Deciphering Colloquial Afghan Names for Popular Small Arms

Silah Report took some time to ask a native Afghan from the province of Mazar-i-Sharif to talk about various colloquial names that Afghans have for popular small arms in use by the Mujahideen and in the modern era. This interview is not verbatim and has been edited for clarification.

SR- Please explain the Dragunov?

Interviewee- So the Russian name Dragunov actually isn’t used in Dari, or in Afghanistan. Instead, we call it “Draz-nuf” (درازنف) In this case, “Draz” (دراز)  Dari means long or lengthy, and that name is given to that rifle due to its overall length being longer than most small arms such the Kalashnikov, Krinkov, and Shinkov. That’s why they call it “Draz-nuf”, the “Draz” for “Lengthy” or “Long”. Likewise, with names like Krinkov, or Shinkov, these are names given to various small arms by the Mujahideen in the Soviet War. They don’t represent the actual Russian name for them.

SR- Was the “Draz-nuf”/Dragunov a special rifle among those who used it? Only choose Mujahids would use it?

Interviewee- I think so because they used it as a sniper rifle due to the optics that came with it. You can focus your target very well and then shoot it. That’s what I have seen in movies as well. But it isn’t as expensive or as sought after as the Krinkov as far as I know. Carrying a Krinkov is sort of a show-off, something a Captain, a commander, would do. Everyone would talk about how “That guy was carrying a Krinkov, or his bodyguards carry a Krinkov”. But that status symbol isn’t the same with the “Draz-nof”.

SR- What are some other names? Such as PKah, Makarov, etc…?

Interviewee- Yes, PKah, they call it by another name of “Grin-nuf”.

SR- What about the RPG?

Interviewee- This is sometimes called a “Rockeet” (راکت) or “Rockeet-Tandaz” (راکت تندز) This is because “Rockeet” is obviously the missile that is fired out of that barrel, and “Andakhtan” is the Dari verb “To Throw” (انداختن) so “Rockeet-Tandoz” is an instrument that is used to throw a “Rockeet”.

SR- What about the .303 Lee Enfield?

Interviewee- We call these “See-Sahd-See-Bor” (  سه صد سه بور) See-Sahd-See means three hundred and three in Dari, meaning the caliber .303, and “Bor” for the diameter of the barrel. I’ve seen these rifles in old people’s houses and people would say “My grandfather carried this”. And “Karabine”, is another kind of gun, but it isn’t a rifle, it is shorter, shooting single rounds instead of automatic fire. We also have “Dushka” for the DShK Heavy Machine Gun.

Afghan fighters hide during Soviet bombardment, Jalalabad, Nangarhar, Afghanistan, 1981

Miles is the founder, editor, and local Khan governing Silah Report. He is quite found of obscure languages, dangerous locales, and fascinating small arms designs and uses.

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