• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Illegal weapons for sale on AliExpress, Amazon, eBay and Wish, warns Which?

BySamuel M. Craig

Aug 11, 2022

According to the What? investigation.

The consumer group found banned offensive weapons such as zombie and flick knives, brass knuckles, swords and batons for sale on the sites for as little as 49p.

Under UK law, guns must not be available for sale in the UK and cannot even be kept in a private home. If a person was caught with one of these products, they could be arrested and sentenced to prison.

Search on Amazon, which one? found more than a dozen ads for friction batons posing as “hiking poles”. It is illegal to buy and sell these batons in the UK.

Promotional image of a pole featured as a set of hiking poles on Amazon. (Which one?/PA)

Some of the lists Which? found special characters used, such as “bătõň”, in the title, or the word used only in the artwork – presumably to avoid detection by Amazon.

On eBay, which one? found a variety of illegal swords, zombie knives and brass knuckles, including a 23 inch steel serrated edge zombie knife (£27) and a 27 inch zombie blade with a red fire design (£32) .

A seller was offering a combined deal on a karambit blade and ‘stun spray’ for £13.99.

Who? found the widest selection of weapons for sale on AliExpress and Wish – with simple searches for the terms “self-opening knife”, “self-opening knife” and “spring assisted knives”, returning dozens of results on each , many under £10 and some even marketed for self-defense.

Who? was able to find a large number of knives and at least a dozen butterfly knives – blades that open to a point – on Wish despite being illegal.

Researchers also found several belt buckle knives from £8, a selection of brass knuckles and a number of concealed blades – including a £1 knife designed to be hidden in a wallet.

Other items included friction-lock batons, one of which was disguised as an umbrella and another which was marketed for use in self-defense and had over 30 reviews in the UK.

On AliExpress, which one? found a large number of knives, hidden blades and a series of ‘self-defense rings’ designed to be worn like brass knuckles – one priced at just 49p.

It is disturbing that our latest investigation revealed illegal guns being sold in online marketplaces at extraordinarily cheap prices.

Sue Davies, which one?

On all four platforms, additional prohibited weapons were recommended by the platforms’ algorithms after initial research by Which?.

Who? Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy, said: “It is troubling that our latest investigation has revealed that illegal weapons are being sold in online marketplaces at extraordinarily low prices and that these tech companies are also selling items additional dangerous to people. This raises big question marks about the controls and monitoring carried out by these platforms.

“It is clear that online marketplaces need to take more responsibility and prevent illegal weapons from appearing on their sites.”

UK buyers cannot purchase these knives. We are investigating why this blocking did not occur in this case.


An eBay spokesperson said: “eBay UK prohibits the sale of the vast majority of knives, with the exception of letter openers, some tools and cutlery. Sellers must comply with our policies as well applicable laws and regulations when selling knives.As an international marketplace, our policies vary across the world and some of the listings highlighted by Which? Registered in the US UK buyers cannot buy these knives We are investigating why this blocking did not occur in this case.

“eBay takes the safety of its customers very seriously. We enforce our Product Safety Policy using blocking filtering algorithms which aim to prevent unsafe products from being listed on the site in the first place and l eBay’s security team performs additional checks to identify listings that don’t comply with our policies and takes enforcement action against sellers. This could include removal of listings, selling restrictions or account suspensions.

We are disappointed when bad actors escape our systems


The Alibaba Group, which includes AliExpress, said: “The safety of our customers is our top priority. We have strict guidelines for traders regarding the sale of knives. Additionally, customers must verify that they are over 18 in order to purchase knives from our platform.

“We have removed items highlighted by Which?’s investigation and are reviewing the accounts of any third-party merchants who may have violated our platform policies. We thank Who? for bringing the category to our attention. “self-defense” rings. We are studying this and will continue to keep an eye on it. We regularly evaluate our practices to improve them.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We require all products to comply with applicable laws and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent non-compliant products from being listed in our stores. We are disappointed when bad actors escape our systems and we will use these learnings to improve our prevention mechanisms. These products have now been removed from the store and we are taking appropriate action against the bad actors in question. »