I finally got out to the desert this morning for some shooting. It has been way too long, and this ammo shortage is definitely not helping. It was a beautiful day and my son and I had quite a good time slinging some lead. Onto the Mak.
Towards the end of WWII, the soviets were looking to replace their TT-33 service pistol. Requirements for the new pistol were: make it simple, light, reliable, and easy to manufacture. Apparently, the old Tokarev was too costly to keep making. Well it seems Nikolai Makarov looked at the Walther PP Ultra design, took a couple stiff shots of vodka and set about simplifying it. His pistol was accepted in 1951 as the standard Soviet sidearm and it was made in Russia, Bulgaria, East Germany, and China as the Type 59. It continued to serve until 2003 when it was replaced by a more modern, double stack affair. Random note, this was the first firearm in space as it accompanied Yuri Gagarin in his orbit aboard Vostok I (not for fighting aliens, but for defensive use if he touched down in a not so friendly place back on earth).
Weight: 26 oz Length: 6.36″ Barrel length: 3.83″ Height: 4.49″. She has an all steel frame and slide, although a prototype was made in 1965 with a polymer frame, and is a single stack, double action/single action design. This gun is blowback operated, relying on the weight of the slide and recoil spring to keep the action closed during firing. The barrel is pressed into and then pinned to the frame giving this gun great inherent accuracy and also acts as the guide rod for the recoil spring. It features an external slide lock and de-cocker style safety. Sights are small, but capable of good accuracy and on my import model IJ-70 are adjustable on the rear for windage and elevation. The provided grips were all Bake-Lite, although aftermarket wood and rubber grips are available. Mine currently wears a set of Pearce grips which are very comfortable and hand filling, making it similar in girth to my Glock 19. The design is very simple consisting of only 27 parts. This is accomplished, in part, by making all of the pivoting parts contain integral semi-circular pins. Another simplifying idea was to make the hammer spring, trigger spring, and magazine catch all one piece of spring steel. I don’t care for it, but once you take the grip off and see how it works, it is easy to understand why it was designed like that. Like most Soviet arms, these were issued with all that you would ever need for it with the exception of ammo and cleaning solvents. The traditional flap holster is very nifty. It totally encapsulates the pistol, providing good retention and protection from the elements. It comes with an additional magazine pouch and loops on the front to hold the cleaning rod. I think the cleaning rod is a very well thought out tool. It incorporates a handy pick at the front for extractor maintenance and detail stripping, as well as a flat head screw driver to remove the grips. Flap holsters are great for carrying and protecting a gun, but for drawing the weapon, they downright suck because you are unable to obtain a full grip on the gun for drawing. To help alleviate this, it comes with a small leather pull tab that goes down into the holster making a loop around the muzzle. When pulled, it lifts the gun from the holster enough to obtain a proper grip. With practice, drawing from the flap holster is not as cumbersome as it looks, but a good belt holster will beat it hands down all day every day.
That is your basic field strip. To continue on to detail stripping, unscrew the grip and pull it straight off to the rear.
Rotate the sear assembly forward until the pin lines up in the groove and pull it out with the slide stop. Do the same for the hammer.
The trigger bar is now loose and can be pulled out. Remove the trigger by pulling down the trigger guard and rotating it out as well. Frame is done, now onto the slide. Push the safety all the way through the safe position and 120 degrees more and then pull it out of the slide. This will allow the firing pin to fall out the rear of the slide.
To remove the extractor, use the cleaning tool or pick to depress the extractor spring plunger and pull out the extractor, then slowly ease the plunger and spring forward and out. Done. Re-assembly is in reverse order.
All I could get my hands on are Sliver Bear 94gr FMJ and JHP. This stuff is pretty decent clocking around 980-1000 fps in most reports. It is not as snappy as I remember my PPK/S being and I do not get slide bite with it either. The sights are very usable and I like being able to adjust my POA to match my POI. My best 5-shot group at ten yards was 1.3″ with all shooting done offhand. I experienced no change in POI or accuracy between the JHP and FMJ offering from Silver Bear. I drug out my wet newspaper bullet catches and let loose with 4 rounds at the media. They penetrated well, leaving good wound cavities. All except for one. It shed its jacket and failed to expand almost going through the bottom of my 12″ can. Here are the recovered rounds.
I experienced zero failures during my shooting and I never expected one. These have quite the reputation as being stupid reliable and are still in use in Russia by the police and many other country’s militaries as well. The single action exhibits a little bit of stacking, but is pretty good for a milsurp gun. The double action is heavy but better than my old PPK/S, I still don’t care for it.
Although this gun hails from an already splendid and innovative (for its time) firearm, the Walther PP, I believe the Makarov PM to be a vast improvement. The addition of a much needed external slide stop, better sights, and better reliability make it so. If I had any gripe about this pistol, it would be the heel type mag release, but I can live with it. As a military sidearm, it makes total sense. Just like the AK-47, it is simple and easy to produce in large quantities. Is it my first choice for a defensive handgun? No, but it would not be my last.