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Okay, tell me about Makarov's! Please?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by priv8ter, Dec 31, 2002.

  1. priv8ter

    priv8ter Well-Known Member

    I handled one of these a few days before Christmas at a local gun shop. It fit my hand pretty good and felt like a natural 'pointer'. But, since I wasn't planning on buying that day, I didn't want to show too much interest in the gun.

    From what I understand, they are somewhere in between 9mm Parabellum and .380 in power, as you would expect from their 9X18 designation.

    Things I really need to know are: Are they DA/SA, or DAO or what? How can you tell what country made it, and does it matter? And, if I got out the door fro $225-$240, is that doing okay?

    Thanks in advance...never really had them on my list before, but it felt really good holding it, and seemed a decent size for concealed carry.
  2. gino

    gino Well-Known Member

    All Maks are true DA (meaning that they are DA for the first shot and SA for the remaining shots).

    The common Maks are:

    1) Milsurp Bulgarian - Has a circle with a 10 in it
    2) Commercial Bulgarian - Says ARSENAL on the side
    3) Milsurp East German - Has a Diamond with a circle in it
    4) Commercial Russian - Will have an adjustable rear sight

    All are very good guns, with the East Germans being a little better in most people's opinions. Most are somewhere around $150 to $200 NIB. I wouldn't pay over $200. There are now a flood of Milsurp Bulgarians on the market. They shouldn't be over $200 OTD.
  3. WhoKnowsWho

    WhoKnowsWho Well-Known Member

    www.makarov.com has a ton of information. That's where I went to read about them, and to plan ahead for sights that I want installed on my Makarov whenever I get one!
  4. Wade

    Wade Well-Known Member

    1. Inexpensive, but definitely not "cheap"

    2. Very accurate

    3. Very reliable

    4. Simple design, easy to detail strip

    5. Tons of accessories at www.makarov.com

    6. Very addictive; you can't have just one :D
  5. jayhway

    jayhway Well-Known Member

    I've had my Bulgarian Mak for about a month and really like this gun. I got it from SOG for $129, and after taxes and fees the total came out to $170. I dont think that SOG has anymore maks, but check J&G sales.

    I just put in a 19# recoil spring and a pearce grip and cant wait to take it to the range. The ammo is fairly cheap, and I recently got 500 rounds for about $45.
  6. alamo

    alamo Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2003
  7. lee n. field

    lee n. field Well-Known Member

    >From what I understand, they are somewhere in between 9mm Parabellum and .380 in power, as you would expect from their 9X18 designation.

    Precisely correct. It's a mm longer than a .380, and a hair longer.

    >Things I really need to know are: Are they DA/SA, or DAO or what?


    >How can you tell what country made it, and does it matter?

    There are various marks. A circled 10, for instance, is milsurp Bulgarian. Check makarov.com.

    >And, if I got out the door fro $225-$240, is that doing okay?

    My last one was $135 out the door, tax and everything. Not sure what they're going for now.
  8. Engineer

    Engineer Well-Known Member

    I think they were going for about that much before supplies dried up and the new shipment came in. Around here, the going rate now is about $155 plus tax. I probably wouldn't pay more than $175 out the door for one, but I guess it all depends on how bad you want one.
  9. DAL

    DAL Well-Known Member

    They're well made, at least the ones I've seen.
    Personally, I think the ergonomics suck on them compared to other guns--the sights are tiny, and the trigger is just plain bad. Having said that, however, they are quite accurate, cheap to shoot, fun to own, and dirt cheap.

    The caliber is somewhere between poor and barely adequate for self protection, but you can probably improve upon this with the right ammo (Cor-bon?).

    I usually carry mine in an E. German canvas holster with a flap when I go hunting. In October, it delivered the coup de grace to a cow elk I had downed. One shot to the head with a hollow point and it was all over.
  10. Shoney

    Shoney Well-Known Member

    I have discussed the 9X18 or 9MM Mak SAMMI spec designation with an engineer who wishes to remain anonymous. His contention is that the American loading specs were developed by Speer/CCI. They used the least durable model pistols in 9X18 that were available to test their “safe†loads. This was done for liability reasons. It resulted in SAMMI specs for the 9X18 that were between the 380(9X17) and the 9MM Luger (9X19), but much closer to the 380.

    In reality, the Russian loadings use much heavier bullets at much higher velocities. In my experiences using 100 gr lead bullets over 800X, loaded well above the max listed loads; and having fired over 10,000 loadings of 9X18 in Bulgies without a problem, the 9X18 is much closer to the 9X19 than to the 380.

    Best, Shoney
  11. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Range Report: E. German Makarov...

    Hello. I expected no real surprises in this test today of a like new E. German Makarov pistol I purchased a few weeks ago. I was wrong. There were two major surprises and they'll be discussed in the text below.

    I did this test on another make of Makarov as the E.G. version is generally considered to be the "best of breed" in terms of fit and finish as well as trigger pull(s).

    The Pistol: As mentioned, it's a like new E. German Mak and it's entirely stock from the miniscule fixed sights to the recoil spring. Finish is a very even, bright blue and well-executed, being even all over the pistol. It is better finished in terms of blue and lack of toolmarks when compared to my new commercial Bulgarian. The DA pull is both smoother and a bit lighter and the SA trigger pull is actually crisp and lighter as well!

    Though large for its caliber, this all-steel pistol can be easily concealed and is in the price range for many who desire a dependable, accurate defensive arm.
    Caliber is not at the tops of my list for protection, but it beats nothing.

    Ammunition: The following ammo was used in this pistol. Listed velocities are based on 10-shot averages chronographed 15' from the muzzle. Extreme Spread & Std. Deviation are listed as well.

    9x18mm Makarov (East German Makarov)

    LVE 115 gr JHP Ave. Vel. = 1025 ft/sec (ES:12/SD:5.38)!
    Sellier & Bellot 95 gr ball Ave. Vel. = 924 ft/sec (ES:264/SD:81)
    Barnaul 95 gr ball Ave. Vel. = 1058 ft/sec (ES:45/SD:13)!
    Fiocchi 95 gr ball Ave. Vel. = 1020 ft/sec (ES:89/SD: 32)
    Corbon 95 gr JHP Ave. Vel. = 1100 ft/sec (ES:29/SD: 12)
    Hornady 95 gr XTP Ave. Vel. = 984 ft/sec (ES:168/SD:60) HV:1102 ft/sec, LV: 933 ft/sec

    The loose rounds are the LVE JHPs.....

    I was very surprised at the average velocity and consistency shown in the LVE 115 gr JHP! At an average of 1025 ft/sec, this compares very favorably with Federal's std. pressure 9x19mm 115 gr JHP when fired from a similarl length bbl'd 9mm Glock 26. That velocity is only about 75 ft/sec more than this Makarov load!

    The "scientific mud expansion test" on the LVE JHP was also promising...even if it doesn't really mean much!
    This round provides another "surprise" later on...

    Note also the extreme spread in the S&B ammo. I was surprised to see the extreme spread in the Hornady XTP load as this has proven very consistent and accurate in the past. I did note that the spread was upward in speed and listed the high and low velocities.

    Shooting: Today's shooting was done at 7, 10, and 25 yards. All was fired off-hand, standing, and using a 2-hand hold with the exception of the 25 yard target which was fired from a rest. Groups are slow-fire unless otherwise noted.

    10 Yards:

    Here's some 5-shot groups with various ball rounds. I was NOT pleased with the first group (upper left) fired with the S&B so I fired a second group (lower right) and suspect that the first group's spread was me.

    These are the 10 Yard JHP loads...

    Firing these groups, I felt I had determined that the pistol is accurate and kind of developed a "baseline" on which to judge spreads and groups fired at speed.

    7 Yards: Two groups were fired at this distance. One was a rapid-fired group fired as fast as I could obtain a flash sight picture with all shots being fired single-action. It consisted of 8 shots fired with the Sellier & Bellot 95 gr FMJ. I'd estimate each shot being fired roughly a second apart. Didn't have access to a timer today so this is just a guess. The smallish sights were harder to find than the Novak sights on the Bulgarian Mak tested previously.

    Still, even with the little stock sights, accurate defensive shooting could be done...

    Because this is a conventional DA/SA pistol. I fired a group consisting entirely of double-action shots to see if it was significantly larger since most folks using the pistol for defense would fire the first shot DA.

    The double-action shots, fired from a full magazine and the gun topped off with a round in the chamber were fired in the same manner as the rapid-fire group above. I did use the harder kicking LVE JHP as a "worst case" felt-recoil load, though nothing in this caliber was much in terms of recoil.

    25 Yards: This group was fired single-action and in slow-fire. It was also fired from a rest. Frankly, I'm quite pleased with these results from a "pocket pistol."

    Even with the small sights, one could get deliberate hits at what might be considered "long distance" for this type pistol. Were my eyes not so old, the group might have been tighter.
    The group consists of 17 shots; a full gun and then a magazine change with more rounds fired. Ammo was the Russian Barnaul 95 gr ball.

  12. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam



    Observations: My Bulgarian Mak is fitted with the popular rubber Pearce grips and I expected that the considerably thinner plastic originals on the E. German to deliver more "snap" or felt recoil. Perhaps in a side-by-side test, I'd note a difference, but all of the rounds fired today, including the "hot" 115 gr JHP did not have significant felt recoil to me. To me, it's a toss up as to which is the best stock; the originals are thinner and easier to conceal, but the rubber ones do feel better to me.

    Here's another surprise for me and it's related to the LVE 115 gr JHP, a load in which I'm developing interest. It was not reliable. On occassion, this round would fail to feed from the magazine. This always occurred when the magazine contained 7 or more rounds of it. I tried another surplus magazine with the same result. Those of you who are into Makarovs might have noticed the finger extension shown in the 25 yard group picture. It's one of the "concealed carry" Mak magazines sold through www.makarov.com and is a sound, factory magazine that's been refinished in a dark, matte finish, has a Wolff extra power spring, has a brass magazine floorplate w/extension and has reportedly been tested for function. The LVE JHP failed in it, too.

    Even in a gun known for its reliability, this shows that ANY weapon considered for personal protection MUST be tested with the chosen defensive load! Never forget this...even if using a weapon having a reputation for flawless function.

    Contrasting this was the perfect performance of the Hornady and Corbon JHPs. I THINK that the LVE round may be a tad too long or perhaps just this pistol doesn't "like" it. I don't know.....yet.

    I checked the Speer No. 12 reloading manual where they advise that with a 95 gr ball, the LOA should be 0.984" at max and list the LOA for their ball round @ 0.980". I also measured a couple of S&B 95 gr ball rounds @ 0.970."

    Today, I received a shipment of Hornady 95 gr XTP in this caliber and these rounds have not been cycled through my pistols at all. I measured the LOA of a box of twenty-five.


    12 measured 0.938"
    12 measured 0.940"
    1 measured 0.935"

    So, except for 1, they're within 2/1000th's". The max variation was 0.005."

    I then measured 25 of the Brown Bear 115 gr JHP.


    4 measured: 0.959"
    2 measured: 0.961"
    3 measured: 0.960"
    2 measured: 0.958"
    1 measured: 0.955"
    3 measured: 0.953"
    6 measured: 0.951"
    2 measured: 0.950"
    2 measured: 0.952"

    Not so consistent as the Hornady. How much this inconsistency contributes I don't know, but max variation was 0.011."

    Still, the stuff worked so long as no more than 6 were in the magazine.

    Also, while the LVE load definitely has my attention, it should be noted that much more extensive expansion/penetration tests would be needed before trusting it for protection. Forced to choose today, I'd go with either the Corbon or Hornady JHPs, probably the latter.

    If you have a Mak and use it for protection with JHPs, you might want to stock up on your favorite brand right now as Corbon's discontinued it and I'm told that Hornady's recently done the same thing as well as Federal. I THINK CCI/Speer still offers their Gold Dot Hollow Point in this caliber.

    I'm no Makarov expert, but I do think the E. German guns are likely at the top of the heap in terms of finish and smoothness. Having said that, I did not note this being a better shooter or besting the Bulgarian in terms of shooting. It remains a very nice pistol if one likes Maks and one I'll likely leave stock and appreciate for what it is.



    PS: Recalling the way that the "lip" of the jacket around the hollow point in the Brown Bear JHP round kind of extend, I gently "broke" the lower edge at the feed ramp. I cleaned the gun and reassembled. It now cycles by hand with the Brown Bear JHP ammo, but I've not fired it yet. Before, it would about half the time, but I didn't notice this as I'd not cycled it through other than when loading for the report. We'll see and I'll report back if it actually worked or not. It also cycled smoothly through the Bulgarian and I'll fire it from that, too. It may be that there's an easy "fix" should one want to fire this ammunition. We'll see.

    At the bottom of the one-piece feedramp, you can see the broken, smoothed edge.

    Hope this helps with your question on Maks.

  13. mec

    mec Well-Known Member

  14. cratz2

    cratz2 Well-Known Member

    I had borrowed a friends German Mak for the better part of a year and found it to be a very reliable gun indeed. I had formed the opinion that this was a very good value and while I don't typically like small pistols (preferring small revolvers if a small gun is needed) I decided to get one when I returned my friends. I had been wanting to get a German one based on what I read and my strong regard for all things German :rolleyes: but last week I found a beautiful blued model, Bulgarian, I'm told, in my favorite shop taken in on trade. The gun, two mags, Russian and Pearce grips, leather holster and cleaning rod for $120. Well, it said $150 on the tag but he usually gives the old-timers a discount on used stuff.

    I've only had a chance to shoot 100 rounds of S&B ball ammo through it. I don't really see myself carrying it anytime soon but I'll try a couple defensive loads. It was 100% reliable though it looks like someone did a bit of polishing around the throat - not quite as much of an angle as Mr Camps but definately too well done to be factory. When cycling the slide with the hammer pulled back, it is actually suprisingly smooth with less hitching than most 1911A1s I've owned. There are no rough or sharp edges except for the rear of the front sight. The single action trigger is not bad - nothing great but certainly not in the atrocious category. The DA trigger is heavy. I could not hit a 4" circle at 10 yards without compensating by aiming slightly to the left. With the SA trigger, it was almost exactly hitting my point of aim - just a bit low but I was shooting at 10 yards.

    For the price, I can't think of a better semi auto that could be carried and used in a defensive situation. Prices vary region to region but I think $200 is a bit high from what I've seen lately.

    Lastly, I haven't done much research on the Makarov but mine does not have a circle with a 10 in it. It has a Circle with a triangle cut in half. It is also stamped 1976 and says 'GEORGIA VI' on the left side. On the right side, it is stamped Bulgaria but it does not look like the rest of the stampings. I was told that the previous owner owned it for about 15 years.
  15. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Well-Known Member

    Excellent little gun! The Russian models have a larger capacity 10-round staggered magazine and as far as I know are the only ones with adjustable sights...Bulgarian and East German have a 7-shot single-stack mag and fixed sights. My Russian was not very accurate brand new, but a gunsmith advised me to shoot several hundred rounds of the cheap Russian ammo to break it in...and accuracy became surprisingly good, and functioning and trigger pull is now smooth. Now one of my favorite guns.

    Regrettably, the supply seems to be drying up. If you search the INET you can still find a few Bulgarians for $160 to $200, a few NIB Arsenals, but most are used military in "VG" condition...add to that the cost of shipping, FFL holder fees, and registration costs. I haven't seen a Makarov at a San Francisco or Fresno gun show for a year. The guns are getting scarce and prices are rising...just had to pay $209 total cost including taxes for an Arsenal Bulgarian in almost new condition with one clip and no accessories.

    The makarov.com site is an excellent reference, containing info on other guns chambered for the 9-mm Makarov, plus some individual posts for sale of guns and accessories.

    The Makarov is approved for concealed carry in **********, and is very well suited for the purpose in size, weight, reliability, and power (I use Speer Gold Dot bullets in my reloads). I have never had a function failure.:D
  16. priv8ter

    priv8ter Well-Known Member


    I would like to thank everyone for their input so far. Great review, Mr. Camp, and thanks for the info about Makarov.com. Once upon a time, I would ahve thought to do that, but you would be amazed of some of the strange websites you can find by just tacking .com on the end of a word.

    I have been thinking about getting a Bersa .380, but the Mak's seem a little smaller, a little more powerfull, and a little cheaper, so I really don't see a downside.
  17. mbott

    mbott Well-Known Member

    I've owned an East German Makarov for over two years now. Last January, one of the local gunshops had another EG in the case for $150.00. I bought it on the spot. If I come across another EG Mak for a good price, I'll buy it too. Can't have too many Maks. NBC makes a 95 gr lead bullet that I reload with for practice and I just picked up another 400 Hornady XTPs to load also.

  18. Guyon

    Guyon Well-Known Member

    Maks are like Lay's potato chips. You can't stop with just one. I have two military Bulgies and would love an East German.

    I paid about $150 for the unissued gun and $130 for the other (which turned out to be awfully close to unissued IMO). I'm not counting transfer fees or background checks here, which added another $22 to each gun.

    For cheap ammo, I recommend the Barnaul stuff at www.dansammo.com Free shipping east of the Mississippi (only $10 west of the river) and great prices.
  19. denfoote

    denfoote Well-Known Member


    I am pleased that you have been successfully assimilated into the vast Pistolet Makarova collective!!!
    Welcome Comrade!!! :cool:
    One important point that you reached in your conclusion is worth repeating. It does not matter what PM you have, they all are good!! This is the result of the Soviets standardizing the design for both the pistol and the ammo. The manufacturing process was also standardized, which resulted in uniform QC throughout the Warsaw Pact. Even though I have not fired it, my Chinese PM should exhibit the same fine characteristics as it's Eastern European Fraternal Socialist Brethren!!!!!!!! :D

    Good Shooting!!!! :)
  20. jimmy

    jimmy Well-Known Member

    The Makarov train had mainly pulled out of the station by the time I "woke up" to them. But in the last year I've managed to accumulate two Bulgarian ex-military Maks, a Bulgie commercial, a Norinco, and a .380 Russian IJ70.

    One of the military Bulgies turned out to be like new under the Cosmoline. The other Bulgies come close. The Norinco has a perfectly gorgeous polished blue finish, although its innards are quite crude by contrast. The Russian is a good, substantial gun.

    Makarovs are habit-forming! It's great to get a world-class, all-steel pistol with a lot of history for under $200 in excellent condition. I'd be happy to have a dozen more of 'em, if I could find 'em.

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