Gardai have recovered two guns from a haul of 29 stolen from a licensed dealer's premises in county Wicklow.
Gardai believe the weapons were likely to have been stolen either by a gang from west Dublin or travelling criminals, based in Co Wexford.
A five-man gang got away with 17 rifles and 12 shotguns when they broke into the registered gun dealer's premises at the Coolawinna industrial park, outside Ashford.
The theft took place on Saturday week but details of the break-in were not disclosed until yesterday.
The gang also made off with about a dozen boxes of ammunition.
Gardai said the thieves cut their way in through the roof to gain access to the premises at around 12.45am. They also cut through doors inside the premises, which has a strongroom to store the weapons.
A strongroom is one of the conditions necessary for a gun dealer to be licensed to keep weapons in his premises.
The regulations are laid down by the Republic's Department of Justice.
Two of the weapons were recovered when officers stopped a stolen car in Ballyfermot in west Dublin at the weekend.
Gardai pursued the car after it sped through traffic lights and brought it to a halt.
Two men, suspected of being car thieves, were arrested. But during a search of the vehicle gardai found the two guns.
The occupants of the car denied knowledge of the weapons.
Gardai said last night that the circumstances surrounding the original theft were still being examined and a check of the premises by technical bureau experts had been carried out.
They believe that the crime gang behind the theft will not hold onto most of the weapons and is likely to attempt to sell them off in small batches.
Gardai said last night that details of the theft had not been circulated until yesterday, as officers had to match up the guns with the serial numbers, and this process took a while to sort out.
One officer pointed out that information about a weapons theft was circulated internationally as well as locally, and bulletins about the guns were useless without the serial numbers.