The Pistol Caliber AK Submachine Guns of Darra Adam Khel

Updated: 1 day ago

In Pakistan, just as in the US, compact firearms such as submachine guns and carbines chambered in pistol calibre cartridges are a hot ticket. They are also popular in neighbouring Afghanistan. Pistol calibre ammunition is widely available, affordable, manufactured domestically and licenses for firearms chambered in it are relatively easy to acquire. This is a major factor in their popularity. In this article we’ll examine some of the pistol calibre AK-pattern firearms which have grown in popularity in the region in recent years.

As imports of arms into the Pakistan are currently largely closed and there aren’t many original submachine guns around to meet the demand, even at half decent prices, the market has to find a way fill the void. Eager not to disappoint, the arms manufacturers of Darra Adamkhel and Peshawar have stepped up. For the past century the craftsmen and manufacturers of the region have been churning out small arms by the thousands to meet the local demand – these pistol calibre firearms are just one of many niches they cater for. 

Fig.1.1. Darra Adamkhel; a row of submachine guns in a shopfront (Source: social media)

Submachine guns in various forms have been made in the Pak-Afghan tribal region (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly NWFP) for decades so this recent trend is a natural evolution. The designs of pistol calibre carbine available in the region have varied over the years. If you look back, you will see older submachine gun designs dating from both before and after the Soviet-Afghan War have been popular, these include weapons such as the British STEN gun and the Russian PPSh-41. Over the last two decades, however, newer designs have taken over and have replaced them in popularity.

Another previously popular type of pistol calibre carbine closely resemble the H&K MP5 externally, some were also built to resemble AR-15 self-loading rifles/carbines. These AK-patterned carbines have been available in the region for the last five to ten years. The most interesting of these designs is a miniature straight-blowback weapon which externally mimics the aesthetics of the AK-pattern self-loading rifles. The carbines are typically chambered in either the popular 7.62×25mm or 9×19mm rounds, from our observations they have manufactured in many different configurations and follow the aesthetics of a number of AK-pattern rifles from around the world. The AK-patterned pistol calibre weapons often feature locally developed magazines specially produced to feed pistol calibre rounds. They approximate the shape and appearance of standard AK-pattern self-loading rifle magazines.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Fig.1.2. An AK pistol calibre firearms based on an AKM self-loading rifle with AKS74U-esque front sight block and a short butt stock (Source: social media)

Fig.1.3. An AKMS patterned pistol calibre firearm – note the locally developed pistol calibre magazine (Source: social media)

Fig.1.4. An ‘Krinkov’ style weapon based on the Soviet AKS74U (Source: social media)

Fig.1.5. These carbines are based on the Hungarian AMD-63 (Source: social media)

Fig.1.6.An AK pistol calibre carbine which emulates the Chinese Type 56-2 (Source: social media)

Fig.1.7. Another carbine which mimics the AKMS, note the matte nickel finish and faux drum magazine (Source: social media)

These submachine guns and carbines are externally very similar in design to a stamped AK but use milled receivers with faux-rivets, machined magazine well dimples, rock and lock AK-magazines which are scaled to size but mimic the ribbed steel design closely and some of these patterns even take standard AK furniture. The firearms, however, are much smaller than an actual AK-pattern self-loading rifle and use straight-blowback operating systems rather than gas operation with rotating bolts. Some of these also have been modified in design and have quad rails, telescoping buttocks and AR-15 type carrying handles. Some resemble the larger rifle-calibre ‘M4geries’ which have emerged from Darra in recent years to meet the desire for affordable M4-patterned rifles.

Fig.1.8. An AK-patterned pistol calibre carbine with an adjustable stock and Picatinny rails (Source: social media)

Fig.1.9. An AK sub-gun based of an AKMS but modified to somewhat resemble the aesthetics of an M4 but retaining a folding stock (Source: social media)

As always, Pakistan’s arms manufacturers and designers have stepped up to the plate and delivered to the market unique designs using clever engineering and know-how. Masters at their craft, they know what the people want and they will find a way to a make those products.