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'Smart gun' technology

Personalized Firearms and Electronic Safety Devices: Perspectives

To support the conference ‘Smart Technology in SALW Control: Civilian Protection, the UN-POA, and Transfer Control (SmartCon)’ in Berlin on 17-18 June 2013, the Small Arms Survey commissioned a background paper reflecting various perspectives of the ‘smart gun’ debate.

Small Arms

Small arms include revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles and carbines, assault rifles, sub-machine guns, and light machine guns.

Pistols and revolvers are the most widely dispersed and numerous of small arms. Law enforcement and military personnel now favor semi-automatic pistols instead of revolvers. The world’s most popular military-style handgun, in terms of sheer numbers, is the Makarov 9mm pistol, produced by the Izhmash plant in the Russian Federation for at least 50 years. However, the 9mm Browning Series pistol, produced by FN Herstal (Belgium), is the most widely distributed handgun. Glock (Austria), Beretta (Italy and US), Sturm, Ruger & Co (US), and Smith & Wesson (US) are some of the world’s largest suppliers of handguns.

Bolt-action rifles are progressively being replaced by semi-automatic versions in law enforcement and specialist military units. ‘Carbines’ are short-barreled variants of standard rifles. 12GA shotguns, such as the ones manufactured by Mossberg (US), are very popular in the military, law enforcement and commercial markets.

Automatic assault rifles are predominantly used as infantry weapons. The market is dominated by three weapons—the Kalashnikov AK series (The Russian Federation), the M-16 series (US), and the FN-FAL (Belgium). Market rivals include the following rifles: G3 (Germany), SIG 540 Series (Switzerland), AUG (Austria) and the Galil (Israel).

Sub-machine guns (SMGs) are small, light automatic weapons that fire pistol-calibre ammunition to short ranges. The 9mm Sterling SMG, although no longer in production in the UK, has been produced under license in India and Canada and is in service in more than 90 countries. The 9mm MP5 SMG is produced by Heckler & Koch (Germany) and is in service in over 50 countries. The standard 9mm Uzi, produced by IMI (Israel), is in service in at least 50 countries, with estimates of total global licensed and unlicensed production ranging as high as 10 million since the model was introduced in 1953.

Light and general-purpose machine guns are crew-served infantry weapons used to provide supporting fire. The following machine guns are produced mostly under license, and widely distributed:

  • The 7.62mm RPK light machine gun, manufactured by various state factories in the Russian Federation, and produced under license in Bulgaria, Iraq, and Romania.
  • The 7.62mm FN MAG, manufactured by FN Herstal (Belgium).
  • The 7.62mm MG1/2/3 series, manufactured by Rheinmetall (Germany),
  • The 7.62mm HK21 machine gun, originally produced by Heckler & Koch (Germany).
  • The .50 Caliber Browning M2 heavy machine gun, manufactured by General Dynamics (US).

Small Arms Survey Publications

  • Searching for Stability: Perceptions of Security, Justice, and Firearms in Libya, August 2014. Security Assessment in North Africa Issue Brief No. 1

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  • Traditional Military Rifles, January 2014. Research Note No. 38, Weapons and Markets.

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  • Small Arms of the Indian State: A Century of Procurement and Production, January 2014. India Armed Violence Assessment Issue Brief No. 4 (Also available in Hindi).

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  • FAL Rifles in Libya: A Guide to Data Gathering, by Damien Spleeters, July 2013. Security Assessment in North Africa Dispatch No. 1 (also available in Arabic)

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  • Legacies of War in the Company of Peace: Firearms in Nepal, May 2013. Nepal Armed Violence Assessment Issue Brief No. 2 (Also available in Nepali)

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  • Accessories for Small Arms and Light Weapons, February 2013. Research Note No. 26, Weapons and Markets.

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  • The US Firearms Industry: Production and Supply, by Jurgen Brauer, February 2013. Working Paper No. 14.

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  • Military Assault Rifles, January 2013. Research Note No. 25, Weapons and Markets.

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  • Pistols and Revolvers, October 2012. Research Note No. 22, Weapons and Markets.

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  • Availability of Small Arms and Perceptions of Security in Kenya: An Assessment, by Manasseh Wepundi, Eliud Nthiga, Eliud Kabuu, Ryan Murray, and Anna Alvazzi del Frate, a joint publication of Kenya National Focus Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and the Small Arms Survey, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. June 2012. Special Report No. 16. (This report is also available in Swahili. An Executive Summary including recommendations is also available in English and Swahili.)

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  • Blue Skies and Dark Clouds: Kazakhstan and Small Arms, by Nicolas Florquin, Dauren Aben, and Takhmina Karimova, May 2012. Occasional Paper No. 29 (also available in Kazakh and Russian; Executive Summary available in English, Kazakh, and Russian)

    Download (1.23 MB)
  • Private Security Companies’ Firearms Stockpiles, March 2011. Research Note No. 4, Armed Actors.

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  • Small Arms ID Cards

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  • Small Arms ID Cards (in Spanish), focusing on small arms more commonly found in Central and South America. Co-published with CERAC.

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  • Craft Production of Small Arms, March 2011. Research Note No. 3, Weapons and Markets.

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  • Small Arms in Brazil: Production, Trade, and Holdings, by Pablo Dreyfus, Benjamin Lessing, Marcelo de Sousa Nascimento, and Júlio Cesar Purcena, a joint publication of Viva Rio, ISER, and the Small Arms Survey, September 2010. Special Report No. 11

    Download (5.43 MB)
  • Surveying Europe’s Production and Procurement of Small Arms and Light Weapons Ammunition: The Cases of Italy, France, and the Russian Federation, edited by Benjamin King, July 2010. Working Paper No. 10

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  • Blowback: Kenya's Illicit Ammunition Problem in Turkana North District, by James Bevan, June 2008. Occasional Paper No. 22 (Executive Summary also available)

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  • Conventional Ammunition in Surplus: A Reference Guide, edited by James Bevan, co-published with BICC, FAS, GRIP, and SEESAC with support from the German Federal Foreign Office, January 2008.

    More information
  • Small Arms and Light Weapons Production in Eastern, Central, and Southeast Europe, by Yudit Kiss, October 2004. Occasional Paper No. 13

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  • Beyond the Kalashnikov: Small Arms Production, Exports, and Stockpiles in the Russian Federation, by Maxim Pyadushkin with Maria Haug and Anna Matveeva, August 2003. Occasional Paper No. 10

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Other Publications

  • Florquin, Nicolas. 2014. Arms Prices and Conflict Onset: Insights from Lebanon and Syria. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. May.

    More information
  • Chivers, C.J. Small Arms, Big Problems. 2011. Foreign Affairs. Vol. 90, No. 1. January-February.

    More information
  • Jones, Richard D. and Andrew White. 2008. Jane's Guns Recognition Guide, 5th edn. New York: Harper Collins.

    More information
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Further Resources


     
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