Ater the knife, one of the most notable symbols to emerge from six months of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank has been the “Carlo,” otherwise known as the Carl Gustav submachine gun.
The homemade or craft-produced rudimentary automatic weapon has been used in the majority of shooting attacks on Israeli civilians and security personnel. It’s not accurate and it has a limited range, but it’s cheap and more than powerful enough to cause mayhem and death — and it’s nearly impossible to prevent its production.
These improvised guns were used last Wednesday in a shooting attack on a public bus and in the ensuing firefight with police, which left one civilian seriously injured; they were used a day earlier in a drive-by shooting that left two police officers seriously wounded; and they were used to kill 19-year-old Border Police officer Hadar Cohen last month. All of these attacks took place in or near Jerusalem’s Old City.
Over the past few weeks, Israeli security forces have had some success in cracking down on these weapons, locating three small-scale production and storage facilities in the West Bank.
On Tuesday, the Israel Police and IDF raided a gunsmith operation in al-Sawahra, outside of Jerusalem, and seized a drill press that had allegedly been used to make weapons. And earlier this month, the Shin Bet and the army raided two other gunsmith operations, one in Nablus and the other in Jenin.
“There has been an expanded effort to seize illegal weapons that pose a concrete and lethal threat to Israeli civilians and security forces,” an army spokesperson said.But nothing has been done so far to seriously curb the creation and proliferation of these homemade guns.
While some more advanced rifles and firearms require specialized tools, the Carlo has remained so popular because of how little machinery and technical know-how is required to produce it, according to N.R. Jenzen-Jones, director of Armament Research Services (ARES), a specialized technical intelligence consultancy.
A drill press, some welding equipment and blueprints from the internet are all that’s needed to create one of these potentially devastating weapons, a fact that presents a real challenge for Israel and countries around the world that are trying to prevent such guns from winding up in the hands of terrorists and criminals.
The Carlo, as it is known, derives its name from the Carl Gustav m/45 submachine gun, a design that was adopted by the Swedish army in 1945 and later licensed to Egypt, where units were sold under the names Port Said and Akaba, according to a forthcoming report authored by ARES for the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research institute.
But a “passing visual similarity” is where the connection between the Carlo submachine gun and the semi-automatic Carl Gustav rifles end, the report said.
Most of the current Carlos are based on designs from “American publications, which were readily available via mail order services, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s,” Jenzen-Jones told The Times of Israel over the phone.
“Today, designs are widely available on the internet, and are often shared among non-state actors along ideological lines,” he said.
That process repeats automatically for as long as the shooter holds down the trigger, or until the ammunition runs out.
But outside of this simple design, the Carlo can vary in both appearance and operation. “One of the most widely observed iterations of the ‘Carlo’ design is easily distinguished by the inclusion of a commercially-made M4/M16 style pistol grip and the use of 9 x 19 mm Uzi submachine gun magazines,” according to the ARES report for Small Arms Survey.
But others have apparently been modeled after Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns and AK-type assault rifles.
The use of such designs “may serve an information warfare [propaganda] purpose,” according to the ARES report, making homemade knockoffs look like the real deal.
In addition to taking on various outward appearances, the guns can also be adapted to suit whatever kind of ammunition is available. “‘Carlo’ submachine guns are most commonly chambered for the ubiquitous 9 x 19mm handgun cartridge,” according to the forthcoming ARES report.
However, there have also been examples of versions that work with “other calibers, including .22 LR, .32 ACP, 9 x 18 mm, and 5.56 x 45 mm.”
Read the Remainder at Times of Israel