Introduction: A Knife From a Shot Out M1 Rifle

Picture of A Knife From a Shot Out M1 Rifle

About a year ago, I was contacted by a friend of a friend and asked if I could make a knife out of a shot out M1 (it had been shot so many times that the rifling was almost gone from the bore). It sounded like a fun project, so I said "sure".

This picture shows what I was sent, prior to any work being done.

Note that I made an educated guess that the barrel was 4140 steel, and annealing, hardening, and tempering were done based on that assumption.

I did the best I could with pictures, but I was working by myself when I made this knife, so there are no active work shots.

Step 1:

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Here's the barrel after annealing.

Step 2:

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Here the annealed barrel has been cut into bite sized pieces with my bandsaw.

Step 3:

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Next, I cut a slit along the length of one side of the piece of the barrel I chose to make the blade from. I did this by opening up the bandsaw guide and addressing the blade vertically.

Step 4:

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Handle scales cut from the stock. Very nice black walnut. Mmmm, tasty.

Step 5:

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I heated the barrel in my forge, and started opening it by driving it onto the point of the horn on my anvil. After I opened it sufficiently, I forged it into a rectangular billet.

Step 6:

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After the billet was formed, I bandsaw cut the profile. I would normally forge the profile, but there were a number of grooves in the billet that I could not forge weld closed - I suspect that this was due to chromium, which can prevent welds - and 4140 does contain chromium.Leaving the grooves on the surface, where they could be mostly ground away, was a better choice than forging them in and causing cold shuts from failed welds.

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Here's the completed profile with a notch cut for the guard and pins drilled for the handle scales.

Step 8:

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The bevels have been ground, the blade has been normalized, hardened, and tempered, and I've signed the blade.

Step 9:

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Here the scales have been roughly shaped and pinned to the tang, and then finish sanded in place. Note that the front of the scales should be finished prior to the scales being attached - that surface is very hard to finish after the scales are attached.

Step 10:

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I counter sunk a hole over each pin to accommodate the base of the bullet casings that the customer provided. After they were fitted they were epoxied in place.

Step 11:

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Here's the finished knife and sheath. Please feel free to ask questions about this project.


Chief741A (author)2017-02-05

Can't tell without seeing the receiver - I'm not exactly a gunsmith - but that sure looks like an M1 Carbine stock, not an M1 Rifle. I am a retired soldier, and I am old enough to have handled a couple dozen M1 Rifles, and I have never seen one with with a sling relief cut into the stock like this one did. I suspect that you sacrificed a Carbine, not a Rifle, to make this knife.

I know, picky picky, they are both rifles - but there is a difference. If you had cut up an M1 Rifle barrel I might have had to say prayers for you at my shrine to the prophet Garrand... and it was painful enough to see that beautiful walnut stock sacrificed, but I guess that sin was committed by the owner of the carbine...

Please tell me that was an M1 Carbine and not an M1 Garrand Rifle.

tgdula (author)Chief741A2017-02-06

I've handled and shot Garands and carbines, but a very long time ago, so I'm no expert. The unanimous consensus among people I trust is that it's a carbine.

ksoem (author)tgdula2017-03-06

The stock looks like it is from M1 carbine. But, then it is odd that given brass cases are 30-06 cases.

shepnstein (author)Chief741A2017-02-16

I own an M1 carbine, and that is definitely what this one is

Eagleman117 (author)2017-02-06

How will i make this if i only have a pellet gun that we still use????

tgdula (author)Eagleman1172017-02-08

I suggest that you buy some steel and supplies from


jdanielb (author)2017-02-07

This knife has a great profile. Well done.

tgdula (author)jdanielb2017-02-08


ThomasL127 (author)2017-02-04

Knife making to me is the ultimate in craftsmanship, here is yet another example. Wonderful!

tgdula (author)ThomasL1272017-02-04


RogerJ32 (author)2017-02-03

great sharp looking Knife !! ;) Bravo for that Kind of Work..a Masterpiece

tgdula (author)RogerJ322017-02-03

Thank you!

IvanC52 (author)2017-02-03


your forge home made?, and if how, do you have a film for that.

thumb up, all ten.

Hi Ivan, Denmark

tgdula (author)IvanC522017-02-03

I have made some forges, but not the one in the pics. It's an Ellis forge with a T-Rex burner.

Thank you!

russbrew2 (author)2017-02-03


tgdula (author)russbrew22017-02-03


Josehf Murchison (author)2017-02-02

Did you enter this in any contests.

tgdula (author)Josehf Murchison2017-02-02

No... I'm not seeing any that apply. Did I miss one?

Josehf Murchison (author)tgdula2017-02-02

Trash to Treasure, Epilog, Build a Tool, a knife is a tool, and if you reference other knife making Instructables, Remix however you can only enter 3 contests.

tgdula (author)Josehf Murchison2017-02-03

Contests entered - pending approval. Thanks!

tgdula (author)Josehf Murchison2017-02-02

Excellent. Thanks!

Josehf Murchison (author)tgdula2017-02-02

That is a nice knife, I would have rebored the rifle to a Ackley improved 8 mm but a knife is a good use of the steel.

ndr1968 (author)2017-02-02

Here's what's so sad about this. That rifle probably was NOT shot out! It very well may have had enough rounds through it to cause severe copper fouling but could probably have been recovered from that easily enough with simple copper solvents and elbow grease or for a bit more money there are electrolysis gadgets on the market to make it easier.

Point is that what appears to be "barely visible" rifling appears that way because the groves are literally full of copper and only one side of the land will be visible.

tgdula (author)ndr19682017-02-02

Not in this case. I'm very careful not to put copper in my forge at high temps (steel forging temps). It melts and gets in the forge lining, takes forever to burn out, and is very effective at preventing forge welding. At the
first sign of green flames I would have stopped forging and cleaned the barrel.

dseymour4 (author)2017-02-01


tgdula (author)dseymour42017-02-02

Thank you!

charlesian2000 (author)2017-01-31

Wondering if you acid treated the blade, you may get patterning.

You'd have to polish the blade up quite a bit, but it could be interesting.

Maybe with the next knife you make.

tgdula (author)charlesian20002017-01-31

4140 won't form a hamon. The 10 series steels and W2 are best for that. I've done quite a few of them in the past, and I'd post some pics in my response, but the Add Images button isn't working.

charlesian2000 (author)tgdula2017-01-31

It just looked like the metal of the barrel had some differentiations in the metal that may be exposed with an acid bath.

If you have a scrap of barrel left over could be worth a shot ;-)

sharpstick (author)2017-01-31

What is the purpose of the notch in the blade? I've seen that in old knives before.

Drake88 (author)sharpstick2017-01-31

One other purpose for the notch - it can extend the use of the knife. With age and repeated sharpening, eventually the edge meets up with the portion of the metal that hasn't been thinned to shape the blade. When this happens it can be difficult to get the edge completely sharp near that point.

I have a few knives that have reached this point, and what I do is use a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel to cut a small notch in where the tang meets the thinned metal blade. Some of my knives have been handed down in my family from father to son, one is over 200 years old - and strangely enough, it holds the best edge of all my knives. Legend is, it was forged by my great-great-great-grandfather when he was boy being trained as a blacksmith. I know that the scales have been replaced twice, and that it was taken to Europe by my grandfather during WWII, but much more than that can't really be proven.

tgdula (author)sharpstick2017-01-31

I went through a few design changes during the process, mostly because the steel fought me the whole way. Ultimately the notch was just for aesthetics - to differentiate between the ricasso and the blade a bit, and with the added bonus of being a wrench and maybe a bottle opener. :)

julienb48 (author)sharpstick2017-01-31

I suppose it's a beer opener.

condorsc (author)julienb482017-01-31

Actually, Kukris have a double notch, and it s purpose is to denote something, either religious or tribal affiliation.Can't remember what.

RayJN (author)sharpstick2017-01-31

It is to help prevent blood from running onto the handle. Kukris have a notch but not as big.

cavalier19 (author)2017-01-31

that's a neat piece of work. The knife still reflects its history with the cartridge bases.

BunnyN2 (author)2017-01-31

I don't mean to be mean or anything, I love your knife, but WHY did you have to take the barrel off of a M1??? That is my favorite military rifle! Couldn't you taken another rifle barrel and used the M1 for display?

tgdula (author)BunnyN22017-01-31

The barrel and stock were provided by the customer - this is what he wanted.

coffeejoejava (author)2017-01-31

Absolutely stunning knife.

tgdula (author)coffeejoejava2017-01-31


JOBAfunky (author)2017-01-31

Very nice work! You're inspiring me to get my forge setup and running.

tgdula (author)JOBAfunky2017-01-31

Excellent! Contact me if you need any advice.

spiritwalker6153 (author)2017-01-31

While I am one to try to save an old rifle, this is a really cool way to re-purpose an old M1 Carbine. Using the stock wood for the scales and bullet casings to cover the pins was a nice touch. It somehow keeps everything together, both literally and metaphorically.

tgdula (author)spiritwalker61532017-01-31


czarnian (author)2017-01-31

Any chance you can share the cutout of this knife? I very much loved it!!! thank you, very good ible"!!!

tgdula (author)czarnian2017-01-31

I didn't use a template, but I did trace the blank before I put the handle on it. I'll scan it and post it this week - IF the Add Images function works - right now it's dead. If you don't see it posted here by Friday, use the contact form on my website to email me, and I'll send it to you.

gclegg1121 (author)2017-01-31

Very nice workmanship. I like the bullet casings hiding the pins. It is very nice and functional.

tgdula (author)gclegg11212017-01-31


Chunck (author)2017-01-31

Nice work! Did you build your own forge? I'm with the folks that hate to see an M1 stock cut up, but I understand it was the owner's choice. I can see where that steel would have been a real B#%CH to work with. Kudos!

tgdula (author)Chunck2017-01-31

Thanks! I have built a couple of forges, but the one in the pictures is an Ellis with a T-Rex burner.

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