Updated: May 6
The AR15 or ‘M16’ & ‘M4’ pattern self-loading rifles are a very popular choice in many commercial and military markets the world over, Pakistan is no exception. Some Pakistani law-enforcement and military units utilise varying models of this platform already and a large prevalence of M4 and M16 5.56×45mm rifles of various types and manufacturers have been creeping onto the market slowly in the last few decades or so, none more so than the Colt or FN marked M4A1 and M16A2/A4 rifles seeping through from Afghanistan in the last decade. There is such a high demand for these particular firearms and a low supply and high price for genuine examples that various manufacturers stepped up-to-the plate and have started to manufacture their own copies within the ex-FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, mainly in Peshawar’s small-arms manufacturing zones but also within the infamous arms manufacturing town of Darra Adamkhel.
One of the more well-known manufacturers is the; Royal Arms Company located in Peshawar, the capital city of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, with the factory situated within the Small Industries Estate on the Kohat Road. Their set-up is certainly impressive for a small private company with a large array of imported computerized, relatively modern, machinery being used. They advertise their rifles as made from imported 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum for the upper and lower receivers and some pistol frames, AISI 4140 or AISI 4150 grade steel for their bolts, bolt-carriers, barrels and barrel extensions and other lesser grades are used for various other small parts or slides/frame. Along with this, they have kept the specifications for their arms the same across the board which means that the parts are interchangeable between these and a genuine factory originals. The company also offer a lifetime warranty on their products, replacing or repairing a firearm if the user has any issues.
Fig. 1.1. A pair of rifles, one with a faux suppressor fitted (Source: Abdullah K reference collection)
As with many of these Pakistani manufacturers, they also offer the option of having factory parts installed in place of any local ones. This is preferable with many end-users, and many manufacturers or retailers will also say the same to their buyers, especially in regards to bolts and barrels. These rifles are made entirely locally, with the exception of the furniture and accessories, with furniture either sourced from local polymer manufacturers in Pakistan or in-turn from Chinese ones, while the accessories are largely imported from China.
An interesting thing to note is that this company utilizes the same process as decades past in their fitting hall, the laborers and gunsmiths all sit on raised platforms to assemble a firearm together. Although this is done so, they do not rely mainly on hand-fitting by filing each firearm to fit but actually have a set-up which allows for all their products to be done to the same specification thus ensuring that the firearms and cross-compatible with each other copy as well as their original factory counterparts. This makes them ‘interchange’ models as the local markets refer to them as.
Their method of production is as follows; the raw billet is cut and machined into the various parts needed for a complete firearm and this is done in batches, these parts must undergo various levels of machining to become completed components, completed parts then move to be sand-blasted, heat-treated and fitted together with some minor fitting if needed and checked for function, once this is done they are disassembled and move on again to have the finish applied, once applied, the final stages is to re-assemble and check function again and a final test-fire christens the firearm as completed and ready to go.
All of the locally produced AR-pattern rifles are chambered in 5.56×45mm which is locally referred to as .223, 5.56 or Doh-Soh-Ta’es. Check out our recent article on the Colloquial Cartridge Nomenclature of Afghanistan and Pakistan for an in-depth look at local ammunition names.
As is common in Pakistan, the rifles are not marked with the Royal Arms Company maker’s mark, instead they are marked with the trademarks of more alluring US manufacturers including Colt and Battle Arms. Marking the rifles as such may be so but companies don’t falsely advertise their products as genuine originals in an attempt to misguide the end-user but proudly state they are ‘Pakistani made’. In these photographs we see a ‘Colt’-marked M4A1 copy and a ‘Battle Arms’-marked AR-15 type rifle, which also has some ‘Daniel Defense’ type markings engraved on the upper receiver. Below are some examples of the original rifles which inspired those copied by the Royal Arms Company.
Fig. 1.2. An authentic Daniel Defense carbine which has inspired the markings seen on the Royal Arms Company produced copy. Note the ‘DDM4’ and 5.56 projectile markings (Source: Daniel Defense)
Fig. 1.3. Note the differences between the markings used on this original Battle Arms patrol carbine, the selector markings are similar by the profile of the projectile markings differ slightly (Source: Battle Arms)
Fig. 1.4. Finally here is an original Colt-production M4 carbine, note how the rampant colt logo and ‘Colt’ trademark are side by side rather than aligned vertically (Source: Colt Mfg.)
Being pedantic or a stickler for detail, you can notice a few small things that are off with the M4 and Battle Arms rifles. Although the company has faithfully copied them, there is a noticeable change in the factory markings applied on the M4’s magazine-well along with the missing auto-sear pin, along with that another thing you can spot at once is that the Battle Arms type AR15 utilizes a standard AR15/M4 type railed upper receiver and not one that corresponds in design to the lower.
Fig. 1.5. Closer look at a pair of rifles, one with a faux suppressor fitted (Source: Abdullah K reference collection)
As we can see some Daniel Defense markings on the Battle Arms-marked rifle, let us take a look at another example on the commercial market which is for sale in Darra Adamkhel. Here, we can see a Daniel Defense MK18, AR15 type rifle manufactured by a local company, possibly also by Royal Arms Company themselves as can be surmised by the markings on the Battle Arms copy.
Fig. 1.6. A ‘Daniel Defense’ MK18 rifle, locally manufactured within the KPK province (Source: DARRA based retailer)
Although it looks like an actual Daniel Defense rifle at a glance and to the untrained eye much like other copies, there are a few things which are off and that’s how you can tell it isn’t a genuine Daniel Defense product. First off, the front railed handguard is slightly canted but we can write this off as incorrectly installed, looking closer, the pistol grip is also incorrect followed by the wrong trigger guard being installed as this is a standard ones and not the curved variant seen on a factory examples but also yet again this is another thing which could be changed out by the manufacturer/user/seller easily, looking over it again you can notice that this rifle has a full-auto sear installed as can be seen with the addition of the pin above the fire-selector, again something that can be done by anyone, however, what really shows this isn’t a Daniel Defense product is the absence of the serial number, this would never be something missing on a legitimate product of theirs.
The following video filmed in their factory, takes a quick look at the externals of a few of their rifles on our channel:
Overall, the copies handled and inspected were very well made and like mentioned before, you could easily be fooled to think they were originals if you didn’t look close enough. There is a small niggling feeling that there may be issues in the long run as although the company uses weapons-grade material, they do not forge their upper and lower receivers to the proper specifications of major manufacturers, instead machining the steel or aluminum direct from billet, thus these will not have the same tensile body strength as the originals. That being said, this is an overwhelmingly positive direction manufacturers are moving in and we can only see good things coming of companies like these as they strive to push forward, modernize and create even better firearms.