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11.4.2021 : 18:07 : +0200

From Replica to Real: An Introduction to Firearms Conversions

Firearms conversion—mechanically altering an accessible replica firearm to function as a ‘real’ weapon—has been widely used by those wishing to circumvent legislation that restricts access to firearms.

A new Small Arms Survey Issue Brief, From Replica to Real: An Introduction to Firearms Conversions, gives an overview of illicit firearms conversion, and the challenges the practice presents for small arms control. By providing an understanding of why and how such weapons are produced it offers a crucial foundation for measures to combat the proliferation of converted firearms.

The Issue Brief finds blank-firing handguns are the most commonly converted replicas worldwide, but many other types of replica firearms are also highly convertible.

  • Certain replica models are more appealing for conversion, because of the materials used in their construction and the ease with which it is possible to circumvent barriers that prevent them from firing real ammunition.
  • There is higher demand for converted firearms when access to conventional firearms is more difficult because of legal restrictions or high cost.
  • Criminal elements are also attracted by the untraceability of such weapons.
  • Law enforcement agencies around the world frequently confiscate large numbers of replica firearms, often expressing concern about their possible conversion.
  • While firearms conversion is a global practice, it is more frequently reported in European nations, and most recently in several African countries.

From Replica to Real discusses several types of replica firearms used in conversions and explains their unique features.  It presents data on the global proliferation of converted firearms, including national records, open source searches, and interviews with law enforcement agencies. The Issue Brief also examines the motivations for conversion as well as the impact of current small arms control efforts on shaping that demand.


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