back to article French hackers selling hidden .22 calibre pen guns on secret forums

French hackers are selling concealed weapons including so-called pen guns that fire .22 Long Rifle bullets on highly secretive crime forums, threat researcher Cedric Pernet says. Videos of the home-made pen guns scattered around the internet show the weapons in working use. The guns are being sold for €150 (US$169, £127, A$ …

  1. GrapeBunch Silver badge

    Le savon de ma tante est sur la table.

    So many strange new things that one wonders what to make of, then an exposé, c'est cool, and it all makes sense.

  2. martinusher Silver badge

    Not an Internet story

    Pen guns and other pocket weapons have been around for a hundred years or more. They're illegal in most places so you're not going to find them on Amazon or eBay. Vintage models are collectable so there's a small market for them in the US (but even then you won't find people walking around with them as weapons -- legalities, again, and anyway they were never that effective).

    Its possible to improvise a single shot weapon out of little more than a piece of tubing. The trick -- at least for British people -- would be finding ammunition.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Not an Internet story

      Actually the trick for British people would be trying to remember if it is le pen or la pen or is it le or la gun.

      1. BlartVersenwaldIII
        Terminator

        Re: Not an Internet story

        In the future when we're all speaking esperanto, it will be las gun.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Not an Internet story

          > In the future when we're all speaking esperanto, it will be las gun.

          Your brain will be managed from the bowels of Government Security ("Live Together, Safe, and everyone shall be Harmonized!") and there will be no need for las gun.

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Not an Internet story

          Yes, but for the majority, what's that in Klingon?

    2. Sway

      Re: Not an Internet story

      22LR is very simple to buy, farmers often use it for rabbits and it is not commonly used in pistols so doesn't raise alarm bells when being purchased.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Not an Internet story

        @sway

        " so doesn't raise alarm bells when being purchased."

        Right! you name iz goink on ze list!

        ...vat is your name?

        1. Alan Edwards

          Re: Not an Internet story

          Don't tell him, Pike.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Not an Internet story

      No but there is a Linux connection.

      Nearly.

      1. AndyS

        Re: Not an Internet story

        > there is a Linux connection. Nearly.

        Pengun? I missed it.

  3. inmypjs Silver badge

    No one cares..

    because they are not 3D printed.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pen guns

    Who do they injure?

    The victim or the perp?

    Yikes!

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Pen guns

      Both and an innocent bystander... I'm sure quality control is at the top of the list when producing these...

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "bagging between €5 million to €10 million a month"

    How is it that such financial volume is not tracked down and under surveillance ?

    We're not talking about cash changing hands in a dark alley, this is online financial transactions. The police have all the tools they need to track this, so how do scammers not get caught ?

    Is there only one cop on duty at any given time ?

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: "bagging between €5 million to €10 million a month"

      Because those transactions are hidden behind a surge of legitimate payments for goods and services and tracking them down is not as easy as you seem to imply it is.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: "bagging between €5 million to €10 million a month"

      Errrm....the article says there are 40K users so that works out at around €200 each, so unlikely to trigger alarm bells. Heck, I spend that most months on amazon (yes, I know, I'm ashamed, but I do live a long way from the shops)

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Go

        Re: "bagging between €5 million to €10 million a month"

        I thin Pascal read it (as I did first time around) that we were talking 40000 people pulling in 5 million EACH every month. THAT you would think would be easy to trace. 5 million divided by 40000 people not so much.

        Also doesn't seem really worth it for that sort of money. Your taking a hell of a risk to make €200 a month. So I wonder how accurate those figures really are...

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: "bagging between €5 million to €10 million a month"

          "Also doesn't seem really worth it for that sort of money. Your taking a hell of a risk to make €200 a month. So I wonder how accurate those figures really are..."

          As with all enterprise, it's incredibly unlikely that the money is evenly spread. You'll have the top 1% making €9.9 million, while the rest make virtually nothing. Quite possibly even more than that, since simply totalling all members will include both vendors and customers - a decent proportion of those 40,000 probably aren't even trying to make money, but are actually spending it.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: "bagging between €5 million to €10 million a month"

            And should we really care?

            It's probably easier to get a crate of AKM directly from a CIA container in the Middle East / ex-Yougoslavia manufacturer / Ukrainian "security" personnel delivered to Italy / Vienna / Brussels if you want to do ... harmful things.

  6. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    So the pen IS mightier than the Sword

    at least in France....

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: So the pen IS mightier than the Sword

      Not with the range you are likely to get out of one of those pens. You would probably be better off strapping a sword to your side and tell everyone that you were headed to a costume/fancy dress party.

  7. imanidiot Silver badge

    why buy an expensive illegal pengun

    When you can legally buy a small lathe and bar stock for the same amount and make many many more (not legal but near impossible to track if you keep you gob shut yo everyone else).

    Small non repeating arms are really really easy to make. Which is why getting ammo in many EU countries is also a challenge. Sometimes even for those with a licensed legal firearm.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: why buy an expensive illegal pengun

      I read that as "an expensive illegal penguin ".

      From a quick perusal of the guidance on wild animals, I think you'll need a whole host of licenses to import most species of penguins, so there's probably a niche for darknet animal-smugglers.

  8. jake Silver badge

    Hackers? What hackers? I see no hackers.

    So in the mind of ThePress, the word "hacker" has now come to mean "criminal", and the two words can be used interchangeably?

    The reason that I ask is because I see absolutely nothing in the article that could possibly be called "hacking", at least not where I come from ...

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Hackers? What hackers? I see no hackers.

      Well, they did mention the fearsome DARK WEB - and everyone knows only hackers know how to access THAT...

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Hackers? What hackers? I see no hackers.

      So in the mind of ThePress, the word "hacker" has now come to mean "criminal", and the two words can be used interchangeably?

      That is not a new thing, has been the case for at least a decade. And that's the perception implanted in most of the minds of the public.

  9. Dr_N Silver badge

    Zip Guns

    Just flood the market with cheap, easy to obtain defective homemade firearm and just watch the ensuing cull.

  10. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Newton's Third Law of Motion

    With such a low mass 'gun', isn't it getting to the point where the backwards impulse of the 'gun' itself is going to get a bit, erm, uncomfortable? What next? Hold the 22 shell in your teeth and trigger the primer with a bent paperclip?

    The other issue is shooting somebody with a 22. The victim might get very angry, grab the wannabe assassin, and then tear them to shreds with their bare hands. Not always, but likely a sizable fraction.

    1. Dan Wilkie

      Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

      The SOE used to use Pen Guns in WW2, Colt made one iirc - so it must be workable.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

        There was the FP-45 Liberator, amongst other guns like pen- and lipstick-guns, and guns as part of gloves... a lot of clever ideas, but usually more of a novelty than an effectice weapon. Most of them fall into the category of "if you're close enough to your adversary to use it, you might just as well use a knife or your hands or a brick or whatever is availiable".

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

          I was just thinking the same thing. If you're that close then certainly something like a Fairbairn-Sykes has it all over any pen gun with perhaps the chief advantage being the ability to reuse it immediately.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

      At point blank range a .22lr has a muzzle energy of around 80 ft/lbs (I still haven't got to grips with metric me ) so if fired perpendicular to a skull, will penetrate it. At an angle it may pass through the skin an ricochet off the skull and as you say, if , in a body shot it hits nothing important, you are going to have a pissed off target coming after you.

    3. Bloakey1

      Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

      <snip>

      "The other issue is shooting somebody with a 22. The victim might get very angry, grab the wannabe assassin, and then tear them to shreds with their bare hands. Not always, but likely a sizable fraction."

      .22 is a good caliber for whacking people, you just need to know where to put the round. Do not forget that .223 is another mans 5.56, which as we all know is the caliber of many Western assault weapons.

      Do not forget that the Israeli Kidon units have long favoured the odd perfume shot [1.] with a .22 .

      1. A splash behind the ear.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

        ".22 is a good caliber for whacking people, you just need to know where to put the round. Do not forget that .223 is..."

        Well, .223 is in no way comparable to .22.

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

          "Well, .223 is in no way comparable to .22."

          It is and is slightly larger. There are various formats to .22 whether, rimfire, long magnum, accelerator etc.

          The results can be similar depending on the .22 round employed.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

        Except . . . the .223 "warhead" is quite a bit heavier, full metal jacket, and has one hell of a lot more propellant behind it. I doubt that anyone hit with a .223 even in a one shot shirley would be in any shape to apply a beat down on anyone. I've used them in a "powerhead" for anti shark defense during scuba adventures.

    4. Pirate Dave Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

      "The other issue is shooting somebody with a 22. The victim might get very angry, grab the wannabe assassin, and then tear them to shreds with their bare hands."

      I saw a quote similar to that about the .25 recently, can't remember exactly where. Something along the lines of:

      Never carry a .25 pistol. If you absolutely have to carry a .25, never load it because then you might shoot it, and if you shoot it you might hit someone by mistake, and if he finds out about it, he's likely to be very angry at you.

  11. lukewarmdog

    Selling things on the Internet isn't hacking, otherwise everyone on ebay, amazon etc is in big big trouble.

  12. Don The Elder

    Re: Newton's Third Law of Motion

    I remember these from shop class in the 60s. Wearing a glove there was no mark on your hand as the bullet's mass is negligible, as is the muzzle velocity. The French Resistance (and English and American spies) used them for contact assassination, distraction, and suicide. A bureaucrat might be threatened by one, but an overcoat would stop the shot from a foot or two.

  13. Mahhn

    For that price

    For that price you can buy a real new gun, or make 20 like that at any large hardware store- including buying the tools.

    For your entertainment: In the US you can legally build "one" gun from scratch for yourself. (illegal to sell)

  14. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "euthanasia kits" ???

    What exactly should I be prepared for to find in one?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Helium and a breathing mask

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