Improvised weapons can be a valuable means of self-defense in emergency situations — when your life is on the line, any form of force-multiplier beyond your bare fists can sway the odds. Designs for these weapons can range from simple to sophisticated, as we’ve noted in several of our previous articles. However, the field of makeshift weapons goes beyond clubs, spears, and knives. It also includes improvised guns.

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Crude firearms have been constructed by various groups around the world, from small-time criminals to larger terrorist or paramilitary organizations. Analysis of these improvised guns reveals several clever methods of repurposing existing surplus equipment, as well as some surprisingly advanced design elements.

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Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons sat down with two firearm researchers from the UK to examine a few of the improvised and craft-built firearms which have been recovered and preserved. Check out the video below. We’ve cued it to the 4:43 mark, which is when discussion of the actual weapons begins. However, if you’d like to learn more about Jonathan Ferguson (Curator of the National Firearms Centre collection at the Royal Armouries) and Nic Jenzen-Jones (Director of Armament Research Services), watch from the beginning.

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