Dubai: When Russian antique weapons collector Dimitri Streshinsky received an invitation in 2009 to visit the UAE to see the first semi-automatic pistol to be manufactured in the Middle East, he was doubtful that the new Caracal F handgun would be of high quality.
"It surprised me greatly. We've known Arabs as great buyers but not as manufacturers," Streshinsky told Gulf News. "I went to the Caracal plant and I was really shocked. I know what the production of quality weapons means. I was very surprised to see the expertise and precision attributed to this gun."
Little did he know that a year later he would be attending the recent Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition in Abu Dhabi as an exhibitor to showcase his very own scaled-down version of the only small arms weapon made in the UAE.
Streshinsky owns Moscow-based Miniature Arsenal, a firm that manufactures operating miniature models of small arms including its latest creation, the Caracal F.
At the hunting exhibition, Streshinsky offered only 10 miniature, 95-mm-long Caracals at half scale (1:2) of the original, each selling for roughly Dh75,000 with a full version of the real handgun included alongside.
For miniature gun enthusiasts with very deep pockets, Streshinsky offered for sale one extremely rare gold-inlaid miniature Caracal for Dh250,000.
"This is not a replica; this is a miniature of the gun. It is a piece of art," Streshinsky said, noting that the handmade care, precision to detail and uniqueness of each unit command hefty prices.
Streshinsky said that after touring the Caracal plant and returning to Moscow last year, it took him 47 days to produce the new half-sized miniature Caracal F.
Only 300 miniatures of 100 original larger handguns and long guns from various countries and eras are made at his Moscow facility and include brands such as Browning, Bernadelli, Perazzi and the Russian-made Kalashnikov AK-47, designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov.
The high craftsmanship continues the centuries-old tradition across Europe held in the highest regard by royalty and governments which over the years have presented miniature arms as gifts on stately occasions, he said.
"From the time they first made their appearance in England in the 15th century, miniature models of small arms have been given as a sign of respect to members of the royal family and government officials who could really appreciate the high artistic craftsmanship embodied in these models.
The masterpieces created by European craftsmen as an evidence of an apprentice's ability to become a master gun maker were embodiments of high quality and professional work.
The tradition of giving miniature models reached Russia two centuries later and became widespread in the 17th century," Miniature Arsenal said on its website.
"Apart from a purely aesthetic value of miniature weapons, a collection of these models will have a practical value of tracing back the evolution history of small arms and demonstrating the changing way of their production and decoration," the company said.
"Unlike any other similar items, miniature models made by Miniature Arsenal are fully operational and capable of reproducing all functions of the original weapon. Each miniature item undergoes a full-scale reconstruction and is characterised by impeccable quality of detail."