Delta Defense Group: How Secret Guns Are Getting Funneled Into Syria

Delta Defense Group: How Secret Guns Are Getting Funneled Into Syria

No known firearms manufacturer utilizes the “Delta Defense Group” moniker and logo that identifies the pistols, suggesting that someone is attempting to clandestinely supply arms to forces in the region.

Key point: A lot of actors are interested in the Syrian civil war and which groups survive. A lot of strange arms have flooded the region and it is unclear who made them, where they are from, and what their purpose is.

The battlefields of Syria see handguns from every corner of the globe. The massive demand created by the war has led Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish, and Chinese manufacturers to pump new production handguns into the region. While the deliveries of these pistols can be overt, sometimes efforts are taken to hide the origin of these pistols.

An interesting example of this is the “Delta Defense Group” pistols that have recently shown up in Syria. No known firearms manufacturer utilizes the “Delta Defense Group” moniker and logo as seen on the pistols, suggesting that someone is attempting to clandestinely supply pistols to forces in the region.

There are two known varieties of Delta Defense Group pistols, the full-size C6 and the compact C5. Both appear to be based on modern CZ-75 derivative designs, such as those made by the Turkish Sarsilmaz, Italian Tangfolio, or Israeli IWI. All of those implement the CZ-75’s Double Action/Single Action hammer-fired action into a cheaper metal rail in polymer frame design similar to the Glock. This lowers the costs versus metal-framed CZ-75s.

Such plastic-framed CZ derivatives are sold around the world, with Sarsilmaz B6Cs being common on the American market. But the Delta Defense Group guns were linked to the Israeli Bul Armory, which produces CZ and 1911 clones. The Delta Defense Group C6 is almost identical to the Bul Cherokee Full Size, and the Delta C5 is almost identical to the Bul Cherokee Compact. The only visible difference apart from the markings is solid pins are used on the Bul Cherokee guns and roll pins are used on the Delta Defense Group guns. While the Bul guns are marked “Made in Israel”, the DDG guns are marked “Made by DDG”.

Bul Armory guns are sold legitimately worldwide under Bul branding, including in Europe, the Americas, and Asia, so it’s unclear why they were rebranded as “Delta Defense Group”. It could be possible that they were rebranded as Delta Defense Group to be sold without the stigma of being attached to an Israeli company on the Arab market. By the Silah Report account, the pistols were imported legally into Iraq before being moved onto the black market, so it’s unlikely that they were rebranded for more nefarious purposes.

As for the shooting characteristics, end-users interviewed by Silah Report said that the Delta Defense Group pistols had favorable shooting characteristics compared to Ukrainian Fort-14PP and Russian MP-446 pistols also present in the region. It’s also likely superior to the Chinese Norinco NP-20 due to the more ergonomic shape of the grip. That being said, it’s unlikely that the pistols are better than other modern pistols like Glocks, though those carry a prestige premium in the region. For the average SDF fighter or Iraqi militiaman, a Delta Defense Group pistol may be a cheap, light, reliable alternative to more expensive options on the market.

The author would like to thank AnalystMick for assistance and original reporting on Delta Defense Group pistols.

Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues. This first appeared earlier in 2019.

Image: Reuters.