Pashtun Names for AKs in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Vladimir Onokoy
by Vladimir Onokoy

This is the first guest post by Grigory, author of “Kalashism” blog:
Grigory is a passionate gun enthusiast and spent his entire career working in Russian military-industrial complex in various capacities. He travels a lot, mostly to the Middle East and South Asia, and has a unique perspective on a lot of modern small arms and tactical gear.

Kalakov, Kirinkov, Qalmcut… Most likely for you, it sounds like a complete gibberish, although the first word should be familiar to the veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war and those who are fond of its history.
In fact, these are few of the many Pashtun names for different Kalashnikov assault rifle models, most commonly used in Afghanistan and the Pakistani Tribal Areas.

A real Pashtun, born in the city of Peshawar, the administrative center of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the Afghan border, will help us to sort out this tricky question.
We met about three years ago, quite far from his homeland, during one of my endless business trips. Talking to him, I realized that I came across a source of rare information.

The Kalashnikov assault rifle for a Pashtun is an indispensable attribute, a thing that is dearly beloved and often determines the status of the owner. At the same time, it’s as common as a mobile phone for us. The Soviet AK (the price in the Tribal Areas fluctuates around 1500$) is a matter of great pride. But more common are guns, made by Pakistani handicraftsmen in the village of Darra Adam Hell. The production is mostly manual, the simplest machines are used. The barrel, for example, can be made of a steel bar found in a junkyard.

Let’s get back to the names.

So, “Kalakov”.
This one is very simple – it’s an AK rifle chambered for 5.45×39. Most likely, they were called so in order to be separated from the rifles in 7.62 which are simply called “Kalashnikov”.
AKS / AKMS goes as “underfold Kalashnikov”.
An AK with standard wooden stock is also often called simply a “machine”. With a milled receiver – “tambu” or “double body”. With the stamped one – “single body”.

Sometimes AKs are divided by calibers. In this case, 5,45 is called “triple 2” or “three deuces”, i.e. .222 inches or 5.6 mm (AK-74 bore diameter).

Yes, that’s it, not “Krinkov”, as the Americans call Bin Laden’s most favorite gun – AKS-74U. When I’ve heard this from a Pashtun everything immediately fell into place. Before that, just an excellent article by Mr. Miles indirectly proved that this name came to the States from the Pashtuns in the late ‘70s:

“Qualm” is a dip pen in Arabic. Later the word was borrowed into the language of Urdu – the official national language of Pakistan. And now remember the appearance of the AKM slant cut compensator. Pashtuns have discovered some similarities and the name went to the people.

Now let’s take a look at some Pakistani made AKs.

The first one is an attempt to copy the AKMS.

I’ve studied this thing probably for an hour. Pay attention to the funny markings on the left side of the receiver, as well as their absence on the right side. The role of the barrel pin is performed by some stud with a hexagon head.
Rear sight has the “S” marking, which hints at a copy of the Polish AK or the use of its original part.
Piston is chrome lined so it was borrowed from a factory made gun.
On the barrel you can clearly see dints from the vice clamp.
The second one is a copy of the most desirable Kalash in the East – AKS-74U. Quality is very poor, everything plays and wobbles.
Here we can see the Picatinny rail screwed on top of the dust cover. Apparently, the handicraftsman fell victim to fashion.

At the same time he did not understand the purpose of the rear recoil spring block, therefore it does not reach the cut in the dust cover. The dust cover is simply closed without any fixation.

There are also some problems with the choice of metal and coating. I decided to hold back from trying this one out.

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Vladimir Onokoy
Vladimir Onokoy

Vladimir Onokoy is a small arms subject matter expert and firearms instructor. Over the years he worked in 20 different countries as a security contractor, armorer, firearms industry sales representative, product manager, and consultant. His articles were published in the Recoil magazine, Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defence Journal, and Silah Report. He also contributed chapters to books from the "Vickers Guide: Kalashnikov" series. Email: machaksilver at gmail dot com. Facebook: Instagram: YouTube:

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  • El Duderino El Duderino on Jul 16, 2018

    That last the Fallout: New Vegas universe, just get 20 of them and you can mix and match until you have a nice, tight, accurate gun.

    Maybe in the Central Asia universe too.

    • Cymond Cymond on Jul 17, 2018

      @El Duderino Jury Rigging: use a cheap rifle to magically maintain your good rifle.

      Or use a Legion spear to repair a pool cue, and then use the pool cue to repair a Super Sledge!

  • John John on Jul 16, 2018

    You might call those "dints from a vice grip" but I call it "threaded for a suppressor"! ^_^