In Part 1 of this article, I talked about craft-made guns and how the manufacturing industry of Pakistan is changing these days. Now it is time to talk about the gun laws of Pakistan and some of the most interesting imported guns you can find in Pakistani gun shops.
Pakistani Firearms @ TFB:
- [IDEAS 2022] CW56 Roller Delayed Blowback Rifle from Pakistan Ordnance Factories
- AK Alternative? CW39 – New Roller Delayed Blowback Rifle from Pakistan Ordnance Factories
- TFB B-Side Podcast: Pakistani Firearms with TFB Writer Vladimir Onokoy
- WDS 2022: BW20 Family of Weapons from Pakistan
Since 2010, the authority over the gun laws of Pakistan was given to the provincial governments. The provinces are quite diverse, and that reflects in their gun culture.
Traditionally, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the homeland of Pashtuns, is the main hub for both the importation and production of firearms. In recent years, the provincial government was striving to reduce the black market and created an efficient and fully digitalized system for arms issuing licenses.
Once you get your license, you can buy a semi-automatic rifle, a pistol, or a shotgun. Fully automatic guns fall under the term “Prohibited Bore” that existed in the gun laws of Pakistan since 19 century, restricting people from owning military weapons. Getting a “Prohibited Bore” license to buy and possess a full auto rifle is almost impossible, so let’s concentrate on the options available to an average citizen.
The most popular imported handgun in Pakistan is the CF98, a civilian version of a standard-issued Chinese military pistol. This 9 mm semi-automatic handgun is very popular worldwide, but because of the Chinese weapon importation ban, it never came to the US.
While it is cheap (retails for $350) and a durable handgun with a good magazine capacity (16 rounds), I have no love for it. The rotating barrel mechanism and relatively complicated design made me question my career choice multiple times when I inspected those pistols in Somalia.
The second most popular imported handgun is also Chinese. It is called NP22, but in Pakistan people often call it “Chinese SIG-SAUER”. You can certainly call it the “P226 we have at home”.
In 2014, I had plenty of experience with this pistol, they were imported to Russia by the thousands and became one of the most desirable EDC pistols, since the other options were even worse, and you could potentially replace most of the internals of the NP22 with original SIG parts. After trying it once, I never wanted to shoot it again.
Interestingly enough, Chinese Glock copies are almost nonexistent in Pakistan, since local manufacturers have plenty of modern injection molding machines and can produce very nice Glock copies offering customers almost any color of the frame and varying levels of quality.
But when it comes to rifles, the Chinese have almost half the market with only two models. The first one is the version of the Chinese army QBZ-95 chambered in .223 Rem. With its unique ergonomics (the safety lever is on the stock) it is an interesting, but really confusing bullpup rifle.
The second Chinese rifle available everywhere is the Norinco M4. Usually, it retails for $1200 and is actually pretty good for an entry-level AR15.
China is not the only country that is overtaking the market. Turkish pistols are extremely popular with customers who follow the trends and want to buy a modern handgun for personal protection.
For that demographic, the Turkish Canik is the best option and in this category, it has very little competition. For $600 to $900, you get a modern, reliable, and nice-looking handgun with a spare mag and a good Kydex holster, all in the neat plastic case. Hard to beat that offer.
Local manufacturers can offer lower prices, but quality often remains to be an issue. The difference in reputation between domestically made and imported guns is so significant that some Pakistani manufacturers decided to use that to their advantage.
In early 2021, I noticed that members of Pakistani gun communities are posting pictures of their new AR15s made by Zbroyar, a Ukrainian company that is very well-known in Eastern Europe. I was happy that Zbroyar reached a new market, but then, after a few months, new information started to come in. Zbroyar representatives as well as the Ukrainian embassy in Islamabad clarified that they never sold anything to Pakistan.
Apparently, some of the local manufacturers decided to capitalize on Zbroyar’s reputation and made a batch of rifles with Zbroyar markings in order to market and sell rifles as imported.
In 2021, the takeover of Kabul by Taliban forces started the huge influx of smuggled weapons from Afghanistan. For a short while, the market was disrupted. For example, you could get a Gen 3 Glock 19 for just $900, instead of the usual retail price of $2400. M16A4 was selling for $600, which is pretty good when a Chinese semi-auto M4 normally retails for $1200.
One of my friends even considered going halfsies with one of his relatives to buy an M249 SAW. Pretty good investment if you ask me. But, as any gun collector knows, good prices don’t last forever, and by 2022 the number of arms smuggled from Afghanistan was reduced to a minimum.
At the end of July 2022, the Pakistani government restricted the importation of arms once again. Since then, the restrictions were relaxed, but everyone understands that new import bans are coming sooner or later. Especially if someone decided that supporting domestic industry is more profitable than taxing the imports. But despite all the future bans and restrictions, Pakistan will always remain to be a place with a rich and fascinating gun culture.
I would like to thank Abdulla of Khyber Armoury, my good friend and one of the best experts on Pakistan arms, for helping me during the trip and adding information to this article.