Kurdish Zagros and Şer Anti-Materiel Rifles

Thanks to correspondent Ed Nash (he gave me permission to use his name after I had recorded the video), I have a number of really interesting photos and video clips of YPG (Kurdish) locally-produced anti-materiel rifles. Specifically, the Zagros 12.7mm rifle and the Şer Portative 14.5mm rifle. Both are made on a small serial production scale by the YPG using barrels from DShK and KPV machine guns. Tubular receivers and bolts are fitted to them, making effective single-shot rifles.

These photos are from the fall of 2015 and the summer of 2016. I am told that both types of gun were reliable and effective, and used substantially in combat against ISIS/Daesh, with their necessity decreasing after the YPG began receiving more air support from United States forces. These were not sniping rifles so much as anti-materiel rifles, used against walls, light armored vehicles (including VBIEDs), and other sorts of cover.

For more information on craft-built anti-materiel rifles, check these two posts:

Craft-produced anti-materiel rifles and light cannon in Yemen

Syrian Rebels Produce Homemade Anti-Materiel Rifles



  1. Current complicated situation in Middle East is certainly fertile ground in development of all kinds of armaments, not just small arms. It extends to improvised missiles, mortars and armored vehicles. There is design/construction/fabrication talent present there, no doubt.

    Important fact to keep in mind while tracing these activities is to consider that any and all of involved parties are considered by their opponents “terrorist” (such is YPG by Turkey). Recently, British home secretary proposed severe punishments with prison term up to 15 years for those who frequent videos with ‘terrorist agenda’.

    I am not sure if it includes all technical subjects, who knows – they talk about items on watch list such as making improvised bombs which is basically very technical. The mentioned rifles may fall into the same category. It is getting bit confused, as all conflicts are.

    So please be aware where you browse, to what depth and intensity.

    • Considering caliber and circumstances ZAGROS is similar to Great Patriotic War-era Шолохов AT gun: http://weaponland.ru/load/protivotankovoe_ruzhe_sholokhova/145-1-0-848
      it is basically 12,7×108 of Imperial German Mauser T-Gewehr. It was produced in workshops of Bauman Moscow State Technical University and later ОКБ-16 (Special Construction Bureau No. 16). These rifles were used during Battle of Moscow, production before early 1942 as more efficient PTRS and PTRD was in production. Few hundreds of these 12,7-mm AT rifles were produced.

    • “Current complicated situation in Middle East is certainly fertile ground in development of all kinds of armaments, not just small arms. It extends to improvised missiles, mortars and armored vehicles. There is design/construction/fabrication talent present there, no doubt.”
      Nothing new, example from Soviet intervention in Afghanistan:
      This is 2Б9 «Василёк» mortar mated to МТ-ЛБ (MT-LB) tracked and armoured artillery tractor (MT-LB has armament – one 7,62-mm machine gun in turret, however only for self-defense; MT-LB can resist small arms fire, nonetheless this vehicle was not designed for going into hottest zones)

      • Another example is “Метла”:
        it is named after creator А.М.Метла, however his last name also mean broom in Russian.
        Метла is result of adding Ural track, sawn-off BRDM-2 hull (with turret) and Unguided Rocket Projectiles block (on top of turret), last element was originally aviation equipment and was obtained from Mi-24 (HIND in NATO parlance), some armor (for Ural).
        Second photo of top show creator together with vehicle.

          • Various custom build armored vehicles, part II.
            Includes photos of Kurd vehicles.
            One of them (9th photo from top) look for me somewhat similar to French WW-1 Saint Chamond, possibly due to suspension.
            Also notice 26th photo from top, with photo from inside showing system of remote controlling of machine gun.
            34th photo is oddity, as it was made by constructor-retirees from (Kharkov) Malyshev Factory. T-64 chassis was used, armament consist of two GSh-23 autocannons.

          • For early example of custom build AFV see Daimler-Guinness Armoured Lorries

            After some thinking AT rifles seems to be useful where and when target is not worth expensive rocket with guidance system. Such missile are overkill for various home-made improvised armoured vehicles. Even for ancient one as 3M6 (Snapper in NATO parlance) which is able to penetrate 300 mm of armor.

          • “Technicals” pick-up trucks and “Boghammar” boats. Toyota Hilux and the Swedish Boghammar Marin AB, just add weaponry of choice…

  2. No surprise that engineering ingenuity thrives when the “proper” items aren’t available. Sometimes the situation at hand makes a product whose legacy lasts beyond the “last ditch” period. The PPS-43 and the Sten are good examples of such, though both aren’t really up to par in the ergonomics department. And both are outdone by aircraft like the Lavochkin La-5 and the Kawasaki Ki-100, both of which are fighters that exchanged “totally aerodynamic” V-12 engines (or inverted V, in the case of the Kawasaki plane) for reliable and much more powerful radial motors which were thought too bulky for their air-frames…

    • I was able to see those ASh-82 engines at several occasions and always was amazed how Soviets were able to produce them to the quality and performance as they did.
      It was superhuman effort.

      One of typical scenes from last days of war in eyes of witnesses: there was rumble in skies and there were two planes locked in combat. Suddenly one of them went down over horizon followed by plume of smoke. Typically it was soviet pilot who took the trophy as Germans were lacking experienced pilots badly.
      Russian pilot parked his plane nearby on field and went to pick up enemy’s insignia as proof of victory. Without lots of fuss turned around, jumped into cockpit and was gone. Very matter of factly, almost mechanically. That is face of the war.

      These engines enabled them to do it. Engines on which were working hands of women, day and night. If Russia fights, whole country fights.

      • “It was superhuman effort.”
        I don’t want to negate this, but speaking honestly during Great Patriotic War Soviet aviation engines were somewhat behind German ones. In area of fighter aeroplanes this was more-or-less countered by philosophy as building aeroplanes as light as possible. In area of bomber aeroplanes it never was fully solved, despite various attempts, for example just see ANT-42 (also known as TB-7 or Pe-8) heavy bomber and Yer-2 bomber and their engines. However it must be remembered than during World War II designing and building high-performance aviation engines was not easy task and all nations attempting have bigger or smaller failures. Just some examples:
        Rolls-Royce Vulture used in Avro Manchester
        Allison V-3420 used in P-75 Eagle
        Continental XI-1430 build with aim of getting more than 1 hp form each cubic inch of displacement

    • The Ki-100 was conceived after close examination by Kawasaki engineers of a Focke-Wulf Fw-190 A/3 sent over by submarine from Germany.

      About the same time, Grumman engineers at the “Ironworks” in Bethpage, NY were examining a captured “Wurger”. The result in their case was the Grumman F8F Bearcat.



      • By dealing of unforeseen circumstances I happen to work one time with man who flew (must have been barely 20 years old at the time) FW190 from factory to combat units. To him, this was a machine beyond approach especially the way it handled – absolute top. Fro whatever Japanese did (and they might have been very good, as Mitsubishi AM5 Zero shows) the result could have been a duplicate at best.
        The Americans copying FW190….. of well, they could not copy properly even FG42. 🙂

      • looking at this Bearcat….. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_F8F_Bearcat

        It does not bear even distant resemblance with FW190. It is said to be continuation of previous “cat” this being F6F Hellcat, both of them destined primarily to be on-deck planes. On subject of FW190 influence it is said that Grumman pilots allegedly flew FW190 in 1943 in England. That is not enough to copy someone’s product of high sophistication.

        Besides, all those cats were pretty well one direction oriented – engine power (and resulting rate of climb) and armaments density while maneuverability was secondary. The mentioned FW190 was ideal blend of all desirable properties in addition of being in contingency used as tank killer and for ground support. It reality it was air-superiority fighter plane of outstanding qualities. But at the end, it is pilot who counts and his backing including ground controls; plane by itself does not do nothing.

    • “No surprise that engineering ingenuity thrives when the “proper” items aren’t available.”
      Here Australia in WW2 should be noted, as various weapons were developed and produced there with little prior experience. See:
      Sentinel tank
      CAC Boomerang fighter and also CAC CA-15 prototype – relatively slow development lasting beyond World War II end, ended in wake of Rise Of Jet Fighters, nonetheless it was ambitious project
      Owen sub-machine gun
      Dingo Scout Car (not to be confused with British-made Daimler Dingo of same era) and Rover Light Armored Car, each produced in few hundreds examples
      Matilda FROG flamethrower tank
      Rhino armoured car, prototype

  3. It would be interesting to know what, metallurgical and source, the bolts are made out of, along with what the locking lug design is and how they are making them. Is there a chance ARES or a western government collection with end up with any of these?

  4. They remind me of kit plans for a single shot 50cal BMG tube rifle that a company ran ads for in Shotgun News in the 90’s. It used surplus M2 barrels as a starting point for the kit and was simple enough to be made with a few machine tools. If I remember correctly the cartridge was first attached to the bolt and inserted into the chamber and the bolt was also attached as part of the tubular stock in which the whole assembly had to be removed to reload.

  5. I never understood why the PTRD-41 wasn’t turned into a “parts kit” and then cobbled together Stateside as a single-shot .50 BMG rifle.

    I have a terrible picture from the height of the Lebanese Civil War that has Shia Amal militia using a PRTS Simonov AT rifle as an anti-personnel weapon of some sort. Of course, from the video perhaps even then car bombs were the target… Uh, make that “Vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices” in need of “remediation” in current jargon.

    During the 1990s so-called “Special Period” the Cuban MINFAR put together a magazine-fed anti-materiel rifle using the Soviet DShK 12.7mm cartridge. This behemoth was named the “Fusil Mambí” after the combatants who fought Spain in the late nineteenth century. For a brief time it was on display at the Museo de la Revolución. As I recall, it was to be lugged around by a two man team, i.e. the barrel separate and carried by the spotter, the rest of the receiver and scope, etc. by the gunner. It was to be used to target airfields, aircraft, helicopters, computers, etc. etc. and then abandoned when the duo would have to do some serious SERE to escape the enemy reaction to their handiwork.

    Watching these Peshmerga fire that thing… I think my retina detached just looking at the video. May a just peace ultimately prevail.
    dibe ku aştî li ser rûyê erdê
    لعل السلام يعم/ يسود على الأرض

        • Thanks/ спасибо.

          I had seen the DM device. As you know better than I, the decision to put the Pershing II in Nato generated a lot of tactical thinking along those lines.

          The silent-cartridge 7.62x42mm PS-4/ пс-4 turned up a time or two in El Salvador in the hands of the five guerrilla groups organized under the umbrella FMLN–Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional during the late 1980s in the Salvadoran Civil War. I think the pistol was the two-shot version, rather than the six shot PSS version… But certainly I’m no expert. By 1988 the Cuban MININT and MINFAR assisted the Angolan FAPLA at Cuito Cuanavale/”Maniobra XXXI Aniversario”against the SADF and UNITA, accomplishing a cease fire and by 1991 a negotiated settlement over Angola and Namibia. About that we have a book. In November 1989 the FMLN launched the “Ofensiva hasta el tope” that led to about 17-20% of the total casualties sustained during the Civil War, but also finally convinced the U.S.-supported armed forces and perhaps the U.S. too that a military solution to the conflict was costlier than a negotiated settlement, with a peace accord by 1992. About that, there is very little known and nobody has been able to gain access to those archives, as far as I know… But that’s when all sorts of unusual Soviet-era weapons, as well as Yugoslav, East German, North Korean, etc. etc. turned up in addition to other materiel.

  6. A friend of mine was in the same unit for quite some time, he had some points to add:

    The 14.5mm rifle is called Şia (mountain), not Şer (war) and the portable version called Şia Portatif. The chinese crappy scopes used were of the brand “Vision King” and they way they broke is that the reticle would rotate and move in the tube so they had to boresight them again. The accuracy was surprisingly good, they would hit window sized targets at about 1.8-2 km on the third round. The main purpose of the rifles was to harass enemy snipers with explosive ammunition. The ammunition available was a mixture of FMJ, API and HE. The cases had to be lubricated not to get stuck in the chamber and the normal team setup was one shooter, one loader and one observer.

    On a different note I know several of the international volunteers, especially those with prior military and/or firearms experience used high quality parts and optics like real Aimpoints and Eotechs. Those were brought in as almost everything sourced locally is Chinese copies of dubious quality.

    My friend has been down several tours, speaks quite a bit of Kurmanji and knows his stuff. I can put you in touch if you want to know more, but I know he has zero interest in being public with his identity in any way.

  7. I just finished “Desert Sniper” by Ed Nash (nomme de Guerre: Heval Botan). Excellent read. The book goes in to these weapons in fine detail.
    I hope the YPG are having excellent results with these weapons as they defend their homes against aggression from Turkey and its Jihadi proxies.

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