Makarov vs. S&W snubbie?


September 13, 2003, 11:33 AM
I am considering getting a medium sized gun for the glove box. It should be totaly reliable, small enough to fit inside my tiny glove box (a full sized gun won't fit), have decent power (at least .380), be cheap (under $200 is what I'm thinking) and easy to shoot and stick in a pocket if needed.

I have seen several S&W 36s snubbies for about $200 so I am thinking this might be a better deal than the Makarov. I have been trying to buy a Mak for several weeks from a local dealer but he is dragging his feet for some reason and Maks are hard to find in my area for some unexplained reason.

The Mak will cost me about $175 OTD and the S&W will cost right around 200 for a blued 2" in excellent condition.

How you you rate either of these guns for me purpose? The Mak has higher capacity but ammo is harder to find. The S&W will probably have a better DA trigger but it is DA all the time. The Mak and S&W will probably close in real world accuracy (I mean shooting at an attacker not target shooting).

What do you think, for the small price difference it seems that the S&W may be the better deal?

If you enjoyed reading about "Makarov vs. S&W snubbie?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
September 13, 2003, 12:18 PM
I've got both the Mak and the Smith. I find that I like the Mak better, carry one in each of the cars. With the Mak, I've got 9 rounds total with 8 more in a very concealable magizine. Plus, the Mak is so thin that it's more concealable than the wheelgun. Though the Smith has a shorter overall length, the Mak's length is fine and the thinness of the gun makes up for any length issue. At the range that I'd justified at shooting someone in defense, less than 15 yards, the Mak is more than accurate enough. With a little practice, I can now hit 6 inch targets without fail at 15 yards. Sure can shoot those little bullets fast. Further, loaded with Glaser or CorBon, the little bullet packs enough pop to get the bad guy's attention. Head shots with a 20 grain .22 will kill any man, so a 95 grain hollowpoint zipping along a 1,200 fps+ should do the job if I do my part. FWIW, I have several Bulgarian Maks and bought them all from Southern Ohio Guns (SOG) through my gunsmith. I bucked up the $10 extra, per my smithies' recommendation, for hand select and they looked unfired when I got them. The double action trigger is smooth on all, though a little heavier than my Smith's, and the single action trigger is very light. Great guns for the money. Couldn't be happier with the value of these little pistols.

September 13, 2003, 12:28 PM
I have both the Mak and snubby, a Colt DS instead of the Smith J frame. I tend to carry the Colt in a Lou Alessi pocket holster more often than the Mak. But I feel comfortable with either.

September 13, 2003, 12:36 PM
Me, I like the j-frame. It can sit indefinitely w/ no problems and will be ready to go if called upon. Plus I like the bigger bullet :)

September 13, 2003, 01:24 PM
Nuther fan of the 36.


September 13, 2003, 01:37 PM
I like the 36s
I like the model 10 also if one of these pops up.

Everyone deserves a proven classic --can always get a Mak later to fill another niche...classics-- get 'em while you can. All these folks getting CCW like MO will be buying these up...just a thought.

Andrew Wyatt
September 13, 2003, 02:27 PM
5 rounds of 158 grain +p lead hollowpoints are more better than 8 rounds of .380, imho.

September 13, 2003, 03:01 PM
To begin, both are clearly excellent handguns: very reliable, durable, and accurate. However, I have always been apprehensive that the 9x18 is somewhat anemic, even with truly top-tier defensive ammunition such as CorBons. On the other hand, the wide variety of excellent +P .38 Specials seems to me to tip this decision in favor of the Smith.

September 13, 2003, 03:51 PM
I mostly agree with Groupguy. But I'm not so sure that his 9X18s are going 1200 FPS. Hottest loads I've seen only got 1100 FPS...

There are alot of things the Mak has going for it. It is durable, reliable, cheap, thin, and in my opinion, it looks cool.

Also, 8+1 rounds is better than 5.

And, in terms of foot pounds of energy, 9mm Makarov/9X18 is superior to .38 specail when fired from a 2 inch barrel.

I dout that the bad guy would notice the differance, but the Makarov shoots a fatter bullet. The Mak bullet is .365 caliber vs the S&Ws .357 caliber bullet.

Both are good pistols, but I think in this case the Makarov has the advantage. Now if the revolver were a .357 mag, that would be a different story...

Jeff White
September 13, 2003, 08:37 PM
Another vote for the S&W 36.


September 13, 2003, 10:58 PM
Perhaps you might consider the STAR BM? A compact 8 rd 9mmP 1911-style for $150. I've heard good things about them for years and now SOG has some. Not quite sure of the dimensions though so I don't know if it would fit your limited space. Check it out.

September 13, 2003, 11:39 PM
I also have both a 442 and a Mak. Generally I agree with GroupGuy. For a car gun the Mak would be preferable for me. I shoot the Mak better, its absolutely reliable. So is the 442. In low light, the sights are poor on both pistols. I think 9 rounds are better than 5.

September 14, 2003, 12:05 AM
David 4516

Since you wish to take the literal translation of my general statement, I'll back it up. Please visit to review the specks of the Glaser Safety Slug, rated at 1,300fps in the 9mm Mak. I'm sure there are bullets that will reach, if not exceed 1,200fps. I have a buddy who's loaded XTP's to over 1,200 through his chrony, though I tend to want to stay with commercially manufactured rounds for concealed carry.

I still think that the importance of reload availability cannot be overstated. It's much easier to carry a fully loaded spare Mak magazine in my pocket than a speed strip or loader for my revolver. The speed of the reload is also important, as those speed strips are very speedy. I can put 9 rounds in a target, reload for 8 more in the same target with a Mak before the average shooter can put 10 rounds downrange with a revolver.

The guys who kill people in the line of duty, of which I am not one, never complain about having too much capacity.:banghead:

September 14, 2003, 01:18 AM

I know there are faster rounds out there for the Mak, but I don't think that they are 95 gr loads. I could be wrong, but I haven't seen anything that will push a 95 gr bullet much past 1100 FPS from a Makarov. If you find something like that let me know casue I want them for carry ;)

September 14, 2003, 04:59 PM
I disagree with the view that the mak is more concealable than the snub. My 442 airweight drops into a pocket that a mak can not. The mak shoots a weak round. The 38 is no powerhouse but its better than the 380 level mak round.

Reload speed is important but if you can carry a gun as large as a mak you could buy a real gun like a sig 239 or a GLock 26.


September 14, 2003, 06:35 PM
"The 38 is no powerhouse but its better than the 380 level mak round. "

I don't know about .380, but I'd say that the hotter 9mm Mak rounds are equal to if not better than .38, assuming we are talking about a .38 fired from a 2 inch barrel...

Here is the info to back up my cliam:

9mm Makarov (from standard bulgie Makarov) = 95 gr Hornady bullet, 1026 FPS = 222 foot pounds of energy

.38 (from 2 inch barrel) = 129 gr federal bullet, 855 FPS = 209 energy

September 14, 2003, 07:21 PM
Actually there is more to power than pure muzzle energy. I like energy but you also have to consider momentium which helps with penetration. ALso consider that the 38 load I like is the old FBI 158+p lead hollowpoint.

September 14, 2003, 07:51 PM
I still don't believe a Makarov in 9X18 is any kind of serious defensive gun. Lots of people have been killed with them, but most were kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs, and took the little slug behind the left ear.

September 14, 2003, 10:30 PM
.38 Special vs. 9X18

September 15, 2003, 02:59 AM
MAK. Ill take 8rds + a spare mag over 5rds anyday.;)

Missouri Mule
September 15, 2003, 11:11 AM
I happen to like the 9x18 Makarov.

I shoot if pretty well and have never really been too fond of any small revolvers I have tried.

I am still mulling over the options since I live in Missouri.........YeeHah!

September 16, 2003, 10:59 AM
Firestar, since you mentioned wanting a medium sized gun for the glove box, why not consider a large bore snub revolver? Somethings holding 5 rounds of 44 or 45 caliber should be more than adequate for most car-gun situations, and would provide better penetration (since you might need to shoot through your car's window into an adjacent car) than any of the 38 Spl or 9x17/9x18 options discussed above.

September 16, 2003, 11:14 AM
Too bad your glove box is small as I'd recommend a used Smith model 10 or 64 with a 4" barrel loaded with 158gr LHPSWC+P ammo.

How about a 3" Ruger SP101 with the same ammo.

September 16, 2003, 11:29 AM
I would go for the 36 in a heartbeat. I wouldn't leave an auto in a car for extended periods (months), hoping it will function properly when needed. I've left my 36 loaded, on the nightstand for over a year at a time without shooting it or even moving it except to dust the nightstand. It still went "bang" 5 times when I took it to the range.

The mak is a fine firearm, especially for the price, but I prefer revolvers for applications where the gun might be stored loaded for long periods of time.


Oleg Volk
September 16, 2003, 01:01 PM
SW36 is cuter but Mak is a better fighting weapon (more accurate, faster to reload, higher rate of fire due to less muzzle flip). That sauid, I second the suggestion of a Star BM -- all advantages of the Mak plus more power, faster reloading, les kick.

September 16, 2003, 01:15 PM
Make mine the J-frame. It can be loaded hotter, is just as accurate, and as mtnbkr pointed out, it's virtually neglect-proof.

September 16, 2003, 01:30 PM
Try this:

Take a snubbie and load it with one of these +P loads that make them such a great carry weapon.
Now go out TONIGHT (after dark) and try it out. After that first shot (when you're blinded by the enormous fireball that just went off a few inches from your face), ponder the utility of a weapon that blinds the user after the first shot.

The odds are strongly in favor of you needing your weapon at night rather than on one of those sunny days that you had at the practice range.

In the REAL world, hot loads in snubbies are not such a great idea! If the hot loads are not such a great idea, then you're just as well off with a .380 or 9mm Mak which have the same ballistics (in standard loads) and longer barrels with less muzzle flash.

I don't have a problem with snubbies. I think they are an excellent choice for concealed carry, but don't choose one based on the fact that you can shoot hotter loads out of them. Those hot loads in such a short barreled weapon are a bad, bad idea in the real world!


September 16, 2003, 01:37 PM
I've tried it with most everything from +P's in snubbies to medium-powered .44 Magnum in 3" MagNaPorted 629's; unless done in pitch-black (no skyglow, streetlights, moonlight, SureFire flashlight, etc.) conditions, I've found the "night-blindness from muzzleblast" thing to be a little over-dramatized. If you're in totally pitch-black conditions, then yes, the muzzle-flash can be dazzling, but if it's so dark that you can't see your target, why would one shoot in the first place?

(Also, the muzzle blast from a +P load out of a J-frame is certainly no worse than, say, a .40 load out of a Kahr or Glock 27...)

September 16, 2003, 01:49 PM
After that first shot (when you're blinded by the enormous fireball that just went off a few inches from your face), ponder the utility of a weapon that blinds the user after the first shot.
How's that peep sight working for your snubby? *grin*

September 16, 2003, 02:17 PM

I've done it too, also with a variety of weapons. It's impossible to replicate the experience because I don't know how much ambient light you were shooting in. I mean, if you wear standing in a lighted area (even a fairly dimly lit area) and shooting at a target in darkened area you obviously aren't going to experience much of a problem because your pupils are not fully dilated. The same holds true if you've only been in the dark for short period, because it takes some time for your eyes to dilate fully.

At any rate, I've played around with a variety of handguns and loads to see what happens when they are shot at night. I've found that standard .45 acp presents no problem at all - even from the 4" barrel on my Kimber Compact. The same held true for the .380 with either ball and Federal Hydra-Shoks fired from a Mustang. I never tried +P loads from either of those weapons in the dark...

Some loads I DID find blinding were some Cor-Bons fired from a 4" .357, and Cor-Bons fired from a .38 snubbie - I'm sorry I don't recall the specific loads, but those guns (and ammo) belonged to a friend of mine.

On that occasion (the first tiem I tried it), we were shooting on an open beach on a clear night. You could clearly see for hundreds of yards once your eyes adjusted - the moon was up too, but I don't remember if it was full or not. What we found was that those hot loads left a black blob in the center of your vision. You couldn't see a thing for a minute or two - or at least not where you were looking, if you know what I mean.
He also had cheap some cheap "plinking" ammo for both the .357 and .38, and those loads just left a sort of ghost image - you could still see your sights and target.

Anyway, I found that experience very educational. Since then, I've tried out a number of different weapons and loads at night. I've settled on Hydra-Shoks for my carry guns because they have a good reputation - AND low muzzle flash. Ballistically, I'd be "better off" with the Cor-Bons (or something simular), particularly in the Mustang... But I figure seven accurate shots with Hydra-Shoks are better than one accurate shot from a Cor-Bon, followed by six "spray and pray".


September 16, 2003, 02:18 PM
How's that peep sight working for your snubby? *grin*



September 16, 2003, 02:25 PM
I don't know how long your arms are, but for me the cylinder gap usually ends up at least 2 feet from my eyes at full extension. Even in retention, it is still about a foot.

Little more than "a few inches from your frace" implies. I was picturing you trying to get a cheek weld on the hammer ...

September 16, 2003, 02:50 PM
OK, a foot from your face then... I use a "modified" Weaver stance with right elbow bent, so it's probably a foot or so from my face.

I don't think that matters, because your eyes are focused on the front sight (at any distance); right where the muzzle flash occurs. And whether its 12 or 24 inches away, it's still something you need to take into consideration.

I guess this whole thing about "muzzle energy" and +++PPP+++ ammo, etc, etc, in self defense guns has become a pet peeve of mine since I actually started playing around with this stuff in low light conditions.

I mean, it's just super peachy if your compact gun shoots three inch groups with the latest "Black Rhino +P+ Man-Gutter" rounds down at the range on a sunny Sunday. But, the odds are that if you ever need to use that gun it will be in a darkened hallway in your own home, or some dimly lit parking lot late at night. If you want to know how effective your choice of load is, you need to try it in the conditions where you'll use it - at night. I suspect most people will be (unpleasantly) surprised if they were to try their load out in real-world conditions.


September 16, 2003, 04:50 PM
It's impossible to replicate the experience because I don't know how much ambient light you were shooting in.

Oh, various conditions: piney woods on a cloudy night, peeing down rain at midnight in the NC mountains, an indoor range with all the lights turned off, a moonlit field, those kinds of things...

I found that unless it was pitch black, and I mean three-feet-up-a-well-digger's-butt-at-midnight dark, I had no problem with any of them, up to and including a ported .44 Mag snubbie. The only time I really got enough dazzle to interfere with coarse target acquisition and shooting was when it was so dark I would've had nothing to shoot at but unidentified noises anyway. YM, of course, MV...

September 16, 2003, 05:14 PM

It would be interesting (and educational) to have a variety of people try this and post their experiences with low-light shooting of various weapons and loads. It may just be that some people (myself) are more prone to "flash blindness" than others.

Let's open a thread inviting people to try it out and see what they find? It's a pretty subjective subject, but maybe we could come up with some rough parameters for people to follow - it would have to be just light enough to see a target at say, ten yards. And they'd need to be in that low light for some minutes to make sure their pupils were fully dilated. Then perhaps shoot a quick 5 round group with whatever weapon they have - 5 rounds so that higher cap guns don't slant the results towards semi's.

How does that sound? Any idea to make the experiment as objective as possible would be welcome, so give me some input and let's open a thread on the subject and see what we learn.


Browns Fan
September 16, 2003, 08:35 PM
You guys are killing me! I keep reading here and in gun rags about how you can get great deals in pawn shops on used S&W revolvers in good condition for $200 or less. I've been all over town looking and I can hardly find any S&W for less than $325 (this is a model 10) in fair condition. Around here, I'm lucky to find a used Rossi or Taurus for $200!


September 16, 2003, 10:45 PM
Good reason to wear shades at night and look cool.:D

Doctor Wu
September 16, 2003, 11:41 PM
I have shot a 41 magnum Taurus snubby with only starlight for illumination.
I didn't even notice the muzzle flash, the gun was also ported.
Muzzle flash is not what people want you to believe, IMHO.
If that didn't blind me, then nothing will. :cool:

Oh, and I would take the revolver over the Mak. Neither are my first choice, but I prefer the revolver.

September 17, 2003, 12:03 AM
Here's another loud "Hmmmph!" at claims of a decent j-frame for $200-ish. To that I say: "In a pig's eye, or at least, not on MY coast."

I too would be lucky to find a k-frame for $200-ish. I bought an as-NIB M-36 for $325 and thought (And still think.) I got a good deal. It did come with a slick-as-ice Bianchi 5-BH holster to help some, but that won't get me to $200-ish.

Best deal I ever saw on a k-frame was $180 each on a couple of blue steel fixed-sight heavy-barrel .357's that I couldn't afford right then. They were gone within the hour at the show I saw 'em at 6-7 years ago. Never seen an equivalent repeat. (Next week I saw a new-looking Mountain Gun on a table for $325--right after I'd bought mine NEW for $500. Couldn't afford THAT either. Argh!)


As for comparing the J-frame to the Mak, well, I've got an E.G. Makarov I got for $249. (It's AS-NEW, great trigger, and with a support-your-local-dealer plug before you laugh at how much it cost. You find one this nice for that much now. The East German Mak's really are the best.) I find the J-frame to be more-than-a-hair smaller than the Mak, and it's a bit lighter. The revolver rides (And hides.) in my front or back jeans pocket a lot better than the Mak, and extracts from same with much greater ease. I took the Mak to my brother's wedding in L.A.. It rode in my pocket all weekend, much to my discomfort. Maks are for holsters.

Reloads in a civilian carry situation are mostly academic. It's nice to expound about it, but realistically, if you're reloading in a civilian fight, you're in WAY over your head. If you're out of bullets but you're still getting shot at, you best be RUNNING. (Not to knock the Boyscout mentality, but CCW is about compromises.) It's NOT YOUR JOB to be carrying the fight to the enemy. (This does not apply to home defense, but you don't need to CC around the house, and besides, that's where the shotgun lives.)

Not to say that the above statement is a catch-all by any means. If you can shoot the Mak better, and have a good way to carry it, you're better off with it than a J-frame. But rule #1 in a gunfight is HAVE A GUN, and a J-frame in the pocket beats all heck out of a Mak and a mag or two at home, most especially since 99/100 in civilian CCW use a shot is never fired. (NRA's "Armed Citizen" notwithstanding.)


Load-wise, I've always been partial to heavier bullets. I prefer the 158-grain loads universally in .38 Special, and am unimpressed with the results of +p and lighter bullets. Heavy lead LSWCHP's are what make the most sense reliability- and recoil-wise to me. Square-shouldered, wide-meplat bullets thudding home solidly satisfies my "it'll go wrong if it can" commonsense scale.

I am NOT reassured by the prospect of a bunch of winky little piss-bullet FMJ's whisking through somebody at a brisk pace. I have no faith in hollowpoint expansion, having seen too many bullets pulled out of felons that failed to look anything like those neat little mushrooms from gel-tests. 90-grainers, and for that matter125-grainers, lack sufficeint "thwack factor" unless driven to obscene velocities in full-size service gun platforms. I want my bullets to arrive as "solid punches", something I think a moderate-velocity 158-grain bullet will deliver consistently. (This in the context of a .45 feeling "like a very hard punch", or "like being kicked".)


Re: muzzleblast. If it's light enough to identify your target reliably, muzzle flash is not an issue. If your sure enough of your target to shoot, dark spots/lack of detail after the fact won't make much difference, and why are you still shooting anyway!? Shouldn't you be beating feet the heck-outta-Dodge at that point? What, you wanna die or something? Maybe go to jail? Civilians are supposed to STOP CRIMINAL ASSAULTS, not ENGAGE THE ENEMY in a protracted gun battle! I didn't hire you, the city's liability insurance isn't covering you, and I don't see no steenking badge! RUN! Go call the cops! Brave nobility is not for those who would LIVE!

Jus' my $0.02...

Ala Dan
September 17, 2003, 12:06 AM
Greeting's All-

Make mine a snubbie, in particular a old model
Smith & Wesson .38 Special model 60.:D You know,
those real old one's, with the 2" pinned barrel and
"R" serial prefix.:rolleyes: :uhoh:

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

September 17, 2003, 12:18 AM
I know, I know it's not a MAK (it's actually BETTER) but my FEG RK-59 is flatter, and lighter than MOST J frame snubbies and holds 7 rounds of 9X18 Corbon loads that clock 1050 fps and expand 100%. My 1 7/8 Centennial light weight (old model with grip safety) can only get 900fps with a little heavier bullet and 5 shots(Corbon 125grain + power) , I been swinging to the FEG lately as accuracy seems better(although not as good as a Colt snubbie) and practice ammo is CHEAP! :)

September 17, 2003, 09:17 AM
Me? Makarov... (more correctly the Kel-Tec P-11, but...)

My wife? S&W 36... its been her carry gun for alot of years now.

September 17, 2003, 02:47 PM
As my name suggests, I'm a snubbie guy. It's an apple and oranges comparison. Snubbies live for pocket carry. I also use a manageable load - Federal Nyclads.

Mak are just a belt carried semi - a different tactical application. If I belt carry I have different guns. Maks are good cheap guns.

I would like that weird SW 45 ACP super short snubbie though.

September 17, 2003, 03:28 PM
Are we talking about using the gun in question for pocket carry? If so then even I, the big Makarov nut that I am, have to say that the Mak isn't a great pocket gun. I carry mine IWB, and it works very well for that.

There are a number of things that the Mak does very well, but pocket carry isn't one of them...

September 17, 2003, 03:40 PM
There are a number of things that the Mak does very well, but pocket carry isn't one of them...

True and the J frame is not at its best as a belt gun. Its a pocket gun. The Mak doesn't interest me much. If I am going to carry a pistol on my belt and I do. It will be something with a lot more authority than the little 9x18 can muster.

If you enjoyed reading about "Makarov vs. S&W snubbie?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!