Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Unique Iraqi Tabuk Sniper Rifle

Although it’s more correctly termed a designated marksman’s rifle, the Tabuk Sniper Rifle is one of the more interesting rifles based on the Kalashnikov action. As with all Iraqi AK variants, it was manufactured by Al-Qadissiya Establishments based on a combination of features from the RPK light machine gun and the Yugoslavian M70 series. The tooling was sold to Iraq by Yugoslavia’s Zastava during Slobodan Milošević’s tenure as Yugoslavia’s ruler.


The rifle itself is unique in many respects. The furniture is similar to the Yugoslavian M70, but the buttstock is hollowed out and resembles a Dragunov, and generally uses a Dragunov-style cheek rest as well. Barrel length is also different from a typical AK, being over 23 inches (as compared to roughly 16 inches for most standard AK variants). This puts the Tabuk’s barrel length short of the Dragunov’s 24.5 inches. Like the AK-47, the Tabuk fires the medium power 7.62x39 cartridge instead of the more powerful 7.62x54R cartridge of the Dragunov. It is the relatively low power of the cartridge, and its limited range and stopping power, that prevents the Tabuk from being a true sniper rifle. Consistent with its role as a marksman’s rifle, the Tabuk is a semi-automatic rifle, and has no provision for fully automatic fire (as designed), although close inspection of the receiver of actual Tabuk rifles shows labels for all three selector settings.

Because the Tabuk is a semi-automatic rifle, it is one of the few AK variants that you can build up under current U.S. firearms law that doesn’t require a dealer / manufacturer’s license to own. That, and the unique looks of the Tabuk is what has attracted me to the firearm. Unfortunately, as they’re unlikely to ever be imported, building your own requires a fair amount of work, though the end result can be spectacular. I’ve unfortunately got the bug, and as I have my own press and riveting jigs, I’m taking the plunge and putting one together.

Dragunov Dot Net has a good write up on the Tabuk, and the pictures provided are invaluable. Fortunately at this point, others have gone before and many of the components to build a Tabuk are readily available. There are also several experts on the various gun forums (The AK Forum and Gunsnet among others) who can help out with custom parts. In order to build an authentic looking Tabuk, the physical parts list is fairly large. This is what I have so far, and I believe it is reasonably accurate, but I may have to come back with a second revision as I learn more about this rifle:


A lot of the parts are readily or semi-readily available from the usual suspects – NoDak Spud, Copes Distributing, Apex Gun Parts. Others you have to go hunting for. I’m importing my Dragunov style cheek rest from the UK (http://www.rusmilitary.com/). Several of the custom parts are coming from individuals on the various gun boards (thanks guys!). Once you get all of the parts, if you want to go all out, they’ll need to be engraved with the proper Iraqi markings. Engraving by Angela has done these in the past and she does very nice work.

The upside of having to go through such a torturous path to get the parts to build a Tabuk is reaching the appropriate number of 922(r) compliance parts is a snap. I use a handy table to help me keep tabs on the number of imported vs. US made parts. Under 922(r), you can only have 10 imported parts, and the Tabuk, even with a foreign magazine, only has 8. If you put in a U.S. made magazine that number drops to 5.


I’m still collecting parts for my Tabuk build, but as I begin to get the pieces together I’ll make additional blog entries detailing my progress.

Until next time!!!

No comments: