There is a major shortage of firearms in Kurdistan today; this is primarily because there is a war being waged. With the small amount being trafficked into Kurdistan and the majority of the weapons from the coalition being sent to Iraq and Syria, very few find their way into Peshmerga hands. This creates very unique problems and solutions for the region.

Pistols are more of a status symbol than a matter of practicality to the Kurds. That’s not to say they don’t serve a purpose, just not the way they do in the West. To them, a handgun represents authority and seniority, especially when it comes to military personnel. It also provides a side bonus of a little extra security. A reliable, professionally built handgun will cost you an arm and a leg if you want one, though.

For instance, a Glock 19 goes for about $2000 on the black market, while a Makarov—on the low end of the spectrum—costs around $800. This isn’t an issue for a ranking officer, provided he wasn’t issued one, because their salaries are substantial enough to cover the cost. What about the average soldier who wants to carry, though?

This is where things get interesting. A huge influx of Turkish-made handguns have found their way into Kurdistan, no doubt through smuggling. These knock-offs are often poorly manufactured and potentially dangerous to the end user. They come in a wide variety of models, to include Glock, Walther, Sig Sauer, and more. I haven’t decided if someone is just trying to make a quick buck, or if the Turkish hatred of Kurds knows no bounds. Maybe it’s both.