April 15 can be fun and educational!

Considering that yesterday was official Buy A Gun Day, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and actually buy a gun of some sort.

Being somewhat of a cheapskate, I poked around on the Internet, and finally found a local dealer who was having a special on "Bulgarian" Makarovs. I bought one for $139.00 -- which is dirt cheap for one of these fine pistols. The Makarov is a simplified, idiot-proofed, Russian copy of the legendary German Walther PP (big brother of the PPK made famous in the James Bond movies).

A bit of historical background:

The Makarov pistol is one of those legends in firearm history- not so much for its glorious history, but rather for its steady, reliable presence for nearly half a century. Nikolai Fedorovich Makarov was 31 at the end of World War II when the Soviet Union called for the design of a new combat service pistol. The requirements were that the new pistol be chambered for the standard 7.62 or 9mm. Rather than using the .380ACP or 9mmParabellum, Makarov designed a new round, the 9x18mmMakarov. This round is cylindrical like the .380ACP but has the same head diameter as the tapered 9mmParabellum, necessitating a larger 9.25mm bullet with a standard weight of 6 grams (92.5gr). The resulting 9x18 "Pistolet Makarova" was a stout, small, soldier-proof gun that has certainly earned its reputation as an all-time classic. Being the silent partner of WARPAC troops and KGB Agents for the bulk of the Cold War, the little "Mak" was at one time a rare sight. But now the Mak is becoming ever more popular here in the States, so much so that 3 major ammunition manufacturers are now producing 9x18 rounds!

I first encountered the Makarov in the history books. Later in my reading, it was the sidearm most mentioned in the spy thrillers and mystery novels of the Cold War. Many a shady character toted a Makarov along the darkened streets of Prague. It wasn't until 1999 that I actually went out and looked for one. I had used several of the smaller, medium sized semi-autos in 9mm, .380, .32, etc., but I was really drawn to the homely little Mak just for its historical value. I was at the time really unaware of its reputation as an indestructible gun. I found only one negative article about the Mak, and according to most, the Mak in the article was a really odd freak. You will be very hard pressed to find a Mak owner who doesn't have quite a liking for this little gun.

Hey, I've developed quite a liking in the thirteen hours I've had it, and I haven't even fired it yet.

As to its performance on the range, last March, Kevin of A Smallest Minority bought a Bulgarian Makarov, and gave it a glowing review.

Until this morning, I assumed that I bought what I paid for -- a Bulgarian Makarov. But it now appears that I got more than I paid for. While it was sold to me as Bulgarian, and it has the word "BULGARIAN" stamped crudely on the right side of the frame, closer examination revealed that on the other side it has the original bifurcated-triangle-within-the-circle Russian hallmark. Also, it has the fixed rear site, and that means it is one of those Russian military Makarovs which occasionally found their way into Bulgarian stockpiles, with the end result being that they were stamped "BULGARIA," and exported to the United States as "Bulgarian." Authentic Russian military Makarovs are not only highly collectible, but they can be legally sold as "Curios and Relics" to licensed collectors (who can bypass much of the usual bureaucracy). It's value? More than twice as much as I paid for it, at least.

Here's a nice closeup picture of the real deal:


(It's identical to mine, including the 1975 date; the only difference is that the serial numbers are a couple of hundred apart.) The caption describes the above as:

A Russian military Makarov...something you don't see very often. These are C&R eligible. Note the Russian bifurcated triangle with circle marking.
Nothing like getting "something you don't see very often."

Especially when you weren't looking for it.

Good omen, I'd say!

UPDATE: More happy April 15 purchases discussed at the Carnival of Cordite. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

MORE: I don't know how I managed to miss it, but Kim du Toit also gave the Makarov a great review:

In a word: fun. Using the Wolf ammo as pictured, the little Mak was astoundingly accurate, and the teeny 9mm Mak bullets sent those evil pins spinning.

In fact, of all the guns we fired, the Makarov was a hands-down winner in the “Most Pleasant Surprise” category. (When you shoot a Colt SAA or Wilson 1911, you’re going to get pleasure—that’s a given—but who’d a thunk a damn Commie weeniepistol would be so much fun?)

And who'd a thunk I'd be in for such a pleasant surprise on April the Fifteenth?

Perfect day for fun and games with a Commie weeniepistol!

posted by Eric on 04.16.05 at 09:43 AM


Holy shmoly, what a find! Congrats!

Analog Mouse   ·  April 18, 2005 12:16 PM

Congratulations on the good buy. Now go to Makarov.com and get a decent set of grips for it. Those original grips SUCK!

Kevin Baker   ·  April 20, 2005 10:50 AM

Thank you both! Right now I'm puzzled over whether I can use the high-capacity magazine. (Theres extra width in the magazine slot, but I'm not an expert, and it may be that the high-capacity was only introduced in later models.)

Eric Scheie   ·  April 20, 2005 11:47 AM

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