Croatian Improvised Weapons: From Obrez to Single-Shot Yugo M70 Hybrid

During the Croatian Homeland War – as in all wars of independence – a wide variety of cobbled-together firearms were used by people who could not access proper factory arms for one reason or another. Today I’m as the Sisal Municipal Museum looking at four different examples from specifically the Sisal area in Croatia. Two are 16ga shotguns (16ga was more common there than the 12ga we are used to in the US), one is a classic Enfield “Obrez”, and one is a neat hybrid of a Yugoslav M70 AK onto a single shot break action frame.

Thanks to the Sisak Municipal Museum for giving me access to film these!


  1. “(…)In the Us we always think of 12 gauge as
    the standard, and 16 as weird aberration.(…)”
    This is viewpoint of year 2023, it was not always so, according to
    …decline of the 16-gauge in the United States is linked to the post-World War II era. The 16 Gauge Society reported, “For the first half of the past century, a 16-gauge was the gun of choice for experienced upland shooters here in America and on continental Europe as well.”
    If I would not know that presented weapon is 16 gauge pistol, I would assume it is some flare pistol at 1st look, c.f.

    • Obrez would mean something like cut down, cut up.
      In any case its a term that originated either in Russia/eastern europe or USA market (like american invented name: Krinkov, for AKSU).
      And while a variant of word exists in croatian language (obrezivanje is, for example a verb, means “circumcision; likewise, more comically,there is a term: “sultanov obreznjak” – it means Sultans Circumcized Dick, a joke/light insult connected to “Bosnia”, used like: “they can take it and stick it on S.C.D.”)
      specifically the name Obrez for cut down arms was never used in belligerent territories during 90s in ex-Yugoslavian wars.

  2. That Enfield is not an “Obrez”. It is a Rifle No. 4 action (note the two-position flipover battle sight) that was manufactured as an instructional cutaway for armorers. While it could still be fired, it was never really intended for anything but teaching Army technicians to service and repair the No. 4.

    A similar one, based on an SMLE No. 1 MK 3 action, was recovered from the IRA in Belfast in the early 1970s. it is illustrated in Improvised Modified Firearms by J. David Truby and John Minnery.

    clear ether


    • As there was so great shortage of firearms compared to available people that wanted to join the military, even pieces from ww2 museums were used, so having this cutaway thing used made sense – though tbh I’ve never heard of Yugoslavia having Enfields and stocking them after ww2, like they did with old Thompsons and PPsh41 and such.
      Its possible this was bought in some western europe army surplus shop as curio/relic in 90-91 and being so small shipped/smuggled as an aid, desperate for everything that can shoot, even such bizzare stuff.

    • Fifty years ago in the Philippines, Jeep steering wheel shafts were used as barrels for fully-automatic shotguns operating on the standard advanced primer ignition blowback principle of most submachine guns. Internally, they closely imitated the mechanism of the Sten MK II.

      clear ether


      • So called “API” actually does not exists or functions as such in blowback small arms – only in rebated rim cartridge automatic AA cannons.
        It is a widely repeated and reposted internet pseudotechnical myth.

        • Actual experts who write books and manuals (such as W.H.B. Smith, Joseph Smith, Edward C. Ezell, et al) have been using that term since WW2. Defined as “bolt still moving forward when primer is detonated, requiring gas pressure to overcome bolt’s forward motion inertia before beginning to push it backward”. The objective being to reduce needed bolt mass in the SMG, which in most cases is a fairly heavy item to begin with.

          It predates the internet by roughly half-a-century. if that’s a problem for you, I’d suggest you take it up with the guys who write the books and manuals.



          • The benefit of passege of time which happened, as you mentioned, in more then half a century, is that beside these old age experts at their time, swathes of new scientists and involved people worked on various hypotheses, often disproving them.
            If these old age experts were using some terms, not knowing any better at the time (remember so called Blish lock?), we today certainly do not have to fall under their fallacies.

            Imo, it was result not by intelligent design, but a coincidence, primary design consideration in open bolt guns was in simplicity of its firing pin and fcg, because weight reduction of bolt was not significant.

            On the other hand, in dedicated real API in cannons, weight reduction was massive and warranted, as their primary design considerstion wasnt having fixed firing pin (on the contrary, they had system that must be actuated as bolt is still moving, which sounds like not very simple).

  3. The name of town is Sisak, name/word Sisal doesnt mean anything in croatian, nor it exits in any form.

    16ga were very common because steering shaft of one mini automobile, so called Fićo (license built fiat 500), was of the right dimension for it, but not slip fit, it still needed chambering.

    Last rifle is imho afterwar most likely poachers modification, because there isnt a single reason why anyone in 1991. would cut up serviceable m70 rifle (which were valuable and scarce until fall of the JNA barracks) into such inferior single shot thing. But its interesting none the less.

      • That is theoretically possible, but imo, probably unlikely so early in 1991.
        You would have to have a gun with destroyed receiver and somehow intact barrel, which is hardly possible if it suffers such random battle damage.
        Only if somebody swung it at a tree as a baseball bat, john wayne plastic M16 “mattel” style 🙂

  4. “Obrez” likely originated in Russia/Eastern Europe or the USA market, similar to the American-invented name “Krinkov” for the AKSU. While a variant of the word exists in the Croatian language, the specific term “Obrez” for cut-down arms was not used in belligerent territories during the 1990s in the ex-Yugoslavian wars

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