Manawar Afridi proudly patted the muzzle of the big weapon sitting in the middle of the mud-walled hut and said, "antiaircraft gun."
Then he bent down and picked a shoebox-sized metal container with what looked like a foot pedal on the top. "A land mine," he said, "for tanks." An assistant tossed him a wicked-looking copy of a U.S. hand grenade and Afridi playfully pulled the pin. When a visitor jumped he laughed and said, "empty."
For more than 100 years, workmen in this little village have been supplying arms to Pushtoon tribesmen in the Northwest Frontier tribal territory of Pakistan. Now business is booming, with a full-scale rebellion going on just over the border in Afghanistan, where Moslem tribesmen are battling troops of the Soviet-backed government.
Shops in Darra not only make weapons but also carry on a thriving business selling Soviet-built weapons captured from the Faghan Army. Different groups of rebel tribesmen often are suppliers or buyers of the weapons. Observers of the Afghan rebellion say many of the tribesmen are battling the Army just so they can get weapons to sell.
One rebel leader said the gun dealers here have a Soviet-built antitank rocket launcher on sale for $6,000 and shoulder-fired SAM7 heat-seeking antiaircraft missiles for $10,000.
The rebel, whose group headquarters is in the Pakistani provinical capital of Peshawar, 26 miles south of here, shook his head sadly and said his fighters could not afford either of those weapons.
A person in Peshawar who keeps close watch on the rebellion said guns from here play "an important role" in the fighting.
Afridi, the manager of a gunmaking company called Rashed Engineering that is housed in three attached mud huts on a side road off the main bazaar here, said he has sold 20 antiaircraft guns to the Afghan rebels this year.
He said he charged $2,000 for each gun, which takes 10 days to make. The factory turns out three guns a month and the shells cost $2.50 each, he said.
The 20mm weapon, a rough copy of an old antiaircraft gun, stands little more chance than a peashooter against the Mig jet fighters being used by the Faghan government. But it provides some defense against the Soviet-supplied MI124 helicopter gunships that fire 6,000 rounds a minute and against troop-carrying helicopters.
Afridi's factory made the biggest weapons seen during a tour of small factories and shops that fill this village. There are reported to be 4,000 small gun factories around this town. Every house is supposedly used for weapons-making.
Darra Adam Ehel is in tribal territory, which since the days of British rule has run its own affairs. The Pakistani government has not tried to impose its will over these fiercely independent tribesmen.
It is obvious, however, that Pakistani authorities try to keep track of what goes on here. As predicted by longtime residents in this area, a group of foreign visitors was picked up immediately by a Pushtoon tribesman reported to be a police informer.
The town is famous for its exact copies of well-known gun models from all over the world, with the same decorative designs and the stamps "Made in Germany" or "Made in U.S.A." The skills are handed down from father to son.
For two generations, M. Ishoq and Bros. has been turning out working copies of famous rifles, pistols and shotguns in a factory that spreads from an inner courtyard off the main market to adjoining mud-walled sheds.
Squatting on the ground, a worker carefully stamps designs and copyright marks onto the breeches and barrels of newly made guns. One says "Mauser, 1919" -- a copy of a famous German bolt-action rifle. Another, a 7mm bolt-action rifle, is stamped "Made in Czechoslovakia," while an exact copy of an American G3 high-velocity rifle stands in the corner.
Most of the work is done by hand. But one shed contains modern machine tools while in another a Rube Goldberg-like contraption of pulleys and belts powers machines that bore and polish rifle barrels.
Saeed Ahmad, one of the brothers who runs the factory, said his trade is international. He named Iran and Afghanistan as countries where his guns frequently end up. When asked how they get there, he replied matter-of-factly, "smuggled."
In a small shop across the footpath from the factory, a man was bundling seven Mausers into a burlpa sack. He said he was going to carry them 80 miles by foot to Waziristan, a tribal area northwest of here, where there are no police or customs agents and where it is easy to slip across the border into Afghanistan.
He said he had paid $205 apiece for the rifles, indicating that as in most bazaars in this part of the world there is plenty of room for bargaining, since the asking prices is $300.
That shop made ammunition for the guns, filling used brass cartridges with powder. Rifle bullets cost about $1.
On the town's main street, where most of the gun shops are located, salesmen stood on the road and fired pistols and rifles into the air to show prospective customers they really work.
At Haji Arms and Pistol Shop, a big name for what really is a small market stall, 100 copies of Enfield rifles, first used in the Boer War, hung on the wall. Salesmen there also showed off a pistol that looked like a ballpoint pen, selling for $10, and a fancy walking stick that converted into a rifle.