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18.4.2021 : 5:14 : +0200

'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

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

    Download (252.08 KB)
  • 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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