Semmerling LM-4: A Defensive Weapon

Semmerling LM-4 is one of the most unusual pistols in existence, a pistol designed solely as a defensive weapon and using a unique mechanical action.

Ian Hogg


Semmerling LM-4: Defensive Weapon
Semmerling LM-4 pistol is a defensive weapon (Photo: Semmerling Corp.)

Semmerling LM-4 is one of the most unusual pistols in existence, a pistol designed solely as a defensive weapon and using a unique mechanical action. It is also one of the strongest and probably the most expensive .45 – the last quoted price was $748. Manufacture ceased in the late 1980s, but the unusual features of the pistol make it a desirable addition to any collection.


The Semmerling LM-4 looks like an automatic but is actually hand-operated. It was designed by Phillip R. Lichtman in 1979. The frame carries a heavy standing breech and the four-round magazine and trigger mechanism; on the forward section of the frame is the barrel unit which can slide forward, exposing the chamber. When it is manually pushed forward and pulled back, the chamber slides over the top round in the magazine and the breech is closed.

Semmerling LM-4 defensive weapon
Semmerling LM-4 is a manual repeating pistol chambered in .45 ACP caliber (Photo: Semmerling Corp.)

Pulling the trigger now brings up a lock to hold the barrel in place during firing and then cocks and releases the hammer to fire the cartridge. The fire then pushes and pulls once more on the barrel, first ejecting the fired case and then reloading the fresh round.


This all sounds very difficult, but with practice, it all works very well; the light-weight and small size of the Semmerling LM-4 demand a two-handed grip, and thus the free hand is ready to perform the reloading movement. This can be done by thumb pressure on the serrated area on top of the barrel,  or by grasping the side serrations.

The firer must remember to release the trigger, however, since as long as the trigger is pressed, the barrel I securely locked to the breech; conversely, if the breech is not properly closed, then the trigger cannot move and the pistol cannot be fired.


There is no manual safety; however, there is a slight possibility that in drawing the pistol from a holster the barrel could be pulled forward, and to guard against this there is a holster lock lever on the right side which can be set to hold the barrel firmly closed. It is automatically disengaged as the trigger is pulled to fire the first shot. The sight compromise a fixed blade front and square notch rear.

The recoil is quite violent, but accurate shooting in combat is no problem. It should only be used with standard military or jacketed commercial .45 ACP ammunition, and handloading should be done carefully so as not to exceed standard pressure levels.

Technical specifications: Semmerling LM-4

Manufacturer: Semmerling Corp., Newton, MA 02160, United States
Type: manual repeating pistol
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel: 3.656 in (92.8 mm)
Weight (empty): 26.05 oz (751 grams)
Capacity: 4 rounds


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1 thought on “Semmerling LM-4: A Defensive Weapon”

  1. You are kidding, right? A pistol that takes both hands to operate? As compared to any of dozens of semi-autos or DA snobby revolvers. Sorry but you ain’t Repairman Jack.

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