Afghan Heavy Weapons

A reader named Robert sent us a few photos of captured weapons in Afghanistan – and we always enjoy seeing this sort of thing.

First up, a Chinese Type 77 .50-cal machine gun. This uses a feed system copied form the DShK and locks with the same Degtyarev flap system as the DShK (as well as the DP and RPD), but the operating system is direct gas impingement. Interesting…

Type 77 Chinese .50 cal machine gun captured in Afghanistan
Type 77 Chinese .50 cal machine gun captured in Afghanistan (click to enlarge)

Type 77 Chinese .50 cal machine gun captured in Afghanistan

Next up, a couple of KPV 14.5mm machine guns set up for anti-aircraft use. The KPV is a short-recoil action, with a rotating collar to lock the bolt and barrel together.

KPV 14.5mm heavy machine gun, captured in Afghanistan
KPV 14.5mm heavy machine gun, captured in Afghanistan (click to enlarge)
Two KPV heavy machine guns in a dual AA mount
Two KPV heavy machine guns in a dual AA mount (click to enlarge)

Originally from the US, we find an old M20 75mm recoilless rifle (on what appears to be an adapted Chinese mount)…

US M20 75mm recoilless rifle captured in Afghanistan
US M20 75mm recoilless rifle captured in Afghanistan (click to enlarge)

And, of course, from even earlier a British SMLE. We understand these haven’t been a first choice weapon for a while, but they are certainly still floating around over there.

SMLE captured in Afghanistan
SMLE captured in Afghanistan (click to enlarge)


      • It’s got the ID disc on the butt, a magazine cutoff, and the screw just in front of the rear sight suggests that there’s a long-range dial sight on the left-hand side of the furniture. That suggests a rifle made either just before or in the early part of World War 1, before they deleted all the non-essentials in the interests of more rapid production, so you’d think it would be genuine. Only thing I’m not sure about is the cocking piece. That looks a little plain for pre-war (though I can’t see it from all angles so I can’t be absolutely sure).

        Ian Skennerton is your man for sure ID of all things Lee-Enfield. I think he’s still about online somewhere.

        • You’d think, but the Khyber Pass “gunsmiths” even go to the extent of copying (often imperfectly) the original British markings, so I wouldn’t put it past them to copy unnecessary features like the mag cutoff and volley sights.

  1. Looks like a good cache haul from around 2004 or so.

    When you had some warlord-maybe-Taliban guy by the short and curlies, if he gave something up it would usually be a cache of old crew-serves for which he had no ammo, and obsolete weapons (like the Enfield). We got ZB-26/30s, DPs, mortars from a half dozen nations, etc., this way, along with badly abused Mauser, Ross and Enfield rifles, Mosins, and Type 1 AKs. But little heavy weapons ammo except for Chinese 107mm rockets which were (and are) everywhere, and no SAA.

    These guys have pulled RPG rockets (w/o boosters, it looks like) but that’s something the enemy and the warlords both never give up… several different kinds of RPG rounds including ones I don’t recognize which might be some PG-73 variation. Also plenty of 12.7 ammo. We never got 12.7 or 7.62 ammo without … some disputation, shall we say.

    We were easily able to collect 14.5mm and 23mm guns if they had no ammo, and ammo from the guys that had no guns (that’s the danger of letting your resistance movement have seven major stovepipes and hundreds of local satrapies). They never voluntarily gave up a working, complete and ammo-stocked weapons system.

    This always mystified the tools at UNAMA, but put yourself in that warlord’s or headman’s plastic sandals, when some guy from the SF camp or the UNAMA branch office or the Japanese demobilization team came asking you to give up your village’s firepower… would you?

  2. Interesting, but perhaps not unexpected, that a Type 77 HMG should show up in Afghanistan. The Type 77 is still rare outside the PRC, where it has been adopted as the PLA’s standard heavy machine-gun. I wonder what became of the W-85, another Chinese-developed 12.7mm HMG that was supposed to supplement and perhaps replace the Type 77? According to most Western sources, the W-85 was supposed to provide the same operational capabilities and firepower as the DShK 38/46 at a little over half the weight of the venerable DShK.

    On another note, nice documentation of the 14.5mm KPV. It is still the most powerful HMG in the world, special ammunition for the Browning M2HB notwithstanding. I believe only the prototype FN BRG-15 was more capable than the KPV in terms of ultimate performance ; unfortunately, the BRG-15 had to be shelved due to cost and market timing issues in the late 1980’s. Perhaps there will come a time for its re-introduction for general military service in the not-too-distant future.

  3. The “M20” is actually its Chinese copy, familiar to US forces from Vietnam. The Chinese designation is Type 56.

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