Russian Makarov PM
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Used by||See Users|
First Chechen War
Second Chechen War
Libyan civil war
Syrian Civil War
War in Donbass
|Manufacturer||Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (USSR/Russia), Ernst Thaelmann (Germany), Arsenal AD (Bulgaria), Norinco (China)|
|Weight||730 g (26 oz)|
|Length||161.5 mm (6.36 in)|
|Barrel length||93.5 mm (3.68 in)|
|Width||29.4 mm (1.16 in)|
|Muzzle velocity||315 m/s (1,030 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||50 m (55 yd)|
|Feed system||8-round detachable box magazine (10- and 12-round available on the PMM)|
|Sights||Blade front, notch rear (drift adjustable)|
The Makarov pistol or PM (Russian: Пистолет Макарова, Pistolet Makarova, literally Makarov's Pistol) is a Russian semi-automatic pistol. Under the project leadership of Nikolay Fyodorovich Makarov, it became the Soviet Union's standard military and police side arm from 1951 to 1991.
The Makarov pistol was adopted by the Soviet Union in 1951, following a competition created to replace the obsolete Tokarev TT-33 semi-automatic pistol and Nagant M1895 revolver. Rather than building a pistol to an existing cartridge in the Soviet inventory, Nikolai Makarov took up the German wartime Walther "Ultra" design, fundamentally an enlarged Walther PP, utilizing the 9×18mm Makarov cartridge designed by B.V. Semin in 1946. For simplicity and economy, the Makarov pistol was of straight blowback operation, with the 9×18mm Makarov cartridge being the most powerful cartridge it could safely and practically fire. The Luftwaffe had rejected this pistol design some years before because of its poor accuracy. Although the nominal calibre was 9.0 mm, the actual bullet was 9.22 mm in diameter, since caliber in Russia is measured between the grooves and not the lands of the rifling. Being shorter and wider, the 9mm Makarov cartridge is thus incompatible with pistols chambered for 9×19mm Parabellum cartridges and vice-versa.
In 1951, the PM was selected because of its extreme reliability, simplicity, and ease of manufacture over other competing designs. It remained in wide front-line service with Soviet military and police until and beyond the end of the USSR in 1991. Variants of the pistol remain in production in Russia, China, and Bulgaria. In the U.S., surplus Soviet and East German military Makarovs are listed as eligible curio and relic items by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, because the countries of manufacture, the USSR and the GDR, no longer exist.
In 2003, the Makarov PM was formally replaced by the Yarygin PYa pistol in Russian service, although as of 2012[update], large numbers of Makarov PMs are still in Russian military and police service. The Makarov PM is still the service pistol of many Eastern European and former Soviet republics. North Korea and Vietnam also use Makarov PMs as standard-issue pistols.
The PM is a medium-size, straight-blowback-action, all-steel construction, frame-fixed barrel handgun. In blowback designs, the only force holding the slide closed is that of the recoil spring; upon firing, the barrel and slide do not have to unlock, as do locked-breech-design pistols. Blowback designs are simple and more accurate than designs using a recoiling, tilting, or articulated barrel, but they are limited practically by the weight of the slide. The 9×18mm cartridge is a practical cartridge in blowback-operated pistols; producing a respectable level of energy from a gun of moderate weight and size. The PM is heavy for its size by modern US commercial handgun standards, largely because in a blowback pistol, the heavy slide provides greater inertia to delay opening of the breech until internal pressures have fallen to a safe level. Other, more powerful cartridges have been used in blowback pistol designs, but the Makarov is widely regarded as particularly well balanced in its design elements.
The general layout and field-strip procedure of the Makarov pistol is similar to that of the PP. However, designer Makarov and his team drastically simplified the construction of the pistol, improving reliability and reducing the part count to an astonishing 27, not including the magazine. This allowed considerable ease of manufacture and servicing. All of the individual parts of the PM have been optimised for mass production, robustness and interchangeability, partially thanks to captured German tooling, technology, and machinery.
The chrome-lined barrel is pressed and pinned to the frame through a precision-machined ring. The 7kg recoil spring wraps around and is guided by the barrel. The spring-loaded trigger guard is pivoted down and swung to the side on the frame, allowing removal of the slide. The front sight is integrally machined into the slide, and a 3-4mm wide textured strip is engraved on top of the slide in order to prevent aim-disturbing glare. The rear sight is dovetailed into the slide and multiple heights are available to adjust the zero. The extractor is of an external spring-loaded type, and features a prominent flange preventing loss if a case should rupture. The breech face is deeply recessed in order to aid in extraction and ejection reliability. The stamped sheet steel slide-lock lever has a tail serving the purpose of ejector. The one-piece, wraparound bakelite or plastic grip is reinforced with steel inserts and has a detent inside the screw bushing preventing unscrewing during firing. The sheet-metal mainspring housed inside the grip panel powers the hammer in both the main and rebound stroke, the trigger and the disconnector, while its lower end is the heel and spring of the magazine catch. The sear spring also serves another function, powering the slide lock lever. Makarov pistol parts seldom break with normal usage, and are easily serviced using few tools.
The PM has a free-floating triangular firing pin, with no firing pin spring or firing pin block. This allows the possibility of accidental firing if the pistol is dropped on its muzzle. Designer Nikolay Makarov thought the firing pin of insufficient mass to constitute a major danger. The Makarov is notable for the safety elements of its design, with a safety lever that simultaneously decocks and blocks the hammer from contacting the firing pin and returns the weapon to the long-trigger-pull mode of double action when that safety is engaged. This is one of a number of different types of safety mechanism generally referred to as "manual safety" in order to distinguish it from safeties that are disengaged by the user in the course of firing a gun without manipulation of a separate safety control. A slide-mounted lever has some safety advantages though there is argument over whether the extra manipulation required can be a risk, especially when the lever is not positioned in an ergonomic manner.
When handled properly, the Makarov has excellent security against accidental discharge caused by inadvertent pressure on the trigger, e.g., in carrying the weapon in dense brush or re-holstering it. However, the heavy trigger weight in double-action mode slightly decreases accuracy. The Bulgarian-model Makarov was approved for sale in the US state of California, having passed a state-mandated drop-safety test.
After inserting a loaded magazine and chambering a round by cycling the slide, the Makarov PM can be directly fired in single-action mode, or carried with the safety on. When the safety is engaged, the hammer automatically decocks (returning the pistol to double-action mode) and prevents movement of the hammer, slide and trigger when engaged. The safety itself can be quickly disengaged by flipping the safety lever down to the "fire" position. The pistol can be now fired in double action mode. The action of squeezing the trigger for the first shot after disengaging the safety cocks the hammer, requiring a long, strong squeeze of the trigger. The hammer may also be armed manually, allowing a more accurate single-action shot after disengaging the safety. The firing and cycling of the action re-arms the hammer for subsequent shooting in single-action mode. The PM's operation is semi-automatic, firing as quickly as the shooter can squeeze the trigger. Spent cartridges are ejected some 5.5–6 metres away to the shooter's right and rear. After firing the last round, the slide is held back by the slide stop lever/ejector. The now empty magazine can be removed and a fresh loaded one reinserted. The slide is then closed by pressing the lever on the left side of the frame or by withdrawing the slide and releasing it; either action loads a cartridge into the chamber and the pistol is ready to fire again.
The Makarov was manufactured in several communist countries during the Cold War and afterwards; apart from the USSR itself, they were East Germany, Bulgaria, China and post-unification Germany, which also found itself with several thousand ex-GDR Makarov pistols.
The most widely known variant, the Makarov PMM (modernised Makarov pistol), was a redesign of the original gun. In 1990, a group of engineers reworked the original Makarov, primarily by increasing the load for the cartridge. The result is a significant increase in muzzle velocity and generation of 25% more gas pressure. The PMM magazine holds 12 rounds, compared to the PM's 8 rounds. Versions that held 10 rounds were produced in greater quantities than the 12-round magazine. The Makarov PMM is able to use existing Makarov cartridges and has other minor modifications such as more ergonomic grip panels as well as flutes in the chamber that aid in extraction. As of 2015, it is - alongside MP-443 Grach - the service pistol of the Russian Airborne Troops.
An experimental variant of the Makarov, the TKB-023, was designed with a polymer frame to reduce the weight and costs of the weapon. It had passed Soviet military trials but was never fielded, due to concerns about the polymer's capacities for long-term storage and use.
Poland and Hungary have developed their own handgun designs that use the 9×18mm round. Hungary developed the FEG PA-63 and Poland has developed the P-64 and the P-83 Wanad. While similar in operation (straight blowback), and chambered for the same round, these 9 mm Makarov firing pistols are often found labeled at gun shows by some US gun retailers as "Polish Makarovs" and "Hungarian Makarovs". Nonetheless, these similar designs are independent of the PM and have more in common with the Walther PP (which, in fact, was also a major influence on the original Russian Makarov ).
A wide variety of aftermarket additions and replacements exist for the Makarov, including replacement barrels, custom grips, custom finishes and larger sights with various properties to replace the notoriously small originals. A scope/light mount exists for the Makarov but requires a threaded replacement barrel.
Baikal is a brand developed by IGP around which a series of shotgun products were developed from 1962. After the collapse of the USSR, commercial gun manufacture was greatly expanded under the Baikal brand.
During the 1990s, Baikal marketed various Makarov derived handguns in the United States under the IJ-70 model. Included were handguns in both standard and high-capacity frames. They were available in .380 ACP in addition to the standard 9 mm Makarov round. Some minor modifications were made to facilitate importation into the United States, including the replacement of the rear fixed sight with a (low-quality) adjustable sight (only these Russian models marketed abroad feature an adjustable sight). A sporting version is the Baikal-442. The importation of these commercial models into the U.S. was later further restricted with the U.S. Government's importation ban on Russian firearms.
The Baikal IZH-79-8 is a modified version of the standard Makarov, with an 8 mm barrel, modified to allow it to fire gas cartridges. These guns proved popular after the fall of the USSR, and were used in Eastern Europe for personal protection. However, unlike most gas firing guns, the body is made of standard Makarov-specification steel, and hence this gun is popular with criminals due to its low cost of purchase and ease of boring out to fire standard 9 mm rounds.
- Bulgaria: Copy pistols were produced since 1960. Arsenal 10 produced them between 1970 and 2007.
- China: Adopted by the People's Liberation Army in 1959 as the Type 59. Produced locally with minor cosmetic differences (i.e. the width of the slide's sight rail and configuration of the safety lever).
- Cuba (made under license)
- East Germany: Copy pistols were produced.
- Indonesia: Especially used by the TNI-AU officers in the 60s.
- North Korea
- Slovenia: Used in the 90s.
- Soviet Union
- Vietnam
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