Two New Publications: Small Arms Survey reports

The Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research organisation, has recently released two new reports I have worked on. The first, Research Note 43: Producers of Small Arms, Light Weapons, & Ammunition, examines the producers of small arms and light weapons and ammunition worldwide. The brief information sheet identifies 30 states which comprise some of the world’s major manufacturers. The note also identifies various countries producing guided light weapons, including MANPADS and ATGWs. An excerpt from the note follows:

While the industry is in many ways opaque, examining patterns of small arms and light weapons exports provides some insight into the production capabilities of many countries. The Small Arms Survey has identified 20 countries that have exported USD 100 million worth of small arms and light weapons or more in a single calendar year since 2001 (see Table 3). This number is likely larger, given the opacity of the arms trade (Holtom, Pavesi and Rigual, 2014). All of these exporters are also significant producers of small arms and light weapons, while other producers manufacture primarily for their domestic markets. However, not all exporters are producers. Some countries with recorded ‘exports’—significantly smaller than those listed in this report—are simply countries through which arms and munitions have transited or been re-exported.

The second report, a longer-format Issue Brief, co-authored with Alex Diehl and entitled “Feeding the Fire: Illicit Small Arms Ammunition in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia“, examines small arms ammunition found in the holdings of non-state armed groups within Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. An excerpt from the paper, discussing some of its main findings, can be read below:

  • The main calibre observed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia is the Soviet-designed 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge. Ammunition of this calibre is used with AK and AKM assault rifles, as well as other Kalashnikov-pattern rifles and variants produced in numerous countries.

  • Most of the reviewed cartridges fall within a few standard calibres, primarily of Soviet design, along with some NATO standards. Other calibres are comparatively few in variety and quantity.

  • Most of the small arms ammunition observed was manufactured in China, Iraq, the former Soviet Union, and Sudan.

  • All of the observed calibres were designed and adopted before or during the cold war era. No modern calibres – ones designed and adopted during the past 30 years – were documented.

  • Analysis of small arms ammunition is often limited as a result of poor documenting practices.



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