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The True Value of a Gunsmith

Posted by on Jun 15, 2015

A gunsmith is a tradesman whose work is in demand nearly all over the world – be it for defense or offense. Here is a story which highlights the importance and versatility of the gunsmithing trade in fighting against oppressive, terrorizing regimes.

The Kurdish ‘Peshmerga’ army, while taking the fight to ISIS, have acquired a new ace-in-the-hole – a second generation gunsmith with unrivalled expertise, to the point that he can transform a bucket of bolts into a lethal weapon for the hardy, yet poor, militia.

Going by the name of Bakhtiar Aziz, he works in a poorly lit basement shop located in Erbil, retrofitting guns acquired from the enemy, giving antiquated and dysfunctional firearms a second life, and assisting in provisioning the rag-tag army of brave warriors who are limited only by their logistical resources. Recently, he inspected an M-16 assault rifle which had been badly damaged during an airstrike by coalition forces. It was pockmarked with holed and was missing a considerable piece of its barrel, and had human hair stuck in its mechanical parts – it was discovered close to the town of Gwer by Peshmerga forces.

As he examined it, he told its tale.

It was given to the Iraqi Army, said the veteran gunsmith, and then, when ISIS emerged, they took the weapon from the Iraqis. When the American airstrikes began to hammer ISIS, the weapon came into the hands of the Peshmerga.

Aziz’s workshop is simple – just his workbench, chair and tools of the trade. An array of guns, which include aging muskets, adorn his walls. He was taught the trade by his father, who used to fix weapons for hunters, and secretly repaired weapons for the Kurdish resistance during Saddam’s time. Now, with the Kurdish forces locked in a battle with ISIS along a 600 mile frontline, the gunsmith is plying his trade to fix weapons for the freedom fighters as they spar with the terrorists. Check out this site all on gunsmithing and guns.

In a country with no lack of weapons of various models, vintages and makes, Aziz needs to be able to repair anything that comes to his shop. ISIS mostly employ Russian weapons, for instance, the Kalashnikov. But they also have guns of American build that they have acquired from the Iraqi army, which turned tail when it was faced with the ISIS threat last year. ISIS is using all this firepower against the Peshmerga resistance – who, initially, had nothing more than Warsaw Pact era weapons but are slowly augmenting their arsenal with weapons salvaged from skirmishes with the terrorists.

The Kurds have plenty of extra parts for weapons of Russian making, but those for American made weapons such as the AR-15 and the M-16, which were introduced in Iraq over a decade ago, are hard to come by. Aziz says that the weapons he handles most frequently are Russian made, from the 1950s, such as machine guns. 85% of the weapons he deals with originated in Russia.

This example of a gunsmith’s usefulness may seem a bit on the extreme side, but it proves its point nonetheless. If you’re interested in learning this trade, read our post on choosing a good gunsmithing school.