Franken-gun on Uros Islands, Peru

Okki, a reader of TFB, discovered a primitive blackpowder shotgun in use by locals at the Uros floating islands on Lake Titicaca, Peru.

Okki said …

I was on vacation in Peru this month and while visiting the Uros floating islands on Lake Titicaca I noticed one of the local’s firearm. I could see from a distance that it was old, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it actually was. upon permission of the owner I handled the weapon and noticed it was a percussion cap muzzle loader. It was thoroughly rusted and i was surprised the action would actually cycle. The barrel had been cur right in front of the chamber and a new “barrel” had been welded on. The new barrel, I was told, was a piece of pipe that was salvaged of a truck. A small welding bead was used for the front sight. I’m not sure if the stock is original.

As mentioned, the owner still actively uses the weapon to hunt birds. He makes his own bullets and apparently is able to successfully hunt with it. Based on the condition, I would not fire it personally and risk life/limbs, but it is a testament to the resourcefulness of the native people in the high arid desert or Peru.

Can anyone identify the gun? I suspect the action is of local manufacture and very old.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Bob Z Moose

    How great would it be if someone started complaining about their gun and you just turn to them and say, “There’s some people in Peru that have shoot old, rusty guns.”?

  • JonMac

    I wouldn’t bet on it being that old. Late 19th century at the earliest. Very crude – original design by some local ‘gunsmith’ – hand-made with a forged lock and hammer. Interesting nonetheless.

  • Burst

    Without knowing much about Peru’s laws, it’d certainly be cool to take up a collection and get the guy a shiny new scattergun.

    Because let’s face it, the birds deserve it.

  • Okki

    @JonMac, That’s an interesting line of thought. The hammer wasn’t ornate in design, but with the amount of rust on it, it may simply have worn off. however, an inornate hammer/side plates would hint more at local manufacture compared to European import via conquistadors or merchants.

    It was a percussion cap muzzle loader. The nipple was thoroughly rusted as well to the point where it was being pushed out of the breech. If you look closely at the close-up photo you can see it being canted backwards. It looked like it originally screwed into the breech.

    I could not discern any patterns or beautification on the lock plates.

    As mentioned, a local “gunsmith” did do some “barrel” work on it, replacing the original with a piece of smooth bore salvaged pipe. The owner told me (via a translator; my Spanish is pretty bad and I don’t speak Aymara) he makes his own ammunition for hunting fowl with it.


  • howlingcoyote

    Can People in Peru legally own any/or what type of firearms? How are their laws compared to the USA?

  • Matt G.

    That’s a gun that I don’t want to be on either end of!

  • pyotr

    I’m not so sure about getting him a “proper” shotgun.

    Here he has a gun which he can use & repair, which does not require fancy expensive imported (if only “from the big city”) shells. If I were to get him a new gun, I’d get him another percussion cap firing muzzle loader. Which he might save for special occasions, and continue using “old Reliable” for the usual needs.