Basically, there are three handguns that you are most likely to see on a Peshmerga officer’s hip: a Glock 19, a Walther P1/P-38, or an HS. Everybody knows what a Glock is, and the Walther is also a fairly recognizable piece. The HS, though, is unusual. What I find interesting about the HS, besides the fact that you’ll never see one inside the United States, is the fact that many of you reading this have probably fired, handled, or seen the equivalent at some point.
The HS2000 series of handguns bears a remarkable similarity to the Springfield XD coveted by Springfield fan boys. In fact, it’s essentially the exact same gun. The primary difference between the two is the company logo: Where crossed cannons should be, you’ll instead find a distinct “HS Produkt” engraving. HS is a Croatian company and stands for “Hrvatski Samokres.” The company has been around since 1990, and has produced some real home-run firearms, making it a very successful upstart.
The 9mm variant is the more common caliber for the Pesh, but the .45 ACP can still be seen from time to time—for example, the one worn by yours truly. The .45 is a rare enough sight that when an officer does the old “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” routine, and you whip out bullets twice the size of theirs, eyeballs pop out of sockets in wonder. Now, I’m not a huge proponent of the .45 ACP, and personally prefer 9mm, but I didn’t have a choice this time around. A guy’s got to take what he can get sometimes.