A drilled-out gun which had been modified to fire live ammunition was uncovered by police as they arrested a man who had been on the run for eight years.
Liam McBride, 42, was lying low in Blackpool when he confiscated the weapon from a Romanian man who had brought it into the valeting business where he worked.
You have an appalling criminal record with no less than 32 offences to your name, including serious violence and public disorder
But realising it would arouse suspicion he passed it to another man to stash it away, Preston Crown Court was told.
McBride – described as having an explosive temper – admitted the modified Beretta would be sold on the black market and most likely used for criminal activity.
But he claimed he was unable to hand it in to police as he was wanted on warrant after failing to appear at Newcastle Crown Court for offences of drink driving and possession of a blade in 2007.
Police caught up with McBride, of Alexandra Road, Blackpool, after a row erupted between the defendant and a friend of his.
McBride lost his temper and smashed a plant pot through the windscreen of his friend’s Lexus before grabbing him by the throat and headbutting him.
But when the victim called the police he told them about the 8mm calibre gun and ammunition which was stashed in his loft – and that it belonged to McBride.
Officers searched McBride’s home and found three cartridges of live ammunition, identical to seven cartridges which had been found with the firearm, in a drawer in the kitchen.
McBride pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm on the basis he only had the weapon for three weeks and had not brandished it in any way.
The gun was examined by firearms experts and was found to be in poor condition, although when it was lubricated it was capable of firing live ammunition.
The cartridges were also capable of lethal discharge but were not the correct calibre for the gun, the court heard.
Nicholas Clarke, sentencing, said: “You have an appalling criminal record with no less than 32 offences to your name, including serious violence and public disorder.
“You have a complete disregard for the rule of law and when you were due to appear before Newcastle Crown Court you didn’t turn up.
“While you have been unlawfully at large it has not diminished your criminal conduct.
“You were in possession of a firearm, a blank firing replica in a poor condition, but when it was lubricated it was capable of being fired.
“You caused a nasty injury when you grabbed (the victim) by the throat and headbutted him and I must consider the 2007 offence.
“Bladed articles being held by criminals is of great concern to these courts. It is all too easy for them to be used in the type of fights that you have been involved in take place.”
He jailed McBride for a total of six years.