The Enigmatic Iraqi Tabuk AKs w/ Miles Vining

Today I am joined by Miles Vining from Silah Report to take a look at a selection of Tabuk pattern AKs. Tabuk was the name given to the whole family of domestically-produced Iraqi Kalashnikovs, which harbor a lot more mysteries than one might expect. The basic pattern was licensed from Yugoslavia, and Iraqi production was set up with Yugoslavian technical support. The rifles follow the basic pattern of the Yugoslav M70, but a wide variety of different versions were made between the early 1980s and 2003, with little explanation as to why. This includes standard and. “bulged” RPK-type front trunnions, fixed and underflowing stocks, some with and without rifle grenade gas cutoffs and sights, Yugoslav and Iraqi-made grips, and more. Unique to Iraq is the Tabuk “sniper” model, a 7.62x39mm rifle with a long barrel, distinctive cutout stock, and either PSO or Zrak scope (based on a pattern tested by Yugoslavia but never adopted).

The Tabuk was never the main armament of the Iraqi military. It was only issued to small numbers of troops, often high profile units like the Republican Guard. The vast majority of Iraqi arms were AKs bought elsewhere, including Romanian, Polish, and Hungarian patterns. Total production of Tabuk rifles is unknown. The serial numbers consist of a 3-digit batch code and a 4-digit sequential serial number – which is easily mistaken for a 7-digit sequential number. With Iraqi production records lost or destroyed, the significance of the different batch codes is unknown, but they probably referred to specific combinations of features and intended recipients (both Iraqi military/security forces and foreign export customers).

Many thanks to Two Rivers Arms for loaning use these three Tabuks for filming! They are definitely experts on the subject, and we appreciate their generosity. Further thanks to Miles for joining me on this video! If you are interested in modern small arms of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia you should definitely check out the great work being done by Silah Report.


  1. Would anybody be horribly offended if James River Armoury did a run of these? I bet theirs would be better than the Iraqi originals by miles.

    • I’m pretty sure for James River Armory to produce AKs of such low quality would be cultural appropriation, and therefore, racist. Perhaps you could just buy one from Century?

      This video:

      has a hilarious bit when he realizes the rear sight was installed from the factory upside down b/c the workers had no idea what it was for.

  2. The reason that Iraq had so many imported AKs as opposed to domestically produced ones was probably related to the Iran-Iraq war kicking off around the time that Tabuk production started.

    The war was long and of enormous scale, and like so many countries in that position Iraq would have had to scramble to get rifles from wherever they could. A good analogy would have been WWI, where many of the combatants bought whatever they could get from neutrals.

    Once the war was over, they would have had a lot of left over arms and wouldn’t have needed a lot of new ones for a while.

    The reason that the more elite formations were more likely to have been equipped with Tabuks was possibly due to their being less likely to have been expended as cannon fodder. This means their original issue Tabuks would have been less likely to have been lost on the Iran front during the war.

    • I’d say its even opposite, many countries scrambled to sell to Iraq as much as possible, as they liked the idea of making a big petro-profit, while monkeys on both sides, that they naturally do not like, are killing themselves with all that imported stuff.

  3. Given the terrain, them making AK in 7.62 rimmed would be a better option, like PSL.
    Of course, yugos had m76, in 7.92,
    but iraquis were probably not too smart and educated to pull off similar design or convert m76 to 7.62x54mmR, as that stipulates more engineering changes than putting scope and long barrel on standard AK pattern rifle.

    • Ok, now I’ve researched the Al Quadisiyah rifle Miles mentioned, turned out they did make, basicly, dragunov-ak “bastard” – very interesting and peculiar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.