Makarov PM Pistol

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Makarov Pistol
CountrySoviet Union
TypeSemi-automatic pistol
InventorNikolay Makarov
Date of design1940
Service duration1945 - current
Cartridge9 x 18 mm Makarov
ActionSingle action / Double action, blowback system
Rate of fireSemi automatic
Muzzle velocityx m/s
Effective range~ 50 m
Weight (Unloaded)x g
Lengthx mm
Barrelx mm
Magazine capacity8 rounds
Viewing sightsBlade (front)
U-notch (back)
VariantsChina
Bulgaria
Western Germany
Polish (P64)
Russia (Izhevsk 71)
Number built~ x

Makarov PM (Pistolet Makarova)


The Makarov PM is a semi-automatic pistol, designed in the late 1940's by Russian firearms designer Nikolai Fyodorovich Makarov. For many years, it was the Soviet Union's standard military sidearm.

Contents

History

The Makarov was the result of a competition held to design a replacement for the aging Tokarev TT-33 semi-automatic pistol. The TT had been loosely derived from the popular American M1911 and was, by 1945, deemed too large, heavy, and unreliable for a general service pistol. Rather than building his gun around an existing cartridge, Nikolai Makarov designed a new round, the 9 x 18 mm PM, based on the popular Browning 9 x 17 mm/.380 ACP cartridge. In the interests of simplicity and economy, the Makarov pistol was to be of straight blowback operation, and the 9 x 18 mm round was found to be the most powerful which could be fired safely from such a design. Although the given dimension was 9mm, the bullet was actually 9.3mm in diameter, being shorter and wider and therefore incompatible with pistols chambered for the popular 9mm Luger/Parabellum round. This meant that Soviet ammunition was unusable in NATO firearms, and NATO forces in a conflict would not be able to gather ammunition from fallen Soviet soldiers or Soviet munition stockpiles.

Makarov called his design the Pistolet Makarova, and it was selected over the competitors on account of its simplicity (it had few moving parts), economy, ease of manufacture, accuracy, and reasonable power.

Design

The Pistolet Makarova (often abbreviated to PM) is a medium-size handgun with a straight blowback action. Physically, it resembles the Walther PPK. As a blowback design, the only force holding the slide closed is from the recoil spring; upon firing, the barrel and slide do not "unlock" as with a locked-breech design. Blowback designs are uncomplicated, and are often more accurate than designs which utilise a recoiling, tilting, or otherwise articulated barrel. Blowback-operated pistols are also limited practically by the required weight of the slide. Using conventional manufacturing techniques, the 9 x 18 mm is the largest round that can practically utilize blowback operation. The Makarov is relatively heavy for its small size, another desirable attribute for a blowback pistol, as a heavy slide provides greater inertia against the force of the blast, reducing felt recoil or "kick" of the 9x18mm round.

The Makarov employs a free-floating firing pin, and has no firing pin spring or firing pin block. Although this allows for the possibility of an accidental discharge if the pistol is dropped from a great height, Makarov felt that the firing pin had insufficient mass to constitute a major safety hazard.

The notable features of the Makarov are its extreme simplicity, design elegance, and economy of parts. Many parts perform more than one task. For example, the slide stop is also the ejector. Similarly, the mainspring powers both the hammer and the trigger, and its lower end even serves as the magazine catch. The Makarov has even fewer parts than the GLOCK, a pistol that was designed many years later with simplicity in mind. Makarov pistol parts seldom break in normal usage, and they are easily replaced with very few tools if they do break.

Operation

The Makarov has a DA/SA or "Double Action, Single Action" operating system. After loading the pistol and charging the slide, the Makarov can be carried with the hammer down and the safety engaged. To fire, the slide-mounted safety is pushed down to the "fire" position, after which the user simply squeezes the trigger. The act of squeezing the trigger for the first shot also cocks the hammer, an action which necessitates a long, heavy trigger pull. The firing of the round and cycling of the action pre-cocks the hammer for subsequent shots, which are then fired "Single Action" with a short, light trigger pull. After pushing the safety up to "safe," the hammer is safely de-cocked. Operation is semi-automatic, firing as fast as the user can pull the trigger. Fired brass is ejected to the right rear of the shooter, typically traveling 5-7 meters.

The PM's standard magazine holds eight rounds, although ten- and twelve-round capacity magazines were developed later during the Makarov's service life. After firing the last round in the magazine, the slide locks open. After feeding a new magazine, the slide can be closed by activating a lever on the left side of the frame, which additionally chambers a fresh round. The pistol is now ready for action again.

When engaged, the Makarov's safety prevents the slide from cycling. The Makarov's magazine release location is common with that of many European pistols, being located on the heel or "butt" of the handgrip. This design decision was in contrast to the frame-mounted release of the Tokarev TT-33, as this location had been observed to have a propensity for the TT's release to become snagged on clothing, or, in the heat of battle, for soldiers accidentally to release the magazines of their pistols.

Price

The PM is relatively inexpensive, with prices in North America ranging from USD $150-$350 as of 2006. Rare or pristine Makarovs can command over $450, but only when in exceptional condition. As with Soviet 7.62 x 39mm ammunition, surplus 9x18 Makarov rounds are very cheap, at about USD $0.10 a round. Explicit care must be taken to obtain 9mm Makarov ammunition, as there as several similar cartridges in the 9mm/.38 size range which, if fired in the Makarov, may result in either abnormal barrel wear and inaccuracy, or in the worst case, a catastrophic explosion. Replacement barrels and civilian models chambered in .380 ACP are also available.

Variants

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

Countries like Poland and Hungary have developed their own handgun designs that utilize the 9x18mm round. Hungary developed the PA-63 and Poland has developed the P-64 and the Vanad. 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. They are simply pistols that happen to be chambered for the same 9 mm Makarov round.

As with the Simonov SKS, the market prefers Makarovs which were made in East Germany. The Bulgarian pistols are not quite as polished but are still solid and reliable. The Russian and Chinese Makarovs are not thought of highly, except as nostalgic collectables of a bygone age, although they nonetheless possess the inherent simplicity and reliability of the Makarov design.

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