IS it real or is it a replica?
Police would argue they could take no chances and would respond with armed officers if confronted with such a weapon.
It is, in fact, a startlingly realistic fake Uzi sub-machine gun - bought in a Huddersfield town centre shop for just £80.
It displays all the features of the authentic Uzi, the most popular sub-machine gun in the world, except that it fires only 6mm plastic shot.
And it highlights the dilemma that police face when dealing with firearms offences.
Chief Supt John Holt, of Huddersfield Police, is seeking a ban on all imitation guns after statistics revealed last week that Huddersfield has the worst level of firearms offences in West Yorkshire, because of the number of fake weapons on the street.
Chief Supt Holt argued that it was all too easy for people to get hold of fake guns.
So it proved. We bought the replica Uzi from a reputable Huddersfield model shop, Something Wicked, in Wood Street.
Other shops in the town also stock replica weapons.
We could just have easily bought it by mail order or via the Internet.
Five minutes on the Internet left us with the option to buy numerous replica handguns, including a Browning revolver, a Beretta pistol or a Walther PPK gun, all priced between £39 and £49.
Pc Dave McSweeney, of Huddersfield police, said even from close-up the Uzi looked realistic and it would be treated as a real weapon until police were certain it was a replica.
He said: "It's amazing why anyone would want to buy anything like this. There's no reason for it at all.
"It looks real even close-up and police would treat it as a real weapon until they could get their hands on it.
"If we seized something like this we would get a firearms-trained officer to thoroughly examine it to make sure it could not fire real bullets.
"Only then would we be sure it was not an authentic weapon."
Home Secretary David Blunkett yesterday announced moves which would give police more powers.
His big crackdown on anti- social behaviour includes a plan to make it illegal to carry replica guns in the street.
Police have welcomed the move but believe the menace of fake guns is a huge problem.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "In many incidents police do not know if a weapon is real or imitation unless it is later recovered, and have to respond appropriately.
"It is often impossible for officers, including those highly trained in firearms use, to tell the difference between real and fake firearms.
"Most imitation guns are specifically manufactured to be exact replicas.
"It is often only by dismantling the weapon that it can be proved not to be a real gun."
Police statistics show a steady rise in the number of firearms crimes in West Yorkshire over the past five years.
In the past 12 months the number of crimes topped 2,000 for the first time, although most concerned criminal damage.
Many of the crimes involve air weapons but officers are increasingly concerned that replica weapons are being used by criminals.
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