Homemade Carlo Submachine Gun Plaguing Israel

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

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 . . .

From haaretz.com:

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.


  1. avatar jwm says:

    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?

    1. avatar JoshFormerlyinGA says:

      “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.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        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.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I don’t see any sights so accuracy is probably iffy at best. 🙂

        2. avatar Southern Cross says:

          You only need minute-of-person in a drive-by or on a crowded bus.

        3. avatar notalima says:

          “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?

    2. avatar DMZ says:

      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.

  2. avatar Mark N. says:

    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. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    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.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      Durra, Erbil? They’ve got it all, by making it.

  4. avatar FormerWaterWalker says:

    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…

  5. avatar nuke_road_warrior says:

    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.

  6. avatar stevor says:

    I’m wondering why so popular in israel

    1. avatar Tim U says:

      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.

  7. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    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.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      Can’t be dangerous. There’s no shoulder thingy that goes up…

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        And I seriously doubt that heavily modified clip can fire 30 magazines in 30 seconds.

      2. avatar DaveL says:

        Unless you count the venturi.

  8. avatar Evaris says:

    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.

    1. avatar William says:

      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.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        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.

      2. 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.

        1. avatar William says:

          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.

        2. 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.


        3. avatar sagebrushracer says:

          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.

        4. avatar Louis says:

          Web site not working

        5. avatar Clarencex says:

          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.

        6. avatar LordGopu says:

          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.

        7. avatar Toni says:

          @Dean Wintergarden
          can you repost the link. i tried to find it but not working

        8. avatar Toni says:

          @ Dean sorry had not seen the link reposted lower down. Got it 🙂

  9. avatar Wrightl3 says:

    Is this the new hi point?

  10. avatar Dr Brainwash says:

    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.

  11. avatar Anonymous says:

    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.

  12. avatar Chuck in IL says:

    I thought AK’s were like a$$holes in the Middle East?

    1. avatar Dr Brainwash says:

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

      1. avatar Toni says:

        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………

    2. avatar ed says:

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

    3. avatar explainist says:

      close. AKs are carried by assholes in the middle east.

  13. avatar Stuki Moi says:

    If only all wannabe terrorists would base their handgun/subgun designs off of recoilless rifles……..

  14. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    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.

  15. avatar Kaban says:

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

  16. avatar Murray says:

    I would have thought a smooth bored STEN copy easier to make

  17. avatar Southern Cross says:

    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.

    1. avatar Toni says:

      i would suggest that the Owen gun of Aussie fame would be even easier to make

  18. avatar explainist says:

    add an integral suppressor for the full unintended consequences package deal.

  19. avatar Vitsaus says:

    Haaretz is a far-left newspaper in Israel. It began as the main paper for Israel’s socialist party.

  20. avatar Kevin says:

    He lost me a couple times, but especially at the end with the shotguns in the US nonsense..

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email