Criminals are taking their life in their own hands by creating improvised firearms which can leave them with devastating injuries.
Nottinghamshire Police has seized a number of ‘slam guns’ where metal pipes are used and hammered to discharge a cartridge.
One suspect lost part of his hand after the weapon backfired.
Criminals are also using blank firing pistols such as the Retays , but rifling them out, so the chamber is clear for a projectile.
The force’s archive and exhibits department handles between 30 to 60 firearms a week.
They work with detectives to build up an intelligence picture and provide a detailed analysis of the weapon seized.
Weapons include rifles, air pistols, BB guns, CS spray and stun devices.
A quantity of weapons seized are found in lofts or sheds after a relative has passed away with no link to criminality or recovered from licensed gun-holders.
But some criminals struggling to get their hands on firearms are making their own known as ‘slam guns.’
Officer David Richardson said: “They are really dangerous to the user not just the public. There was a suspect who blew part of their hand off using one. Blank firing pistols are also used.
“Criminals rifle them out and make them into viable firearms. We had a spate of them, but it has now slowed down.
“We had between 20 to 30 in the space of a three-month period, but they have all been seized and the people who had them have all been sentenced.
“We get a lot of imitation or replica firearms. They look like a viable firearm and fire a projectile like ball-bearings.
“You can still get done by the law for having one and they can be potentially lethal.”
Weapons such as handguns are much rarer and are usually passed between criminal groups.
The weapon itself can be “a business” with criminals paying around £500 to rent it out before it moves to another part of the country.
The force has many intelligence streams to push these weapons out of circulation by intercepting the criminal while the weapon is on the move.
Sgt Rob Spry, who is in charge of the archive and exhibits department, said: “We have seen a downward spiral of firearm offences in Nottinghamshire.
“We are on top of firearms and made great strides over the last decade – and that is dedication to our police teams.
“Public safety is paramount. Our department fills the massive gaps between seizure and conviction.
“We have a 100 percent success rate – we determine ‘this is a dangerous weapon, and it is linked to this person, remand them.’
“If you are criminal and carrying a firearm in Nottinghamshire, we will find you and use the weight of the law to put you behind bars for a very long time.”