The Khyber Diaries: A Glimpse Into An ‘Antique’ Arms Shop

Updated: 1 day ago

An often-nostalgic thing to do is reminisce of the arms shops in the days of old. Those well-stocked dealerships. They were once a lot like Aladdin’s cave with large arrays of plentiful, but now hard-to-find arms on display and for sale, at extremely affordable prices by today’s standard. Luckily, we can occasionally encounter some remnants of these days in Pakistan where an abundance of now-antiquated firearms are still to be found in the arms bazaars of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within places like the infamous town of Darra Adamkhel and to a lesser degree, in those within and close to Peshawar city.

Recently, a Peshawar-based dealer posted images of a small but impressive array of mouth-watering wares to his social media pages and these were also shared with us by a colleague there. These truly gave off a nostalgic feel so we thought it was something that warranted sharing, especially with some of the items on display.

Fig.1.1. View: rear of arms dealership (Source: Khyber Armoury reference collection)
Fig.1.2. View 2: rear of arms dealership (Source: Khyber Armoury reference collection)

As can be seen from the above photographs of just one corner of the shop we have multiple newer arms such as AK-pattern self-loading rifles, one Chinese Type 56/-2 modified to accept the signature Khyber-made copy of side-folding buttstock and its mechanism, an MP5 not manufactured by POF but possibly Iranian and a more uncommon Israeli produced UZI. That aside, the real gems in amongst the self-loading arms are the older submachine guns; what seems to be a subtle Suomi M/31 clone which appears to feed from STEN-pattern magazines. There are also four British or locally made STEN types and a surprising appearance from a French MAT-49.

Fig.1.3. View 3: rear of arms dealership – lots of Martini-Henry pattern rifles and shotguns (Source: Khyber Armoury reference collection)

Not only that, we see a shortened ZB26/30 barrel which can be found in decent quantities still – these ZB26/30 are nicknamed the BREN due to them being ostensibly identical to the better known British BREN, some type of bolt-action rifle modified to have a pistol-grip and local wood stock, a load of locally made and/or original Lee-Enfield pattern rifles – some modified and some factory plus a bunch of Martini-Henry type rifles which could be both original and/or factory. In the last image is what appears to be an M1 carbine with a folding stock missing its box magazine, something that is common to see with older guns. There are also a number of shotguns, a mix of double and single-barrelled types, both break action and semi-automatic. These are likely a mix of original western production and locally produced weapons.

Fig.1.4. View 4: pistol display of arms dealership (Source: Khyber Armoury reference collection)
Fig.1.5. View 5: pistol display of arms dealership (Source: Khyber Armoury reference collection)
Fig.1.6. View 6: pistol display of arms dealership (Source: Khyber Armoury reference collection)

Moving onto the small firecrackers, in these images, we see a number of mildly valuable handguns ranging to more collectable examples of pistols and revolvers from the early to middle of the 20th century. The scarcer of which being a long barrelled Artillery Luger followed by more easily found items such as an Erma 68 (.22) which appears to be a standard Luger at first glance for the layman, a German Mauser or Chinese C96, a couple of PPK’s which could be of Walther or Manurhin manufacture depending on its date, a possible Chinese made copy of the PPK – labelled the Type 64, some Astra pattern pistols, a clean looking Colt 1911 and what appears to be a Colt 1903 or a copy thereof, plus the usual array of revolvers like the Webley and Colt types along with a number of more common cheap Spanish-made pistols. There are also a couple of more modern pistols like the Turkish Tisas Zigana series.

Images like these aren’t too common to find on social media but shops like these still exist in quite some number within the arms bazaars of the region, a remnant of a bygone era for most. It’s definitely a nostalgic feel looking over such wares. We can only hope that these more scarce, dated and historical arms aren’t rebuilt or used for parts in newer firearm builds as some have been. These arms should instead perhaps be put into private museums and collections to keep the history of both them and how they came to be where they are today, alive.