Illicit FirearmsResearch

Illicit firearms and other weapons on the darknet markets


DATE: March 2021
AUTHOR: Roderic Broadhurst, Jack Foye, Chuxuan Jiang, Matthew Ball


This study provides a snapshot of the availability of weapons across eight omnibus or ‘High Street’ and 12 specialist darknet or illicit cryptomarkets between July and December 2019.

Overall, 2,124 weapons were identified, of which 11 percent were found on niche markets. On all markets, weapons for sale included 1,497 handguns, 218 rifles, 41 submachine guns and 34 shotguns. Also available were ammunition (n=79), explosives (n=37) and accessories such as silencers (n=24).

Omnibus markets also sold other weapons (n=70) such as tasers, pepper spray and knives, and digital products (n=112), mostly DIY weapon manuals, as well as chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons (n=12).

The data allowed for estimates of the cost of weapons and some description of the 215 vendors identified, 18 (8.4%) of whom were active across more than one market.

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