Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- A small shop was being used to make illegal pistols in Sussex, England. The police are said to have discovered the shop because of testing the illegal guns inside the shop. It is possible. It is far more common for such shops to be found by use of informants or sting operations. From telegraph.co.uk:
A large-scale illegal gun factory has been discovered on a Sussex industrial estate, the National Crime Agency has announced.
Investigators responded to what was believed to be gunshots coming from inside what the NCA called a warehouse unit describing itself as a gearbox repair business on an industrial estate in Hailsham, East Sussex.
Officers raided the building on Saturday night and found what they believe to be a “sophisticated” operation producing guns, of which the NCA has subsequently seized around 30.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) is dedicated to fighting organized crime in the UK. From the NCA:
Our role is to protect the public from the most serious threats by disrupting and bringing to justice those serious and organised criminals who present the highest risk to the UK.
The NCA describes the small shop as a “large scale illegal gun factory”. The equipment it has is common in millions of hobbyist basements and garages in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses have far better and more extensive machine tools in the United States.
In the UK, a former shop teacher explained that such machinery is very common, and is being sold surplus, inexpensively, as the industrial school shops are being shut down.
The language used may seem a little strange to anyone familiar with engineering and metalworking. Perhaps the speaker was trying to make it understandable to a journalist. From telegraph.co.uk:
“Every engineering workshop around the country that use shaping metal in their trade will have a lathe like this one. It’s used to to manipulate metal, make it rounded.
“It would also be used to create the slots for bullets in the cylinder of an older, traditional handgun and would be used to form the barrel of a gun.
“The milling machine – the machine on the right – would be used to very accurately create grooves on the outside of the gun.”
The machines are old tech, of course. They form parts by removing material, as opposed to 3D printing, which forms parts by adding material. The Bridgeport milling machine would have been made in Connecticut. If it was part of lend-lease during WWII, it appears to have been upgraded to Computer Numerical Control (CNC). Bridgeport started making mills in 1938.
With proper maintenance, such tools have a very long productive life. The making of pistols in a small shop is light usage. The machines would not wear out for many decades.
Machines such as these have been used in making firearms for 150 years. Production from other small shops sources in Pakistan, India, the Philippines, and Nigeria, indicate this shop could produce 20-30 pistols a month, if manned by 2-4 people.
Production would be facilitated if small parts were obtained elsewhere. Springs and pins could be sub-contracted without much risk, or smuggled in with little risk of detection.
High-quality finish and heat treatment is unnecessary for criminal use, but might result in a higher price in the underground economy.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.