Improvised & Craft-Built Firearms w/ Jonathan Ferguson & Nic Jenzen-Jone

Today I am joined for a round table discussion (well, octagon table, technically) by Jonathan Ferguson (Curator of the National Firearms Centre collection at the Royal Armouries) and Nic Jenzen-Jones (Director of Armament Research Services) to discuss a variety of improvised and craft-produced firearms. All three of us are contributors to a research paper being published by the Small Arms Survey on this subject, and we thought we would take a few minutes to discuss it on video.


  1. LOL You and Nic look like you could be twins! I find this subject fascinating.
    Will this research paper be available to the general public?

  2. I once new a very young man who took two pieces of wood, put them together to form a pistol, then taped a car antenna to the “stock”, filed a “firing pin nose” to the front of a sliding door bolt which he attached behind the antenna, put a rubber band to the stock and the handle of the bolt so that when the bolt was lifter it struck a.22 short in the antenna. It fired and ejected quite nicely. He was of course from the Bronx.

  3. Correction…..that should read Lifted, not lifter. The door bolt would fly forward by the force of the rubber band and fire the .22 short.

  4. Looked like Jonathan was muzzling Nic with that SMG? Probably not. I didn’t catch what conflict that was from, just heard Loyalist, but I’m guessing not Spanish from the 30s.

    Interesting the way people get around legalities and manufacturing concerns; for example, converting a pepper ball firing Mak to a real handgun by drilling out the barrel or replacing it. Obviously done by people who have no concern for legalities regarding firearms, and, without getting political, like Jonathan said, a lesson to those who would seek to ban guns. Knowledge will out, and people find a way to make guns.

    I did perceive a slight sniff of disapproval from the Brits when Ian mentioned the business of rewatting chopped up machine gun parts into semi autos, or perhaps it was my imagination?

    I’m glad there’s a place in the UK that has firearms, besides the military, and the whole place kind of serves as a object lesson for what a society could look like, post ban. Where you fall on the political spectrum thinking that’s a good thing or not is up to you, but I digress.

    Can’t imagine firing that slam fire 12 gauge is much fun…

    • The weapon was from the Northern Ireland troubles. The Loyalists were pro NI remaining as part of the U.K. fighting the Republicans who were not. It’s still a very sensitive subject in many ways. Many unsolved murders many un prosecuted terrorists. Hence the edging around the background.

    • The “Slam Bang” shotgun was first seen in the Philippines, before WW2. Due to Ira Wolfert’s book American Guerrilla in the Philippines, Ens. Iliff Richardson, USNR, is generally credited with its invention, but actually it was used in the Ilocos region before he ever got there.

      he original version had a wodden ‘stock’ with the outer tube seated in it, and an iron breech plug with a rounded-tipped nail set in its center pinned in its rear end. The front section had no handle, you just grabbed the tube and yanked it back into the “receiver” to fire. Most were 12 gauge because nominal 3/4″ water pipe was a nearly ideal “barrel” for that size shotgun cartridge.

      The U.S. commercial version, made briefly after the war by “Richardson Industries”, was called the M4 Guerrilla Gun;

      Incidentally, it was an updated “breechloading” version of an improvised gun used by the Filipinos going back to the Spanish colonial period. That one was a simple muzzle-loader, firing black powder in a barrel made of either bronze water pipe or bronze wagon-wheel spoke material, two things the Spaniards introduced. It was operated just like the EOKA “matchlock pistol”, and due to the usual method of ignition was commonly called the “cigarette gun”.

      Improvised firearms of all types have been made in the Philippines for centuries. the most recent innovations have been not only “craft made” SMGs, but magazine-fed, fully-automatic shotguns.



      • “Most were 12 gauge because nominal 3/4″ water pipe was a nearly ideal “barrel” for that size shotgun cartridge.”
        BTW: Historical technical tidbit:
        Did you ever wonder why world* de facto** standard for mortar size is 81 mm?
        This size was introduced by Stokes during Great War
        he was civil engineer and decided to use readily available pipes (codenamed “3-inch”) for which actual “caliber” was 3.2 inch or 8.14 cm
        * Soviet Union intentionally introduced 82 mm, so mortars can use 81 mm ammunition but 82 mm ammunition could not be used in 81 mm mortars.
        ** during Second World War Great Britain deployed Ordnance ML 3 inch mortar, despite name it was in reality 81 mm

  5. Don’t think that any gun ban will get people to stop killing each other. They will find a different method to achieve their goals, as unethical as they may be. You may as well build a time machine for the purpose of “correcting” history, which does not work out well for anyone.

  6. Again, I also hope for an explanation of the other guns
    On the table. That white plastic looking thing especially.

  7. I am hoping that one of the “cool guns” in future videos is the 7.62 Sterling LMG. I’ve seen pictures but I really need to see the mechanism. You showed me the BESAL; Now show me the Sterling!

  8. It is a shame we don’t get to look at the famous loyalist smg in disassembled state, with internals exposed – but seeing this museum “26 thousand and three” guy Jonathan struggling with finding and operating magazine catch, and failing to collapse the folding stock afterwards, that is somewhat understandable.

    Should he acquire more mechanical boldness, additional video on it, or set of disassembly photos would be very much welcomed from many topic interested researchers, as it is, just as he correctly stated, an impressive design when put in comparison with some other “craft made” crude guns.

    Also, this “ban the evil factory made magazines” suggestion was really not necessary, at least not from the mouth of gun loving people,
    it could be almost as devastating as J. Sullivan (unintended?) remarks on semi auto AR-15 some years ago, that received press coverage and heavy flak from gun community.

  9. In most european states if not all most pistol assalt rifle and smg magazines on the market have 1 magazine lip milled off.
    Also under ECC regulations deactivated guns must be totally welded shut
    Befor this outside of the uk on most deactivated guns the trigger and sear was funtional the bolt moved but the bolt face was milled off and you could remove the mag but as I said one feed lip was removed
    The change in the law was due to the attacks in Paris where blank firing assult rifles from slovakia were reactivated in belgium or france
    In order to reassure the general public they blamed deactivated weapons
    You may keep yoUr firearm deactivated under the old rules but if you wish to sell or transport it it must be welded up at a government armory in france at ST. ETIENNE

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