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HOMEMADE AND DEALY: Craft Production of Small Arms in Nigeria by Authors Mathias Nowak and André Gsell, June of 2018, 19 pages. This remarkable briefing paper provides a fascinating look into the underground production of personal firearms in Nigeria.  It also provides an instructive illustration of the basic limitations of gun control laws.

Nigeria has had extensive, strict, legal limitations on the ownership and manufacture of firearms since 1959. To illustrate the draconian nature of these legal restrictions, repairing of firearms without a government license to do so carries a legal penalty of a minimum of 10 years in prison.

The inspector general of police, with the consent of the governor of a state, can issue permits to virtually anyone they wish. It’s a classic “may issue” system, with all power centralized in the state governors. In practice, it appears no licenses to manufacture are given. But licenses to possess and carry firearms can be had.

In essence, this a pure rule of man, not a rule of law.


This Briefing Paper provides new research findings based on extensive fieldwork in four Nigerian states (Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, and Plateau). It reviews demand and supply factors that shape the craft market in Nigeria, finding that demand is driven by insecurity and conflict, but also by cultural and societal factors. Supply is mostly demand driven. The quality of the products and production methods varies greatly across the surveyed states. Craft production poses a significant challenge for the Nigerian state and will require a mix of holistic measures to regulate or deter it, ranging from improving security (and security perceptions) and the relationship between security providers and communities, to licensing, measures aimed at providing alternative livelihoods for craft producers, and a more comprehensive application of the relevant legal framework.

The briefing paper presents the results of 82 in-depth interviews in four Nigerian states, as well as the capital territory.  Included in these interviews are 23 small shop, or, as the briefing paper refers to them, craft firearms producers.

Because of the severe legal limitations on the purchase and ownership of firearms in Nigeria, nearly three-fourths of weapons seized there (1,150 of 1,559) from 2014-2017 were homemade (craft) guns. Factory-made guns are available in the underground economy, but are much more expensive than craft guns.

Prices vary from $41 for a single barrel craft shotgun to $175 for a craft copy of an AK-47.

Factory products on the black market vary from $118 for a single barrel shotgun to $1,330 for an AK-47.

Black market factory ammunition is readily available in 12 gauge, 9mm and 7.62mm at about a U.S. dollar per round cost. No underground production of ammunition was noted in the report.

There are discrepancies in the briefing that are ignored.


About one-fifth (17 per cent) of civilian, rural weapons holders countrywide possess craft weapons and one-tenth in urban areas, according to preliminary findings from the National Small Arms and Light Weapons Survey (NSALWS).

Yet 74% of confiscated firearms were craft made. No explanation is given. It seems unlikely that 80% of rural weapons owners have legal, factory produced firearms.

Machine tools and hand tools are increasingly supplanting craft/blacksmith production, which consists of centuries-old blacksmithing techniques.

Technical training in machining and use of educational facilities for demanding metal work show the infusion of more advanced technical knowledge into the craft firearms market.

While a primary assumption of Homemade and Deadly is that a reduction in civilian-owned firearms is always better, the research done provides useful information. When functional small arms from single-shots to sub-machine guns are produced in crude blacksmith shops, it’s obvious that the concept of effective firearms controls has serious limitations.

The authors, however, ignore the possibility that easier legal civilian ownership of firearms could have positive effects.

Nigeria is rated as having one of the lowest rates of firearm ownership at about 1.5 per 100 people. The United States has a private stock of over 400 million firearms, or an ownership rate of about 125 per 100 people. To reach the Nigerian level of firearms ownership, the number of firearms in the U.S. would have to be reduced by more than 98%. Note that the murder rate in Nigeria is about three times that in the United States.

The Nigerian experience shows that even an extremely low rate of firearms ownership is more than enough to supply violent criminals and to result in a murder rate three times as high as ours. If a country has a peaceful culture, they don’t need gun control. If they have a violent culture, gun control will do little if anything to reduce the crime rate. A similar situation is seen in Brazil.

In the United States, production of craft firearms would be a far simpler matter than it is in Nigeria, due to the easy availability of electricity, power tools, and the emerging technology of cheap CNC machines and 3D printers. This situation will only become harder to control in the future.

Oh, and there are likely tens of billions of rounds of ammunition owned by millions of gun owners in U.S., too.

I recommend Homemade and Deadly for anyone who is interested in the black market production of firearms and the inherent technological limitations of gun control laws.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

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  1. Ghost Gunner guys should make this book as a free gift for the first 10 orders each month.

    Make the Antis/Libsh_ts go crazy.

  2. Hard to put the genie back in the bottle once released.
    People will find a way to get what they want. Legal or not.

  3. Those don’t look half bad. Then again the pictures are kind of crappy.

    Okay on to the meat and taters of the propaganda, I call it propaganda because that just sounds nicer than communist bullsh*t being spouted by dumbass scientists in the UN. This SHOULD illustrate in plain, simple terms that gun control and in turn denial of self defense to the common person WILL NOT work, yet, here we are reading this study saying something to the effect of if we made this already illegal action even more illegal and maybe started putting more cops in more neighborhoods then perhaps people would finally stop carrying and making their own firearms. Problem is those police can still not be everywhere at once and will still not be able to protect the individual as quickly and as competently as the individual could protect themselves should the need for self defense and self preservation arise suddenly. Those craft guns are concrete, tactile proof that people will find a way to arm themselves be it to prey on their fellow man or protect what they have earned and until we find a way to make that unnecessary there will always be guns serving good and evil alike.

    • Also assuming of course that the police are honest, honorable, and not corrupt; as opposed to being part of the problem. From what I read, in that part of the world it’s more often the latter.

      • Yeah I think they made a whole TV series about it along with other 3rd world countries on National Geographic think it was called Locked Up Abroad….

        Generally police in that area of the world are far less concerned with human rights and far more concerned with getting their pound of silver for being such “paragons of virtue and industry”.

  4. There’s a truism in my profession, that you can classify the engineering, but you needn’t bother with the physics … the universe will tell you if you ask it the right questions.

    It’s a similar situation with weapons. For a given level of technology the same tools you use to make one thing can be used to make others … like weapons. Another truism is once you know something is possible, it’s easier to do it with a lower tech start.

    Finally, having the ammo prepackaged in a consistent form factor is a huge advantage. But it’s not a requirement.

    • There was a series on Discovery called Cuban Chrome that showed how inventive the ordinary people are at keeping cars from the 50’s running. They can make parts for carbs, brakes, body panels, pretty much anything, including small parts casting.
      Easily translatable to making guns.
      But they don’t. (Well, not much, anyway.) My opinion as to why: they know that, if caught, they will spend a long time in prison.
      Not like here; get caught doing a felony, it will be plea bargained down to a misdemeanor, with a small jail term (at most), which can then be used as bragging material to their peeps.

  5. Now this is more like it; usually it’s a bunch of roofing nails welded together into a directional hand grenade. Which I refuse to believe is how the illegal arms market actually looks in any of these places. As always, people with a clue & a little money can get what they want.

    • I view it like this. The media and government are going to find the crappiest examples they can find to show in order to discourage such endeavors or make it look super hard to make a single shot break action shotgun. So they’ll shop pictures to find the most messed up looking, bubba’d out homemade heaters they can to run in news stories. Meanwhile the real producers that are putting time and effort and skill into their product (illicit or not) go unmentioned and unrecognized.

      • “…make it look super hard to make a single shot break action shotgun.”

        Even for a single-shot, a break-action takes a bit of skill.

        Far easier in third world to improvise from a threaded cap for a breech. And that will get you a 12 gauge you can reload with black powder and match heads with ground glass to reconstitute the primers…

  6. And now, 3-d printed guns in the home of anyone who wants. Oh, the horror, the horror. Untraceable guns that can’t be followed back to the criminal. Just like the commercially produced guns purchased on the street from gangers and the black market. Whudda thunk?

    Somehow, though, there is some kind of law, waiting to be passed, that one day will make it possible to trace all guns directly to the person who committed a crime with it. That is the goal, right? Gun found at crime scene, no suspects identified, gun trace initiated, perp identified using only the trace, no other identifying elements needed! Yes. That’s it!

    We need laws that make it impossible to use a gun in a crime, and never be found. What are we waiting for? Write every politician. Tell them we need super traceability capability, now. For the children (or that one mythical child for which every individual freedom must be eliminated in order to keep them safe). We need more laws, so that criminals will be so overwhelmed with possible punishments they will give up crime, and apply for government retraining programs, and mandatory government income. That will end all the gun crimes without taking a single gun from normal people.

    So what if we have to maintain a universal database of DNA from every person in the country? We put a man on the Moon. With the ability to trace every gun directly to a perp, we can end gun crime in this generation!

    Really? You you misunderstood this? Not my fault; all the clues were there.

  7. Guns are state of the art 1890s-1910s technology. Sure, the improved designs came throughout the 20th century, but the basics haven’t really changed all that much. Truly, the last giant leap forward was the metallic cartridge in the mid 1800s.

    • A VERY low bar for “craft” is apparently uniafrican. Some places anything past the grass basket. I’d think smithmade would be more accurate (stone anvil and a piece of pipe for a hammer).

    • Without knowing the source of the steel used in the barrel, would you really want to fire it?

      JWT did a write-up on the next best thing, his ‘Khyber Pass’ AK build he did with a shop in Texas…

      • The people who make these guns are well known to their customers. If they screw up, and cause injury/death to these customers, the consequences can be catastrophic.
        Accidents happen, but the craftsmen who make these guns actually take pride in their products.

  8. a guy in an African mud hut builds 45s and sub guns and they think they can stop guns from being made here—where each town has a harbor freight in it??

    • And Lowe’s…Home Depot…Northern Tools…Ace…WalMart even.
      Not to mention tens of thousands of pawn shops and millions of garage sales…and flea markets.
      Have a Harbor Freight sale flyer by my keyboard as I type. LOL

  9. Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places on earth. Wholesale slaughter of Christians by muslims is occuring as we speak. My niece, her husband, 4 kids and newly adopted African 1 year old son are here in America deciding what to do. THIS article is illuminating to say the least. Most of the continent is on fire. Seeing how hard it is to be legally armed explains a lot. Nigeria sux…

  10. Ian should do a “Nigerian Mystery Pistols” selection it seems.

    Seriously though, what do they expect? In countries where there’s uncertainty a portion of the population will almost certainly arm as a hedge. History shows this is likely not a terrible idea for almost anywhere and anyone.

    • “In countries where there’s uncertainty a portion of the population will almost certainly arm as a hedge. ”

      Exactly. But, isn’t this a showcase example of entrepreneurship and capitalism? Find a need, set up a company, fill the need, make money. This is why freedom is such a threat to so many nations around the world; people getting what they want despite government.

  11. Makes those plastic 3d PRI Ted guns look Luke toys by comparison. I saw home made guns in the Philippines that were remarkably well made.

      • I have an ATI .45 1911. It’s reliable,and after putting an aftermarket beavertail & hammer on it, very comfortable to shoot. But not craft-made, same as RIA.
        I have,though, seen craft-made 1911s from the Philippines, and it’s very hard to see the differences in quality. They aren’t manufactured in one shop, instead one “shop” specializes in a few parts, which are assembled with parts from other shops,with any needed finishing done then. These guns are even provided with correct series serial numbers, so they will pass muster if found, looking like legal guns, but at only a part of the cost of a legal gun. And they don’t blow up. (very often, anyway)

  12. Just goes to show that if one can find a reasonable supply of ammo, ingenuity to find something to burn it in will follow.

  13. Does any thinking person believe “stock of over 400 million firearms, or an ownership rate of about 125 per 100 people”?

    Do the math where you allow for the size of your “arsenal” and that of the “average” gun owners.

    • 400 million is an accepted, if conservative, figure.
      Personally, I put the number somewhere between 500-550 million.

  14. The sure fire way to lower crime is to kill criminals.
    USA has like14-15,000 murders per year and 26 executions per year at best.

    That’s where the problem is.


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