Khyber Pass Colt Copy at RIA

The Khyber Pass is a region near the Afghan/Pakistan border known for firearms production – particularly for very crude guns made with crude tools. This particular pistol is an excellent example of the type – it looks like a Colt 1911, although it is smaller and more akin to a .32ACP Llama. It is a straight blowback action, and mechanically is actually much more similar to a Spanish Ruby.


  1. An interesting combination of features.

    The safety and magazine catch are definitely Ruby (Eiber) type. But the searage and disconnector setup are closer to a Star Super A. Incidentally, the rectangular cutout in the left grip frame is clearly needed to insert said searage. Something the “designer” probably only realized late in the production process.

    The hammer, with its hole, is very Mannlicher-like, and such hammers were seen on early Star automatics. Add in the Star-type extractor and ejector, and I’m guessing the prototype for this critter was a Star automatic, probably a Model E or I, plus a Ruby.

    As for that second plunger in the back end of the slide, I suspect that it’s a loaded-chamber indicator, as per the second-generation Walther automatics (PP, PPK, P.38). There is probably a pin that should extend into the top of the breechface when the chamber is empty. The fact that this plunger seems to be protruding makes me suspect it’s jammed in the “loaded” warning position due to rust, dirt, or just mechanical wear (broken or weakened return spring, etc.).

    I have seen similar conditions on older Walther pistols. Complete disassembly and cleaning and/or parts repair/replacement is the only real cure.



  2. Why wouldn’t one have TWO pins firing at the same time?

    A gun guy is not a AMMO guy, and rim and center fire are just a wee bit apart.

  3. Ian, thanks for this marvellous video! I suspect that the little spring-loaded plunger on top of the firing pin is a saftey feature. Upon firing, the hammer overcomes the force of that plunger, and can hit the firing pin. But if it is gently lowered, the plunger will force the hammer in the half-cock position. Or maybe there is no half-cock position at all, and the plunger is all that keeps the hammer clear from the firing pin when carrying the gun uncocked.

  4. An interesting counterpoint to the Chinese ones. I wonder how much of the improved functionality and ‘quality’ is do to more modern tools vs understand and effort.

  5. Khyber copies are generally made for using rather than demonstrating as being at the Chinese counterparts. The upper plunger over the firing pin, seems made as a rebounder for the hammer, or auto half cocker. Escaping disconnector, or one time separator for trigger and sear engagement, is a common practice at early autoloaders and early kind of Spanish pistols got largely used of this embodiment. It does not co-work with the slide and makes its function during the firing, but, in case of the slide reaching not to the foremost place over the receiver after a manual retraction, it may cause troubles.

  6. Crude or not, this pistol actually appears to be reasonably well-made relative to the tooling available to the Khyber Pass gunsmiths. Given the somewhat intimate inter-personal nature of social, community and business relationships in that part of the world, I don’t think a gunsmith without a fairly reputable track record would last very long ( allowing for reduced metallurgical and mechanical quality standards ).

    Ian, have you, or has someone you know, had a chance to actually test-fire this type of weaponry at all? It would be interesting to see what sort of results were achieved. I seem to recall that Kevin O’Brien ( Weaponsman ) may have had quite a lot of familiarity with the subject from his time in-country, although I’ll be the first to say that my memory might be off the mark.

  7. Regarding home made rifling, in the Foxfire book #5, pages 230 to 238, there is a description and demonstration of hand cut rifling and barrel boring (which is tricky too–hard to drill a long hole and keep it straight). Appalachian blacksmiths could make the whole set up from scratch, very clever how it is done. I think Brownells has a booklet for sale that describes the process in detail. No doubt the Kyber pass gunsmiths are doing something similar in concept.

  8. There is a more modern method of rifling in Howe’s The Modern Gunsmith, volume 2, page 162.

    The method he discusses uses a horizontal milling machine with a rotary indexer. The mill’s arbor is not used, only the automatic feed on the table is used to pull a rifling cutter through a stationary barrel, the barrel being secured to the column of the mill. It would remove 0.0001 inches per pass.

    Basically, the barrel stays still while a steel cutter is pulled from one end to the other (the x-axis of the mill’s table) while the barrel is simultaneously rotated (by an indexer attached to the table such that so many inches of travel means so many revolutions).

    Horizontal mills are not popular these days, but anything with an automatic table could be adapted).

    • Clarification on the post: the barrel stays stationary and the cutter is pulled through and rotates. The roatary indexer is tied into the traverse mechanism of the table, so every so many inches of x-axis travel results in so many degrees of rotation. That set up would have to be manually set for each groove cut.

      It is something that a good, old school, machinist could put together without much difficulty.

      For something quicker (cut all grooves at once), probably a cutter could be made that would cut all grooves at once and be expandable in diameter, like an adjustable reamer.

        • That is the same setup used to rifle flint lock barrels referenced above. Besides the steel cutting bit the rest of it can be handmade out of wood. There is a clever way of laying out the spiral on the main wooden part, have to see it to understand it.

          In Howe’s book he said the best way to rifle was to buy a Pratt and Whitney rifling machine, the horizontal milling machine set up was a make-shift approach. Some old shops used a lathe with a “sine bar” set up. I’m actually slightly surprised the Pakistani shops are still doing it manually. But, if there is plenty of cheap labor, why not?

    • Eon’s Spanish Primer For Firearms Folk;

      (In alphabetical order, BTW.)

      Astra- ASS-truh. Probably the most obnoxious Spanish gunmaker’s name when pronounced correctly.

      Beistegui Hermanos- Be-ESS-ti-gwee Her-MAN-ohs. Note that “Hermanos” just means “brothers”, generally indicating a family-run operation. (As Eric Frank Russell might say, “Beistegui” sounds vaguely like the favorite curse-word of a rubbery creature lacking a palate.)

      Bonifacio- Bone-ii-FAH-see-oh.

      Campo-Giro- CAMP-oh GEAR-o, basically.

      Cia- SEE-ah. Nothing to do with the Agency, it’s a contraction of “Compania”.

      Eibar- EYE-bar, more or less just like it’s spelled.

      Echeverria- ETCH-ah-ver-EE-yah

      Errasti- Air-ASS-tee, almost as obnoxious as “Astra”.

      Esperanza y Unceta- Ess-per-AHN-zah yi Un-SEET-ah. The company that made the Astra pistol line.(BTW, that “y”, meaning “and”, is always lower-case.)

      Gabilondo y Compania- “Gab-i-LON-dough yi kom-PAHN-yah”, more or less. Also rendered as “Gabilondo y Urresti” (“Yur-REST-ee”); this was the original name of the company that actually made the Llama brand pistol line.

      Gaztanaga- Gaz-ta-NAH-gah, pretty much as written.

      Guernica- GWARE-nik-uh. Also often pronounced Gware-NEE-kuh; take your pick. The town where several gunmakers’ works were, which supplied arms to the Republicans, which was the real reason the Condor Legion bombed it flat in ’37, never mind Picasso.

      Largo- LAR-go, just what it looks like. Just means “long” in Spanish, hence 9 x 23mm Largo was the “long” 9mm, as opposed to 9 x 17 “Corto” (COURT-oh), the “short” 9mm aka .380 ACP.

      Llama- pronounced just like the four-footed kind, “LAH-muh”. If you say “Yama”, most people will assume you are referring to a mountain in Japan.

      Retolaza – Reh-toe-LAH-zah. Generally has “Hermanos” behind it.

      Star- As Jeff Cooper stated, the Spanish language tends to avoid the “naked” initial “S”, as in “Espana” (“Eh-SPAHN-ya”), so it is properly pronounced as though it were spelled “A-Star”, like the light helicopter.

      Urrejola- Roughly “Ur-ii-HOY-ah”, but there are at least three different “correct” pronunciations of this name, which is Basque IIRC.

      Zulaica- Zoo-LYE-kuh. Think “‘Zoo’ plus ‘Laika’, the Russian dog in Sputnik 2′, and you’ve got it.

      There are a lot of other ones, but they generally follow these pronunciation rules. Unless the word is Basque, in which case all bets are off. (Basque is an entirely different language, apparently unrelated to any of the Romance tongues- ack!)

      No, I don’t “speak” Spanish, but I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of Spanish/English dictionaries over the years.



      • “No, I don’t “speak” Spanish, but I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of Spanish/English dictionaries over the years.”

        That explain some things 🙂

        I can give you more details about pronunciation.
        Erasing “S” sound (and several other consonants is specific to South Spain)

        The U is added after G to keep the hard sound while use before E or I
        (that’s why the GU of Guernica is like a “gh” and why for Guadalcanal it’s like a “GW”)

        And the Spanish “Z” is equivalent to English “TH” (and C+I / C+E combination)

        For the “y” (= and), I am more used to ear “ee” than “yi”.

        (Since the Great Voyel shift, the English relation between spelling an speaking is a bit fucked up. Hahahah ! It’s hard to write it out the way things have to be said, especially for other language : when foreigners write a hard “A” the native Eng. speaker tend to say “eye”, and not even mention the E sound that have been changed into “iiii”…)

        • Worth keeping in mind that Spanish is more a collection of related languages than a single language – my ear is used to border Tex-Mex and upper-class Chileans and Argentines sound like Italians to me. I heard a fun interview with the editor of Vouge En Espanol a few years ago where she talked about the pitfalls of trying to write for all Spanish-speakers and the example she cited was a colloquial phrase that means “Let’s go catch a bus” in Mexican but means “Let’s go molest a child” in Cuban…. not an error you want to make in print!

          • Hi, Jim :

            What you have written is so true, and reminds me very much of similar parallels in the Malay language. While there are still many common traits shared by the Malay dialects of South-East Asia, regional linguistic evolutions of that basic language over time have resulted in some very different meanings in detail. There have often been many hilarious — and occasionally tragic — consequences resulting from these differences. For example, although most Malaysians and Indonesians are able to generally understand one another to a large extent due to their common background language, certain words in Bahasa Malaysia ( literally, “Malaysian Language”, meaning Malaysian Malay language ) that are perfectly innocuous can have highly-insulting connotations in Bahasa Indonesia ( literally Indonesian Language, meaning Indonesian Malay language ), both in direct translation and depending on the context in which said words are used.

            Even the English language, as universal as it is, is not immune to similar differences, although these are much less pronounced. One example is when the British say that someone is “pissed”, they are usually referring to the fact that he / she is drunk ; in American parlance, being “pissed” means that he / she is being angry.

  9. I saw a series of photos taken inside a modern Khyber rifle factory (one of the better ones), they had CNC lathes and milling machines. I suspect what they turn out is probably pretty decent.

    • Yep, 90% of photos from Darra Adam Khel are taken in front of their shops showing them casually sitting on the floor with files handfitting some parts,
      leading to false conclusion that the whole guns are made with such crude tools – of course they are not, they have milling machines and lathes.

      Some of the copies they make look pretty good, but again, I’m skeptic if the parts of their gun models are mutually interchangeable (remember lot of handfitting from the beginning of the post??)

  10. Colonial Williamsburg has a great video of their gunsmith making a Pennsylvania style long rifle made by hand as was done in the 18th century. Its narrated by David Brinkley and is very detailed. In it the barrel is made of wrought iron beaten around a mandrel. Its then bored out to final bore diameter and then rifled, all by hand with crude (by today’s standards). I have a VHS tape copy but have seen at least parts of it non youtube.

  11. I thinks this pistol made in thailand, because I saw thai language stamped onto the front of handle.
    In 2:47 You can see “ส.พ.” it stand for “สุพรรณบุรี” (Suphan Buri). It is a province in central of thailand. I believes this pistol made in Uthai Thani the province near Suphan Buri. Pakistani families moved to Uthai Thani for 50-60 years ago and started they illegal guns business. Until 1975 government allowed people who had illegal guns to register, put illegal guns into the system. I hope my data can help you.
    P.S.1-Second firing pin maybe a cartridge indicator.
    2-Sorry for my bad English. 😛

  12. Im just curious what social media’s you guys have (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or twitter). Anyway keep up the good work

  13. While watching a video on Khyber Pass Cottage Gunsmithing it was noted the 32 cartridge was popular, due to larger cartridges being illegal most places in Pakistan, rather than the effectiveness of the 32 cartridge… video mentions ammunition is expensive… Resulting in cast lead bullets, home-brewed powders and refurbished primers… YouTube videos showing DIY home Gunsmithing builds of semi-auto pistols using tools similar to those available in the Khyber Pass… Were not necessarily any better quality when made by American gun hobbyists… If it was legal to have a Khyber Pass gunsmith create most of the gun parts and import them into the u.s…. staying 922 legal…It would be interesting to see the results when asking for… A Lamat cartridge firing grapeshot revolver… With a cylinder that moves forward like a Nagant… And a cylinder that pops up like a lemon squeezer revolver… And takes Moon clips! . … I would love to see what this pistol would look like when an American importer finished it up with the necessary American-made parts to remain a 922 legal… Unless someone is skilled in Photoshop or animations I doubt we’ll ever see this come to Khyber Pass.

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