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Makarov pistol
Пистолет Макарова.png
Russian Makarov PM (1977)
Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1951–present
Used by See Users
Wars Soviet war in Afghanistan, Vietnam War
Production history
Designer Nikolay Makarov
Manufacturer Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (USSR/Russia), Ernst Thaelmann (Germany), Arsenal AD (Bulgaria), Norinco (China)
Weight 730 g (26 oz)
Length 161.5 mm (6.36 in)
Barrel length 93.5 mm (3.68 in)
Width 29.4 mm (1.16 in)

Cartridge 9×18mm Makarov
Action Blowback
Muzzle velocity 315 m/s (1,030 ft/s)
Effective range 50 m (55 yd)
Feed system 8-round detachable box magazine (10- and 12-round available on the latest Russian models)
Sights Blade front, notch rear (drift adjustable)

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 side arm 1951–1991.[1]


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 blowback 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.

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 2014, 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]


The PM is a medium-size, straight-blowback-action, frame-fixed-barrel handgun. In blowback designs, the only force holding the slide closed is that of the recoil spring; upon firing, the barrel and slide do not have to unlock, as do locked-breech-design pistols. Blowback designs are simple and more accurate than designs using a recoiling, tilting, or articulated barrel, but they are limited practically by the weight of the slide. The 9×18mm cartridge is a practical cartridge in blowback-operated pistols; producing a respectable level of energy from a gun of moderate weight and size. The PM is heavy for its size by modern US commercial handgun standards, largely because in a blowback pistol the heavy slide provides greater inertia to delay opening of the breech until internal pressures have fallen to a safe level. Other, more powerful cartridges have been used in blowback pistol designs, but the Makarov is widely regarded as particularly well balanced in its design elements.[6]

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. 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.


Parkerized and dura-painted Makarov PM. Russian production.

The Makarov was manufactured in several communist countries during the Cold War and afterwards; apart from the USSR itself, they were East Germany, Bulgaria, China and post-unification Germany, which also found itself with several thousand ex-GDR Makarov pistols.

The most widely known variant, the Makarov PMM, was a redesign of the original gun. In 1990, a group of engineers reworked the original Makarov, primarily by increasing the load for the cartridge. The result is a significant increase in muzzle velocity and generation of 25% more gas pressure. The PMM magazine holds 12 rounds, compared to the PM's 8 rounds. Versions that held 10 rounds were produced in greater quantities than the 12-round magazine. The Makarov PMM is able to use existing Makarov cartridges and has other minor modifications such as an improved hand grip as well as threaded grooves in the chamber.[7]

A silenced version of the Makarov, the PB, was developed for use by reconnaissance groups and the KGB, with an integral suppressor.

An experimental variant of the Makarov, the TKB-023, was designed with a polymer frame to reduce the weight and costs of the weapon. It had passed Soviet military trials but was never fielded, due to concerns about the polymer's capacities for long-term storage and use.

Countries like India, Poland and Hungary have developed their own handgun designs that use the 9×18mm round. Hungary developed the FEG PA-63 and Poland has developed the P-64 and the P-83 Wanad. While similar in appearance to the PM, and chambered for the same round, these 9 mm Makarov firing pistols are often found labeled at gun shows by some US gun retailers as "Polish Makarovs" and "Hungarian Makarovs". Nonetheless, these similar designs are independent of the PM and have more in common with the Walther PP (which, in fact, was also a major influence on the original Russian Makarov [8]).

A wide variety of aftermarket additions and replacements exist for the Makarov, including replacement barrels, custom grips, custom finishes and larger sights with various properties to replace the notoriously small originals. A scope/light mount exists for the Makarov but requires a threaded replacement barrel.


Baikal is a brand developed by IGP around which a series of shotgun products were developed from 1962. After the collapse of the USSR, commercial gun manufacture was greatly expanded under the Baikal brand.

During the 1990s, Baikal marketed various Makarov handguns in the United States under the IJ-70 model. Included were handguns in both standard and high-capacity frames. They were available in .380 ACP in addition to the standard 9 mm Makarov round. Some minor modifications were made to facilitate importation into the United States, including the replacement of the rear fixed sight with a low-quality adjustable sight (only these Russian models marketed abroad feature an adjustable sight). A sporting version is the Baikal-442.[9] Voluntary agreements later restricted importation of small arms from Russia to the United States.

The Baikal IZH-79-8 is a modified version of the standard Makarov, with an 8 mm barrel, modified to allow it to fire gas cartridges. These guns proved popular after the fall of the USSR, and were used widely by Eastern European civilians to ward off muggers or rapists. However, unlike most gas firing guns, the body is made of standard Makarov-specification steel, and hence this gun is popular with criminals due to its low cost of purchase and ease of boring-out to fire standard 9 mm rounds.[10]


  •  Afghanistan[11]
  •  Albania[12]
  •  Angola[11]
  •  Armenia[11]
  •  Azerbaijan[11]
  •  Bulgaria:[11] Copy pistols were produced.
  •  Belarus[11]
  •  China: Adopted by the People's Liberation Army in 1959 as the Type 59. Produced locally with minor cosmetic differences (i.e. the width of the slide's sight rail and configuration of the safety lever). Chinese Makarovs are made from milled forgings and all the metal parts are salt blued.[13]
  •  Cuba[11] (made under license)
  •  East Germany: Copy pistols were produced.[14]
  •  Eritrea[11]
  •  Estonia[11]
  •  Ethiopia[11]
  •  Georgia[11]
  •  Iraq[11]
  •  Kazakhstan[11]
  •  Kyrgyzstan[11]
  •  Laos[11]
  •  Latvia[11]
  •  Lithuania[11]
  •  Macedonia[11]
  •  Malta[11]
  •  Moldova[11]
  •  Mongolia[11]
  •  Mozambique[11]
  •  Nicaragua[11]
  •  North Korea[15]
  •  Poland[11]
  •  Soviet Union[16]
  •  Russia[16]
  •  Syria[11]
  •  Tajikistan[11]
  •  Turkmenistan[11]
  •  Ukraine[11]
  •  Uzbekistan[11]

See also


  1. "Makarov Basics". Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Modern Firearms - Makarov PM". Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  3. John Ivor Headon Owen (1976). Warsaw Pact Infantry and Its Weapons: Manportable Weapons and Equipment in Service with the Regular and Reserve Forces of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland and Rumania, and of Yugoslavia. Brassey's Publishers Limited. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-904609-03-5. 
  4. Peterson, Philip (23 June 2011). "How Did They Get Here?". Standard Catalog of Military Firearms: The Collector's Price and Reference Guide. Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-4402-2881-0. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  5. Hogg, Ian; Walter, John (29 August 2004). Pistols of the World. David & Charles. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-87349-460-1. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Kinard, Jeff (2004). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. pp. 257, 259–260. ISBN 978-1-85109-470-7. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  7. Cutshaw, Charles Q. (28 February 2011). Tactical Small Arms of the 21st Century: A Complete Guide to Small Arms From Around the World. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-4402-2709-7. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  8. Quote: "almost immediately after the war the GAU issued a new set of requirements for a military and police pistol. These requirements asked for a compact, double action pistol of the Walther PP type...". Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  9. ' "BAIKAL-442" Sporting Pistol (for export)'
  10. Adam Luck (11 January 2009). "How the Baikal became Britain's favourite killing machine". Daily Mail. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 11.15 11.16 11.17 11.18 11.19 11.20 11.21 11.22 11.23 11.24 11.25 11.26 11.27 11.28 Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  12. Albania: Special Operations and Counterterrorist Forces at (a non-official, personal website). Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  13. Kokalis, Peter. Weapons Tests And Evaluations: The Best Of Soldier Of Fortune. Paladin Press. 2001. pp99–102.
  14. Hogg, Ian (2002). Jane's Guns Recognition Guide. Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0-00-712760-X.
  15. US Department of Defense: North Korea Country Handbook (1997) page xii, at Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Marchington, James (2004). The Encyclopedia of Handheld Weapons. Lewis International, Inc. ISBN 1-930983-14-X.


  • The History and Development of Imperial and Soviet Russian Military Small Arms and Ammunition 1700–1986 written by Fred A. DATIG (Handgun Press, 1988)
  • Kokalis, Peter (2001). Weapons Tests And Evaluations: The Best of Soldier of Fortune. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Paladin Press. ISBN 978-1-58160-122-0. 

External links

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