Gun of the week #7: East German Makarov


My 1961 East German Makarov

Every Wednesday, I feature one of the guns from my Collection. Today is an 1961 East German Makarov Pistol.

I have mentioned on this website before, that I have a fondness for Soviet Guns.  One of those guns I really like is the Makarov Pistol.  This particular pistol, I bought on an Online Gun Auction Site for $425. It was a steal. East German Makarovs are very collectable. The markings on this gun tell me that it was manufactured in 1961.  I like to think it was carried by a East German Secret Agent, but I have no proof of that.

I have carried both a Bulgarian and this East German as a carry gun before I got my main carry gun a Beretta 92fs.  I still sometimes carry the Bulgarian Makarov. The website is a great source of information about all the different variations.  The main Soviet military/government versions were the Russian, Bulgarian, East German, and Chinese versions.  There are some Commercial Versions of Russian Makarovs.  They have adjustable sites and say “Made in Russia” on them. I am not a fan of these versions. I really need to finish my collection with a Soviet Military Model and a Chinese Norinco Makarov. I just have not run across either in my travels yet.  I am very accurate with either the Bulgarian or the East German Makarov.

Makarov Caliber guns that are not Makarovs

There are other guns that are Makarov cailber guns. The Hungarian PA-63 is more of a clone of the Walther PPK, it shoots the Makrov 9X18 round but is not a Makarov.  The Polish P64  is also an PPK clone that shoots the 9X18 round, again not a Makarov. The Czechoslovakian Cz-82 is another variant that uses the 9X18 round. This version has a double stack magazine. The Cz-82 is not a Makarov either.  I own all of the above except for the Russian and Chinese versions. The picture below is off all my Makarov Caliber Guns.

To be honest, I really don’t like firing the Cz-82, P64, or the Pa63. In fact, I think the FEG PA-63 is the absolute worst gun that I have ever fired. The construction of the pistol seems to be designed to hurt your hand when you fire it

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From Top to Bottom
East German Makarov
Bulgarian Makarov
Polish P64
Hungarian FEG PA-63


The Pistolet Makarova or Makarov is a semi-automatic (self-loading) pistol, designed in the 1950s by Russian Nikolai Federovich Makarov.  The objective was to design a simple and reliable medium-powered pistol intended as the sidearm of the Soviet Forces. The pistol was accepted by the Russian forces in 1951 and has been the standard sidearm ever since. Recent developments and advancements in firearms technology may soon change that, but its place in history is secured.


Type: Double/Single Action Self Loading Pistol
System of Operation: Blowback
Safety: Hammer block, slide lock, decocking, firing pin not secured
Caliber: 9x18mm (9mm Makarov), some have been converted to .380 ACP (9mm Kurz)
Capacity: 8+1 rounds
Sights: Fixed blade front, dovetailed u-notch rear, drift adjustable
Length: 6.34″
Weight (loaded): 1.71 pounds
Barrel: fixed, 3.83″, 4 groove, right-hand twist
Magazine release: heel
Number of Parts: 27

The PM has a free-floating firing pin, with no firing pin spring or firing pin block. This allows the possibility of accidental firing if the pistol is dropped on its muzzle. Designer Makarov thought the firing pin of insufficient mass to constitute a major danger. The Makarov is notable for the safety elements of its design, with a safety that simultaneously blocks the hammer from contacting the firing pin and returns the weapon to the long-trigger-pull mode of double action when that safety is engaged. This is one of a number of different types of safety mechanism generally referred to as “manual safety” in order to distinguish it from safeties that are disengaged by the user in the course of firing a gun without manipulation of a separate safety control. A slide-mounted lever has some safety advantages though there is argument over whether the extra manipulation required can be a risk, especially when the lever is not positioned in an ergonomic manner. Small Walther pistols, such as the PPK, are of a similar type to the Makarov.[6]

When handled properly, the Makarov has excellent security against accidental discharge caused by inadvertent pressure on the trigger, e.g., in carrying the weapon in dense brush or re-holstering it. However, the heavy trigger weight in double-action mode decreases accuracy. The Bulgarian-model Makarov was approved for sale in California, having passed a state-mandated drop-safety test. Other notable features of the PM are its simplicity and economy of parts. Many do more than one task, e.g., the trigger guard is also the take down lever, the one-piece slide stop is also the ejector and the sear spring also is the slide-stop (and ejector) return spring. Similarly, the mainspring powers the hammer and the trigger, while its lower end is the heel of the European-style magazine catch. Makarov pistol parts seldom break with normal usage, and are easily replaced using few tools.[6]


The Makarov has a DA/SA (double-action, single-action) operating system. After loading and charging the pistol by pulling back the slide, it can be carried with the hammer down and the safety engaged. To fire, the slide-mounted safety lever is pushed down to the “fire” position, after which the shooter squeezes the trigger to fire the gun. The action of squeezing the trigger for the first shot also cocks the hammer, an action requiring a long, strong squeeze of the trigger. The firing and cycling of the action re-cocks the hammer for subsequent shooting; fired single action with a short, light trigger squeeze. The PM’s operation is semi-automatic, firing as quickly as the shooter can squeeze the trigger. Spent cartridges are ejected to the shooter’s right and rear, some 18–20 feet away. When the safety is engaged,the hammer drops from the cocked position. The safety lever has a notch that blocks the hammer from striking the firing pin.


Chinese Norinco Makarov. I need one of these

The PM’s standard magazine holds eight rounds. After firing the last round, the slide locks open. After inserting a loaded magazine, the slide is closed by activating a lever on the left side of the frame or by withdrawing it to release the slide catch; either action loads a cartridge to the chamber.

When engaged, the PM’s safety lever switch blocks the hammer from striking the rear end of the firing pin. The magazine release is on the heel of the handgrip. This is designed to avoid its snagging in clothes, and the accidental, premature release of the magazine. This type of premature magazine release had plagued the Makarov’s precursor, the Tokarev TT-30 pistol.

The Makarov pistol or PM (Russian: Пистолет Макарова, Pistolet Makarova, literally Makarov’s Pistol) is a Russian semi-automatic pistol. Under the project leadership of Nikolay Fyodorovich Makarov, it became the Soviet Union’s standard military and police side arm from 1951 to 1991.


The Makarov pistol resulted from a design competition for replacing the Tokarev TT-33 semi-automatic pistol and the Nagant M1895 revolver.[2] Rather than building a pistol to an existing cartridge in the Soviet inventory, Nikolai Makarov took up the German wartime Walther “Ultra” design, fundamentally an enlarged Walther PP, utilizing the 9×18mm Makarov cartridge designed by B.V. Semin in 1946. For simplicity and economy, the Makarov pistol was of straight blow-back operation, with the 9×18mm Makarov cartridge being the most powerful cartridge it could safely fire. The Luftwaffe had rejected this pistol design some years before because of its poor accuracy. Although the nominal calibre was 9.0mm, the actual bullet was 9.22mm in diameter, being shorter and wider and thus incompatible with pistols chambered for 9×19mm Parabellum cartridges.


Russian Military Makarov. I need one of these

In 1951, the PM was selected because of its simplicity (few moving parts), economy, ease of manufacturing, and reasonable stopping power.[3] It remained in wide front-line service with Soviet military and police until and beyond the end of the USSR in 1991. Today, the Makarov is a popular handgun for concealed carry in the United States; variants of the pistol remain in production in Russia, China, and Bulgaria. In the U.S., surplus Soviet and East German military Makarovs are listed as eligible curio and relic items by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, because the countries of manufacture, the USSR and the GDR, no longer exist.[4]

In 2003, the Makarov PM was formally replaced by the Yarygin PYa pistol in Russian service,[2] although as of 2012, large numbers of Makarov PMs are still in Russian military and police service. The Makarov PM is still the service pistol of many Eastern European and former Soviet republics. North Korea and Vietnam also use Makarov PMs as standard-issue pistols.[5]

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