Project Insight Research Report: Illicit Firearms Ammunition and Other Explosive Munitions in the European Union

Illicit Firearms Ammunition and Other Explosive Munitions in the European Union

Calibres typically associated with handguns and widely available commercial brands of ammunition usually represent the bulk of the illicit firearm ammunition seen in the countries studied.

Illicit firearms ammunition is not necessarily trafficked from abroad, as shown by the misuse of domestically produced cartridges in the five surveyed countries. Moreover, cartridges produced legally within the European Union (EU) have been recovered the same year at crime scenes.

A large percentage of illicit hand grenades and other factory-produced explosive munitions seized in the European countries under review were manufactured in the former Yugoslavia. The seizures are consistent with media reports and government statements indicating that the Balkans are a major source of illicit grenades acquired and used by criminals in the EU.

The number of illicit grenades documented in the Netherlands and Sweden has decreased significantly in recent years, possibly owing to Covid-19-related travel and shipping disruptions, an increased reliance on other types of explosives by criminals, and national and regional counter-trafficking efforts.

Cover ammunition paper

About the authors

Anne-Séverine Fabre is a researcher at the Small Arms Survey where she mostly works on armed violence and trafficking research.

Nicolas Florquin is the Small Arms Survey’s head of data and analytics as well as a senior researcher. He oversees projects and undertakes research on armed actors and illicit flows of arms and ammunition.

Matt Schroeder is a senior researcher at the Small Arms Survey where he studies the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and strategies for mitigating the threat from illicit weapons

Small Arms Survey