Iraqi Firearms Engraver Noori Sabeh

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Noori Sabeh (نوري النقاش) is a professional engraver in Iraq who has made his presence on social media with some excellent engraving work considering the lack of access to materials and tools otherwise very prevalent in Europe and North America. The majority of his work is focused on traditional wood and metal engraving of various bolt action rifles, shotguns, and handguns that customers send in. He originally started out in the jewelry business and has been engraving for several decades.

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The firearms he works on typify the majority of the older firearms available in Iraq, mostly Brünn VZ 24s initially made for Iran, later manufactured within the country at the Taslihat-e Artesh Arms Factory. A number of these rifles found their way into Iraq by way of several markets. Noori Sabeh has also done a number of Hi Powers, also very prevalent within the Iraqi small arms markets. It appears that he has stripped the dark finish off the metal and chromed it in several cases.13344774_105535663205854_1663750066327088032_n 13407153_116969388729148_1714452110092962443_n 13432345_116969392062481_5315754172923394585_n 13529049_136400513452702_5607482002735564008_n 14702465_210022679423818_6425720484725213432_n 13528698_136392620120158_2303735060034769425_n 13532924_136428856783201_3671598991740149469_n 13612246_136428896783197_591800271333790827_n

In addition to the VZ 24s and Hi Powers he has also engraved a Mauser C96, and an FN Model 1900, very rare handguns indeed.

All his work appears to be done with simple hand tools at his small workshop in Baghdad.

If you are interested in more of his work, pay him a visit on his social media page.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Christopher Wallace

    damn good work habibi

  • Edeco

    Interesting, but, no thanks. The grip on the top pic looks like lotus-seed-pod. I’m not impressed with his use of depth and texture.

    • bssbsbb

      Problem with engraving is you need to have the taste of a nobleman, be fantastic drawer and a fantastic engraver. Any deficiency in this area and it looks lame. That’s why most engraving now is done by committee, whereby the engravings are standardized and the engravers just engrave. Sort of like ultra high end luxury goods, Gucci and so on. What you get is OK work, but clearly lacking in creativity and originality. (since the whole point of engraving is personalize or commemorate something, and the opportunity for the engraver to express himself creatively)

      • iksnilol

        I can’t stand “factory” engraving. It’s just generic.

  • Anonymoose

    I want that Hi-Power and that C96.

  • VanDiemensLand

    They mostly look awful, I mean I couldn’t perform that well, but that doesn’t mean it’s great…amazing the things there are a market for in Iraq.

    • Michel_T

      The Tokarev doesn’t look all that bad, actually

  • Malthrak

    While the styling very much is not my thing, its pretty cool nonetheless, and with just hand tools and probably none of the precision equipment we take for granted, that’s rather impressive.

    • codfilet

      All gun engraving is done with hand tools. This guy is basically fairly good, but he’s no Master engraver, for sure.

      • Malthrak

        Didnt say he was a master engraver, but it doesnt look like he has the same kinds of tools and equipment someone in the US might have either, stuff like good magnifiers, precision files or chisels, etc.

    • iksnilol

      You pay for machine engraving?

      I shake my head at thy tomfoolery.

      • Malthrak

        I dont do anything engraved period outside of form 1 necessities.

        • iksnilol

          I would shake my head at thee, but I’d rather a foul peasant such as thineself be removed from the premises.

  • Amplified Heat

    Some of that stuff would look really cool if I were still twelve…or Elvis. Couple of them are approaching ‘good’ engraving, but most are really ham-fisted, with very deep, crude engravings that –again– look kinda cool, but are also kinda like a badass crayon drawing of a dragon. From the Webley/Hi Power on down (except the Tokarev) looked pretty good; not the greatest engraving, but he’s using a style that complements his current skillset & doesn’t show off its flaws as much. If the photos are in chronological order, he’s definitely getting more skilled and very nearly pretty darn good by now.

    That dooded-up SKS makes me want to see him do an RPD or similar LMG (since they have them in spades over there)

  • iksnilol

    That Tokarev, hnnng.

  • RetroG

    The C96 is cool, but the others not so much.

  • tiger

    That is a Iraqi worth fighting for. Nice work

  • Beju

    FINALLY somebody just right to engrave Neo-Assyrian Empire torture reliefs onto my gold Desert Eagle.

  • Ed Jones

    Your arabic script for his name does not say “Noori Sabeh.” It says “Noori Alnaghash.”

    • AD

      “Al-Nagash” means “The Engraver”, so I guess that would be his title.

  • Poor guns. I guess you have to expect then to be abused like that in that part of the world.
    Anyone who thinks that is anything but low quality engraving/stock work needs to have their eyes checked. ” excellent engraving work considering the lack of access to materials
    and tools otherwise very prevalent in Europe and North America” this statement is meaningless gibberish. he tools to engrave are fairly simple and easily made by any one with a gunsmithing background. The only thing that is hard to make is the high tech vices that are used and they are not required to do excellent engraving, it just makes it a but easier. It looks to me like he learned to engrave for that “Gunsmoke” TV kid.

  • Örn Johnson

    Seems to be no limit to how ugly you can make a gun. This is by no means craftsmanship.

  • Bill

    Definitely not in the spaniels-flushing-pheasants vein.

    Is the BHP missing it’s front sight, or is that just the way the photo is lit?

  • Bob

    C96 Mauser looks good. Everything else is crap.

  • Jonathan Ferguson

    I don’t disagree with you , but your posted image is not a real firearm.

    • iksnilol

      The PSM is plenty real, and that is the presentation model. Still made by Izhevsk.

  • Tierlieb

    “considering the lack of access to materials and tools otherwise very prevalent in Europe and North America” – like a pen, a piece of hardened steel and a hammer? OMG, poor Middle East, what have you come to? Your religion prohibited imagery and you came up with awesome geometric designs instead; you have an engraving tradition of over a thousand years, but this poor jeweller cannot find a graver’s needle or someone to tell him how to make one?

    This is bad design (rough, clunky motives) combined with bad execution (lack of consistence, incoherent line width and depth). I’ve seen a lot of hobbyists do that better.

  • tiger

    Can he make a Glock or Sig pretty?

  • HAHA73

    My buddy can stipple Glocks

  • Kurt Eskildsen

    Looks very crudely done. He may have a shot if he learns to master the craft and gets some decent engraving tools. His style and subject matter need to change as well. His current style is more in line with the wants and needs of rural Pashtun tribal members. Way too much Arab flavor in his work.
    1

  • Robert Rodriguez

    Amazing how much snobbery there is in the comments. You have a guy trying to make a living in a bombed out country doing what he loves, and doing it with the tools available. People don’t seem to understand how hard it is to get a bench grinder, good quality steel, or any other sort of equipment in a war torn country. The fact that he makes do with what he has is impressive.

  • AD

    Most of it does not hold up to what what we’re used to seeing (I personally don’t like the black paint in the recesses), but the Mauser and a couple of the others look quite nice to me.

    One thing that people need to remember is that most affordable engraving we see is done by machine. I believe hand engraving is much more expensive, partly because it takes a very long time to do. It’s entirely possible that he is capable of fairly good work, but most of his clients can’t afford it because of how much he would have to charge to cover the time it would take him to do, so they settle for a lower-grade but quicker job. Thus he may only have a few photos of his best work as he probably only has few opportunities to spend the time to produce that kind of work.

    Well, that’s speculation of course, but it’s based on what I know of the commission painting market for tabletop miniatures; many very skilled artists spend a lot (most?) of their time working of fairly basic paintjobs for clients who want a painted army and can’t afford to pay for the 20-plus hours the artist could spend on a single miniature if he was painting for a competition (not for their 50-100 miniature army), so they pay for the 10-hour paintjob on the army commander and a half-hour paintjob on the rank-and-file troops.

  • Jake

    I didnt know you could order your stippling done in “trypophobia”