Quick Shot: Taiwan’s Quasi-Legal Improvised Guns

Guns are illegal in Taiwan. However if you are one of the indigenous people you can apply for a permit, and maybe in a year or two it will be granted. You are then allowed to make a gun that only you will be allowed to use for the purpose of hunting.

Semi-legal hunting guns with ammo- ball bearings and nail-gun blanks. Note the juxtaposition of the primitive weapons and laser sights.

The indigenous people of Taiwan have been treated like most of their ilk when encountering a larger, more technically advanced culture. That is to say, ‘Badly.’ This article isn’t about that.

There are remarkably few images of these guns online, mostly because only a small percentage of hunters bother to get permits. Oddly they don’t trust the government of the people that massacred them, stole their land and drove them to the brink of extinction. Huh. But hunting is culturally and fiscally important, so they forge ahead regardless.

These guns are moistly made from pipe and metal tube with a wooden stock. These are impoverished people, and you cannot make guns for others so most are made with rudimentary tools and semi-random materials. Typically they have a striker-fired bolt-action. A ball is loaded from the muzzle, then the bolt is withdrawn and a rimfire nail-gun blank is inserted in the breech and the mechanism is closed. Ammo is typically a steel ball-bearing. No powder is loaded under the ball; the blank is the only power source.

Despite the modest power of these guns they take game up to the size of deer with them. Also despite their modest power they not infrequently blow up in the user’s face. There are gun-makers, and their products are illegal, but once it’s in the user’s hands who is to say they didn’t make it themselves?

Vice TV has done a documentary about the situation, and you can find it here. Most of it is about the indigenous people and their plight, not the guns.

The other year I wondered if this sort of gun would work and made one to test the idea. Turns out these folks were way ahead of me. Necessity is a mother, after all.

My version of a blank-driven muzzle loader is a little more elaborate than is typical in Taiwan, but I’m a bit better equipped than they are.

I’m not here to campaign for other people’s rights in other countries, but I admire these folk’s creativity and persistence and wish them all the best.

Stay safe and take care.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 2 January 2021

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