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« Part 5: Shooting the Walther P22 | Main | Firing In Eights »

March 16, 2004

Range Report: Bulgarian Makarov

I picked up a Bulgarian Makarov (Ma-KA-rov, I understand) pistol chambered in 9x18 (some Maks are chambered in the .380ACP caliber, but not mine.)

The 9x18 round is about halfway in power between the .380 ACP (wimpy) and the 9x19/9mm Luger/Parabellum/ad-nauseam (barely adequate Europellet.)

So why did I buy a Mak?

Well, it's been said that "the gun you carry is better than the one you leave at home," and the Mak is certainly an excellent carry gun, being small and handy. And it holds eight rounds, which is (IMHO) superior to, say, a 5-shot .38 Special revolver that would be slightly larger.

And everything I've heard about these little communist-bloc pistols has been uniformly positive: accurate, handy, and reliable-as-an-anvil. The Russians didn't design their weapons to be anything but functional.

There's an excellent web page dedicated to the Mak,, where I found an excellent page on how to detail strip it. This was very useful, as my pistol came with no instructions whatsoever. I tore mine down just enough to clean the bejebus out of it (quite a bit of cosmoline was still evident) and did the same for the magazines.

First impressions:

Solid little piece, no rattles

Some sharp edges, especially on the magazines

The slide is quite stiff, but not too bad

The safety is positive, logically placed, and easily operated

The trigger pull is heavy, but not all that bad for a $175 pistol

The sights are tiny

I purchased 500 rounds of Wolf brand 109gr. FMJ ammo to try, and I took a couple hundred with me when my wife and I went to the range on Sunday. Accuracy is not marvelous in my example, but I don't know if that's the ammo, the trigger, or the loose nut behind it. I'm a pretty fair target shot, so I'm fairly certain it's not me. I'm leaning toward the ammo at this point.

Still, I was able to put every round into the chest of a standard silhouette target at seven yards, and I practiced several magazines of drawing from the holster, flipping off the safety, firing two rounds as fast as I could. Those tiny little sights were quite easy to find. The transition from double-action to single-action wasn't all that disconcerting, but there was a definite shift in impact points. The first round would go towards the bottom of the breastbone, and the second would be considerably higher - say 4" or so. After forty rounds of this, I had two relatively nice rapid-fire groups - one for the first round, one for the second.

The pistol apparently deserves its reputation for reliability - after 200 rounds there were two misfires (one round apart at about round 120) and no failures to feed or eject. Not a single jam. I suspect the misfires were either bad ammo or I hadn't gotten the firing mechanism clean enough. Each round fired on the next trigger pull.

And that's another thing I like about double-action pistols - if it doesn't go "BANG!" you can always pull the trigger again.

I haven't yet gotten a CCW permit. I'm still somewhat ambivalent about petitioning the State for permission to protect myself, and having to pay for the priviledge, but I'll probably go ahead and do it, being the good prole I am. Now that I feel like I have a gun I'm willing to carry, that is.

Posted by Smallest Minority