Match Gun

Section III

No. 7

An improvised weapon using safety match heads as the propellant and a metal object as the projectile. Lethal range is about 40 yards (36 meters).


  • Metal pipe 24 in. (61 cm) long and 3/8 in. (1 cm) in diameter (nominal size) or its equivalent, threaded on one end.
  • End cap to fit pipe
  • Safety matches - 3 books of 20 matches each.
  • Wood - 28 in. x 4 in. x 1 in. (70 cm x 10 cm x 2.5 cm) Toy caps OR safety fuse OR “Strike-anywhere matches” (2)
  • Electrical tape or string
  • Metal strap, about 4 in. x 1/4 in. x 3/16 in. (10 cm x 6 mm x 4.5 mm) 2 rags, about 1 in x 12 in. and 1 in. x 3 in. (2-1/2 cm x 30 cm and 2-1/2 cm x 8 cm)
  • Wood screws
  • Elastic bands
  • Metal object (steel rod, bolt with head cut off, etc.), approximately 7/16 in. (11 mm) in diameter, and 7/16 in. (11 mm) long if iron or steel, 1-1/4 in. (31 mm) long if aluminum, 5/16 in. (8mm) long if lead.
  • Metal disk 1 in. (2-1/2 cm) in diameter and 1/16 in. (1-1/2 mm) thick Bolt, 3/32 in. (2-1/2 mm) or smaller in diameter and nut to fit
  • Saw or knife


1. Carefully inspect pipe and fittings. Be sure that there are no cracks or other flaws.

2. Drill small hole in center of end cap. If safety fuse is used, be sure it will pass through this hole.

41 1 Match Gun

3. Cut stock from wood using saw or knife.

41 2 Match Gun

4. Cut 3/8 in. (9-1/2 mm) deep “V” groove in top of stock.

41 3 Match Gun

5. Screw end cap onto pipe until finger tight.

6. Attach pipe to stock with string or tape.

41 4 Match Gun

7. Bend metal strap into “L” shape and drill holes for wood screw. Notch metal strap on long side 1/2 in. (1 cm) from bend.

41 5 Match Gun8. Position metal strap on stock so that the top will hit the center of hole drilled in end cap.

9. Attach metal disk to strap with nut and bolt. This will deflect blast from hole in end cap when gun is fired. Be sure that head of bolt is centered on hole in end cap.

41 6 Match Gun

10. Attach strap to stock with wood screws.

41 7 Match Gun11. Place screw on each side of stock about 4 in. (10 cm) in front of metal strap. Pass elastic bands through notch in metal strap and attach to screw on each side of stock.

41 8 Match Gun


A. When Toy Caps Are Available:

1. Cut off match heads from 3 books of matches with knife. Pour match heads into pipe.

41 9 Match Gun2. Fold one end of 1 in. x 12 in. rag 3 times so that it becomes a one inch square of 3 thicknesses. Place rag into pipe to cover match heads, folded end first. Tamp firmly WITH CAUTION.

41 10 Match Gun

3. Place metal object into pipe. Place 1 in. x 3 in. rag into pipe to cover projectile. Tamp firmly WITH CAUTION.

4. Place 2 toy caps over small hole in end cap. Be sure metal strap will hit caps when it is released.

NOTE: It may be necessary to tape toy caps to end cap.

41 11 Match Gun5. When ready to fire, pull metal strap back and release.

B. When “Strike-Anywhere” Matches Are Available:

1. Follow steps 1 through 3 in A.

2. Carefully cut off tips of heads of 2 “strike-anywhere” matches with knife.

41 12 Match Gun

3. Place one tip in hole in end cap. Push in with wooden end of match stick.

4. Place second match tip on a piece of tape. Place tape so match tip is directly over hole in end cap.

41 13 Match Gun

5. When ready to fire, pull metal strap back and release.

C. When Safety Fuse Is Available: (Recommended for Booby Traps)

1. Remove end cap from pipe. Knot one end of safety fuse. Thread safety fuse through hole in end cap so that knot

is on inside of end cap.

2. Follow steps 1 through 3 in A.

3. Tie several matches to safety fuse near outside of end cap.

41 14 Match Gun

NOTE: Bare end of safety fuse should be inside match head cluster.

4. Wrap match covers around matches and tie. Striker should be in contact with match bands.

5. Replace end cap on pipe.

6. When ready to fire, pull match cover off with strong, firm, quick motion.

41 15 Match Gun


1. Locate a barrier such as a stone wall or large tree which you can stand behind in case the weapon explodes when fired.

2. Mount gun solidly to a table or other rigid support at least ten feet in front of the barrier.

3. Attach a long cord to the firing strap on the gun.

4. Holding the other end of the cord, go behind the barrier.

5. Pull the cord so that the firing strap is held back.

6. Release the cord to fire the gun. (If gun does not fire, shorten the elastic bands or increase their number.)

IMPORTANT: Fire at least five rounds from behind the barrier and then re-inspect the gun before you attempt to shoulder fire it.

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