wood rod about 8 or 10 inches long of the correct diameter for the stock to slide over. If you use a different stock you can configure it accordingly. Whatever it takes to fir it.
All I need after that was some grips and a stock. I just happened to have a couple of grips off of some AR15s that I put nicer parts on and an M4 collapsible stock. These items would cost a few bucks if you bought them but since I just had them lying around I used them.
But if you are trying to do it on more of a budget you can make a stock from a piece of 2×4 or 2×6 or you can repurpose an old stock of some sort. It doesn’t really matter what you use. You can use an old AK47 thumbhole stock like in my diagram if you want to. Whatever it takes to get the job done.
Here are the steps to make one like the one pictured.
- Cut the threads off of ONE end of the 1” pipe.(You don’t have to, but I did)
- Grind the weld seam inside the 3/4″ pipe for about 4” so the shell will fit inside the pipe, that’s the breech end. If you don’t grind that weld then the shell won’t fit. If you don’t grind it thoroughly it will be difficult to dislodge the fired shell. Be sure to grind it so that the shell fits snugly to prevent it from falling out if you point the gun upwards as in shooting birds on the fly.
- Cut a notch (or two) at the same end so that you can get a grip on the spent casing and pull it out.
- Drill a 3/8″ hole in the center of the 1”
- From the inside of the cap insert a 3/8” lag bolt and screw it into the wood rod. Pre-drill the rod with a pilot hole so it doesn’t split.
- Bolt the cap to the wooden rod.
- Drill a 1/8” hole in the center of the bolt head and insert a piece of metal rod for a firing pin. You can use a nail for this. It should drive in tight so it stays. Leave it stick out about 1/8” so it can hit the primer solidly. If you want to you can harden the firing pin by heating it with a torch until it glows red then dip it in oil.
- Slid the M4 stock over the wood rod and put a screw or two in it to hold it on.
- Screw the cap onto the short pipe. This is now the stocked receiver.
- Cut a slot through the AR grips for the hose clamp to go through. Just use a drill and drill a few holes in a line then angle the drill to cut a slot.
- Clamp one grip on the end of the 1” pipe that you cut the threads off of.
- Clamp the other grip on the longer pipe about 3 or 4 inches back from the muzzle end. I cut the threads off of mine for looks, but that made it too short to legally be a shotgun. 18” is the legal minimum length. If you want the threads cut off then buy a 24” pipe and cut it to length, but make sure the barrel is at least 18”.
Since I cut my barrel short, to skirt the legalities I marked mine with a punch to read “12 ga flare gun”, so now it is legally a flare gun and the 17” barrel is ok. The overall length of a shotgun must be a minimum of 27” and the barrel must be a minimum of 18” to be legal, so keep that in mind when you make yours.
Because I cut the threads off of my 18” pipe it is now 1” short at only 17” and my overall length is only 26”, also one inch short. I can adjust the overall length by moving the butt stock back one inch, but why bother, since I marked it as a flare gun, it is a flare gun.
However, if I were to get caught out with it loaded with a shotgun shell I could face serious penalties. So make sure you have at least an 18” barrel, and at least 27” overall when you make yours.
Make it go Bang
Care must be given once there is a live round inside the device. To fire it you simply shoulder it as you would any shotgun then slide the barrel part back firmly into the receiver tube.
The shell impacts the firing pin and sets off the shell. Keeping this in mind, when it is loaded you must carry it carefully and hold the barrel so that the shell is 3-6” away from the firing pin and keep it pointed slightly down.
Remember that if you were to let the barrel slide back or it did so accidentally then it will fire. If you point the gun up if the shell fits too loosely it will fall out of the barrel and may land on the firing pin and fire.
It will take just a little practice to become accustomed to handling it.
Legal or Not
In my country this device is perfectly legal as a flare gun as it is marked. If the barrel were one inch longer then it would be legal to call it a shotgun. In your country you must learn your laws. If it is legal to make and possess a flare gun of 12 gauge caliber, then you can make one of these nifty little guys for yourself and simply declare it a flare gun.
All you would need then to make it a lethal weapon would be to obtain some 12 gauge ammunition and fire that rather than flares. But all of that is up to you. I can’t tell you what is legal or illegal in your country, that’s up to you to learn and it is up to you to decide what risks you are willing to take.
The main point of this is that in a SHTF or a TEOTWAWKI type situation you can make an effective 12 ga shotgun in just an hour or two. This may look dangerous to some but I assure you I have fired mine dozens of times and it is fine. There are tons of videos on YouTube as well showing these types of shotguns being fired.
Whatever your skill level I’m sure you will be able to construct something that will go bang. Just browse around on YouTube and there are tutorials of people showing you how to make one if you don’t think you can do it on your own.
This slider shotgun is a very basic weapon but it will serve you well whether it is for playing and just target shooting, hunting to put some meat on the table or in case of SHTF and you need to come up with a weapon pronto.
If you like this article and this shotgun keep checking us out here at survivorsullivan.com for weapons Wednesdays where I will be telling you every week (on Wednesdays) how to make various improvised weapons.
I have another shotgun design coming soon that is a little more complex than this one. It is a single shot as well but it actually looks like a shotgun and has a trigger and hammer and everything! It takes a little more time to build, depending on your skill level, but it is worth it for a very effective hunting weapon.
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.