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"The 'Carlo,' otherwise known as the Carl Gustav submachine gun." (text and photo courtesy

Guns aren’t difficult to make. Submachine guns are some of the easiest to construct with simple tools. Add a $100 electric welder from Harbor Freight and they become a project for a few weekends. Once the templates and jigs are produced for a small shop, they can be turned out with a few hours of labor. Brazil has many simple homemade submachine guns showing up on its street The number found in Israel is rising . . .


A thin strand connects the three most recent shootings in Jerusalem. Similar to other incidents characterizing the current wave of terror, the terrorists didn’t know each other, there was no guiding hand, and there was no coordination. However, all of the attackers used the same weapon – a “Carlo,” as it’s known on the street.

I cringe at the next sentence, but we are used to seeing just as bad in the United States.

It’s a homemade imitation of the Swedish-made Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, which was used primarily in the 1950s and ’60s

The author obviously confused the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle with the Carl Gustav M/45 9mm submachine gun. The recoilless rifle is about 41 inches long, fires a single 84mm projectile, and weighs about 20 lbs. It has an excellent reputation, but it is not so easily reproduced in small shops, and the ammunition is far harder to come by.
The black market prices for the guns and ammunition are fascinating.  They rather remind me of the prices that are commonly quoted for drugs in the U.S.; often highly inflated.

However, over the years, as the illegal market for standard weapons became more and more expensive – Kalashnikov and Tavor rifles can cost between 60,000 to 80,000 shekels ($15,400-$20,500) – the Carlo was improved and became more widespread. Today, almost anyone can pick up the weapon from a starting price of around 3,000 shekels, up to northward of 17,000 shekels for an especially high-quality version.

 Real Carl Gustav 9mm M/45 show significant similarities to the crude copies.  But the individual/small shop manufacturer left off many things as superfluous.  Things like the stock, sights, and barrel shroud.
There is a mention of 3,500 shekels for 45 cartridges.   That is $900 for 45 cartridges, or $20 a 9mm cartridge!  That seems to be where the real money is.
Ammunition is not hard to make in small shops. There are plenty of sources available on the Internets about the manufacture of ammunition. The hard part for submachine guns: smokeless powder.
Bullets are very simple, cases a bit harder, primers a weekend project. It is easier to make primers than smokeless powder. Smokeless powder takes precursor chemicals and procedures that are not high school chemistry; consistency is important and difficult. But black powder is easy, as many high school students have found out.
Perhaps, if you are going to smuggle in smokeless powder, you just smuggle in 9mm cartridges. They are one of the most common cartridges in the world. For suicide type attacks, only a handful are needed.
In the United States, we do not see as many of these homemade submachine guns, though they show up with some regularity. There are so many other weapons available that there is little incentive to manufacture submachine guns.
A 12-gauge shotgun with buckshot provides the same functionality in the United States as a submachine gun. It has the added advantage of being a good choice for hunting birds and deer with appropriate ammunition. Both guns and ammunition are easily and cheaply available.
These small shop/homemade submachine guns serve to show the futility of banning guns and of the unintended consequences that result from such bans.
[Click here for more information on the Carlo in Israel]
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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  1. Deja vu. Didn’t we just run this post where the evil Israeli’s were taking the home made sub guns from the nobel freedom fighters? Or is my CRS acting up?

    Also that mag looks pinned. Is there a 10 round limit on illegal sub guns?

    • “Also that mag looks pinned. Is there a 10 round limit on illegal sub guns?”

      Looks like a highly modified AR steel mag. Probably holding some sort of “bubba-fied” internal volume reduction for the 9mm.

      • ah that’s what I was wondering about… did not look 9mm like. Then again since the news article confused it with a ‘recoilless rifle’ I’m not sure we can depend on any accuracy.

        • “I don’t see any sights so accuracy is probably iffy at best. ”

          Come on, jwm, Shannon, Mike, and Sarah all say that you can mow down countless hordes hip-firing those evil automatics (with or without the shoulder thing that goes up). Hip firing is the way you’re suppose to get the best accuracy out of them there guns. They wouldn’t lie to us, would they?

    • The issue there was Israel’s very strict laws on private gun ownership leading to gun confiscation even when there’s no evidence a particular owner had criminal intent.

      This post seems to address the realities that allow good guys and bad guys alike arm up, regardless of what the law says.

    • Its probably got a 9mm or other pistol caliber conversion sleeve inside the magazine. Few of these can handle the pressure of rifle ammunition. Those with 5.56 or other rifle caliber magazines are reportedly typically actually pistol caliber weapons with the magazine internally adapted to the physically smaller cartridge. If you look at the ejection port area it doesn’t look like there is actually any gas piston attached to the bolt/carrier either.

  2. At least the Times of Israel got it right:

    The Carlo, as it is known, derives its name from the Carl Gustav m/45 submachine gun, a design that was adopted by the Swedish army in 1945 and later licensed to Egypt, where units were sold under the names Port Said and Akaba, according to a forthcoming report authored by ARES for the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research institute.
    Illustrative of Carl Gustav m/45 sub-machine gun (Wikimedia/CGM45, CC BY-SA 4.0)

    Illustrative of Carl Gustav m/45 submachine gun (Wikimedia/CGM45, CC BY-SA 4.0)

    But a “passing visual similarity” is where the connection between the Carlo submachine gun and the semi-automatic Carl Gustav rifles end, the report said.

    Most of the current Carlos are based on designs from “American publications, which were readily available via mail order services, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s,” Jenzen-Jones told The Times of Israel over the phone.

  3. There are 80+ year old men in the Khyber Pass who have been cranking out fairly accurate Enfields, TT-33 pistols, and AKM’s with nothing more than a basket of hand tools and a few simple molds for most of their lives. This smg doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, but boy is it fugly.

  4. Wonder how many weapons like this are in Bury Soetoro’s newest vacation playground-Cuba? Makes you go “hmmm”…if you can keep a 53′ Buick running on bondo…

    • There is a cottage industry there keeping them running. One guy makes brake shoes, another rebuilds fuel pumps, another does carbs, gaskets are often cut from cardboard or scrap rubber, etc, so, yeah, they could make firearms. Cubans are resourceful.

  5. Oh the irony! Prior to partition in 1948 the Haganah had several clandestine factories making STEN copies and copious quantities of 9mm ammo.

    Determined folks will always find ways around mere laws.

    • Because Israel has extremely restrictive gun laws. All the photos you see of Israelis with guns are actually IDF or police.

      Every nation has their criminal element. When it’s too expensive or hard to get a real gun on the black market, they turn to home brew improvisations

      ironically this is very much in line with Israeli history. The original Israeli fighters looking to defend themselves from Arabs under the British mandate made quick and dirty sten copies. A lot of that improvised weaponry turned up in the 1948 War of Independence too, as did an eclectic combination of ww1 and ww2 era bolt action rifles.

    • Israel has relatively restrictive gun laws. Everybody from people simply needing a means of defense to terrorists and street criminals wants to circumvent them. The Israelis should not be at all surprised. Their grandparents did the same thing to circumvent British gun control in the region before Israel became an independent state. The idea that 21st century populations with 21st century knowledge and tools can be stopped from doing what people in the 19th 18th and earlier centuries did is pure fantasy. Technology is going to kill even the fantasy that gun control can be sustained.

  6. It’s a homemade imitation of the Swedish-made Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, which was used primarily in the 1950s and ’60s
    Priceless. Sounds like a Kalifornication Gun Grabber.

  7. Isn’t single base smokeless / nitrocellulose powder fairly simple to produce? I would have thought (from my admittedly limited knowledge base) that primers would be more difficult to produce than single base smokeless powder.

    • Primers are easier but more dangerous than smokeless powder to make. That’s why I have a couple manual guns in .44 Magnum – if I run out of powder, I can reload them with black powder and they’ll be roughly as powerful as .357 smokeless loads. Making smokeless from scratch is beyond my abilities right now.

      • Don’t primers require heavy metals such as mercury or lead? Also from what I understand, if not formulated precisely correctly, they can be sensitive to the electric fields generated by the human body, and therefore can explode from simple handling.

      • Primers are actually pretty easy to make, if you are willing to accept the WWI level of corrosive priming compound known as H48.

        There appear to be hundreds of people making and using this compound to create reliable, effective berdan and boxer primers, and to make percussion caps.

        It is harder to make non-corrosive primers, but even that has been overcome by a dedicated researcher at castboolits. He has successfully just finished his 1000th non-corrosive primer, making 20-30 a day. His system uses a variant on an Ely priming process, where the sensitive compounds are created in the priming cup. The anvil is inserted while the process is going on, and before it has finished. The key to safety is to mix the priming compound in very small batches, no more than 2 grams at a time, typically 1 gram or less. 1 gram is enough for 30 LP or LR primers, or 45 SP or SR primers. Then you refill the priming cups, and you are good to go. The 10- 20 primers takes about 15 minutes, once you have the process down

        Non-corrosive primers require that you manufacture precursor chemicals. It takes a first semester college level of sophistication to do this. That makes it a bit trickier than the corrosive variety, which is about the complexity of a reloading recipe.

        I am working on an article about this fascinating topic.

        • Mercury fulminate is probably the easiest to make, and is listed in the FM for Improvised Munitions, but it’s rather tempermental. Like I said, primers are easier to make, but fairly dangerous as they are shock sensitive. People also tend to mix batches that are too large – if you drop a cup of mercury fulminate, say bye-bye.

        • It turns out potassium chlorate, sulfur, and ground glass make a good mixture and require no chemistry.

          Add stibnite (antimony sulfide) instead of sulfur, add a little varnish as a hardener/stablizer and you have the H48 mixture that is one of the best. WWI ammo is still being fired a hundred years later! This document gives superb details.


        • improvised weapons and munitions are a fascinating subject. I will be eagerly awaiting your article.

          And our politicians want to restrict 3D printers? LOL, 1st world problems.

        • I personally would use lead styphnate for the primer. Not that hard to make, and more stable than mercury fulminate. The fun thing with chemistry is that you can’t really control the raw materials, for example, picric acid can be made from Asprin, and Nitrocellulose is literally nitrated cotton.

        • I’ve seen people use match heads as powder and paper caps as primers and they both worked pretty well if I recall correctly.

          The caps were cut down to size and then the anvil was taken out of the cup and the caps were placed in with the anvil on top.

  8. I’m surprised we don’t see some proliferation of improvised black powder weapons and ammo across the world. I mean it’s less effective and makes a hell of a lot of smoke, but with prices like that I’d figure it would be done.

  9. From the source article:

    Because of the benign and predominantly non-military uses for the machinery needed to create such weapons, rooting out their manufacturers is something of a lost cause.

    That’s right. Take note America – Israel gets it.

    • Getting them inside Israel might be something of a challenge. From my understanding they actually protect their borders, quite effectively. Unlike most western nations.

      • They have a much smaller border with a high concentration of people in the area than a good many western nations (especially USA, Canada and Australia who have the largest border area of all western nations). This in and of itself makes it easier for them to control the borders effectively. Still does not totally stop the terrorists but it does slow them down a hell of a lot. Now if they armed all Israeli citizens as well especially once they had done their stint in the IDF………

    • Interesting that the designer has included a mocked up AK-style gas tube on this blow back weapon. Obviously pandering to the AK-image!

  10. I think I’m in love. I found a new gun to put on my bucket list of Chinese Mystery Pistols, Khyber Pass guns and similar. Always love the skanky ones.

    Seriously though, this is something I’ve thought would be a cool bucket list item as a tinkerer. Even if it was as simple as a basic blow back gun. I’d like to do 25 or 32 auto for the low cost of reloading home cast bullets or even pellets within the case, but would probably settle on 9mm for brass availability. Naturally in semi auto. What’s interesting to me is that these guns are likely significantly simpler to produce than anything I could just because they’re already illegal and don’t have to sweat the NFA BS.

  11. “…imitation of the Swedish-made Carl Gustav recoilless rifle” is a winner. Definitely beats my favorite “traumatic rifles”.

  12. The Swedish K (aka Carl Gustav) SMG is descended from the STEN and MP40, and is about the simplest SMG that can be made. No surprises it is often used as a template for homemade or clandestine weapons.

    The one in the pic looks like it has a gas system and is in 5.56, so I’d classify it as carbine instead of a SMG. Only a detailed examination can reveal the true details.


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