The home brewed Danao guns of the Philippines

Bushmaster 7.5 inch M4 shown with a Korean-made suppressor that is currently flooding the black market in the Philippines

Much like the Pakistani merchants who taught themselves how to build Kalashnikov pattern rifles, gunsmiths working out of home work shops in the Danao region of the Philippines construct weapons by hand with metal scavenged or bought from local junkyards. Such weapons are also referred to as paltik, meaning copied or not quite reliable.

Despite the derogatory terms, many of these DIY guns are pretty impressive. While they may be a far cry from mil-spec, reports state that these guns will give the name brands a run for their money. From M4s to 1911 pistols to Uzi sub-machine guns, Danao gunsmiths have not only been copying existing weapons for decades, but innovating as well. Jaileen Jimeno reports that one gun maker created a “Mini-Ingram” sub-machine gun that is, smaller, “but still as lethal as its big brother. The mini-Ingram looks cute and harmless, but it can spit out 18 to 20 9-mm bullets in a second.”

The mini-Ingram

Such weapons are often made with hand tools alone for sale to private citizens, local politicians, Japanese yakuza gangsters, and even police officers and soldiers who look the other way in regards to these black market gun dealers.

Remember all those sew shops outside Ft. Bragg? You could walk into any one of them with your uniform and ask one of the grandmothers working there for nearly any modification you can think of and they would do it. It works much the same with Danao gunsmiths who do work nearly as good as high end manufacturers but at a fraction of the cost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other work shops can employ dozens of gunsmiths and occupy entire warehouses. Some of these craftsmen become so prolific and so talented that legally owned and operated companies will hire them and put them to work. A couple of these forward thinking manufacturers are Shooter Arms and Armscor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The suppressors they make are particularly interesting. Like American commercial weapons and accessories, this example has a logo and brand name etched in it although it is simply for ascetics, the name and company is not legally registered. Reportedly, this suppressor gets the job done but, “I would never trust it with full auto or for more than a 100 rounds through it but I think for quick dirty jobs I strongly believe it will do the job of run and gun [type work]”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love ’em or hate ’em Danao guns are here to stay, supplying everyone from competitive shooters, to body guards, to professional hit men with the tools of their trade.

*Correction: the lead picture in this story was originally labeled as being a Danao M4 rather than a Bushmaster.  I have some pictures of Danao made M4-type rifles that I will write about in the future.

Kit Up! contributor Jack Murphy is a former Ranger, Special Forces Soldier and is the author of the military thriller Reflexive Fire.

  • Think you might want to add a “Don’t try this at home” disclaimer?

  • Tony

    No wonder black market guns proliferate in the Philippines, legal firearms cost 3x-4x more than what they would cost in the US. This is mostly due to gun control laws and corruption in the importing and registering of guns.

  • Jeff the Baptist

    “Such weapons are also referred to as paltik, meaning copied or not quite reliable.”

    Paltik is actually an onamonapia for the gun misfiring.

  • Cloggman

    they would make nice wallhangers…. and you can use it to scare away burglars.

  • gunslinger6

    they my look the part, but i am not sure how many rounds you would really be able to put through them before misfires, or worse the gun blows up in your face.

    • blacksmith

      forged steel barrel is quite tough however on the issue of exploding barrel, maybe the quality of paltik actually depends on where it was made and came from.

  • Roger

    Probably a knock off but it has a Magpul B.A.D. Lever.

    • Sarge Harris

      They make Magpul replicas in china and market them all over asia. I am sure it has reached America. Checkout ebay or amazon, you should find them there.

  • Go Navy!

    It’s got the Magpul MOE/CTR stock too! Surprised they didn’t use the MOE grip as well.

  • Lance

    We gave them the machines to Make 1911s and M-16s. They still use the M-16A1 for there primary infantry weapon only Special Forces got American made M-4s. I do think there quality is decent not a Kimber or Colt for rifles and pistols but they do the job fine and they are cheaper than over priced American guns currently.

  • bbb

    My dad told me about being able to go to gunsmiths somewhere in Asia and being able to buy basically any gun for a couple of bills, even a BAR. I don’t remember if he said the Philippines though… not like you would be able to get it home, though.

    FWIW most Chinese Magpul replicas were intended for airsoft AFAIK.

    You might be able to save a few hundred dollars buying a knockoff, but it only takes once to lose an eye or a hand from an exploding barrel. I think I’d stick with actual firearms manufacturers who have lots of money and insurance to sue.

  • bbb

    Also the Mini Ingram looks like a good way to shoot a hole (or 30) in your support hand…

    • Stormcharger

      Which is exactly the same condition with the original M10, M11, and M12. The only difference is that the off hand is about a 1/2 inch closer to the barrel. It does make sense as the Ingram was intended to be manufactured easily and with a minimum of cost and equipment. In fact, none of the weapons featured are so complex than a competent gunsmith cannot produce them in his backyard.

      The M1911 is more than a hundred years of known technology, the M16, M4, and Ingram are more than 50 years old. Even I have all the needed hand tools for making any of these weapons with the right materials, however without a market here in the states there is no need, so I’ll stick with minor improvements and tweaks.

      • bbb

        The real ones at least come with a strap for your support hand. And that 1/2 inch looks like it could make a pretty big difference between shooting yourself and not shooting yourself.

    • Sarge Harris

      In 1983 ArmaLite was sold to Elisco Tool Manufacturing Company, of the Philippines. The AR-18 tooling at the Costa Mesa shop went to the Philippines, while some of the remaining ArmaLite employees acquired the remaining inventory of parts for the AR-17 and AR-18. Yup, Philippines legitimately made their own fully automatic m16s and m4s. Exact copy of colts. ELISCO pioneered the birdcage. US got the patent but it was born in the Philippines.

  • EG (Ray)

    I think they’d make nice replicas but would I trust my life to one? Not a chance! I also would like to know if they’re rifling the barrels or if almost all of it is just smoothbore. Another point to raise would be that this kind of thing proves that arms control is one of the biggest fallacies in western governments today. If people want guns they’ll either steal them or make them if they can’t readily get to them.

    • blacksmith

      made of forged steel, in some scenarios it is deep blue or hard chrome finish, also rifled. Rarely the only problem is a malfunction in a mechanism of some automatic gun. Some miss firing are actually an ammunition quality issue.

  • bbb

    If they can machine and forge a frame, slide, and barrel for a 1911 I think they can handle machining some rifling groves.

  • drball

    Think the Rock Island M1911-A1 and reconsider any doubts….Mine has all the bells and whistles and will out shoot just about any thing else at about half the price…..In fact unlike the Kimber (self jamming pistol) Armscor will in the U.S.A. do repairs if needed and not leave you with alot of red tape to get the work done….Also for the 1911A1 all of the U.S. G.I. surplus parts will fit….Can you say that about any custom model ? Nope

    • Sarge Harris

      I know exactly what you are talking about drball. I held it and shot it. Performs like a $2000 1911.

  • Mike

    There’s a lesson for the gun-grabbers and banners that, of course, they will not grasp…And that is the utter ultimate futility of their aims for us here in the US…American gun owners currently buy their factory-made arms because they are still relatively inexpensive and readily available here…Now, imagine that has changed due to new, draconian wet-dream gun ban laws…With the variety and access to machine tools and industrial processes at the disposal of American craftsmen, how long would it take for every neighborhood to have an underground arms factory?…The variety of innovation would be stunning!

    • JImbo

      The grabber and banners are living in their own little utopia. They have no concept of the world outside their doorway.

  • Connor

    i like the paltik .38 snubnosed revolvers. i bought 4 for $70 to $100 each. in the early 80’s those revolvers are dangerous but later on the quality improved.

  • oscar dadula

    gentlemen, i once bought a 1911a1 from a reknowned Danao gunsmith, i kid you not, the thing consumed 500rds of hardball without any problems. at 25mtrs, it could shoot groups of less than 2 inches. it all depends on who made the guns. i recall also revolvers blowing up in shooters hands. but those were, believe it or not, chambered in .223. i’m not kidding! but, the paltik with that caliber was discontinued, they called it “frontier” by the way. sure, some of you guys are skeptical, but hey, i’ve handled and fired my fair share.
    bdw, by way of comparison, a glock in the philippines is priced in local gunstores as more than $1,000 and a para-ordnance p14-45 is priced at $2,093 more or less.

  • oscar dadula

    armscor now a days is getting quite expensive. the basic 1911a1 model will set you back around $400 and if you let the gunstore do the paperwork for you, it’s another +$100. i’m talking about prices in the philippines.

  • oscar dadula

    it’s rifled. i once fired one that shoots less than 2in groups at 25m. 500rds, no hiccups. i used a novak magazine though

  • reflexivefire

    Hi Oscar,

    I am the author of the article. If you could take (or procure) some pictures of the .223 revolver, I’d love to feature it on Kit Up! You can click on “Kit Up fire team” on the banner above or send me an e-mail if you prefer at reflexivefire@yahoo.com.

    Thanks for reading and providing some additional details!

    -Jack

    • oscar dadula

      sure thing! it will probably be in the next few months because i’m out of the country right now. like the majority of these guys, i was very skeptical about paltiks before, but after firing and abusing them, i became a convert. however, as you’ve mentioned, they have a shorter lifespan than licensed factory made guns. the key is knowing when to get rid of them or to stop using them. understanding the limitation of any tool is the key to utilizing them properly.
      as for the .223 revolver, it’s been years since i’ve last handled one or seen one. after all the reports of them blowing up in shooter’s hands, well, you get the picture, but i will post pictures of the .223 revolver if i’m lucky enough to stumble into one.
      they were very prolific when my father was a non-com with the Philippine Constabulary and a few years after that branch of the armed forces was disbanded. and i remembered seeing a lot of those revolvers slated for destruction at the camp where my father was assigned.
      some might wonder why in blazes might someone want to carry a revolver in .223? well, at that time it was right before and/or after the end of martial law. there were no gunstores and the only choice of caliber was what the military and/or the police was using. namely; .45acp, .38spl,..30carbine, .30-06, 7.62 and the .223. so for guys who wanted more power, the .223 was the mistakenly “ideal” solution. building a revolver in .30-06 or 7.62 would be, to put it mildly, downright silly.

      • reflexivefire

        Thanks Oscar!

        I was actually wondering why you would NOT want a .223 revolver! Thanks for fleshing out all these details, I’m fascinated by these DIY jobs.

  • oscar dadula

    in the philippines, the most lowly of policemen or the most lowly of privates would prefer to carry a 1911. why? 100 years of reliability and stopping power. although the official issue sidearm of the Philippine National Police is a Beretta in 9mm, those who can afford will buy and carry a 1911 in .45ACP. those who can’t will buy a 1911 from a reputable gunsmith in Danao. none of that whining about back problems or some other excuse. as Clint Smith said: carrying a firearm is not supposed to be comfortable, it ‘ s supposed to be comforting.”

  • oscar dadula jr.

    hey, i need BOTH of my hands!

  • Leo

    I am from the Philippines and my bro has some of these Danao guns…they actually worked, though my use for them is limited, and just did practice shooting with cans. They looked almost as nice as the ones my Dad bought from original manufacturers. I aint a gun expert, just liked looking and practicing.

    Oh, and the term “paltik”? It actually means a small copycat revolver. The author must have asked the wrong person. If you watch the local news in the Philippines, when a shooting is involved, the police report says “they used a revolver or paltik” and they show a small revolver.

  • lancealmekian

    @ Leo
    actually it was only relatively just recently that people associated the word “paltik” with homemade revolvers, and i think this particular article reflexivefire wrote nicely has summed up about when that is. in the strictest sense, “paltik” pertains to a lot of other things, among these, like a result of, or just plainly, any swift movement, such as when one snaps their finger, i.e. a snap or the sound it produces can be called “paltik” (some may argue being able to acquire some of these homemade guns in a snap maybe the reason why they’re called paltik but i think that’s not the case); another way to look at it is when a hammer of a handgun snaps when one pulls its trigger, that snapping movement of the hammer can be called “pumapaltik,” literally meaning “snapping”; and the last thing i can think of is when a person loses their grip, in american english, it can be said that the person “snaps,” and in tagalog it can be said too as “pumaltik ang utak” (literally meaning brain snapped) or sometimes it could be in the form of “may paltik sa utak” or “may saltik sa utak” (literally meaning “there’s a snap in the brain,” which pertains to people who have lost it, whether temporarily or otherwise).
    so to sum up, the word “paltik” should be associated strictly to the english word “snap”. i hope this can help the author.

  • CHARDHY

    this guys are so talented! hoping that the phillippine government will hep those making danao firearms by giving the right equipments for making the danao guns and must manage them… im sure in the near future if that happens.. we can already export our fire arms products and have additional income in the side of the government of the philippines.. we will no longer buy firearms from outside the country,and we will be pround of our own philippine made gun smithing what you think?

    • blacksmith

      Danao gunsmith are very skilled that some of them are actually hired by a gun manufacturers of Philippines that produces MAC and other american gun design like M4A1.

  • Karl Kalawit

    @ Chardy
    that is the most sensible decision the phil government will do, aside from giving employment and empowering our sustainability. to the fact that ancient canon makers are from cebu mindanao area, why don’t we give support to our local gun smith and manufacturers thus making them legal, addition to the taxes they will generate. lets make not only guns but tanks, artillery, and frigates. china started from scratch, likewise with russia, therefore we filipinos can do it too. american mafias, japanese yakuza etc rely on our guns.. why can’t we trust and use them?

  • joer

    actually i had a mini ingram and it shoots very good and very fast. one problem though is i easily get out of ammo after a few secs. but it’s the way it’s suppose to fire, i had no problem with it …well you really can’t expect accuracy from any M10s

  • joer

    i had the privilege to shoot class A danao made 1911’s and some branded ones like imbel and colt. i really can’t tell the difference, magazines are interchangeable (single stack) with each other, weight difference is so minimal. with regards to the appearance of the locally made 1911’s, sometimes it even looks better because they customize it and you can put in original branded components in it (depends on where it is patterned)… I am talking about class A danao made .45’s………….yes, guns that hurts the shooter really exists but not with the class A’s

  • mountainwarrior

    kuya oscar,

    hello! im planning to buy a pistol in danao. problem is, im from davao. i have searched the net for possible contact details from anyone who makes or sells danao made guns but unfortunately, didn’t find one. now if u still have contacts with them, or anyone you could refer to me being a reliable palik maker, pwede ko po bang mahingi yung contact details nila? i really want a gun pero short po ang budget e.. thank you kuya.

  • ryan malibiran

    papano ko makakabili ng mini ingram kung na andito ako sa maynila dahil noon ko pa gustong bumi8li ng mini ingram at magkano po ang unit?..

  • oscar d

    I still have contacts there, but what you ask of me is illegal.

  • el tirador

    necessity the mother of invention? the makers need money…would be buyers need those ‘paltiks’ for variety of reasons…for a cheaper price! fair enterprise!

  • nestor pasco jr

    how can i buy license guns both 9mm pistol and 38 revolver for security agency use i need 40 units please give me nice price . here is my contact number 0909-4384155

  • ken nagac

    i want to a gun made in danao..any contac???

  • Ben

    It only shows how talented and capable Pilipinos are which also proves that no country has a monopoly in terms of ingenuity. We may say that necessity is the mother of invention, but when it comes to those guys in Danao, necessity is also the mother-in-law of innovation. Most of us are not proud of seeing their products flood the Philippine and foreign arms market, but if its going to put food on the table I guess they have to risk it. Its a pity that the government does not give much importance to those people of Danao. Why? because we always look at the products made from other countries.

  • Nino Ozerec

    The finished product is machine refined, I don’t know about steel grade, what about precise rifling!

  • Asking questions are really pleasant thing if you are not understanding something totally,

    but this post provides fastidious understanding even.