Backyard Gun Shops In The Philippines

An extras excerpt from VICE’s new show on HBO:

Wow, 2 weeks to make one gun, and they sell it for $98 USD?! Incredible how much more our time is worth here.  As always I was incredibly disappointed they aren’t making bootleg Deagle brand Deagles anywhere (yet).  If there was an easy way to legally import guns like that, I’d have one badass collection… that kind of thing is so fascinating to me.

2:10 – You have to be shitting me?!  He made that 1911?  Wow… From a distance I’ve seen worse looking 1911s made by machines and sold in gun stores here.


I have the full episode, but I haven’t got around to watching it yet.

I wonder if people are making handguns by hand from scratch just for kicks anywhere in the US as well?



36 responses to “Backyard Gun Shops In The Philippines”

  1. Jon H. Avatar

    Hand made, and hand polished. I bet they are damn good shooters when he’s done.
    Long term I wonder about reliability, but gang members really only shoot at someone a couple times before they die, or go to jail, so that won’t really matter.

  2. I have old Navy buddies who went to the Phillippines. They said that there would be a couple of guys on the pier who would rent you a gun for however long you were on liberty. You’d put down a deposit, take the gun, holster, and ammo, and then go out on liberty. Once you came back to the ship, you’d give the gun back and you’d get your deposit back.

    Rental was something on the order of $5-10 for however long you were gone, depending on the gun you wanted. At $98 USD for a hammerless .38, the deposit wouldn’t be all that expensive.

    1. Alien426 Avatar

      According to the video it’s a .38 mm gun ( That’s about 0.015″…

  3. “I wonder if people are making handguns by hand from scratch just for kicks anywhere in the US as well?”

    Yes there are, but it’s not as common as in other places around the world where access to legal guns is more restricted.
    Homemade guns is a worldwide phenomenon, but It’s not as common in the US as in other countries, however it’s much more open in the US than in other counties, because most homemade guns are legal in the states. It’s also comparatively rare in the US, because it takes too much time and skill to “waste” on this type of gun.

    There are many books and websites dedicated to it, so it’s certainly not something rare. I have personally fired a few homemade guns, and the only one that really unnerved me was a 12ga shotgun made from a staple gun and an iron water pipe, so if they are competently made even the ones that look crude are usually safer and more functional than people think.

  4. I honestly don’t believe for a minute that he made that 1911, no fucking way.

    1. I was with you, but then I looked up this article.

      The 1911s in this picture seem to be more or less of the same quality. I wonder if they’re somehow using airsoft components. Sounds terrifying, but I know that stuff is really widespread down there.

        1. Exactly, this guy didn’t just think it up “Hmmm, let’s stop being a farmer and start making a gun..I’ll make a 1911!” There was probably some background for him to get all the parts down perfectly…from his job at Armscor or other PI manufacturers.

          1. I may be looking to buy a good quality hand gun with no paperwork.
            Often visit Cebu, but may have to wait for lockdowns to end.
            Can anyone help?

      1. JonMac Avatar

        Airsoft? Er, no. The only usable airsoft components would be CNC’d aluminium, and those are far too expensive for these guys to get hold off when they can just forge their own. They’re also far too light to be used on a real firearm, and lack provision for any of the necessary working parts. Even cast iron components would be stronger than the typical zinc alloy or plastic parts that the vast majority of airsoft guns are built with.

        No, what they’re doing is forging and hand or simple machine-finishing the parts, then hand-fitting them, based upon genuine reference pieces.

  5. derpmaster Avatar

    People do this kind of stuff here in dear, sweet Amurrica, such as the shovel AK, and the countless AR guys building their own lowers or hotrod uppers in goofy cartridges. There just isn’t much of a reason for the average person to care, as factory guns are so easily available. Why spend 2 weeks making a crappy 38 snub with no heat treating when you can get a Glock brand Glock with 17 round Glockazines for $500, or a surplus CZ for $200?

    1. CZs are getting popular, I don’t see them for 200 anymore… pre-Bs usually go for $350 at best O.o

  6. Scored my first with a homemade in Mindanao, waaay back in the day. My dream vacation is to embed in a shop like that, learn the trade.

  7. liquidflorian Avatar

    Holy crap! I’ll take that 9mm shorty 1911… Anybody know if that guy has a paypal account?

  8. liquidflorian Avatar

    I love how Vice hires these uber douchy New York hipsters… That guy was radiating asshole through the internets like Chernobyl.

    1. It shouldn’t surprise you seeing as how Vice is pretty much owned by Viacom….D-Bags be overflowin’

  9. hydepark Avatar

    As mentioned above, there is no way that 1911 was made by hand in that shop. He was showing off a bought gun in order to make himself and therefore his network of animal thugs appear more sophisticated. Not saying that he doesn’t make guns, but he didn’t make that one.

    1. LiquidFlorian Avatar

      I don’t know man… The Philippine gun makers have been working with the 1911 sense the Japanese occupation.

  10. “making guns is terrifyingly easy”…

    What a tool.

  11. Critter Avatar

    i have no doubt he made the guns in the vid. there are illiterate peasants in Dara, Pakistan that have been hand making copies of Western guns for centuries. the Phillipinos will have access to much better machinery and high quality metals. my only concern will be for the heat treating.

  12. SittingDown Avatar

    I really hope these gun makers can hold onto their rights.

  13. Ocelot Avatar

    I have personally owned Danao made 1911’s, they shoot great for a while but sooner or later they start to jam. Also because they are handmade there are instances when 1911 pats are not interchangeable. What can I say we Filipinos love our guns. Too bad here in Canada im only allowed 3 shells in my tube.

  14. Redlaw Avatar

    I have been to Danao many times and there are many good gunsmiths that can build you a fine weapon or other accessories… HOWEVER, the 1911s and other guns that are assembled and sold from factory made parts, are not smithed in Danao. There is a huge black market of parts from legitimate manufacturers of pistols, like RIA etc. The “from scratch” revolvers are usually of piss poor quality, non hardened steel, non blued or stainless and hardly milspec. these things will shoot but are not even close to an acceptable firearm. The Video, like all of VICE videos, are sensational and slightly misleading.

  15. 1911GUY Avatar


  16. I’m a gun nut since I was little! I grew up in the Philippines! I have good friends who are gunsmiths over there and most of his workers are from Danao. I owned a few of toys from Danao myself! They can make revolvers, pistols and even machine pistols and assault rifles! I have seen ARs, AKs, Ingrams etc! I used to own 2 revolvers that looks like a SW .44 magnums like what Clint Eastwood had in Dirty Harry but it actually fires a 5.56 rounds! The barrels were from an original M16 rifles! When I go to the range with my shooting buddies, I would bring those out on our breaks and fire ’em! Believe me, it fires well but NONE of my buddies would dare to do so! I fired more than a thousand rounds on those and never had problems! Overall, Philippine made guns are good but overall quality is not there! If only those skilled gunmakers will have somebody to finance them with better materials, I am 100% sure their quality will be a lot better!!

    1. Dear Ellis,

      May I have your email address?



  17. 1911fan Avatar

    I grew up in the Philippines and I learn to shoot 1911 like most Filipinos do! I’ve in the US for almost 30yrs. 1911 is still my favorite pistol! I have a couple of Glocks, Sigs but I have quite a few 1911s! I love my Kimbers the most! I am just amaze how far we have gone in the Philippines in making guns! I know there are what you call a first class backyard guns and there’s a lot of throw away ones! For a person who doesnt know much about guns, the first class backyard guns in the Philippines can give the import ones a run for their money! Filipinos are very good in copying anything! I uaed to own a first class Colt MkIV series 70 and it looks 95% like my real one! I have seen variety of pistols, revolvers, machine pistols and assault rifles and they sure look like the original ones! I wished the Phil Gov’t will tap into these local talents and help ’em produce high quality guns! That will help the local economy better and save the National Gov’t big bucks instead of importing quality guns! More power to you back home and keep up the good work!

  18. juanito durias Avatar
    juanito durias

    it is strange how foreigners immediately brand danao made firearms as crappy based solely in this video and perhaps the price of these piss poor priced guns. i am a filipino and we call these backyard guns “paltik”, and sure some or a majority of them are crappy and may blow your @^#%$ when you fire it, but boys, not all of them are. filipinos are proud (but of course some are not), and they convey this pride through their products. may it be “balot” (21 day old duck egg) or a 1911 you are buying, you’d most definitely get your money’s worth, or much more than it. hand made guns are one of a kind, mind you, they are copies but then they are not…

    1. 1911A1 MilSpec is probably the easiest semi-auto to make. I found digital drawings on the internet long ago that are copies of the original drawings of about 100 years ago. All dimensions are given in fractions of an inch, i.e. 1/256th of an inch. All parts are drawn and specified. The choice and use of available material would be the limiting factor. All components are available on the internet but the purchase might be a real problem here. But even so, if one has a small metal lathe, and a drill press with an wyz positioner and needed tool bits it can, and will be done.

  19. I have no doubt, those guns are homemade…..I have one excellent gun made in 1988 by Cortez (the most skilled gunsmith in that area), I have also an imitation of .357 Colt Revolver bought for 2,200 pesos from a Constabulary man assigned in Danao in 1989 while I was in Dumaguete. In 1990 before I left Dumaguete City I gave this .357 revolver to my friend, I met him again last year and I was surprised when he showed me the same gun still in good shape although it develops some rust but still deadly and accurate. He told me that he replaced the springs and the firing pin…….These guns are good if you will use it only in a few shots but if you are firing it continuously then it will not last, how can you expect a good quality of metal when this gunsmith are using scraps of metals that are not suitable for gun blasting, No questions for the skills of those gunsmith they are excellent even if they don’t have modern tools and machinery but still can fabricate and copy semi or automatic sub-machine guns……Filipinos are highly skilled, our ancestor are building canons for Spain hundred years ago….

  20. Gman pinoy Avatar
    Gman pinoy

    I lived in manila and seen some of the coolest custom 1911s ive ever seen all made by hand for about $100usd

  21. manuel javier Avatar
    manuel javier

    with surplus lathe machines and milling machines these gunsmiths are making guns comparable to the branded guns. they buy quality gun metals from suppliers the same as those gun metals used by smith and Wesson and other gun manufacturing companies. b the way I am a Filipino and lives in dumaduete city . Cebu island is where danao is. world renounce for paltik today guns made in Cebu are good Filipinos have been making guns before the americans came to the Philippines

  22. micheal Avatar

    how do you get a gun in the Philippines, you have ask the locals or taxi drivers?
    thanks,. any suggetionz

  23. Jason Alvarez Avatar
    Jason Alvarez

    Danao Gun smiths have their own agents roaming around. Just be careful not to deal with fake ones. Some of them were employed by the Japanese Yakuza for bulk orders.

    [email protected]

  24. Those guys do produce them entirely by hand with few machine tools. I’ve watched these guys working on the “.45s” and I watched a longer video of a city in Pakistan(?) with guys producing shot guns and rifles. The only problems I recall are, 1) there will be possible fit problem on repairs or customization; and 2) they cannot be sure they are getting high quality steel and they can’t do “Quality Control” and test the metal chemically or with imaging.

  25. Rainier Avatar

    Buying guns in the Philippines is very difficult because of many paper works and it took long time to proccess, unlike in thestates that more easier.