The Richardson Guerilla Gun – The Story

Often, it’s not just the gun but the captivating narrative that accompanies it. Consider the Richardson Industries Guerilla Gun—it may not initially catch your eye. Perhaps it reminds you of the infamous slamfire shotguns used by a certain individual to outsmart a gun buy-back program. And indeed, these guns bear a resemblance and a similar function. Yet, delve deeper, and you’ll discover a fascinating story. 

It’s a very simple wood stock with a mounted pipe containing another pipe. The gun has a fixed firing pin shotgun that allows the gun to slam fire. It’s as simple as a gun can get. The gun itself seems downright silly. Why would anyone ever buy one of these? I can tell you I bought one because of the story. The Guerilla Gun was created by Richardson Industries, a company owned by Iliff Richardson. 

Iliff Richardson might be in the running for one of the most interesting men in the world. 

Iliff Richardson and the Guerilla Gun 

Richardson was a naval officer fighting in the Philippines during World War II. He served as an ensign on a Motor Torpedo Boat and was the ship’s executive officer. After a fight with a Japanese cruiser, the boat limped back to Cebu City. While waiting for repairs, the Japanese attacked and seized the city and control of the Philippines. To keep a long story short, Iliff and several other Americans were stuck in the Philippines dodging the Japanese. 

He didn’t just survive. He thrived. Iliff Richardson fell in with other Americans stranded in the Philippines and became a guerilla. His strategic mind and resourcefulness came to the forefront as he worked with the guerillas, establishing radio and telegram posts to improve communication and provide intel on Japanese ship movements. His contributions were not just significant; they were instrumental in organizing aid for the guerillas from the US. 

At one point, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy and an Intelligence Major in the Army. He is the only person receiving consecutive medals in the Army and the Navy. He served amongst the guerillas for years and the book American Guerilla tells his full and fascinating story. 

Back to America 

Iliff survived the war, and a book and movie were written about him. He worked as a life insurance salesman, a consultant and technical advisor for movies, and a firearm manufacturer. Iliff produced the guerrilla guns in a few different designs. They were all slamfire, 12 gauge shotguns of a very simple design. 

He essentially recreated the weapons he saw in the hands of the Guerillas in the Philippines for the American market. As you’d imagine, there wasn’t much of a market for such a shotgun. They didn’t make or sell many of them. They cost a whole seven dollars, but they still failed to attract much attention. 

The model you see here is the Basic model. The Deluxe gun had a trigger and a wood foregrip locked to the barrel. The trigger didn’t fire the gun but rather released the barrel to allow it to move and be shot. I grabbed one for a hundred bucks before I knew the story and was ecstatic to learn the history behind the gun. 

Shooting the Guerilla Gun 

I’m never planning to shoot this more than a handful of times, and I’m not brave enough to send some 3-inch magnum downrange either. I keep it to very light trap loads. Loading the gun is easy. Remove the barrel and insert the cartridge into the barrel. 

For safety’s sake, I never place a loaded barrel into the gun until I’m ready to fire and orient the gun downrange. You pull the barrel rearward to fire the gun, and the primer strikes a fixed firing pin. My guerilla gun lost its bead sight before it got to me, but a good sight picture is a bit of a dream with this gun anyway. Using the sight is tough when you have to slam the barrel rearward to fire the gun. 

The barrel has a lug at the bottom that aligns with a small cut in the receiver. This ensures that the barrel doesn’t twist; if there were a sight, it would align properly. So, how does it shoot? 

It’s got to be the most uncomfortable shotgun I’ve ever shot. The ‘stock’ is stupid thick, and you can’t get a great grip. It’s just solid wood that throws itself against your shoulder. The guerilla gun has a mean recoil impulse even with sub-1000 FPS trap loads. I would hate to have to shoot this thing with buckshot. 

The system works, but give the barrel a healthy slam rearward. Operating the weapon quickly isn’t easy. When the hulls expand, they can’t be easily removed. A cleaning rod is necessary to knock out the shell to reload and shoot again. It’s not fun, accurate, or easy to shoot, but it’s an experience. 

The Story 

Owning this gun is all about the story. It’s not a capable or fun gun to shoot. It’s downright silly. After firing it, I greatly respect the guerrillas who fought the Japanese with these guns. It’s slow to fire, tough to aim, and you got one shot against an enemy better-armed than you. Those guys had massive balls. While the gun didn’t succeed, I’m thankful men like Iliff Richardson did. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.