In the region that is largely Kurdish, were natives currently are battling feverishly to keep out the ruthless militant group Islamic State, AK-47s that are Russian made are selling for $700, while handguns begin at a cost of $1,200 and M-16’s made in the U.S. will bring in up to $3,000.
Normal everyday Kurds have taken up arms in order to give their family protection and those looking to become members of Peshmerga, the name of the Kurdish army, must have their own weapons on the front line.
However, not everyone’s money has value. Although Arabs for centuries have lived with Kurds side by side, many Kurds do not trust Iraqis who are Arab given the growing influence of the Islamic State.
One shop operator said even if you gave him $1 million he would not sell an Arab a firearm.
Other markets are popping up in towns across the region, including one in Kirkuk, where the vendors have their goods on display against walls, on boxes, on tables and hanging form wall pegs.
The weapons are everywhere and can be purchased at prices that are accessible.
One of the vendors said that soldiers from the Peshmerga were given 50% discounts and recommended the affordable AK-47s from before 1980. Only two years before, the AK-47 was selling for $300. However, the civil war in Syria caused prices to increase to a high of $1,500 for the AK-47, before they were lowered to an average of $700.
The rifles made in Russia still are the weapon of choice across the region, due to the ammunition being more common. They are also very reliable and far cheaper than models made in the U.S.
However, the prices fluctuate each day based upon the significance and proximity of battles and the panic factor.