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This image from appears to be from a Portuguese police agency. Shotgun shells are often used for the clandestine manufacture of pistol ammunition. In many countries it’s much easier to obtain shotgun shells than pistol or rifle ammunition. In countries where severe restrictions on the private ownership of firearms have been imposed, shotguns are the least restricted.

In the extremely restrictive Soviet Union, shotgun cartridges were relatively available.  In England, the easiest firearm license to obtain is the shotgun license, as it is in Japan.

With a source of shotgun cartridges, you have everything you need to make pistol cartridges.  You have lead, from which bullets may be cast.  You have shotgun powder, which makes a good pistol gunpowder.  And you have shotgun primers, which can work for pistol primers.

In this case, the ingenious person who desired free market firearms, made a homemade double barrel shotgun.  It is a fairly simple, yet extremely effective firearm.  Improvised shotguns may be the most common homemade gun around the world. If you can obtain shotgun shells, a single or double barrelled shotgun is an obvious first choice.

But this budding Portuguese Colt went much further.

Desiring a reliable, multi shot, easily concealed and portable firearm, they built their own six shot revolver and unique, homemade cartridges.

From the picture, the cartridges use shotgun primers, shotgun powder, and homemade cases and bullets.


On the lower right, you can see the salvaged shotgun primers used in the homemade pistol cartridges.  The left circular tin appears to hold gunpowder.

The bullets, in the plastic bag, are of the “heeled” design, which is what early revolvers used, to simplify the construction of the cylinder.  Chambers for “heeled” bullets are simple bored through, without a step to take into account the thickness of the case. Caliber appears to be approximately .38/9mm. The case seems a little longer than a .357 magnum. I suspect energy levels and velocities on the order of a .38 special.

I do not know if the barrel is rifled or not.  As no sights are shown, it is likely smooth bored, but the person who put this together showed enough technical ability that they could have rifled the barrel.

The box to the left of the shotgun shells looks like a homemade reloading kit.  The shotgun shells seem to be typical 70mm or 2 3/4″ 12 gauge rounds.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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  1. Shotguns; most dangerous type of firearm in the hands of criminals, least effective firearm against tyrant enforcers.

  2. The title photo looks like an outstanding kit: where can I buy one, or two, or three?

  3. A homemade revolver?!?!? Ban drills, drill bits, hack saws, and files. Especially files, those bastards.

  4. In mountain villages of the middle east, shops are turning out handguns and AKs, along with an assortment of other firearms, and the ammo for them… BY HAND… with a drill press and hand tools.

    • And in packistan they have made garage firearms into almost art. Check this vid out:

  5. A revolver would not have been my first choice for an improvised handgun, but I’ve got to applaud whomever decided to make it their choice.

    • If you desire a repeater with, say 5+ rounds, able to fire a “man stopping” round (.38 and up) and still be concealable; isn’t a revolver easier than an auto? Especially so, given the constraints that the ammunition is homemade, hence to less tight tolerances. And that you have limited ability to test it’s operation in practice, given the clandestine nature of it’s manufacture.

      Revolvers certainly preceded autos historically. And autos consistently reliable and tolerant of less than perfect ammo, by even longer.

    • I also. Seems like to fulfill those criteria an over/under double pistol would be a much easier build. From the photo I can’t quite figure out the plan. The cases appear to be made of thin wall tubing, with no rim or other device. like a case mouth with a shoulder in the chamber to headspace on. What do you think they used instead? Or is it just that it was a project in progress, interupted by the police, and they hadn’t yet figured out a way to make it fire?
      I wouldn’t be the first time a kitchen gunsmith has put a large amount of work into a project with no clear understanding of how to make it actually work…

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