This paper reports on the design and performance of a large diameter diaphragmless shock tube that has been recently developed in order to experimentally study various basic characteristics of the gas-dynamic laser (GDL). The main engineering element of the shock tube is a diaphragm-like sliding piston (in place of a rupturing diaphragm) by which normal shock waves are formed. The role of such a structure in generating repeatable shock waves is discussed. The shock tube performs in good accordance with the simple shock tube theory, as has been verified so far by experiments with some conventional lasing gases (gaseous mixtures of CO2 and N2 and those diluted with an excess of He) at shock wave Mach numbers ranging from 1 to 5. Recent results of the stagnation conditions achieved in the shock tube with application to GDL experiments are included as well.