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A Visual Companion To A Manila Gun Show (2012)

July 24, 2012

And that’s a wrap. Yesterday the 20th Defense and Sporting Arms Show (DSAS for short) concluded, no doubt with visitors still crowding the aisles. Below are pictures taken during the opening ceremonies last Thursday, July 19. DSAS extended from the 19th to the 23rd.

The DSAS began as a yearly event in one of Manila’s largest shopping centers. It brought together the Philippines’ largest gun makers and retailers for a unique bazaar catering to a loyal market–Filipino gun owners. As far as the author can remember, DSAS shows, no matter how moderately sized, have always drawn in lots of enthusiasts.

In 2011, DSAS became bi-annual and it’s likely that another DSAS is going to roll out before the holidays.

There were a lot of familiar faces/brands at DSAS this year (to be honest, the domestic gun industry is small) but a few differences were notable.

First, tons of accessories and apparel were on display along with the firearms.

Second, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) got the benefit of complimentary booths. While modest, it was good to see both institutions represented. The latter (PNP) even went as far as showcasing their extensive collection of ‘vintage’ firearms. Really cool. The Philippine Army, on the other hand, were giving away .50 caliber shell casing bottle openers/key chains.

Third, the air soft contingent seemed a little less ubiquitous this year. Compared to the veritable flood of air soft retailers in the previous DSAS, the 2012 installment had fewer.

On an interesting side note, the author had the rare chance to chat with a few AFP soldiers. One of them, a major in the Philippine Marines, confirmed that a few years ago the AFP were considering the RPG-7 as the primary anti-tank weapon for the Army and Marines. The problem was, even if RPG-7s could be had really cheap, the rival services were uncomfortable with the idea of using the same weapon as the enemy.* Alternative anti-tank weapons like the AT4 proved too expensive for the budget constrained AFP.

While showing off an M4 carbine chambered for 7.62mm ammunition, the same major also expressed his optimism in renewed military ties with the US. Twice a year, he explained, his unit cross-trains with US Marines during joint exercises. This should be interpreted in light of the ongoing maritime territorial dispute with China, which has embarrassed and angered the Philippine government.

The resulting fallout from the dispute has renewed awareness of the AFP’s inadequacy. Despite two festering rebellions in different parts of the country, the Philippine military faces a crippling equipment shortage that has left it almost completely impotent in the face of external threats.

Just scroll down below for more pics** plus additional commentary.

For last year’s DSAS post, go here.

* The MILF and other Muslim rebel groups in the southern Philippines have long-used the RPG-2/B40 as an anti-personnel and anti-tank weapon. The RPG-2 has become so ubiquitous that the MILF are known to manufacture it themselves.


** All pictures are from 21st Century Asian Arms Race

From the Philippine National Police (PNP) exhibit. Check dat PPsh!!!

The very impressive CZ Scorpion SMG

CZ 805 Bren assault rifle

Not really a huge crowd, but visitors were flocking in (entrance tickets were cheap anyway) shortly after the 10AM opening.

A lot of police were milling around too. The PNP have always been supportive of DSAS.

A crowd of journos following a contingent of PNP generals…who are barely seen.

A statue of General Antonio Luna next to somebody’s lunch.
Gen. Luna is one of the most colorful characters in the Philippine struggle for independence, whose two phases are the war against Spain and the disastrous Philippine-American War. A self-taught general with no prior military experience (his brother was a painter in Europe), during his brief career Luna had a huge influence on the army of the First Philippine Republic. Among his achievements was the creation of the first Filipino military academy staffed by Spanish officers.
Too bad he was assassinated by his superior Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, who was also the First Republic’s president. Philippine history–it’s full of god damn intrigue!
Today the primary munitions depot and manufacturing plant of the AFP is named Camp Gen. Antonio Luna.

FAMAS? More like the Croatian VHS assault rifle

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