*Pistolet Makarova or Makarov*
By: Serger

The Pistolet Makarova or PM was the service pistol of the Soviet Union. It has been in production for almost 50 years and like most of the Soviet service weapons of this time frame it is reliable above all else. It's only got 27 parts in it and many of them are multi function. This simplicity coupled with the soviet mentality of absolute reliability makes the PM a good choice for a pocket pistol. They can be had on the wholesalemarket for less than $100.00 and are time tested. A truly fine affordable pistol.

Currently (Spring 2001) there are 5 types of PM in circulation in the US. And under the types there are several variants. The known types are as follows:
 Sub Variants
 1. Military weapons. These have fixed sights, no importationmarkings.
 2. Commercial Weapon
 1. Izmech
 2. Baikal
Note these come with adjustable sights and are both in .380ACP and 9X18. They also come as standard capacity 8 round weapons and as "high capacity" 12 round guns. The high capacity magazine quality is spotty and therefore operation of the gun with these magazines are suspect until proven good.

2.Chinese. These were imported as type 59 weapons. Fixed sights.

3. East Germany. These were made by Ernst Thaelman factory in Suhl. They were issued to the military and such fun people as the Stazi. Known as the Pistole M. Fixed sights.

4.Unified Germany. Simpson-Suhl Commercial manufacture. Fixed Sights

5. Bulgaria
    Sub Variants all fixed sighted
    1. Military/Police issued. Identified by numeral 10 surrounded by 2concentric circles.
    2. Arsenal. Commercial weapons built until Arsenal quit making them.
    3. Mis marked Russian Military guns which were imported in 1999/2000 and marked with importer stamps identifying them as Bulgarian.

Be advised this list is not complete, but it was what I had found at the time of writing.

Some of these guns are to some degree becoming collectables. For that reason I must give you a caveat. Unless you really don't care I wouldn't modify the following guns because you could probably make enough money on the sale of the collectable ones to buy 2 or more of the common ones.

The "collectable" guns: Russian non-import, Chinese 59, Simpson-Suhl, any Vietnam era bring back Makarov. Russian Non-import guns came in from the cold. They got to the US by various ways, some of which were spectacular. And since they carry the spy versus spy mystique they bring premium prices. The last one I saw sold the guy wanted $600.00 as an opening bid. He easily got that. There are some on the wholesale market now which run $400.00 Chinese type 59 guns were on Norinco's menu to sell to the round eyed American devils until Bill Cretin, I mean Clinton stopped the importation of their "bad" guns. Simpson-Suhl guns are commercial guns which were produced after the evil empire fell. They are well made but were of limited commercial success because at the time frame they were being imported there were still enough Pre-Ban wonder nine pistols floating around they didn't bring enough to warrant their continued production. After all, the mind set at that time was, "Who wants an obsolete ex commie gun which shoots only 8 rounds when I can have a hi-power for $ 75.00 more." There were about a thousand of them brought in. The Bring Back gun Imention because there are a few out there and I've seen one. It was traded for by an acquaintance of mine who was an Air Force REMF by a Marine for a case of Jack Daniel. It was documented as a capture weapon and as such has historical value. There are also a few "designer" PM's floating around which have been embellished with high polish finishes, gold inlay and other distractions. These guns are not part of this article.

Another note on "collect ability". ATF lists the russian and eastgerman guns as Curio and Relic firearms. So if you've got a C&R license and are of a mind to you can buy russian and east german PM's direct from the wholesaler and not have to go with your local peddler. Why are they C&R's? You got me. Now quit asking questions and go outside and play. That's about the response I got when I asked. Uncle Sugar giveth and Uncle Sugar taketh away. Hail be the name of Uncle Sugar. Or something like that.

There are both .380 and 9X18 PM's. You may encounter those which arein .380 as both imported and rebarreled guns Be advised the rebarreling while not mechanically demanding sometimes requires reprofiling the feed ramp. If this is not done right the PM becomes a Jam-o-matic. The rebarreled guns are easy toidentify (usually) in that the barrel ring which holds part of the feed ramp will not have the same finish as the rest of the gun. This ring looks like a flange on the hammer side of the receiver. If you encounter one of these fire it to determine of it'll feed right.

The process of rebarreling a PM is fairly easy and can be done without the use of a barrel press but I wouldn't recommend it. Basically what is done is the barrel retaining pin is drifted out,the barrel itself is pushed out of the frame. The new barrel is pushed onto the frame and the pin in replaced. It sounds easy until you have to do it. Some of these pins have been in place over 40 years and have the unseen corrosion to prove it. On occasion Kroil and a torch are needed to coax the barrel off.

As a rule, unless there is a pressing need (excuse the pun) you would be better off leaving the gun with the original barrel. I can see rebarreling a gun to allow putting a suppressor on it or maybe to change the caliber to allow an infirm member access to a pistol with minimal recoil. There has also been discussion of needing to rebarrel a PM to be able to use domestic ammunition should the imported ammo supply dry up. I can't see this happening in the foreseeable future.

Most of the imports come with 2 magazines, holster, lanyard,cleaning rod/takedown tool, original and ATF grips. A word on grips. To comply with the 1968 Gun Control Act invariably you will find the PM's outfitted with a "target type" grip with a thumb rest on the left side of the grip, the ATF grip. This is well and good if you are right handed as most of you are. Me, I'm a lefty and find them annoying. But there are several sources of well made grips both original and after market. Since the gun will probably be used as a pocket pistol I prefer the original grips but some like the Pearce grips because they cushion recoil (what there is of it).

The sights in the fixed sight guns are small. I have a hard time seeing them in poor lighting. But in all fairness the PM was not designed as an offensive pistol. It was more of a close in, under 20m, weapon and the designers wanted their gun to go bang and be pointable to hit man sized targets at that range. The Russian guns with the adjustable sights are very nice but if the adjustment screws come out you are in hurt city because they are very, very hard to find. (As in nonexistent). There are fluorescent stick on dots which are fairly tough and well liked by those who use them, I don't. I decided to use day glow orange paint for the front and titanium white for the rear. It's a workable combination.

Magazines are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. They are all of good quality (At least the 30 or so I've seen) and can be had in quantity for about $4.00 ea. The east german ones have some quirks and all of them have real stiff springs so you get loaders thumb quickly.

Several companies are making non flap carry holsters, the kind us yankees like. The best of the lot is the Fobus. It is molded plastic and retains the weapon nicely. It retails for under $30.00 and can be had for half of that if you look around. Bad thing is I'm still waiting for a left handed holster. The right handed paddle works fine as a small of the back holster but it digs me when I drive. I'd prefer having one on the left side as it should be.

Ammunition usually weighs 95 to 105 grain bullet weight and can be had in both ball and hollow point. The majority of the ammo is berdan primed with steel cases. Sellier and Bellot, Hornady,and Corbon sell boxer primed ammunition which is brass cased. Hornady, Corbon, and Barnaul sell hollow point ammunition with Barnaul being the cheapest and Corbon the most expensive. If you want american and cheap you can also shoot CCI Blazers. And there are a few American companies which sell 9X18 reloading components.

Note it's actually 9.2mm, not 9mm so make sure you're getting the right stuff. And for goodness sake, don't shoot .380's out of a 9X18 cause the accuracy will suck and your barrel will age prematurely. And Please Don't Shoot 9X18's out of a 9 mm luger caliber pistol because the gun might very well blow up in your face.The same goes with trying to shoot 9 mm luger in a PM. It might be fun if you want the back end of the slide as a head ornament. There are those who ream out 9X18 to 9X19. Bad idea.
+P+ 9mm Luger Corbon turns PM into hand grenade. Very bad .

I have had the opportunity to shoot 4 PM's of different makes and handle 5 others. Based on that very limited exposure I've found they are extremely reliable. For the most part they will shoot any ammunition fed to them. This includes mixing ball and soft point from different manufacturers. After shooting the third gun I decided I'd like to get one. My dealer found a Bulgarian and I bought it.

The gun was a genuine Bulgarian government surplus weapon. It looked new and was filled with cosmoline. I tore it down and degreased it. I didn't know how simple the gun was until it was in parts on the bench. I used the American Rifleman's Firearms Disassembly Guide to pull it apart. Here's a quick version:

Field Stripping the PM
Remove the magazine by pushing the magazine release on the butt of the gun. (That's gun talk for the bottom of the magazine well). Cycle the slide of the gun. This should cock the weapon and eject any ammunition in it. Visually look into the gun and verify there are no bullets in the chamber. Grab the trigger guard and pull down and to one side. The trigger guard will swing down and catch onto the frame. Now pull back as far as you can on the slide and when you get there pull up. The slide will clear the frame and you'll be able to slide it down off the barrel.The gun's now field stripped. Piece of cake right?

Now that you've got the slide off look at the point where the hammer and sear engage. You will see a step on the hammer which you can feel with your fingernail. We'll talk about that in the trigger job section.

Detail Stripping the PM
Note: Read this through a couple of times. That way you'll be happy and not angry. Trust me on this.

If you are cleaning a new gun you probably don't have to go any farther into this part than to remove the grips and blow out all the gunk with carb or brake cleaner. To do this you take the takedown tool/cleaning rod and unscrew the grip. At this point you can get to the lock work of the gun and clean it up easily.

The only other thing you probably want to do now is to remove the firing pin and clean the grease out of the well it rests in. To do that, take the safety and rotate it counter-clockwise 120 degrees from the safe position. Then pull it from the frame. Sometimes they are real tight and you have to wiggle them to get them to clear. When it does look at the firing pin in the firing pin well. You'll see it has a cutout with the area from 6 to 9o'clock being removed. It's gotta be in the same position to get it back in. Trust me on this, I found out after being stupid for about ten minutes the first time I took it apart. Tap the slide in the palm of your hand and the firing pin should drop free. If not a couple of raps with a wooden block will cause it to drop out. Blow or swab out the firing pin well .Once you're done cleaning, put the firing pin back in with the notch oriented between the 6 to 9 o'clock position and replace the safety. One thing you'll note is the PM doesn't have a firing pin spring. That is just another simplification step the Russians put into it. If this area is not kept clean it can cause slam firing from what I've read. I can't see it except in a real dirty gun because of the way the firing pin's milled. And it hasn't happened to me but....

I put that in big letters so you'd look. There are springs in this gun which will shoot out and stick you in the eye. Don't be an idiot, wear safety glasses .

The last thing to pull apart on the slide is the extractor Be advised this is a real pain to do. Put the slide in a padded vice. What you do is to take the hooked end of the take down tool and put it into the notch in the extractor plunger. Then push the plunger in until you can swing the extractor out. It sounds real easy but man what a pain. To reassemble press the plunger down and drop the extractor into it's slot and rotate it into place. The NRA book said to turn the slide on it's right side to have the plunger drop out but since I only have 2 hands and it was sticky I had to put it in the vice.

The frame is fairly easy and you'll only need a punch, block and hammer if you choose to remove the trigger guard to get to the trigger guard spring.

First thing is to remove the hammer and trigger spring . Note the h/t spring also acts as the magazine latch and release device. Hold the hammer and pull the trigger. This will release the tensionon the h/t spring. Take the spring retainer and slide it down. It will come off and the h/t spring will fall free.

Next take your takedown tool and look at the slide stop which isalso the ejector. The sear spring is hooked to the top of this.
Unhook it from the slide stop and rotate the slide stop up. You will note on the right side of the frame the sear and hammer rotate in cut out holes with cut out pins. When you align the cutouts the parts come out of the frame. Take the sear and rotate it to align the cutouts. Pull it and the slide stop out of the frame.

The hammer has to be rotated counter-clockwise until it clears it's cut out and it can be slid forward from the frame. Lastly you lift the trigger bar assembly and pull it from the trigger. The trigger will rotate clockwise and slide out of the frame.

The only thing left other than pulling the barrel (no thank you very much) is to remove the trigger guard. Using a punch and hammer, drive the trigger guard pin out. When I did the grease had crystallized and the spring kind of shot this grease dust on the mat. But It didn't get me in the eye!

Now you've got the gun in parts and are ready to reassemble it. Here comes the fun part. After cleaning, reassemble in reverse order. I've always wanted to say that. Really, there are very few areas which you will have problems in putting the PM back together. Here's how to minimize them: Replacing the trigger guard's a no brainer. Just don't mar the finish or bend anything. The pin on my gun was stiff going in and took a while to talk it in. Drop the trigger in and put the trigger bar assembly pin into the hole in the trigger. When you put the trigger bar assembly back in the frame, have the frame on it's right side, push the trigger all the way in and swing the pawl such that the slot where the trigger spring fits is facing the magazine well. Put the hammer in and rotate it 'til it's at the uncocked position. Replace the h/t spring and put the spring retainer on. Next put the slide stop and sear in. Be sure the pin hole on the left side of the frame is aligned with the hole in the slide stop, rotate the sear until it contacts the hammer. Using your take down tool rotate the sear spring up 'til it latches. Try to not scratch the finish in the slide stop (I did and you can learn from my mistake). Check and make sure the spring retainer left the grip screw hole open. Screw down the grips and you're done with the frame. Cock the hammer. Latch the trigger guard to the side of the frame. Replace the slide. You may think it is jammed but if you pull back far enough it will dropon.

You're done.

PM Trigger job for those inclined to do so.
First the disclaimer for the idiots out there. The following information is for entertainment purposes only. The processes I describe worked well for ME with MY gun. If you choose to perform the procedure described below you do so at your own risk. It' a damn shame we gotta put those in there but there's always the clown who's a victim and it's your fault.

With a trigger job the goal is too improve function without compromising safety. For that reason you must go slow and be happy with each step prior to proceeding to the next step. Take your time and get it done right the first time. You will be amazed at the quality level of work you can do with a little attention to detail.

All of the East German gun's I've handled have had superb single action triggers and don't IMHO need trigger work other than polishing the underside of the sear and would probably benefit from having the hammer spring lightened. Other than that I wouldn't mess with them.

The Bulgarians need it and the Russian guns need it.

Now for the discussion.

I just did a trigger job for my circle10. The easiest way I know for doing one of these is to first tear down and degrease the gun. Pay special attention to the firing pin well . A lightened trigger doesn't like firing pin drag. Cock the hammer back. Take a magic marker and mark the intersection of the hammer and sear. the hammer will probably have a step which is at least .5 mm higher than the top of the sear. Remember looking at that when you first took off the slide? The next thing is to tear down the lower and using a needle file remove about 2/3 of that step off the hammer. Don't touch the notch (yet). Once you've got the step height reduced then polish the arc on the hammer from the step to the rebound notch on the hammer. Then reassemble the weapon and fire it single action. If the trigger has improved toyour liking STOP THERE.

If not then tear down the weapon and proceed to the sear.

As you look at the sear you'll notice there is a smooth area on the underside of the sear which rides over the hammer and drags in double action. If you take the sear and polish the underside of it to smooth it up that will reduce drag in double action mode. When you're done reassemble and fire the pistol. If you're happy then STOP THERE.

If not then proceed to the hammer/sear burnishing.

Note I said burnishing and not filing. The next step is critical and if you f*** it up you can't un f*** it. The angle in the hammer/sear engagement surface should be maintained. At the leas tthey should be crisp and not rounded. Try and maintain as close to right angles as you can. And brighten up the metal with taking as little metal off as you can . What you're trying to do is provide a smooth and crisply disengaging surface between the 2  parts. So what you do is to take the sear and using a sharpening stone hold the sear with it's top as it sits in the gun at right angles to the stone. Lightly draw the sear across the stone about 3 times and then look at the area you've been burnishing. It should be square and bright. You're basically knocking the bluing off. If it is close then reassemble and test fire. If you're happy then STOP THERE.

If you're not then proceed to the hammer.

You'll notice as you look at the hammer/sear contact point in the weapon when the hammer is cocked that the sear is lifted by pulling the trigger and to get a light trigger pull you need to make where the hammer and sear touch as smooth as possible. So the next step is to take the hammer and burnish the notch where the sear rides. To do this you can put the hammer in a vice or hold it squarely like I did to burnish the notch. What I used was an EZ-LAP Diamond hone which Wal mart peddles and I laid the hammer upside down on the side of the hone with the step you cut facing down at the beginning of this procedure hanging over the edge of the hone. You then take a half dozen swipes along the hone making sure the hammer is square. Burnish the hammer notch enough to brighten the metal (remove the bluing) and not much more. Then reassemble the pistol and cock the hammer. Putting pressure on the hammer to increase the hammer sear contact snap the weapon a half dozen times. You need to really push. This is accelerated wear mating and removes most burrs which might be left after you've burnished the parts.

Is the trigger what you want now? If so STOP THERE.

If not then the next thing is to reduce the hammer spring tension . To do this, remove the grips and take the spring out. Using thespring retainer spread the spring apart. You are going to be removing metal from the sides of the spring and you want the leaves not touching so the dremel can do it's thing. You take the dremel and grind off of the right then the left side of the spring until you've done some good. (About 3 to 5 passes on each side)

Then reassemble the pistol and shoot it. Are you happy with the trigger now? If so then remove the spring and using 400 grit sand paper polish out the sides to smooth where you ground the metal and raised a rough edge on the spring. This gets rid of stress concentration areas on the spring. If not then tear it downand try some more. Don't go too far as you'll end up with such a light hammer strike the gun will not be reliable. When you get to about a 10 pound double action trigger pull then you're done STOP THERE.

If you want even a lighter trigger you can bend a little of the arcout of the hammer spring. It was suggested to me and I tried it and it worked. The guy who suggested it said you didn't have to grind the spring down at all. If you try that route and it works, let me know. I'd like to hear from you.

These triggers clean up real easy and they are fun to work on. The big thing is to remove metal from the cheapest part. If you take too much off you can't put it back (usually). With the hammer sear engagement I finally removed enough metal that the step was almost gone. But you gotta be careful. Go slow and reassemble and test fire often. The nice thing about these guns is they are inexpensive and the repair parts are cheap also. Have fun and I hope this helps.

Final Thoughts
When I decided to buy my PM I wanted a government issued gun. I also wanted the least collectable I could get to preclude having any extra cost. The Bulgarian Circle 10 was a military/police issue gun. J&G Sales had them for about $99.00 plus the usual. My dealer got it in and I picked it up for $136.50. I bought sight unseen a case of Barnaul 95gr JHP's from Ammoman.com . While I waited for the bullets to show up I shot various other ammunition through it. Hungarian MFS ball, 1 box, no jams, Wolf brand ball, 2 boxes no jams, Hornady hp's andBarnaul ball mixed in the magazine, 1 box each, no jams.
Corbon one magazine (it's expensive) no jams. CCI Blazer ball, 1box, no jams. Norinco ball, 1 box, no jams. Are you starting to see a pattern here? The gun would shoot anything I fed it and not jam. It didn't care what I fed it or how the mix was in the magazine. It kept shooting. Then I got worried, what if the Barnaul HP's didn't work? I'd be out $115.00 unless I could peddle it to someone. My fears were unfounded. A week after I ordered the ammunition it came in. I've since shot 2 and a half boxes through the gun and it STILL hasn't jammed. I am quite pleased. The ammunition expands out to 60 caliber in mixed media. I use blue denim over wet newspaper and the round goes on average 7" into it give or take at 20 feet. It carries well and it works every time. That's a first for me. Every other pistol I've shot had preferences on the ammunition it would eat. Sometimes these were dramatic. Lots of them wouldn't feed hollow points without lots of smithing. The PM didn't need any of that. Since I've been talking to lots of people who have PM's they say as a rule these guns will shoot any clean ammunition they're chambered for. I almost believe it and am only going to shoot another couple boxes of the Barnaul prior to cleaning it.

I've also been asking the gray beards what if any spare parts I should stock. They are unanimous in saying the gun fails so rarely it's not worth it to stock anything other than the recoil spring.Seems the OEM spring dies after about 4000 rds. The consensus is to buy the Wolf 19 pound recoil spring to keep the frame andslide from battering each other. Other than that they say fix on failure. I plan to get another hammer, sear with spring, slide stop, firing pin, safety, and hammer/trigger spring for it. That and a half dozen magazines should keep it operational for at least another century. (If the ammunition holds out.)

Things I don't like about it.

1.The sights are too small for me but with the paint job I've founda work around.
2.The ATF grip sucks if you're a lefty. I'm going to get some original Russian red grips and lose the thumb rest.
3. Fobus doesn't yet make a left handed paddle holster ( but I hear they're going to).
4. It doesn't have a proper finish. Pistols should be parkerized or stainless. Just one of my peeves.
5. Importer markings on the Bulgarian are poorly done. The EastGerman guns are crisp. The Bulgarians look lame.

The naysayer's will say it's not a Glock, or a Beretta, or a SIG, or a Colt. I say you're right it's a peasant gun. Where have I heard that before? It's a close in, absolutely reliable pistol. It was designed to go bang each and every time you pulled the trigger as long as there was ammunition in it . It does this quite well. The round it's chambered for is slightly marginal but with the cost differential you can practice until your shot placement is not. No it's not a high dollar pistol. But it will do the job.

Would I buy another one? You bet. I am very pleased with the PM. Itis a real sleeper as far as I can see. Where else can you have a reliable sidearm which shoots cheap and effective ammunition($ 5.75 a box for premium hollow points), doesn't break and costs less than $150.00 delivered? You can't. That's why for it's application I know the PM is the best pistol around.

While working on this article I used the following resources. They include useful web sites and them that's got the goodies. I'll give a little blurb for each place.

This site has about all the information of a basic to moderate nature you'd need to become knowledgeable about the PM. You can get just about everything you need here. Karl's prices are notthe best out there but he's got the stuff. Lots of really good information.

Where the man gets the ammo. Actually they have competitive prices on most of the ammunition readers of this article would be interested in. This is where I bought the Barnaul hollow points Ilike so much.

These guys are holster peddlers. They have lots and lots of goodholsters. And they have one for the PM.

Global Trades
These guys have the parts you need to keep your PM operational.


The Book peddlers might have the the reference books I've listed below. I don't know Give them a try.

American Rifleman's Firearms Disassembly Guide.

This one reference I use all the time. It's got breakdowns of just about any weapon you or I would probably ever see. It's now sold in 2 volumes I think. One for pistols and one for rifles. Checkout amazon.com they probably have it.

Illustrated Firearms of the World.

The volume I have is getting a little old but it has weapons including the machineguns for about all the countries of the world. The technical information is not as dense as the NRA's American Rifleman's Firearms Disassembly Guide but it is good. Kind of like the difference between Chevy's and Fords.


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