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Tools of the Italian American Mafia

The Italian American Mafia or simply, “the Mob,” as it is more widely known, is one of the most organized and ruthless criminal organizations operating in the United States today. This assemblage of various crime families has called New York, New Jersey, and a number of other major cities home since the early 20th century.

Methods of the Italian American Mafia

Today, mobsters operate illegal activities ranging from narcotics to trafficking to extortion. Not to mention far more violent and bloodier crimes, such as cold-blooded murder, kidnappings, and planned assassinations.

Hierarchy within the Mob is organized for the ultimate control of a local neighborhood or city. Correspondingly, lower-level members often carry out much of the dirty work. This style of organization also serves as a “buffer” for top-tier members. Specifically, it helps them avoid arrest and indictment if police happen to bust a lower-ranking member for a capital crime.

One thing, however, is for certain—you don’t want to cross the “Families.”

If you do, major repercussions will occur, and they are not pretty! There is no slap on the wrist or gentle message to “Don’t do it again,” but rather a blood-filled retribution that almost guarantees you will be “sleeping with the fishes.”

How is this accomplished? Through the lethal nastiness of the Italian American Mafia’s arsenal of death, of course.

9mm Handgun

(Photo by iStock Photos)

One of the most used handguns by the Mafia today is the 9mm semi-automatic pistol. It offers considerable stopping power combined with concealability and a large magazine for multiple shots and, of course, multiple kills.

This style of handgun is mass-produced by numerous firearms manufacturers. So, finding one is not an issue when it is time to make the hit. The blast from a mobster’s 9mm typically results in a rival gang member or a store owner (who perhaps didn’t “pay up” his protection money) lying face down in a pool of his own blood.


  • Ideal balance between power and ease of firing.
  • Lightweight and easily concealable.
  • Moderate recoil for all body types.
  • Easy-to-find ammunition.
  • Variety of ammunition types, including FMJ, frangible, and hollow point.

Tommy Gun (Prohibition Era)

Tools of the Italian American Mafia: Tommy Gun (Prohibition Era).
(Photo by iStock Photos)

The weapon of choice for the Mafia in the 1920s and 1930s, this invention from the mind of John T. Thompson mowed down the opposition with a shower of bullets that literally tore to pieces anyone in its path.

It was known on the streets as a “Tommy gun,” “street sweeper,” “annihilator,” and “trench broom,” among other monikers. This two-handed, full-auto dealer of death stored nicely in a violin case when not in use.

However, for the recipients of its nonstop barrage, it definitely didn’t play a sweet song for them.


  • Invented in 1918 during World War I.
  • Showers upward of 1,200 rounds per minute.
  • Performs well even under muddy and rainy conditions.
  • Semi-auto or full-auto options.
  • Referred to as the “gun that made the twenties roar.”


(Photo by iStock Photos)

Cross the Mafia, and you could end up wearing cement overshoes. And these would definitely be the last pair of shoes you’d ever wear!

For those bold enough—or should I say stupid enough—to “sing like birdie” against the Families, their feet are encased in blocks of concrete. Next, they are unceremoniously tossed into the East River (or some other convenient waterway) like a literal piece of garbage.

Within seconds, their soon-to-be corpses find the bottom. Likewise, by the next minute, if they’re lucky enough to last that long, they can ruefully rethink the biggest mistake of their lives. But they better think fast, as their air runs out and water finally surges into their lungs.


  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Widely available at hardware stores.
  • Dries quickly for fast use.
  • Dense, heavy material sinks fast in water.
  • Keeps victims submerged for decades.

Garrote Wire

Tools of the Italian American Mafia: Garrote Wire.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

Silent, swift, and deadly as hell, a strong piece of wire—often piano wire—makes an efficient killing tool for the Mafia boys of New York and other northern regions. Anyone who is on the Family’s hit list has to watch their backs. Because within seconds, the taunt wire could dig deep into the flesh of their necks.

Soon, covered in blood and in severe pain, air ceases to reach their lungs as they struggle to no avail. This particular type of kill is fast, quiet, and highly efficient. It is a wonder what a simple, single strand of metal wire can do!


  • Easy to find throughout any city.
  • Is a simple-to-use killing device.
  • Cuts deep into neck tissues as it strangles its victims.
  • Small, compact, and fits inside most pockets.
  • Silent to use; doesn’t attract attention.

Molotov Cocktail

Molotov Cocktail.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

Whether you call it a Molotov cocktail, a petrol bomb, a “fire bottle,” or a “poor man’s grenade,” the results are still the same. Whatever it hits becomes engulfed in a mass of flames.

The Italian American Mafia would use these deadly concoctions to destroy storefronts, automobiles, and apartment buildings. Usually with unsuspecting victims still inside. Once the glass bottle broke, it was game over as the recipient burned and endured an agonizing, nightmarish death.  


  • Usually filled with alcohol, methanol, diesel, or gasoline.
  • Wick created from a handkerchief or rag soaked in kerosene.
  • Glass bottles break upon impact.  
  • Bleach, chlorine, and acids are sometimes added to create poisonous gases.
  • The “Molotov” in Molotov cocktail was originally a derisive reference to Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov by the Finnish during their “Winter War” with the Soviet Union.

Baseball Bat

Tools of the Italian American Mafia: Baseball Bat.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

No need to buy or craft a fancy club when a baseball bat works quite well—and then some! Ideal for breaking the legs or arms of uncooperative store owners or “rats” who snitch to the cops, a wooden baseball bat easily conceals under a long trench coat and goes wherever it is needed.

Additionally, a victim’s property is never out of the reach of a Mafia-bred slugger who can use the American pastime’s toughest piece of equipment to destroy vehicles, storefronts, merchandise, and more.

Batter up!


  • Available in sports and department stores.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Tough, durable, and will stand up to intense “abuse.”
  • Requires minimal skill to use.
  • Somewhat inconspicuous and legal to possess.

This article was originally published in the Skillset Spring 2021 issue. Purchase this issue in print or digital at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

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