Improvised weapons from the Croatian War of Independence

In 1991 the Croatian parliament voted to seceded from what was formerly the ‘Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’, leading to armed conflict between Croatian and Serbian government forces as well as various paramilitary groups formed along ethnic lines. An international arms embargo encompassing all of former Yugoslavia was passed shortly afterwards, leading an under-equipped newly independent Croatia to focus on domestic production of various small arms. On the lower end this included dozens of small workshops operating in rural areas which produced crude weapons for insurgency. Ante Lišnić, a 20 year old working out of his garage in Vrpolje, Trilj, produced various improvised firearms starting from single shot muzzleloading weapons to submachine guns and grenade launchers which were passed on to guerrilla fighters. Examples retained after the conflict ended in 1995 can be seen below.

Above: Small caliber machine pistols.

Above: A small caliber machine pistol with the magazine, like the Australian Owen SMG, positioned above the receiver while the recoil spring shows AK47 influence.

Above:  Machine pistol marked ‘M.1992’.

Above: A single shot 12 gauge shotgun pistol.

Above: A single shot rifle/carbine with ‘night vision’ capabilities.

Above: A grenade projector capable of firing a hand-lit bomb 300 meters.

Above: Improvised grenades with grids cut into the bodies, a typical technique used to increase fragmentation.

Above: An example of a modification carried out to an existing weapon, in this case brazing two AKM magazines together to produce one 60 round magazine.

Above: A starting pistol modified into a crude muzzleloading weapon. A barrel fashioned from a piece of iron pipe is attached to the top of a Rhom RG2 .22 starting pistol and positioned so that the vent hole is in line with the touch hole on the underside of the barrel.

All of these weapons were produced working in less than desirable conditions using basic hand and power tools native to most garages and sheds. Although likely suffering in the reliability and accuracy department, all would likely suffice in functioning as a ‘gun to get another gun’. The cottage industry in arms production which Croatia inherited during the breakup of former Yugoslavia is still alive today, as Interpol well know. Guns produced during this period such as the Agram 2000 and Zagi M91 were quickly diverted to the European criminal underworld, recent seizures suggesting that new design and development catering solely to this market is still ongoing.

Above: The Zagi M91 – The British 9mm STEN resurrected with a 90s make over.






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  • It looks like someone raided the armory on a Jawa sandcrawler.

    • SP mclaughlin

      Utini!

    • Savage

      thas how gun ban looks like

  • micmac80

    End result off all these projects was also HS2000 –> Springfield XD

    • Bucho4Prez

      Shots fired?

      • PK

        He’s being serious.The development started in 1991 as the “first Croation pistol”, the “Prvi Hrvatski Pištolj” or PHP, developed into the HS95, and ended up being the HS2000, which is now known in the USA as the XD.

        • Bucho4Prez

          I am well aware, just kicking a little sand…

        • Jim

          I have an HS95. It’s actually a pretty decent shooter, though on the heavy side.

  • TDog

    Not trying to be funny here, but I wonder how many – if any – soldiers or combatants were armed solely with hand-to-hand weapons like swords or pikes.

    • Paul Epstein

      Swords and pikes require a lot of skill to craft and are pretty obvious- there’s no reason to make one instead of one of the guns above unless you can’t access ammunition. A few museum pieces would be all I’d expect, and not necessarily intended to be used in combat. However, clubs, knives, axes, and chains would have all been available already made and wouldn’t necessarily result in arrest depending on circumstance. There’s a reason those have been staples of gang violence in many countries.

      • Tom

        A crude pike could be made quite easily though in modern warfare it would be pretty useless (its a formation weapon) probable better of with something more akin to a Zulu Assegai. But then again as you say its probable not much more effective than a basic hardwood club or hatchet or another tool one might have to hand. And all of these would be inferior to a basic bolt action rifle let alone an AK pattern rifle.

      • Dave

        The pike was the infantry solution to heavy cavalry. Think of it as predecessor to the Panzerfaust. Otherwise it is a cumbersome thing and there are better choices for confronting other infantry, including some of the homemade items pictured in this interesting article.

    • John

      Take a stick, and attach a knife to it. Voila, you’ve got a pike.

      Put the same knife on a gun and voila, you’ve got a bayonet.

      Anyone can make one if you need it.

  • RSG

    Makes me grateful that when the “Restorative War” finally begins here in the US, my arsenal is state of the art.

  • Bigg Bunyon

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. Leaving off the politicizing, all this just goes to show how necessity is indeed the mother of invention. They may look pathetic, but I’d venture to say those on the wrong end of one might offer a different perspective if they weren’t dead.

  • El Dude

    Damn! Dude has a Fein grinder…..he must have been the best equipped machine shop in Croatia.

  • GhostTrain81

    Admit it, when y’all saw #5, 6, and 7 you thought of Fallout.

  • kbroughton77

    #StillBetterLookingThanAHi-point

  • Dougscamo

    I didn’t know that RoyalSuchNonsense was Croatian…

  • Andrew Dubya

    The real question is if they`re any safer than an IO? Or a RAS47?

  • Jacob Peters

    Pashtuns in Dara seem to have produced better looking and functioning firearms with just hand tools and a lathe.

  • May

    Kind of surprised they didn’t paint the checker pattern red and white on those grenades.

  • May

    Someday someone will take a decent quality picture of the APS-95 rifle, but apparently not today.

  • dltaylor51

    Necessity is the mother of invention,they may be a little rough to look at but I wouldn’t want to get shot with one.

  • Zebra Dun

    No thanks I’ll take the rock please.

  • Savage

    now you know how desperate we were…International community even put arms embargo on us… but in 1992 we even had homemade UAVs.. at the end we won. 🙂

  • Savage
  • MichaelZWilliamson

    Rumor has it they were offered Hi Points but decided to make their own instead.