He bought a couple of boxes of shells and made his own gun

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

Dunlap describes the local Filipino weapons:

The Visayans, or Leytans, did not have many weapons aside from their sundangs and bolos (to them a bolo meant generally any long knife, but specifically, the name was applied to a pointless chopping tool, halfway between a cleaver and a knife).

So they made a good many crude shotguns for use on Nips, proving again that a scattergun has a place in warfare, even if it is not legal. Some of the guns were not so crude, either. Many were well-proportioned, with good stocks of mahogany or what they called “Komagoon” wood, a type of ebony running from dark brown to jet black in color. Other lighter woods were also used. Because of the stocks and the pipe barrels, most guns were heavy, weights ranging from nine to eleven pounds. All were singleshots; some had hammers, some had concealed spring-loaded firing pins, looking like our hammerless shotguns. The operation of the Leyte type might be called a reverse bolt-action; the breech remained constant and the barrel was rotated and slid forward to open. The receiver was a tubular piece of steel or iron, or even brass, with a large cut in the top at the rear at the breech plug for loading and a narrow slot running forward from the left side of the opening at its front, paralleling the barrel. The slot would extend perhaps 4″ then make a right angle quarter-turn and then turn again and parallel the barrel until the slot reached the end of the receiver. The barrel would be a chambered or unchambered piece of iron or steel pipe with a little lug on it close to the rear, sometimes just the stud of a screw into the chamber section. The lug could slide through the slots, making the various turns and eventually be locked fairly tight on its final move to the right, inside the front edge of the receiver or loading opening.

To operate these Leyte shotguns it was merely necessary to rotate the barrel until the locking lug lined up with the forward slot and slide it forward until the lug contacted the first right angle turn. This distance was figured so the empty shell could be ejected without being blocked by the barrel. The extractor was a fixed flat spring type firmly attached to the breech and the ejector usually a flat spring fastened to the bottom of the breech tube or receiver, lying in a groove when the barrel was to the rear. The loaded shell was inserted in the barrel and the barrel pulled back in firing position and locked, the extractor hook passing over the rim of the shell to hold it and the ejector under the barrel. After firing the barrel would be pulled forward, the extractor would hold the shell so that the barrel would be pulled free of it and when the rear end of the barrel cleared the end of the ejector, the ejector could fly up and knock the shell away and out of the gun.


Contrary to general belief, these home-made “guerrilla guns” were not a wartime resistance-inspired weapon, but were the standard Filipino arm, many made years ago. They were just the Leyte Filipino’s shotgun. Factory-made guns were too expensive for him, even if they were available, so he bought a couple of boxes of shells and made his own gun. Ammunition was sold in the larger towns in peacetime.


A good bolo was always handy. I never saw a barong, but heard about them. A Filipino blacksmith told me he saw one once which had a blade 4″ wide and 30″ long, double edged and straight. I myself saw a farmer cutting sugar cane with a Luzon blade which he called a “badang,” the blade being pointed, narrow and as long as any Jap sword. In the South, the Moros had their wavy-bladed kris (pronounced “krees”) which was strictly a fighting instrument.


  1. Eddie S. says:

    You keep quoting from Dunlap but you haven’t id’d him or his book for a long time. Can you do that so those who have started reading after you id’d him can know what book you’re quoting from.

  2. Isegoria says:

    The thumbnail image of the cover is a link to Roy F. Dunlap‘s Ordnance Went Up Front, from 1948.

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