Bulgarian Makarov & Gun Tests Magazine review


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.45&TKD
May 15, 2003, 05:04 AM
I was thinking that the Bulgarian Makarov would be a wise and cost effective purchase as an additional handgun.

Then I checked out this review by Gun Tests magazine:

http://www.gun-tests.com/cgi-bin/udt/inv.get.file?client.id=gun-tests&inv.id=4435&story.id=4995

What's up? Did they just get a couple of lemons or are there a lot of bad Makarovs out there.

Anyone else have a problem with the safety lever falling off?

Would this be hard to fix?

I've heard so many good reports on the Bulgarian Makarov, I was surprised to see this bad review.

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firestar
May 15, 2003, 06:11 AM
Just when I was getting over my bad first impressions of Makarovs and started think about buying one.:rolleyes: I have handled two Russian Maks and they were ROUGH! I want to see a Bulgarian in person to see if they are as bad as Gun Test says.

I don't know how much I trust Gun Tests though, they have giving some good guns bad reviews and some junk guns good reviews. Here is a quote from that article that makes me think these people are not the brightest in the world.

Initially, due to the lack of owner’s manuals with each pistol, we encountered some confusion as to their chambering. Careful examination of shallow engraving on the frames clarified what they chambered for. Moreover, we found a problem when it came to filling magazines and even loading a round: the similarly sized .380 Auto and the 9x18 can be confused.

9x19
May 15, 2003, 06:15 AM
I've never had such a problem and I've owned a fair number of Maks.

Unless the safety lever was missing the detent catch on its back side, its hard for me to imagine it moving all the way PAST the top detent notch and coming off. {shrug}

Definitely one that makes you go hmmmmm. :D

Stephen A. Camp
May 15, 2003, 09:35 AM
Hello. Zero problems with my Bulgarian.

Best.

swingcatt
May 15, 2003, 11:21 AM
My Maks are EG, but there are at least 1/2 dozen Bulgies floating around in my friends possession that have had absolutely no problem.

I don't put too much faith in gun rag authors. No matter how a magazine makes ends meet, the authors and reviewers always know which side of the bread their butter is on. Know what I mean? Maks aren't made by any large deep pocket manufacturer with lots of cash for advertising, so what do they gain by giving it an outstanding review?

I suggest putting more faith on personal experiences of forum members. The collection of "front line" reviews will give you a better feel of the worth of the firearm than a random of-the-shelf review of one gun.

You can search TFL archives to see what people think about Maks.

WhoKnowsWho
May 15, 2003, 11:26 AM
My Bulgarian has given me no problems.

Though when I was looking at it at the show, the guy next to me said not to get it, the one he had always jammed.

lee n. field
May 15, 2003, 11:40 AM
One Russian, on Bulgarian. The only problems I have ever had were ammuntion related. (Winclean .380, 2 failures to feed in a box of 50. A few boxes of Silver Bear 9x18, hangs in magazine (poor quality control).)

gbelleh
May 15, 2003, 12:05 PM
My Russian (stamped "Bulgaria") Makarov has been 100% reliable, very accurate and fun to shoot. I plan to get an East German and a Bulgarian Mak sometime soon too.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Makarov.

treeprof
May 15, 2003, 12:13 PM
Know what I mean? Maks aren't made by any large deep pocket manufacturer with lots of cash or advertising, so what do they gain by giving it an outstanding review?

They gain or lose nothing either way - no manufacturer advertising in Gun Tests, and the guns are bought retail. But, they are frequently off the mark on their reviews, and of course they typically only review a single sample.

lazhuward
May 15, 2003, 12:47 PM
There have been one or two reports on the Makarov board of safety levers falling off during firing. It seems to be a very rare problem though.

On the Mak, to remove the safety you just rotate it up and back and then pull it out of the slide. If you take out the safety for cleaning purposes, you will have removed the slide first. However, it's possible to remove the safety when the slide is still on and completely back in its rearmost position.

There's a spring in the safety lever that fits into detents on the slide and holds the safety in the fire and safe positions. I have to agree that it's hard to imagine the safety coming off unless this spring is missing. Maybe it could happen if the safety detent spring is really, really weak for some reason.

CZ-75
May 15, 2003, 01:35 PM
More for the rest of us to buy.

Thing about the Mak is they're simple and cheap enough to fix easily. Bad safety? Buy another safety. Inside of a minute and it's fixed.

My EG safety took real effort to push up past the detent and so does the bulgarian one I replaced it with as part of the Simson-Suhl conversion kit.

BevrFevr
May 15, 2003, 03:52 PM
my 12yr old niece can figure out things that stump the hell out of those guys. I consistently scratch my head after every issue. I guess I read it because it tells me what would happen if a blind monkey with two left hands were to pick up whatever gun they are reviewing.

Some of the reasons they like some guns and dislike others are just unreal. It's pretty much conventional wisdom at this point that Maks may be one of the best pistols ever made if you are into that sort of gun. I should have got one cheap just to have but now they are a little more expensive.

-bevr

Jedi_7.62
May 15, 2003, 08:48 PM
I have a Russian 9x18, East German .380, and a Bulgarian 9x18.

They are all 100% reliable!!!!


Only time I've seen the safety come off is during cleaning. Yea it surprised me the first time but it went right back in.

NEVER a problem with usage.

I love these guns!!!!

Apple a Day
May 15, 2003, 10:30 PM
Those guys paid HOW MUCH for a Makarov? How much for a PA-63? :what: :p
Anybody got these guys' phone number? I have a bridge to sell them, reeeeeaaaaaalllllly cheap!
By the way, I have a Russian Makarov with nearly 2k rounds through it. One hiccup- just one with a bad round. I also own a PA-63 with only about 100 rounds through it so far but no problems yet and I don't anticipate any.

firestar
May 16, 2003, 12:20 AM
I am still sitting on the fence because the only person that I know who has had one, didn't like it (Russian Mak) and it had some reliability problems. He sold it for $50 and now he now wants another one. I don't think I am going to run out and get one but if one comes my way and is a steal of a deal, I will snap it up.

jame
May 16, 2003, 12:48 AM
ZERO problems with my Bulgie Mak. It's a switch hitter for my 239 Sig for carry. Well finished, accurate, reliable. What more could a guy want?

Marko
May 16, 2003, 10:38 AM
While I respect Gun Tests' policy of refusing advertising in order to maintain some semblence of impartiality, their test methods are often suspect, at best. A friend has suggested the name of the publication be changed to "Totally Subjective Opinions on Firearms." Or "Bunch of Guys Getting Together to Shoot Guns They Know Nothing About."

As best as I recall, Gun Tests has reviewed the Makarov twice. And both times they managed to launch a slide downrange. Now either they are the unluckiest folks in the world, managing to acquire not one, but two of the virtually non-existent Makarov lemons, or else they reviewed for a second time the very same pistol they used in their first test. Barring that, perhaps they failed to reassemble the pistols properly. Twice.

Pardon my skepticism, but real world reviews of thousands of Makarovs by thousands of owners overs years and years have shown it deserves its stellar reputation. And my own experiences mirror those findings. Of the more than a dozen and a half Maks that I've owned, not one has given me trouble. Some had better fit and finish than others, and some had better triggers than others, and some were more accurate than others. But none were even remotely unreliable. In fact, before I regretably sold it, my Russian Imez hi-cap had over 20k rounds through it with a total of only three failures. All were FTE's and all occurred with one aftermarket mag. When I ditched that mag in favor of a factory version, the gun never hiccupped again.

Take care. Marko

commygun
May 16, 2003, 01:11 PM
I own or have owned a Norinco (chinese), a Russian, and a
Bulgarian Mak. All have been 100% reliable and rock solid.
The only complaint I have with any of them is the lousy bluing
on the Russian one. I'm very impressed with Maks. Lemons
seem to have a way of finding me-I've had NIB Beretta's
and S&W's that were defective right out of the box but the
Makarov has never failed me.

oweno
May 16, 2003, 06:00 PM
About 2,000 rounds thru my E. German and my Bulgarian Maks and never had any problem whatsoever, ever.

Well, I did slice my thumb once loading a magazine but a nifty loading gizmo from makarov.com solved that problem for about 3 bucks.

It'd be interesting to search TGH and TFL to see what other comments pop up on 'Gun Tests' magazine with respect to other firearms. I seem to recall that this type of thing has happened before, and more than once.

Owen

AZ Jeff
May 16, 2003, 07:22 PM
Aside from the fact that my personal Bulgarian Mak, which I use for CCW extensively, is flawless in performance, here are a couple of thoughts about the results that Gun Tests broadcast:

1. they tested a USED GUN. As such, ANY used gun is subject to having been treated in an unknown manner prior to arriving in the hands of the tester. (Based on their description of what happened to the safety, I think that this particular Mak may have been missing the safety detent spring.) ANYONE who buys a used gun would be wise to carefully inspect said firearm for function/wear/damage etc. PRIOR to firing said same. Apparently the testers at Gun Tests did not feel that was necessary, and look at the results. Duh........

2. If the Mak was such a poor design, why is it that it was/is so widely distributed among Combloc armed services? The Russians may not make the fanciest small arms, but no one can accuse them of equipping their soldiers with poorly functioning firearms. The team at Gun Tests finds one bad sample, and then uses that to assume that all other Mak's would perform equally poorly. That cannot be reconciled with the fact that the Mak has been a sidearm for Combloc armed forces, and their sucessors, for approx. 50 years now, and that smacks of sucess, not poor design/manufacture!!

Dave Markowitz
May 16, 2003, 09:37 PM
I call BS on this article, and Gun Tests magazine in general.

Based on my first hand experience with my Bulgarian Mak, and my dad's 2 Bulgies, 1 Russian, and 1 EG Mak, they are exceptionally reliable guns. Also, they are quite accurate.

And what does it say about the authors that they have difficulty telling apart 9x18 and .380? Yes, they look very similar -- if that's a problem then don't have both on the bench when shooting one or the other. :banghead:

ranger7
May 16, 2003, 10:08 PM
We have 3 Bulgie MAKs in the family. No problems with any of them. I find Gun Tests Magazine to be "unreliable."

denfoote
May 16, 2003, 10:34 PM
I also read that article. I have to say that it is pure bunk!! As a Makarov collector, I have a certain knowledge about the history and function of the pistol. All my Pistolet Makarova specimens are as near to 100% reliable as you can get. I have seven of them in my collection from every comblock country that made them!!

As I recall, in subsequent issues, they took quite a bit of flack for their review, from readers that actually owned the gun in question, knew a lot more about it than they did, and still managed to get their hands on a perfect copy. What amazed me was the unmitigated arrogance of these goofs!! Every reply from them, that was printed, regarding the Makarov article, was of the tone "We know better than you, so shut the :cuss: up!!!!"

I stopped reading Gun Test magazine!! ;)

Smitty258
May 17, 2003, 04:26 AM
I will never trust ANY of Gun Tests reviews. Besides flunking the Makarov, they also flunked the Saiga-12, the fine Russian Semi-Auto shotgun based on the Kalashnikov action. They said the reciever cover came off while firing. I thought that was off since anyone who is familiar with Kalashnikovs knows that the reciever cover isn't going anywhere unless you take it off yourself. I was curious and looked into it further, and even in their own picture on their own website you can tell the reciever cover isn't put on there properly. Looks like they never put the recoil spring assembly into it's "notch" in the reciever. :rolleyes:

CZ-75
May 17, 2003, 04:56 AM
Gun Tests' policy of refusing advertising in order to maintain some semblence of impartiality


I'm beginning to wonder about under-the-table payola.

Akurat
May 17, 2003, 06:11 AM
Wow..

My thoughts here are that they are basically kissing a$$ to the major manufacturers as always...in an indirect way. You see, a reliable, accurate compact pistol like the Makarov, selling for $125 is a hell of a steal...and that has to erk the hell out of the higher-price ranged gun mfg.

I've got a Circle 10 Bulgarian that has been flawless in every regard.

Akurat
May 17, 2003, 06:14 AM
I will never trust ANY of Gun Tests reviews. Besides flunking the Makarov, they also flunked the Saiga-12, the fine Russian Semi-Auto shotgun based on the Kalashnikov action. They said the reciever cover came off while firing. I thought that was off since anyone who is familiar with Kalashnikovs knows that the reciever cover isn't going anywhere unless you take it off yourself. I was curious and looked into it further, and even in their own picture on their own website you can tell the reciever cover isn't put on there properly. Looks like they never put the recoil spring assembly into it's "notch" in the reciever.

Heh, yup, thats pretty bad for supposed experts!!! Unbelieveable. :banghead:

aircarver
May 17, 2003, 01:15 PM
I found I often disagreed with their opinions of guns I knew about. And figured this reflected poorly on the quality of their opinions about guns I didn't know about.

The knocking of the Mak twice, and their crowing about it in their advertising literature was too much. I let my subscription lapse and never looked back at Gun Tests.

My experience is my three Maks have burned 2000 rounds between them without ever missing a beat, let alone having the problems they cite.

Your chance of being happy with a Mak is very high :)

Shaughn Leayme
May 17, 2003, 01:47 PM
I use to be a subscriber (a gift) and they were so far off and biased, I was wondering if they were in the employ of the North American Arms industry.

Frankly, they seem like a waste of time.

denfoote
May 17, 2003, 04:23 PM
Here's something to think about. They say that they accept no advertising, but SOMEBODY has to be forking out the bucks for the guns they test!! :rolleyes:

Jeff Timm
May 17, 2003, 06:53 PM
Let me get this straight.

The reviewer at Gun Tests thinks a Walther PP series pistol is NOT a blowback action?

Jeff Timm
Who has fired several and owned one. None had a locking system, they were blow backs.:confused:

David4516
May 30, 2003, 07:59 AM
My Circle 10 bulgie Makarov has been 100% reliable. I'd guess I've put about 3000 rounds thur it, possibly more (I don't keep track of such things), and have NEVER had a jam or misfire of any kind. As far as dependablity goes, on a scale of 1 to 10, the Mak gets an 11...

To the best of my knowlage, my Dad's Russian Mak in .380 also has a perfect record.

It seems pretty clear to me that people who talk trash about the Mak don't know much about guns :cuss:

denfoote
May 30, 2003, 09:48 AM
One more thing. In a later issue, they flunked my carry pistol: Kahr MK9!!!! They also did not appreciate my carry revolver: Taurus M605!!

Burn in :cuss: , Gun Tests!!!

Shweboner
May 30, 2003, 12:31 PM
I got my Bulgarian Mak for $110 2 years ago, I have since put over 1000 rounds through it wtih absolutely no problems. All kinds of ammo even my reloads were great.

My one and only experience with the PA63 wasn't much to write home about, it felt like crap in my hand and it jammed, I didn't get through the magazine before I gave it back.

~Brian

Curare
May 30, 2003, 12:59 PM
"Here's something to think about. They say that they accept no advertising, but SOMEBODY has to be forking out the bucks for the guns they test!!" --denfoote

Ahh...probably the subscribers?:rolleyes:

Correia
May 30, 2003, 02:12 PM
Love my Bulgie. It is now my Wife's CCW. She really likes it, and shoots it well.

How the heck can you get a Saiga receiver cover to fall off? :)

BowStreetRunner
May 31, 2003, 12:20 PM
i back up all the endorsements of Bulgy Maks...i just got one and it feels well put together, functioned 100% at the first range trip (where my inferior skills did not achieve much accuracy) and it was a great deal for 130 bucks plus transfer fee for my local FFL dealer
BSR

matsaleh
May 31, 2003, 07:43 PM
I own a Bulgarian Mak. Put 1000+ rounds through it of all makes, jhp and fmj. Only had 2 failures to feed on the first box, because the gun had never been fired and the feed ramp was a bit rough. No other problems, and after break in, it has been a fine gun. I am betting my life on it because it is my carry piece.

You could do a lot worse and pay 4x as much at the same time.

denfoote
June 1, 2003, 04:24 AM
Ahh...probably the subscribers?

Ok, let's look at this logically.
Every month, GT magazine goes out and buys at least several thousand dollars worth of guns "off the shelf". Substantially more, if they just happen to be reviewing the latest whizz-bang, got's-all-the-bells-and-whistles, what not, 1911 that one of the legion of custom gunsmiths or shops has put out.
In order for the subscribers, who put out, I believe, $50, there abouts, per year for this garbage to finance this monthly gun buying spree, they have to have a base the size of the known universe, expanding monthly, at least, at a geometric, if not exponential rate!!!! :eek:

No, somebody with a LOT of bucks is greasing this operation!!!! ;)

Walt Sherrill
June 1, 2003, 01:03 PM
They used to sell the guns back to the shops where they bought them, and probably still do -- but also make them available, at a good price to subscribers. (You contact them and get your name put on the sale mailing list...)

I subscribed for years but have slowly become disenchanted with some of their opinions and their seeming lack of common sense. But that said, I've never doubted their integrity or intent.

Bainx
June 1, 2003, 04:42 PM
Here is yet another testimony for a Bulgarian.
When I can't manage to pack my Glock Model 30, its the Bulgarian that rides on my side.

Having owned one for 3 years now, I am still amazed at the quality of the gun you get for about $150!

You can buy a cheaper gun and you can buy a better gun but, you can not buy a cheaper, better handgun than the Mak!:cool:

22luvr
June 2, 2003, 09:44 AM
They don't cut any gun any slack. Based on what they're given to test by the gun manufacturers, the recommendation to "BUY" or "DON'T BUY" or "CONDITIONAL BUY" are based on the performance of the normally single specimen they have in their possession.

Although I've never owned a MAK, I would tend to believe the folks who own them, rather than the arbitrary opinions regarding single test example by a gun magazine.

Wouldn't you?

TooTaxed
June 2, 2003, 07:46 PM
Gun Test Mag must have had damaged or mis-assembled guns (...twice????). Several of my friends have Maks, shoot them extensively with no problems. Actually, this is the first account I've heard of with MAK problems, except for one damaged magazine.

My first MAK years ago was a brand new Russian in 9-mm MAK, 10-round magazines, adjustable sights...after one trip to the range I was ready to trade it...unacceptable accuracy. Fortunately, a prominent gunsmith advised me to run several hundred rounds of cheap ammo through it to break it in before ditching it...and he was right! The gun settled down and became extremely accurate...2" groups at 25 yds even with those minimal sights...and is one of my favorate guns. I have about 1,500 rounds through it I've purchased a Bulgarian MAK for carry, and it too has been exceptionably reliable. The MAKs are simply a bargain for the money, and are getting scarce. Imported ammo is cheap if you attend gun shows, and I also hand load boxer-primed hulls such as S&B. Power is adequate, expecially with Gold Dot bullets.

Have also ordered a CZ-83 in 9-mm MAK for its large capacity. Though a larger gun, it should be a fine shooter. :D

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