NCA UK seize 79 “illegal” firearms

The National Crime Agency in United Kingdom just made huge news as they arrested eight people and seized 79 illegal firearms hidden in engine blocks.

A vehicle with a trailer was trying to pass the border between France and the UK, but could be stopped before it entered the tunnel under the Channel.

A search of the vehicle’s trailer revealed 79 handguns and ammunition concealed in the engine blocks.

It’s just that the illegal firearms are all 4 mm and 6 mm, so they must be BB guns.

BB guns are air guns. While they can be dangerous, they are by no means as dangerous as real firearms.

I don’t know the UK legislation well enough, but I have checked several sources and it seems BB guns are not “illegal” per se.

For instance I used this source: BB Guns and the Law (UK). It seems that AGE of the owner and the COLOR Orange are important if you want to follow the law. I quote:

Minimum age to purchase a BB gun is 18 years. An adult must supervise persons 14 to 18 years of age. No gun should be carried in a public place unless in transit when it should be unloaded and placed in a bag. Guns must not be concealed on one’s person, or pointed or fired at another human or animal. Safety glasses and other protective clothing should also be worn when operating the gun or viewing.

With the VCR bill introduced October 2007, the law as it stands in the UK: (7) A realistic imitation firearm brought into Great Britain shall be liable to forfeiture under the customs and excise Acts. (1) A person is guilty of an offence if (d) he brings a realistic imitation firearm into Great Britain. (9) An offence under this section shall be punishable, on summary conviction (a) in England and Wales, with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or with a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both. We ONLY sell UK legal products and all our guns are 2 tones with one colour being bright orange which excludes them from the new laws.

From 01/10/2007 the laws regarding airsoft guns have changed for the UK. Under the VCRA Bill 2006 it is illegal to buy or sell an airsoft gun to anyone under the age of 18 years. Under Section 36 of the V.C.R Act it is a criminal offence to alter the appearance or paint in a colour of an imitation firearm to make it into a realistic firearm


Detailed photos of the engine block.



Two persons have been charged. The other 6 persons will not have any actions against them.

Both have been charged with knowingly being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a prohibition or restriction on a prohibited weapon or ammunition, and conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life or enable another to do so and remanded in custody.


Below: Caliber: 6 mm clearly stated on the BB revolver.

You can check NCA’s Flickr page and judge for yourself.

Eric B

Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with an European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatic firearms, optics and sound suppressors. Owning the night would be nice too.


  • Precious Mettle

    Christs sake if you’re going to post an article and make a claim, do your research beforehand.

    As it says right on the side of one of the guns pictured, ‘Cal. 6mm ME Flobert’ – which is the Euro designation for a .22CB rimfire cartridge, making them decidedly firearms. There is also a 4mm Flobert caliber, which is also a miniature rimfire cartridge. These look like cheap Turkish pot metal/cast revolvers, but even full on firearms manufacturers like Alfa-Proj and Grand Power make 6mm Flobert chambered versions of their full power firearms, with the same level of quality.

    Several countries in Europe delineate between ‘regulated’ firearms and other unregulated projectile ‘toys’ based on muzzle energy – from memory, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for example, anything with a muzzle energy under 7.5J is not a firearm, regardless of propellant type, whether air, compressed gas, or rimfire cartridge. But as soon as the muzzle energy is higher than that, it becomes a regulated firearm that requires licensing.

    Legally, these revolvers are firearms in the U.K.

    • Richard

      Legally, so’s a cap gun painted black.

      I expect they destined to be re-chambered in .22 LR.

      • Mr Mxyzptlk

        A cap gun painted black is not a firearm under UK law. Depending on how realistic it looks, it will either be a toy or classed as a realistic replica firearm. Also, if it was made before the VCR act passed it would be a toy regardless of what colour it was.

        • mikewest007

          Not a firearm, but a “Realistic Imitation Firearm” that is prohibited to own without a specific defense. “Specific defense” meaning a theatrical prop master/armorer, historical reenactor, certainly not a schmo off the street.
          Which proves that VCRA is a mountain of steaming cow manure.

      • Steve_7

        No these are actual firearms, they’re chambered in 4mm and 6mm Flobert which isn’t subject to much in the way of control in some parts of Europe. These aren’t realistic imitation firearms. Easier to convert to using something like .22LR than a blank firer.

    • Shankbone

      I click on “Comments” first, skim the reader’s comments, then look at the pictures, THEN decide if I’m actually going to read the blog posting (especially on TFB’s “out-of-their-lane” topics, like European gun laws, or topics needing illumination beyond the scope of a press release.)

      • Iggy

        The thing I don’t get about most of the ‘guns seized in Europe’ articles is how most of the incidents would be crimes in the US too. I mean you import a bunch of guns hidden in an engine block or have a STEN found in your basement and see how that works out for you.

    • neckbone

      The bigger issue is that they are worried about these pissant guns, but let a million Muslims into the country to roam freely.

      • feetpiece _

        I was thinking the same thing. Where are the actual weapons (AK’s etc) that are being interdicted?

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          Take a look at the NCA page linked in the article and you’ll see some of them.

        • Juggernaut

          mossad is pretty good at smuggling them in

        • phuzz

          The only time a firearm has been used in an islamic terrorist attack in the UK in the last 15 years was a revolver in the murder of Lee Rigby. It wasn’t actually fired, and IIRC the firearms officers thought it would probably have exploded if they’d tried. (Both attackers were British btw).
          If there are AK’s floating around the UK nobody has used them in an attack.

      • Simon Grushka

        vast majority of british muslims was born here.

        • neckbone

          Oh so it’s Islam that’s the problem, not immigration over there? That actually sounds like a worldwide problem. It makes sense now.

    • Steve_7

      Not just firearms but prohibited firearms.

    • Ondřej Tůma

      Only slight correction: CZ/SK laws still consider Flobert and air guns with muzzle energies under 7,5J and 16J respectively firearms. They do, however, consider them D-class firearms, which – unlike the EU-mandated A, B and C categories – do not require registration or license, only age above 18 years.

  • Kovacs Jeno

    NOt airguns! But indoor practice pistols for 4 mm Randzünder or 6 mm Flobert Short cartridges. These are Turkish-made Atak Arms Zoraki R1 and Ekol Arda revolvers.
    Free to own without licence in .cz and .sk, restricted under 7,5 joules.

    Firearms under UK law, without question.

    But the energy is not enough to kill – the free to own air rifles in England and Wales are permitted up to 16 joules.

    • ShooterPatBob

      So a bit more powerful than the old “Shootin’ Shell Mattel” toy pistols and rifles that used plastic bullets propelled by small primers/caps.

    • Rogertc1

      calibers Jeno… I guess they could put an eye out. LOL

  • Kovacs Jeno

    It is always painful how ignorant the US gun press in case of European and other foreign gun laws and regulation.

    • Richard Webb

      Yeah, you guys win at incredibly restrictive and onerous laws. Nothing can take that away from you.


      • micmac80

        UK yes but most of Europe is far better off than states like California ,Hawaii,New Jersey,Illinois,Connecticut,Massachusets ,DC ,New York ,Michigan.

        In some fields like full auto gun ownership ,much of Europe is way better than US where you can only dream of 500$ full auto guns

        • Lakes

          Why MI?

          • Memaw

            Michigan is pretty gun friendly actually, like Lakes said.

          • Wzrd

            Maybe he was thinking of Marxland. It’s on that “progressive” bandwagon. Though admittedly it’d be one of the friendlier of those listed.

        • Timothy Grant

          Illinois is not too bad, just Cook County and Chicago. Outside of that one county we have no magazine limit, no ammo or weapon purchase limit or extra tax, no assault weapon ban, shall issue concealed carry, bumpfire/binary guns and SBRs. Plus we are about to legalize automatic knives. Only thing we don’t have is real automatics, suppressors and honest politicians.

          • neckbone

            Automatic knives! That’s progress

          • gol

            We can get SBRs now in Illinois? I’m going to have to look into that.

          • Timothy Grant

            It’s a little complicated, but you can. You have to have a C&R license. It was passed for reenactors to be able to own guns like the Thompson and MP40. Works for ARs and any other weapon though.

        • Ditto on that. In Italy we can get mostly everything except full-autos. SBRs are classified as handguns, and obtaining a gun license is easier than in Massachussets or California.

          • mikewest007

            Hey, you have a massive firearm industry, someone’s got to buy all those Chiappas, Rossis etc.

          • Rossi is Brazilian.

        • n0truscotsman

          No doubt about that.

          It doesn’t help that American society is a failed one.

          The Czech Republic and Switzerland doesn’t have a human disaster that is the United States.

          • L Cavendish

            nor do they have the number of slave descendants the US does…or the education and health system

          • RickOAA .

            “Slave descendents” have nothing to do with it. That’s a shallow excuse to keep ignorant people energized against their best interests. The entire world was actively involved in the slave trade, and some countries still do.

          • RickOAA .

            American society is a failed one? We haven’t embarked on the European cultural suicide mission, as much as they’ve tried. There is hope yet.

            U.S. individuals still have right to their own defense with weapons. People gloat on about what they can own in European countries with special licensing for sporting purposes with onerous restrictions. No thanks.

        • Steve_7

          I wouldn’t go as far as saying “much of Europe”. There are a few places in Europe where collectors can own category A (prohibited) firearms. Most places that did (e.g. Belgium and Sweden) banned them completely back around 2000 and grandfathered the owners. I think in Portugal you can own them but you can’t shoot them. Luxembourg will grant a licence to a collector and they do allow them to be fired on one range there. Some Swiss cantons will still grant permits to collectors. The Finns will grant a permit on a case-by-case basis to collectors but super hard to get because of the import restrictions. I suspect the changes to the EFD will make it harder because of the broadening of category A, although there is still a provision that allows bona fide collectors to get an exemption for cultural and historical reasons.

      • Kovacs Jeno

        Yeah, And I’ve heard the NRA is currently organizing a 500.000 man strong militia to conquer New Jersey and reinstate the US Constitution! Ohhh, wait..

        • Rogertc1

          This is happening in England your tool. Not the USA

        • Rogertc1

          This ban is in England you douche.

      • iksnilol

        What about 80% receivers and what’s a rifle/pistol laws in the US?

        We don’t have that stupidity.

        • Rogertc1

          Do you even know what 80% receiver is iksnilil, Not legal in Europe.

          • iksnilol

            80% receiver is legal in most of Europe, hell, I can get a brand new M16 lower with the third pin hole completely legally and unregistered in Norway. That is as part of a deactivated gun (which just means that the barrel and bolt are torched, but the rest of the gun is more than workable). That’s not something you can get in the US (legally).

            And I can see how legal 80% receivers are when companies (IE Ares Armor) got raided over them.

            PS: 80% receiver is a receiver that’s 80% finished which is the legal treshold in the US between firearm and not a firearm. Just in case you were gonna complain about that.

          • Steve_7

            You clearly aren’t familiar with the new deac regs made under the EFD. Anything done from April 2016 has to be very severely deactivated, and anything “placed on the market” from that date has to be done to the new specification, so you can’t trade in the older guns anymore. You’re allowed to keep them and transfer them by bequest, but that’s about it.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, I’m familiar with the deac regs. Again, they don’t need the receiver destroyed. At least not in Germany and Norway.

      • Malthrak

        The point wasn’t about the politics of the gun laws, that’s a deflection youre trying to turn it into.

        The point was that the author doesnt appear to understand the items, calibers, or laws in question when attempting to write about them.

    • JD

      It is always painful how ignorant the US press is

      there, fixed it for ya…

    • Wzrd

      But the writer has “an European focus”…

  • micmac80

    They are not BB guns , they are 4 and 6mm Flobert a tiny rimfire desigled for gallery shooting , too weak for anything ,but i seen these often modified to.22lr with questionable safety

  • Tian Jiang

    I love that the word “illegal” is in quotation marks. I get that the UK having tough gun laws make them freedom hating commies, but laws do differ from place to place and isn’t illegitimate just because you disagree with them. I’m not about to take a pound of Colorado Kush into Arizona in my engine block and say it’s just “illegal” drugs.

    Not to mention this is a clear case of smuggling.

  • Sasquatch

    Take a good look America this was almost us.

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    I wonder if this article will be edited or just deleted altogether out of shame.

  • zombietimeshare

    “it is a criminal offence to alter the appearance or paint in a colour of an imitation firearm to make it into a realistic firearm…”

    I wonder if it is a criminal offense to paint a real firearm to look like an imitation firearm.

    • M-dasher

      pretty sure in NY it is……

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      There is a word missing in there which is arguably the most important word. It should read:

      “it is a criminal offence to alter the appearance or paint in a colour
      of an imitation firearm to make it into a realistic imitation firearm”

      It wouldn’t be an offence to take a real firearm and make it look like an imitation.

    • May

      Depends on what you do with it, if it’s done in an attempt to illegally conceal or smuggle then yes. Toy guns are such a massive legal and moral can of worms just because of how easy it is to disguise one as the other.

  • Edeco

    Oh meh gerd I want that little revolver.

  • Raptor Fred

    Could you imagine going to jail for smuggling pot metal semi dangerous toys?

    • Edeco

      Kind of, we can get it for “constructive intent”. It’s a kick in the groin having that to live with.

    • Old Tofu

      could you imagine being in a country so restrictive on firearms that you don’t have one , then someone comes up pointing one of these?

      • Raptor Fred

        Yes. Training in the use of edged weapons, weapons of opportunity, and hand to hand combatives becomes beneficial living in a liberal paradise. It is your decision. There are no victims, only volunteers.

        • Random Disabled Person

          ‘Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife’ “No Knives Better Lives”

          Sorry that knife/edge weapon isn’t allowed. If under 18(16 in Scotland, FRRRREEEDDDOOMM!) you may not buy silverware. If caught with a knife without a legitimate approved reason such as you work in at and/or in transit to said Job where you need a small box cutter(must fit trade specifically) to open boxes and shrink wrap. If you stop of shopping for groceries and/or hit a pub for drink then you are now in foul of the law. Like the BS “constructive intent”, for forgetting you had a few ounces item in your pocket.

          That is only an allowance going to and from work with permission for it be stored “safely” in your home. Allowed to own and posses only in your hokme but not allowed to carry. History has come full circle , while the style of weapons has changed, the king/government still has decided the common people shouldn’t have anything like swords, bows& arrows, or any other military weapon with a few loopholes but enough to discourage most from bothering breeding it out with in generations. If they want to revolt they can use their farm tools.

          All hail the fighters who were so bad ass they charged trenches across no man’s land, to what we have now for nanny state protection. How in tarnation did they occur in so few of generations generations?

          A bat/club(whatever that cricket thing is) still beats knife, even if you have to break a part sturdy bar stools. To arm up.

  • iksnilol

    Yeah, bb guns that use primers, gunpowder and casings.

    *rolls eyes*

  • Chris22lr

    What is even funnier with this whole article is that these 6mm Flobert guns are illegal to import into the United States under the Gun Control Act of 1968. They don’t meet the requirements for “sporting purposes” clause. Which is fun because 6mm Flobert was cartridge for 19th century parlor shooting sports.

    • El Duderino

      I used to think the Saturday Night Special laws were stupid until I held a Rohm.

      In this age of the Hi-Point, $215 S&W Shield, and scads of perfectly good used .38 revolvers for around $200, there’s no need for ~$100 .22s with zinc frames. The “but poor people should have access to weapons too” argument doesn’t hold up.

      I am willing to bet that for every legit person that would buy and use a Flobert gun for target shooting in their basement, there would be 100 moron criminals buying the cheapest model they could find for robbing 7-11s and old ladies in the park. I get it; something shouldn’t be illegal just because stupid people might be stupid with it…but again I’m willing to make the bet. 😉

      I do agree the rules for foreign rifles are stupid, but those came 20 years after GCA.

  • Rogertc1

    LOL BB guns…

  • The Forty ‘Twa

    Kitchen knives aren’t banned in the UK.

  • Mystick

    The UK has a huge air rifle market… bigger than the US and with more diverse products.

    • Pumbaa

      It is obviously why that is so. It is much harder to convince the police that you NEED and have a REASON to own a gun powder fired gun. Having to pay the gun license fees and fees to belong to a gun club does restrict the ownership of firearms, not that the British seem to care.

      • Mystick


  • RICH

    SAD…..! ! They need to see my .45ACP ‘Flobert’ !

  • Sorry, those are 4mm and 6mm FLOBERT guns, thus firearms, not airguns.

  • House MD

    Unless they fire plastic BBs, these are not airsoft guns, which means they are regulated under the firearms act, not the VCRA. As they are clearly not air weapons either (6mm Flobert should be a clue here!), they’re regulated more specifically under section 5 of said firearms act (too short, concealable). Posession (i.e. touching) of a section 5 firearm without the relevant permits (which are VERY specific and come straight from le home office) carries a (minimum I believe) sentence of 5 years, or 3 if the offender is under 18 at the time of commission of the offence.

    Suffice to say these people are going away for a long long time!

  • Claus Økær Holdt Hansen

    Really bad article IMO, as other people point out, the guns are short range revolvers, firing 6mm flobert, the guns are legal in countries like Serbia, but illegal/requires registration in some other countries like the UK, Denmark etc.

    These guns can be converted with some work, into .22s, .22l and .22lr.

  • uisconfruzed

    What tipped the coppers off to get a wrench and open the bell housing & engine?

  • uisconfruzed

    Thanks, I have a tin of those 6mm BB/bullets & wondered what they were for.

  • L Cavendish

    so…how many guns make it through? 790? 7,900?

  • darrell_b8

    Just goes to show the UK is ‘toast’; what about ‘knives’???

  • Mike Lashewitz

    Can you see what freedom is not? Freedom allows anyone to own a BB gun. A lack of freedom is not being allowed to buy a TOY. A lack of freedom is not being allowed to import a toy.
    A lack of freedom is not having a right to self defense. A lack of freedom is having to pay for a license to listen to the radio and watch television. (even though here we pay insane prices to watch cable or satellite)

    REMEMBER WHEN “advertisement” was where television and radio paid for their operation? What happened to that? It was legislated away because WE ALLOWED IT!

  • Stephen

    If you do a search you will see that pistol is on a list of firearms that are routinely being converted to real guns. That is why.

  • Pumbaa

    The UK. A magic land where even an Olympic shooter can not own a .22 rim-fire target pistol. However the construction of flammable apartment buildings with inadequate fire exits is OK and was government approved.

  • MrT

    “It’s just that the illegal firearms are all 4 mm and 6 mm, so they must be BB guns.” – No. It clearly says Flobert. It’s not necessary a firearm, but it doesn’t work with “air”, it’s not electric, it’s not just BB. It’s more like 22lr, just way weaker (under 7.5 Joule). 22lr is like 160 Joule. It’s really weak, people can use it for sport. Looks like real guns, so during a robbery, the victims probably wouldn’t tell the difference.
    Flobert guns were free to buy back in Hungary, pre-2004, but then (I think because of the European Union), the laws got changed and Floberts became mandatory licensed. The funny thing is, there are like 100,000-200,000 of them in Hungary, yet, only a several hundred got registered. People just didn’t do it, they didn’t care, or they didn’t even know that they have to.