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At the point you have determined the weapon to be unloaded, make an assessment of its mechanical condition as follows.
1. Was there spring resistance when you pulled the cocking piece back? If not the pistol is broken and unsafe. Do not load it.
2. Is the bottom of the firing pin boss worn to the point that the cocking piece can be bumped closed from the 90 degree safe position without pulling it rearward? If it can the pistol is unsafe. Do not load it.
3. Close the cover slide and return the cocking piece to firing position over an empty chamber. The sear should be engaged by the connector and the face of the cocking piece should stands off about ¼” from the rear face of the tube strap. This is what the pistol looks like when it is cocked. If the cocking piece goes fully forward the connector is not engaging and holding sear properly and the pistol is unsafe. Do not load it.
4. If the pistol is capable of cocking, Check the condition of the connector and sear for excessive wear. With your fingers outside the trigger guard, bang the grip firmly into the palm of your hand several times. If the cocking piece comes forward, the sear and connector are too worn and the pistol is unsafe. Do not load it.
5. Pull the trigger and dry fire the pistol while watching the cocking piece. The cocking piece should move rearward about 1/8” as you pull the trigger and then abruptly forward as the connector releases the sear. (The Liberator is a type of double action pistol.) If the cocking piece does not more rearward before releasing there is a problem with the firing mechanism that might result in mis-fires and the pistol should not be loaded.
6. If the pistol dry-fires properly, grasp the zinc cocking piece and pull it rearward again listening for a metallic click as the connector engages the sear. If you do not hear a click, there may be a problem with the sear, connector or the parts that hold them in alignment and the pistol should not be loaded. If you hear a click, release the cocking piece and see if it holds position ¼” from the rear of the tube strap.
A pistol that is not disqualified for any of the reasons above is functioning properly but may still be dangerously fatigued.
Step #1. To open the action of an unloaded and mechanically functional pistol, hold the grip frame firmly in the weak hand below and completely outside of the trigger guard and without touching the trigger. Then grasp the zinc cocking piece of the unloaded pistol firmly between the thumb and forefinger of the strong hand.
Step #2. Pull the zinc cocking piece rearward against spring pressure slightly over ½” until its face is clear of the rear of the grip frame below it. It will require some force to pull the cocking piece back against the strong spring pressure. You should hear a metallic click about halfway through the pull as the connector engages the sear to cock the pistol.
Step #3. Turn the zinc cocking piece immediately 90 degrees to the right or left and lower it gently so it rests on the rear of the steel grip frame below it. It is important that before attempting to turn the cocking piece that it be pulled fully back, as illustrated below, so that the firing pin boss does not get damaged by scraping against the steel frame. Once the zinc cocking is resting on the rear of the grip frame at 90 degrees to the right or left, spring pressure should hold it securely in this position. THIS IS THE FP-45 LIBERATOR’S SAFETY. It is impossible for a properly functioning pistol to be discharged while in this mode.
Step #4. Pull up against spring resistance on the tabs of the cover slide to expose the chamber. Its spring will hold it in this position until closed. INSURE THE BORE IS CLEAR AND FREE OF OBSTRUCTIONS BY LOOKING THROUGH IT BEFORE LOADING.
Step #5. With the muzzle pointing downward, place a cartridge in the chamber and press it all the way in with your finger tip.
Step #6. Close the cover slide over the loaded chamber. It should snap down smartly into place and stay down under spring tension regardless of the orientation of the pistol.
Step #7. Grasp the cocking piece again between thumb and forefinger and draw it back against spring pressure lifting it off the back of the grip frame. Rotate it 90 degrees back to firing position being careful not to scrape the bottom of the firing pin boss against the corners of the steel grip frame.
Chapter 2: Procedures for loading, firing and ejection of spent cartridge cases from the FP-45 Liberator
The information here is to be used in conjunction with that presented in the Chapter 1: Safety procedures for determining if the FP-45 Liberator is loaded, rendering it safe and evaluating its mechanical condition. Portions of Chapter 1 are repeated here for clarity but this is not a substitute for careful study of Chapter 1. YOU MUST READ THE PRECEDING CHAPTER 1 FIRST!
Each boxed pistol included a graphically illustrated instruction sheet suitable to convey the basic operation of the weapon. None of the basic principals of marksmanship were addressed in the wordless twelve pane sheet but the ten rounds of ammunition packed with it surely must have conveyed the message that practice was advisable. The operation of the FP-45 Liberator is demonstrated here in the following two chapters for academic and safety interests only. We strongly advise that you do not fire original pistols. If you do, you should have a qualified gunsmith inspect the pistol for functional soundness. We have provided some important guidelines for a basic inspection below in Chapter 1. Since the FP-45 Liberators were made of unfinished steel, they are highly susceptible to rust damage. This damage is difficult to see inside the pistol. They also look like toy guns of the early 20th century and it is known that some were used as children’s toys. These could have been dry fired to the point of causing severe wear on the fire control components. The FP-45 Liberator pistol cannot easily be disassembled for repair. Once they are broken they stay broken, with the exception of the repairs made by Vintage Ordnance Company on a case by case basis.
Chapter 1: Safety procedures for determining if the FP-45 Liberator is loaded, rendering it safe and evaluating its mechanical condition.
Step #8. Once the cocking piece is aligned in firing position, gently bring it forward with spring pressure insuring the upper guide pin goes into the guide pin hole in the top of the cover slide. The cocking piece will only go forward about half the distance you initially withdrew it. There will be about ¼” of space between the face of the guide rod pin boss and the tube strap. THE PISTOL IS NOW COCKED AND READY TO FIRE. HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE. DO NOT CARRY THE PISTOL IN THIS MANNER. IT COULD DISCHARGE IF DROPPED CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH. NEVER LOWER THE COCKING PIECE ALL THE WAY DOWN SO IT IS RESTING ON THE PRIMER OF A LIVE CARTRIDGE.
Step #9. Carefully switch the cocked pistol to the shooting hand. RECOIL IS ROBUST. GRIP THE PISTOL FIRMLY. Take aim on the target and place your finger on the trigger to squeeze it when you are ready to fire. The FP-45 Liberator is a simple double action. When you pull the trigger the cocking piece will move back about 1/8” before release at which point it will fly abruptly forward to strike the primer of the chambered round and fire the pistol. Recoil is very strong. Like .44 magnum, it can split the web of the shooting hand after only a few shots.
Step #10. In some guns with very poor headspace, the cocking piece will be hit with such recoil force that it can be knocked rearward to the point that it may partially or fully catch on the rear of the grip frame as illustrated below. THIS RECOIL GENERATED “HALF COCK” CAN DAMAGE THE FIRING PIN BOSS THAT HOLDS THE COCKING PIECE SECURELY IN SAFE MODE. If this happens, simply grasp the cocking piece, pull it back, and turn it the rest of the way to the 90 degree safe position. INSPECT THE FIRING PIN BOSS FOR DAMAGE THAT COULD RENDER IT INEFFECTIVE IN HOLDING POSITION IN SAFE MODE.
Step #11. Pull open the cover slide to expose the fired cartridge case. It will stay open with the support of its spring.
Step #12. Use the wooden rod to eject the spent casing.
Step #1. Grasp the zinc cocking piece and pull it back slightly over ½” until the face of the zinc casting is clear of the rear of the grip frame below it. It will require some force to pull the cocking piece back against the strong spring pressure. You should hear a metallic click about halfway through the pull. This should be the sound of the connector engaging the sear. In a properly functioning pistol, the weapon is cocked at the point you hear the click and the cocking piece would not move forward if it slipped from your grasp. TAKE NO CHANCES. DO NOT RELEASE THE ZINC COCKING PIECE IF YOU HEAR THE CLICK. TURN THE ZINC COCKING PIECE 90 DEGREES TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT IMMEDIATELY AFTER ITS FACE CLEARS OF THE REAR OF THE FRAME. It is important that before attempting to turn the cocking piece, that it be pulled fully back as illustrated below so that the firing pin boss does not get damaged by scraping against the steel frame.
Step #2. Once you have turned the zinc cocking piece 90 degrees to the right or left, spring pressure should hold it securely in this position. THIS IS THE FP-45 LIBERATOR’S SAFETY. It is impossible for a properly functioning pistol to be discharged while in this mode. WARNING: A PISTOL WITH A THE BOTTOM OF THE ROUND FIRING PIN BOSS (ON THE FACE OF THE ZINC COCKING PIECE) WORN AWAY FROM CARELESSLY DRAGGING IT ACROSS THE STEEL FRAME DURING THE LOADING/UNLOADING PROCEDURE COULD SLIP OFF THE SAFE POSITION AND DISCHARGE. IF THE COCKING PIECE OFFERS LITTLE OR NO RESISTANCE WHEN PULLED REARWARD, THE SPRING MAY BE BROKEN AND THE COCKING PIECE MAY SLIP OFF OF THE SAFE POSITION AND DISCHARGE THE PISTOL IF DROPPED OR OTHERWISE DRIVEN FORWARD.
Step #3. Pull up on the tabs of the cover slide and look in the chamber to see if the pistol is loaded. IF IT IS LOADED, USE THE PEN OR OTHER SLIM OBJECT YOU HAVE BROUGHT FOR THE PURPOSE TO GENTLY TAP THE ROUND OUT FROM THE MUZZLE END TO RENDER THE PISTOL SAFE.