Firearms technology has evolved heavily, since the end of World War II, across all platforms. It is debatable on whether the modernization of firearms became simpler or more complex over time. The materials have certainly changed but, due to optimizations for many different end-user aspects, it seems as if modern designs are more complex by comparison to the preceding models. The 9×18 Makarov handgun has an uncanny beauty about it and is very specifically tailored.
The Makarov was designed in 1949 in the Soviet Union and remain prominent in the Russian Armed Forces despite the PYa (MP-443) being chosen to replace it. The Makarov is also still in service within the Bulgarian Armed Forces. In 1970, Bulgaria began producing Makarovs and eventually Arsenal picked up the design. This handgun was produced in 1985 and the original serial number / production code, in English, is IK-25-1777. The middle digits are date codes. PW Arms imported the handgun into the U.S., but wasn’t the only importer to do so. Importation requires new markings. The importing company name and location, and model and origin are required; as well as a new U.S. serial number in the case of these handguns. They shipped with the original leather flap holster and two magazines.
As with all firearms from the yester-years, the Makarov feels like a machine – matching the looks. It’s a feeling that I don’t get when I pick up a Glock or even something like a SIG P229. It’s a testament to the all-steel construction. I have felt the same feeling in older M1911s, Japanese Nambus, German Lugers, and Russian TT33s. They were meant to be workhorses and are tools through and through. This Makarov features red-star Bakelite grips which blend seamlessly with the bluing of the frame and slide.
The Makarov is almost purely right-hand oriented. The exception is the magazine release, which is directly behind the baseplate of the magazine when inserted. You can shoot it left-handed but manipulating the controls will be problematic. There is a lanyard loop, safety / decocker on the slide, and a slide-stop on the left side. The weapon is disassembled by locking the slide to the rear, pulling the trigger guard down and sliding it onto the frame sideways, dropping the slide stop, and slowing pulling up and away as the slide moves forward enough to clear the guide rails.
The sights are simple notched rear and bladed front. The sharp design specifications were smoothed out, but are still crude enough to be annoying, and it is best fired one-handed. Replacement rubber grips can be purchased, but they diminish the originality and beauty of the firearm. If you want to eliminate snappiness, especially if you have larger hands, then those grips may be a Godsend to you. The leather holster isn’t conducive to quick access in a desperate situation. The leather would catch on both the safety / decocker and the front of the magazine. The issue prevented full and immediate holstering and it is my assumption that the quality of the holsters is universal.
Unfortunately, the Bulgarian production Makarovs are still not classified as Curio & Relic firearms, by the ATF, as the Russian and East German models are. If you have a C&R license, you won’t be able to obtain these through that avenue. As the years go by, and as with all other surplus firearms, the prices continue to rise as collectors snatched up what they want. Whether you are simply looking for something different or something new to collect, a Makarov will perfectly compliment a collection.
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