Bulgarian Makarov Review (2003)
Then, in 2003, the Makarov again began appearing on our shores, this time from Bulgaria. These ranged in price from excellent examples costing $124 to unissued, still in cosmoline pistols for between $150 and $180. The Bulgarian Makarov can be recognized by the "Circle 10" military proofmark beside the slide release on the left side of the pistol. In general, the Bulgarian pistol is considered to be high on the Soviet Bloc fit and finish scale. I found an unissued Bulgarian Makarov at a gunshow for $150. It came with two magazines, a holster and a cleaning rod. I did not make a mistake this time, I bought the gun.
The Makarov is a blowback operated, double action pistol of all-steel construction. A manual safety is located on the left side of the slide, and, when engaged, safely brings hammer down from cocked position, and then locks the hammer, sear and slide. The hammer can be cocked manually for the accurate first shot in single action, or it can be cocked automatically by the longer and heavier trigger pull in double action. Field stripping is accomplished by pulling down the trigger guard and pulling the slide to the rear, like a Walther PPK. The Makarov magazine holds 8 rounds. The magazine release is in the heel of the pistol's grip. The Bulgarian Mak is fitted with small military style sights. Unloaded weight is 1 pound 8 ounces. The Bulgarian barrel appears to be chrome lined. While other pistols may have more panache, the Mak has a well earned reputation for rock solid reliability.
My Makarov came with the red commie grips. These are my prefered grips. There are several grips available for the pistol. My Mak has the CAI buzzpen import marks on the right of the slide. The date code indicates my pistol was made in 1984. I detailed the gun, removing plenty of cosmoline, and revealing an unblemished pistol. I lubed it and took it to the range.
9X18 Makarov ammo is now plentiful. The Mak was designed for steel cased ammo, so Wolff ammo will not harm the pistol. I shot Wolff and Blazer ammo. I shot 300 rounds with no failures. The DA trigger was heavy with noticeable stacking. The SA trigger pull was creepy. Still, the gun fit my big hands well, and I achieved fair accuracy. I shot at 25 feet, and grouped shots between 2 & 3 inches. I was constantly pulling my shots due to the pistol's trigger. With less stacking in DA and less creep all around, I feel the pistol could have been more accurate in my hands. Recoil was controllable, but noticeable. Muzzle flash? Yes.
If a person needs a CCW pistol, and has less than $200 to spend, then the Makarov may be the best deal going. The caliber is the only potential drawback, as it is sandwiched between the 9mm Parabellum and the .380ACP. If the pistol still makes the cut after caliber considerations, the shooter will find it to be easily concealed, easy to use, and almost boringly reliable. Obviously a steel pistol's weight will be more than that of a polymer pistol, but with a good holster (and they are available for the Mak) the weight difference is easier to deal with. Novak type sights are available. Eventhough I do not carry my Makarov, I'm glad I did not pass it up again.