Pistols donated by Germany end up in Afghan and Pakistani Black Market

Defense Aerospace reports that many of the Walther P1 pistols, which Germany donated to the Afghan police force, have found their way onto the black market. Defense Aerospace reports:

German military pistols are being sold on the black market in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The weapons were sent in 2006 and were intended for local police and army personnel.

Arms dealers in the region told German public radio that hundreds of German weapons were for sale carrying a price tag of over 680 euros a piece ($1,000).

In 2006, the German Defense Ministry shipped 10,000 old Walther-P1 pistols to the Afghan Interior Ministry to equip Afghan police and army. However, both the German government and the responsible US-led security team in Afghanistan reportedly failed to properly monitor the guns’ whereabouts.

The US unit said that it only had detailed records of 4,563 pistols out of a total 10,000.

Current and former Afghan soldiers and police officers are said to be among those illegally selling and trafficking the pistols, some of which have ended up in Pakistan’s north-west border provinces and neighboring tribal areas.

The team of NDR radio reporters who discovered the black market guns said it’s not clear exactly how they ended up there.

“Apparently, most of these pistols haven’t been stolen, but were simply taken home and sold by former police officers and soldiers after they’d left the service,” said Christoph Heinzle, who headed the NDR team. “But corruption and theft cannot be ruled out because neither the Afghan authorities nor the US and German armed forces carry out effective controls to prevent [theft].”

The United States has also come under criticism in the past for losing track of weapons donated to local forces. Short of retina scanning, which is being used to keep track of Iraqi M16 rifles, there is very little that can be done to prevent the end-users stealing the weapons they are issued.

Walther P38 (designated the P1 by the Bundeswehr)

Many thanks to Daniel for the link.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Avtomat

    I hope they are keeping better track of the Krag-Jorgensen rifles we donated

  • Erik

    This IS what happens to foreign aid. No matter if it’s money, foodstuffs, medial supplies or weapons the vast majority is lost to corruption. You would think ‘we’ in the West would learn after over 50yrs of waste.

  • Nick

    The P1 and P38 are actually a bit different, for what it’s worth. It’s not just a re-designation thing. The P1 has an aluminum frame and different grips, along with a few other small tech. changes.

  • West

    What a joke, how can anybody expect us to keep track of a thousand pistols? We couldnt keep track of the Stinger missles we supplied to the mujahadeen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    The CIA did get a few back with a buy-back program.

    What a mess, I hope we get our people out of there before the whole thing goes up.

  • Maxpwr

    I bookmarked the original story 3 years ago. Who knew it would come back.


  • Carl

    How does this pistol manage the recoil of the 9×19 with such a small (and presumably light) slide?
    Extra strong recoil springs? Or is the slide heavier than it looks?

  • John

    The P-38/P-1 slide is light and it handles recoil differently than most modern semi-autos. There are 2 very small recoil springs at the rear of the frame, the barrel does not blow back with the slide, and the top of the slide is open, allowing exhaust gas to vent out the top of the slide – along with the spent casing.

    Later P-1s had an additional slide reinforcement hex bolt to keep the slide from spreading laterally under the pressure of modern 9mm rounds.

    Mine (ca 1977) is a hoot to shoot – its more of a pop than a bang, but you have to watch out for hot brass coming up and back. Wear eye protection and a cap!

  • John

    Oops – I goofed. The hex-shaped reinforcement bolt added to later P-1s is in the frame, not the slide. My bad.

  • I would love to have one of those. Just seems like a neat little gun.

  • Aras

    Tired of people saying that there are differences over P38 and P1, yes all P1 were made with aluminium frames, but P38 was also built in aluminium frames too after WW2. Proof of that is the Portuguese army’s sidearm have aluminium frames and it has P38 on the slide, some say P1. Well they are gettign all outta service, but yet a new handgun is to be decided most probably HK USP since the air force uses it.

  • and what excatay did you expext in a country when the dammm fool,s still live in the 1600 ,s where any place thay can make a buck thay will helll the bastard willl selll thire sister,s to make a trade deal the german,s would have been better off selling thire spare p 1 and p 38,s to the usa

  • mike webb

    Hi, Germany should have sold the Walther P1`s and P38`s to us. The gun was listed in the German Walther catalog for 800 Euros, so that was a piece of change. I have a French Manurhin P1, a nos P38 and 6 of the German army P1`s. I assembled a new steel frame bought from the distributor and a WW2 steel frame as well. Great fun. We love the guns here and more parts would have been appreciated. The steel frame is 6 ounces heavier than the aluminum frame. Recoil is not a problem with either frame but i do like the feel of a heavier gun for shooting targets but not for carrying it around though. The thicker and heavier slide was produced in 1968. About 10 years later the hex pin and the flanged barrel appeared. The first P1 was sold in 1964. When the military leaves Afghanistan they will return to the Seventeenth century. Thanks, Mike