Portuguese Homemade Revolver Uses Homemade Cartridges

This image from homemadeguns.wordpress.com 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.
Gun Watch


  1. avatar FormerWaterWalker says:

    How cool is this! You can’t stop the signal…

  2. avatar barnbwt says:

    Shotguns; most dangerous type of firearm in the hands of criminals, least effective firearm against tyrant enforcers.

    1. avatar Excedrine says:

      Until you get in close. 😉

    2. avatar Stuki Moi says:

      Those fighting tyrant enforcers, will always be deemed “criminals.” in a world without just law, the term is nonsensical.

  3. avatar FedUp says:

    “In the extremely restrictive Soviet Union, shotgun cartridges were relatively available.”

    In the extremely more restrictive Soviet Washington, District of Communism, possession of a single shotgun shell will get you a violent in-home visit from a police death squad and a felony charge.


  4. avatar PK says:

    You should link directly to the article, not to page three of the blog, just for future readers:


  5. avatar uncommon_sense says:

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

  6. avatar uncommon_sense says:

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

    1. avatar Capybara says:

      I see what you did there! 😉

    2. avatar Behind the lines in the PRK says:

      ” Especially files, those bastards.”
      Thanks for the chuckle in an otherwise bleak week.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Aw shucks. It’s the least that I can do for our brethren behind enemy lines.

    3. avatar strych9 says:

      Well played.

  7. avatar DaveW says:

    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.

    1. avatar kenneth says:

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

  8. avatar fiun dagner says:

    I look at this and I see Fallout 4 pipe weapons. Is that just me?

  9. avatar don curton says:

    I’m seeing Fallout 4 weapons too.

  10. avatar Louis Marschalko says:

    Cylinder looks like a Kimber. Six sided.

    1. avatar Benzo says:

      Just like a Rhino – but even uglier!

  11. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    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.

    1. avatar Stuki Moi says:

      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.

    2. avatar kenneth says:

      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…

  12. avatar Model66 says:

    Clearly a Portuguese Man O War.

  13. avatar Stuki Moi says:


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