Colloquial Cartridge Nomenclature in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Updated: Nov 18

A cartridge or Bore / Goli as they are most commonly referred to as within Pakistan and/or Afghanistan, have held various names in the expansive Pak-Afghan region for decades. The most widespread and in current use is known to some; however, their etymology or source is unbeknownst to most. There are some names used which can be attributed to both a firearm and a cartridge, this can also be found to refer to multiple different types depending on a region. It is also important to note and understand that the sound, ‘V’, is mainly heard to be said as ‘PH’ with a pronounced H, because the ‘V‘ sound is not present in Pashto. Some speakers do pronounce the V as such, however, it is not common to hear it so. Let us cover the cartridges used, up to 12.7mm.

In the video below I show and discuss examples of most of the rounds discussed in this article:

Pak-Afghan Regional Cartridge Names

Dangar. This is the name for the 7.62×54mmR cartridge. This is mainly used by the Mosin Nagant bolt-action rifles found across the region, however, it is used to refer to the cartridge it fires. It is also used when discussing the round in the context of the SVD self-loading marksman’s rifle and the PK/M machine gun, which also chamber the venerable round. The word ‘Dangar’ means cattle in both the Urdu and Pashto languages. Cattle are seen as hard-working, heavy-hitting animals which mirrors exactly what the cartridge is perceived as – a workhorse, the nickname has therefore stuck.

Kalashankov/Kalashankoph. This is trickier to understand as it could mean many things; it mainly refers to the 7.62×39mm cartridge but also to a number of AK-pattern self-loading rifles. Any AK-pattern rifle chambered in the round would be called a ‘Kalashankov’ rifle, however, this stops at rifles with slant-brake muzzles and later AK models. Note also the ‘ph’ pronunciation necessitated by Pashto.

Kalakov/Kalakoph/Doh-Soh-Ba’es. This sounds like Kalashnikov but shortened, sharper, onomatopoeically much like the 5.45×39mm cartridge it refers to. Although this round is called ‘Kalakov’, the name can also refer to any rifle which is chambered in the 5.45×39mm round. It is also called the ‘Doh-Soh-Ba’es‘ within Pakistan as that is ‘222’ in the Urdu language, this term of 222 is another name used to refer to the 5.45×39mm round locally. It is also worth noting that small pockets of people, within the Pak-Afghan region, refer to 5.56×45mm by the same name and that includes rifles chambered in the cartridge. You may find some rifles such as the G36 and AK rifles chambered in 5.56×45mm also referred to as a Kalakov.

.303/Three-Naught-Three. This is an easy one to understand, the .303 British round is used in the multitude of old Lee-Enfield pattern bolt-action rifles that once flooded the region. The name is likely a remnant of old English speakers in the area who referred to it formally as such and thus being passed down through the generations.

.308/G3. This refers simply to the 7.62×51mm or .308 cartridge, which is commonly used in the G3 rifles, which are the most commonly used rifles chambered in that cartridge within the region. You may also see AR10-type rifles referred to as ‘G3’ although the rifle is extremely uncommon in the region and is usually called the ‘.308’ instead.

8mm/7mm. A term used in many regions globally for the 7.92×57mm cartridge. This round is still commonly used in rifles and conversions due to it being manufactured locally by ammunition-smiths extremely cheaply. The rifles which chamber this are usually standard Kar98/K rifles, however, firearms such as the BREN light machine gun are also sometimes chambered in 8mm due to its cheaper cost and wider availability.

.223/5.56/Doh-Soh-Ta’es. This is basically the 5.56×45mm cartridge, its name is already known to all. It is commonly called ‘.223’ with some people using the term ‘5.56’. It is also called the ‘Doh-Soh-Ta’es’ within Pakistan as that is .223 in the Urdu language. The round can also be heard referred to as the ‘M4/M16 bore’ as these are the rifles most commonly chambered as standard in the calibre.

44 Bore/Chawalees Bore. This is another famous one, the 7.92×33mm Kurz cartridge. It is also used as the term for any rifle chambered in the calibre, be it an AK or the original MP43/MP43-1/MP44/StG44 self-loading rifles.

Pistol Cartridges:

30 Bore/Tees-Bore. The venerable 7.62×25mm is referred to as the ‘Tees-Bore’, Tees is thirty in Urdu. The name actually stems from the ’30’ in the name of the Tokarev TT30 pistol. 30 Bore/Tees-Bore also refers to the 7.63×25mm most commonly used in the old Mauser C96.

9mm. The simplest yet, 9×19mm is simply called ‘9mm’. Any modern pistol chambered in this calibre is clearly marked with this therefore the name has generally stuck, despite the varying pistol types.

All of these cartridges are still in use to varying degrees in the Pak-Afghan region. While .303 soldiers on, it is on the decline as is 7.92×57mm. All the other calibers are still in use to a much greater extent and will not be disappearing anytime soon but as their use declines, the common use of their names will decline and eventually cease to be generally used altogether.

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