Classic guns: Beretta 951 "Tariq", the “Iraqi Beretta”

In the 1950s the semiautomatic Beretta model 1951 in 9mm Luger (the first pistol produced by the Italian company in that caliber) had a great success not only in Italy, where it was initially adopted by COMSUBIN (the Italian Navy Special Forces), the Navy and the State Police, but also in Egypt and the Middle East.

This pistol was in fact also adopted by the Egyptian army winning the competition against the Tokagypt produced in Hungary (a clone of the Tokarev T33), despite the fact that the latter was built in a country of the Soviet bloc that at the time had great influence on the Egyptian government led by Muhammad Neguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, who overthrew king Faruq in 1952.

Tariq pistol, left side
Left side view of the Tariq pistol.
Tariq pistol, right side 
Right side view of the Tariq pistol.
The Helwan, the Egyptian-produced Beretta 1951

The gun was initially supplied by Beretta itself, some small details differing from the Italian standard version.

Beretta subsequently granted permission to produce the pistol locally at Maadi Industries in Cairo, that already produced weapons for the Egyptian Republic. The Beretta 951 was then renamed Helwan.

It was adopted by other Arab states such as Tunisia, Nigeria, Sudan, Lebanon too.

A Beretta for Saddam Hussein

The typical open slide design of the Model 1951 will be also used on the 92/98 pistol series.

In the 1970s Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, was also fascinated by the Italian pistol and asked Beretta for a license to produce it in Iraqi military facilities.

Iraq produced 951s under license with the name “Tariq“ in 1976/77. This was confirmed in 1991 during the Gulf War, when Americans captured several 951s as war prey.

The grip escutcheons feature a Tariq Ibn Ziyad portrait.

According to other sources the production should have started from 1981, but this theory in unconfirmed, as well as many other details about the Tariq. The fact that in recent decades Iraq has been involved in two devastating wars and is in a state of ongoing political instability certainly does not help the collection of information.

On the right side of the slide markings are quite oddly in English.
On the right side of the slide markings are quite oddly in English. Note the take-down lever.
The writing on the left side of the slide is in Arabic
The writing on the left side of the slide is in Arabic and says: Iraqi Tariq pistol produced in the Qadissiya Establishment.
The Tariq, field stripped.

The name is a tribute to the Berber leader Tariq ibn Ziyad, who invaded Spain in 711.

The weapon, which actually shares the same technical characteristics of the Beretta 951, was produced at Al Qadissiya Establishment plants located in the Diyala Governorate, north of Baghdad where (according to Bob Adams, a well-known American collector) components for nuclear reactors were also developed.

The estimated production was 1000 pieces per day.
Following the war events it is not possible to know how many guns were produced overall and how many are still around.
The one shown in the photos was imported from Romania.

Beretta 951 "Tariq": technical data

Al Qadissiya Establishment
9 Luger (9x19mm)
single action

30.6 oz / 870 g
Magazine capacity

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