Al Kadesih: Iraq’s Exceptionally Rare Dragunov Copy

The Al Kadesih (also sometimes spelled Al Kadesiah or Al Qadisiyah) is an Iraqi copy of the SVD Dragunov DMR/sniper rifle. It is not an exact copy, though, as it uses an AK-style stamped receiver and trunnions in combination with the fire control system and short-stroke gas piston of the SVD.

The rifles were made at the eponymous Al-Quadisiyah Establishment in Iraq, a small arms factory set up with Yugoslav assistance to make small arms. That factory produced a copy of the Yugoslav M70 called the Tabuk as well as other weapons. Rather than completely reverse-engineer the SVD, they adopted the M70/AKM design to do the job. Production appears to have run from 1988 until 1991, with another batch made in 2003 before the US invasion. The total number made is unknown, but certainly only a few thousand. The rifles appear to have been as much for presentations and gifts (gold plated ones, specifically) as for combat use, and they are very rare to see in combat photos.

For more details, check out the Silah Report article on these rifles:


  1. Poor old maddas eh; one of the “good guys” as it turned out, knew his only (Nutjob) population best.

    As they say if something, isn’t broke don’t fix it; m76 or otherwise, bonnie gun like… Meh.

  2. LMAO! The markings are in English, not Arabic! Just like when you see the demonstrators in Third World countries carrying signs in English on TV. “We are an indigenous movement, there is no outside influence” Or for shipment to terrorists

  3. Ego-driven manufacture of weapons is a fairly common feature of regimes like the one Saddam ran. Generally, the resulting weapons are crap, though.

    This one seems like a reasonably decent attempt at it, and I’ve heard that they didn’t shoot too badly. You have to wonder what the designer’s provenance was; was he some unsung Iraqi who pulled off a reasonably good imitation, or did they hire it out to a Yugoslav or someone else? Lots of unanswered questions, here.

    And, sadly, they’ll likely remain unanswered. All of those records are lost and likely gone forever, even more destroyed than anything that happened to German or Japanese records after WWII.

    I’d vote for “hired help”, given the idiosyncratic English markings. You’d think that if it was an Iraqi, then all markings would have been done in Arabic. The use of English, and ohbytheway, western-style Arabic (which are really Hindu…) numbers seems like it would be a significant clue. Or, not…

    • “Ego-driven manufacture of weapons is a fairly common feature of regimes like the one Saddam ran.”

      Reminds me of Jagged Alliance 2’s whacky “Rocket Rifle”, essentially a grenade launcher gyrojet hybrid with a fingerprint lock, made by the R&D of crazy South American dictator of a fictional country Deidranna.

  4. Evening
    You mentioned about 2.0 minutes in your video that the weapon was 7.62 x 39 which is “ regular AK-47
    When the caliber is actually 7.62 x 54 shows on the receiver
    Retired Canada Military

    • I believe if you watch it again you will see he’s actually referring to a Tabuk sniper rifle which is chambered in that caliber and not the Al Kadesih in front of him.

  5. During Desert Storm and the recapturing of Kuwait i search every bunker for a Dragunov as I was hoping to bring one back. Alas, none to be found. I did not see one in the entire theater of operations (even with Republican Guard units) You are correct about the varied assortment of AK countries of origin. Chinese and Romanian seemed to be the most common among the conscripts.

  6. wow, this used to be my rifle but there have been a few things changed/added from when it was brought back into the country so what you are seeing is a built-up rig and not how it originally was. the cheek piece was never there, the sling is different, it only came with 1 SVD magazine and the optic is different.

    I recognized this rifle as soon as I saw the little ding in the handguard and confirmed with some pictures I took in 2008 shortly after I got it.

    I sent Ian an email with the original ownership chain along with some pictures of the rifle and accessories so hopefully I’ll get a reply from him.

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