Friday, August 03, 2007


Makarov - Part 1

Through out history Russia has always had a great deal of land to protect. In the late 1800 hundreds Russia purchased a great many handguns from other countries. A Russian named Alex Gorlov came to the United States and bought weapons from Gatling and from Colt in Ct. He also placed an order for Nagant revolvers that were of Belgium manufacture..

Another Russian who was a gun design engineer of semi auto pistols was a man named Sergey Korovin, this was in the time of World War 1 and he developed the Tula Korovin pocket pistol. Most all of the Russian handguns that were developed and used were very small calibers, and were not very suitable for a modern army combat man that depended on stopping power.

There was another Russian gun design engineer named Fedor Tokarev, who mainly designed rifles and it was he who designed and engineered the Tokarev semi auto pistol in 7.62 caliber, it was also known as the TT-33 .

Early in 1941, Russia was in deep trouble as they did not have the correct and proper weapons that could be used to stop the German invasion of Mother Russia. It was panic city and the Russians used anything they could get their hands on, but their handgun was still the under powered Tokarev TT-33 . The Russians were in serious trouble and lost a tremendous amount of civillian and military people to Hitlers superior invading army.

In 1945 an assembled group of Russian gun design engineers included one Nikolai Makarov. Russia was in desperate need of a new semi auto handgun that was completely reliable, the guide lines were set and it had to be easy to manufacture, it had to be inexpensive, and it had to be able to work flawlessly in freezing sub zero temperatures as well as hot climates.

The design engineers instructions were, it had to be a design of simplicity, because this new pistol regardless of which manufacturing plant it was made in, had to have the advantage that the interchangeability of its parts was mandatory. Russia's tremendous big break and advancement came when they captured German machinery and equipment along with live cooperating German arms engineers and personnel. This gave the Russian's a great leap forward into the future in manufacturing developement as the Germans were far more advanced in weapons engineering and knew how to mass produce everything.

This was how the Russian Makarov pistol was not only designed and manufactured but was adopted in the 1950's era of time by the Russian military because it was a truly superb pistol. The Russians had so many soviet bloc countries to think about and they all adopted the new 9x18mm Russian caliber. The new Russian Makarov in this new caliber was now the standard of not only the Russian army but it was used and adopted by all the soviet bloc countries as their military sidearm. This new 9x18mm Russian caliber is rated at 24,100 psi. A 380 acp (9x17mm) cartridge is rated at 18,900 psi. A 9mm (9x19mm) luger cartridge is rated at a maximum of 35,000 psi.


AUTHORS PERSONAL NOTATION: This commentary as well as all my previous commentaries are my personal opinion only and my own viewpoint. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. I have no personal agenda and I lie for no one and I am certainly not motivated by BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. I do all this because I want to help educate those that are sincere and really want to learn the truth.

Makarov - Part 2

The 9x18mm Russian Makarov is a direct blow back design. You can "NOT" convert this pistol to safely work with a 9mm Luger caliber (9x19mm). The 9mm Luger or Parabellum (the word Parabellum is Latin and it means "FOR WAR") as it is called should be used in a locked breech designed pistol.

Buying a box of ammo for your 9x18mm Russian Makarov you can expect a 90 grain (refers to weight of the bullet) bullet to achieve approx. 1000 FPS. A Makarov pistol of any origin was almost unknown of in the United States about 13 years ago. I am quite familiar with most Makarovs coming from different countries of origin, such as Russia, Bulgaria, East Germany, and of course the Chinese version. I do not see many Chinese Makarovs.

All of the East German Makarovs imported into this country are used and some are still in very good condition. I have always considered the East German Makarov to be the very best of all the imports. Finding one today is not that easy. The East German Makarovs were used by the East German Police. If I could buy just one Makarov today it would be the East German model if I could find one in mint condition and I would have it hard Chromed. My second choice would be Bulgaria. I would only buy it in 9x18mm caliber in the 8 shot version. There are others out there in a wide body high capacity design and I do not recommend them. There are some in 380 acp caliber and I would not recommend them if I could get 9x18mm caliber.

The Makarov pistol resembles the Walther PP, and the initial take down is very similar. You need to pull down the front of the trigger guard on either the Walther or the Makarov, aside from this feature its a completely different internal design and the Makarov is far more reliable than the German Walther in feeding and extraction.
The Soviet made Makarov including the magazine and springs has a total of about 30 parts. A German Walther whether it is a PP, PPK, or PPK/S contains more than 50 parts which includes the magazine and springs.

If I had to point out the most common denominator of both the Makarov and the Walther, it would be the fixed barrel which is permanently attached to the frame which gives these pistols the advantage of being more accurate that many other type designs using a floating or movable barrel design. The other pistol that comes to mind which is my favorite is the HK P7 M8, and the HK P7 M13 also having a fixed barrel design which is super accurate.

There are a number of countries now making these Makarovs. The down side to the imported Russian made Makarov is the adjustable rear sight. Thanks to the Clinton administration who sent all the replacement parts back to Russia, which has caused untold grief if you were to break the rear sight, there are no current rear sight replacements that I know of. That is what I have been told by doing extensive research of the Russian parts years ago.

I have had to repair many of these adjustable rear sights that were broken by making a plate using hardened flat steel stock and using screws to piece it back together. I had to drill and tap holes using either size 72 or 80 stainless steel screws to hold it together, this is not an easy job and certainly should not be attempted by a "NEWBIE SMITH" , it was a nitemare, as parts of the sight are hollow. I will no longer take in jobs like this.

These problems with the adjustable Russian rear sight usually happen when some one tries to disassemble the rear sight, in order to remove it off the slide to plate or refinish the slide. They do not realize that the main cross pin which is hollow and goes thru both legs of the rear sight, this cross pin is FLARED on both ends. You must very carefully cut the flared end off "BEFORE YOU EVER" try to drive the pin out "OR" you will break the leg of the adjustable Russian rear sight right off instantly. This usually happens when a person working for a plater attempts to remove the rear sight not understanding the problem.

This rear sight problem only effects the Russian made adjustable rear sight model, which is the very type of Makarov that I own. All the other Makarovs from different Soviet bloc countries are not effected because they use fixed rear sights. There is no way to convert the Russian model to adapt it to install the tiny fixed rear sight used by everyone else.

Makarov - Part 3

The Soviet made Makarov visually looks like the German Walther PP series of handguns, but I am now going to set the record straight once and for all.
Besides the removal of the slide from the frame in the same manor, and the fixed barrel design, the similarities go no further.

POINT OF FACT 1A. The Makarov does not have a loaded chamber indicator like the German Walther series.

POINT OF FACT 2B. The thumb safety on the Makarov is pushed in the "UP" position in order to initiate a safe condition, where the German Walthers thumb safety must be rotated "DOWN" in order to achieve a safe condition.

POINT OF FACT 3C. The Makarov uses a flat leaf mainspring, where the Walther pistols use a coil main spring. (main spring is also called a hammer spring)

POINT OF FACT 4D. The Russian Makarov as with all copies use a Trigger, Hammer, and Sear that have a totally different design compared to the Walther pistols.

POINT OF FACT 5E. The Makarov pistols use a different type of breech face and the extractor system is totally different and it is far more rugged and designed to withstand extreme service that is required for a military sidearm.

POINT OF FACT 6F. The ejector in the Makarov is part of the manually operated slide stop and it is designed for extreme service. The German Walther has no manually operated slide stop. In order to release the slide of the Walther that is locked back in the rear position, the magazine must be lowered or removed.

POINT OF FACT 7G. The magazine lock and release on the Makarov is located at the bottom rear of the magazine well. The German Walther has a magazine release button which is located on the left side of the frame below the slide in the upper portion of the left grip panel.

You are now starting to see we are not comparing apples to apples as there are very few similarities between these two very different designs .
The Russian military had major requirements and problems with supplying this Makarov not only to their own military, but they had to supply this Soviet pistol to all the Warsaw Pact countries everywhere.

They used stamped parts where ever possible, where as if you compare it to the German Walther they used many fully machined parts. Looking at these two very different handguns, the Makarov vs. the Walther PP, PPK, PPK/S, it is my personal opinion based on my experience and viewpoint that the Russian Makarov design is with out question far superior in every way to the Walther design.

Russian military handgun design engineers realized that the 380 acp cartridge was not adequate in stopping power for a military pistol. A 380 acp pistol in years past was a very poor man stopper using ammunition technology of years ago. They did not have the advancement of powders and bullet design to achieve a satisfactory load that would be superior in 380 acp caliber.

The Russians are no fools, they needed a pistol that was simple and something that was easy to manufacture in a direct blowback design that could be made cheaply and efficiently and they needed the most powerful cartridge they could use. The result was the 9x18mm Russian caliber. If the Russians would have made a pistol with a locked breech design in 9mm Luger (9x19mm) caliber it would have cost a great deal more money and it would have been a much more complicated design. At that point in time their resources were limited.

PLEASE NOTE: For so many of you that emailed me and requested an indepth commentary about the Makarov, I am keeping my promise. When this series is completed you will know more about the Makarov than all the "EXPERTS" . I have no agenda other than the truth. I have no intention of writing articles for monetary compensation for publications where a person with a fraction of my knowledge would be allowed to scrutinize and change my article to satisfy his or her agenda, for what ever reason. Whether it would be to justify their salary or to save money or protect advertisers. I have been down that road before and I did not like the ride, its a dead end. If you sincerely want the truth and no nonsense facts you have come to the right place.

Makarov - Part 4

Lets go back to the end of World War II, The Russian army also known as the Red Army captured the German Walther plant in 1945. This became a great asset to the Russian army and the Russian Military small arms design engineers, the captured people cooperated and it all started from that point in time. The Russians did not have the ACLU to worry about, Stalins word was final, it was either cooperate or a bullet in the head, they had no liberal press to worry about.
And certainly no video cameras.

The Makarov has a completly different type of firing pin design as compared to the German Walther PP, PPK, and PPK/S. The Makarov uses a free floating firing pin design and does "NOT" use a firing pin spring. The German Walther uses a completely different type of firing pin and it utilizes a typical coil firing pin spring. The Makarov has a uniquely triangular shaped firing pin that is totally free floating. If you were to carry your Makarov pistol with a bullet in the chamber, the free floating pin could move about 1/16 of an inch and its limited free travel is so slight there is no way I can ever forsee an accidental discharge with this design.

I have had people call me many times being concerned about this design. I do not see a problem, being as conservative and as cautious as I am, I am not the least bit worried about this firing pin design. I do not see a problem. So the more I point out the differences between the Makarov and the Walther you are getting to see that there are very few common parts after I have explained it to you in complete detail. These Two different pistols are worlds apart.

The thumb safety of the Makarov is brutal and trying to move it up and down is very difficult. I will explain why, the Russian designer decided to use a piece of hardened spring steel wire that is inserted in to the inside of the thumb safety and rides in the detents of the slide. This decision had to be to save money in manufacturing. They should have used a ball bearing or a spring activated pin detent. This can all be corrected and smoothed out.

The operation of the Makarov thumb safety is similar to the Colt 1911 pistol. When the thumb safety is in the "UP" position it is in the safe mode, and when it is in the "DOWN" position it is in the firing mode and good to go by just pulling the trigger.

The flat leaf mainspring is an ingenious design and it does a number of things. The largest leaf operates the hammer, looking from the rear it is on the left side. The thinner leaf spring leg which is on the right also looking from the rear operates the trigger bar assembly. The very bottom of the main spring is used as a magazine catch, this retains the magazine in the pistol.

A separate part called the mainspring clamp secures the mainspring in place against the rear of the frame. This clamp has a hole so that when the mainspring clamp is in place, and the grip is installed which is actually a one piece wrap around design that slides into place from the rear. The unusual looking grip screw is actually screwed through the grip, through the hole in the mainspring clamp and threaded directly into the FRAME which is at the very rear of the frame. The only major problem you would ever have is if you buy an after market grip and the screw turns in to deep it could bind your magazine from either entering the magazine well, because the screw is in to deep and or you will not be able to remove your magazine unless you back out the grip screw a little, by turning it counter clockwise.

So now you see even more proof that there is no similarity to the Walther design beyond the very few things I have already mentioned early on, as some ignorant people would have you believe.
There are some after market grips that are sold for these Makarovs, but they are too thick for my application of a concealed carry handgun. I took the original grips on my chrome plated Makarov and removed the lanyard ring off the grip and the Russian symbols and totally recontoured it to my hand, then I blackened it and then used fiberglass to refinish it. My Russian Makarov is beautiful and its picture has been in many published gun magazines. As you can now see Nickolai Makarov was a truly brilliant handgun designer.

Please Note: Tomorrow, Makarov - Part 5 . This will be Makarov week and I am sure by now you realize I know a great deal about handguns as I work on over 100 different models. I will not be teaching anyone what I know other than what I write about in these commentaries. It all goes to the grave with me. Please print anything that interests you and save it for future reference. I have quite a bit more to write about this Makarov pistol.
POINT OF NOTE: I am of 100% Russian ancestry, My Grandfather was in the Army of the Czar in approx. the year 1890.


Teddy Jacobson