Updated: May 6
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit some of my friends and colleagues in Darra, nestled in the mountains of the Pak-Afghan borders tribal territories during a visit in April and May of 2019. I was fortunate enough to handle, film and test-fire a few of the firearms I encountered (and they urged me try out as many as I wanted) on my trip so this is the first of a few that are to come. I am sure that a lot of you have glimpsed images of this outstanding bit of engineering and creativity previously but this video is a closer look with a little more detail and background information in an easier to digest package, of course in English.
This relatively new offering from the FATA region of Pakistan, namely Darra Adam Khel, is something different and obviously understandable as the gunsmiths of this region are known for their creativity. It incorporates the M4 look into an easier to manufacture and arguably a more reliable package but still trying to retain as many features of the M4 as possible. This is only an M4 in appearances however as it utilizes an AK action, with the notable exceptions of; the milled extension that is a STANAG magwell which works with a button catch and the rear lever charging action which is identical in design to an actual AR/M16/M4 platform. The internals are nothing to write home about as they are just standard AK but the overall artisanal work in producing something with spectacularly close resemblance, whilst still utilizing the AK action, is amazing. Every part on this rifle was made within Darra with the exception of the rails and polymer furniture which were moulded/machined in facilities within other areas in Pakistan. Do you think you can get a Colt made AK? Well, here is the solution; get one of these with Colt, Spikes Tactical, FNH or requested markings… dream accomplished!
Contrary to popular belief, not everything is ‘hand-made’ in Darra but rather hand-fitted and hand-finished. All the parts are stamped or milled using tooling made/modified specifically for them. Newer models are made in different ways using CNC machines and the like to achieve so-called one-to-one specification. Still, those parts will have to be hand-fitted/finished such as cleaning edges and making sure the pieces are not blemished or have no burs. In regards to quality, it is up to the workshop or purchaser to chose, your budget dictates the quality.
This rifle, or one similar, can be yours for the measly sum of around PKR Rs50,000 (approximately £270 / $330 / €300), plus the inflated delivery fees of course.
These particular faux M4’s are in high demand throughout Pakistan due to the high expense involved in purchasing an original M4/M16/AR platform (Rs250,000 – Rs550,000), or even a locally made copy of the original M4/M16/AR platforms (Rs150,000 – Rs280,000), which are still three to five times the price of this faux M4. The price of 5.56x45mm ammunition is relatively affordable fluctuating at-or-around Rs40-Rs55 per genuine round and Rs15-Rs25 for a reloaded/locally made round depending on the location. More and more people within Pakistan are converting their 5.45x39mm AK platform rifles to 5.56/.223 to take advantage of the ‘cheap’ prices and the 5.45mm round is steadily becoming obsolete.
I am sure that this rifle is thought-provoking, some may love it and some may hate it but I can wholeheartedly say that at first I did not find the concept attractive but the more I handled it, the more I fell in love with it and understood the motivation behind them.