The Makarov pistol resulted from a design competition for replacing the Tokarev TT-33 semi-automatic pistol and the Nagant M1895 revolver. Rather than building a pistol to an existing cartridge in the Soviet inventory, Nikolai Makarov took up the German wartime Walther "Ultra" design, fundamentally an enlarged Walther PP, utilizing the 9×18mm Makarov cartridge designed by B.V. Semin in 1946. For simplicity and economy, the Makarov pistol was of straight blowback operation, with the 9×18mm Makarov cartridge being the most powerful cartridge it could safely fire.

The Luftwaffe had rejected this pistol design some years before because of its poor accuracy. Although the nominal calibre was 9.0mm, the actual bullet was 9.22mm in diameter, being shorter and wider and thus incompatible with pistols chambered for 9×19mm Parabellum cartridges.

In 1951, the PM was selected because of its simplicity (few moving parts), economy, ease of manufacturing, and reasonable stopping power.[3] It remained in wide front-line service with Soviet military and police until and beyond the end of the USSR in 1991. Today, the Makarov is a popular handgun for concealed carry in the United States; variants of the pistol remain in production in Russia, China, and Bulgaria. In the U.S., surplus Soviet and East German military Makarovs are listed as eligible curio and relic items by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, because the countries of manufacture, the USSR and the GDR, no longer exist.

In 2003, the Makarov PM was formally replaced by the Yarygin PYa pistol in Russian service, although as of 2012, large numbers of Makarov PMs are still in Russian military and police service. The Makarov PM is still the service pistol of many Eastern European and former Soviet republics. North Korea and Vietnam also use Makarov PMs as standard-issue pistols.

Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1951–present
Used by See Users
Wars Vietnam War
Soviet war in Afghanistan
Libyan civil war
Syrian Civil War
War in Donbass
Production history
Designer Nikolay Makarov
Designed 1948
Manufacturer Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (USSR/Russia), Ernst Thaelmann (Germany), Arsenal AD (Bulgaria), Norinco (China)
Produced 1949–present
Variants See Variants
Specifications
Weight 730 g (26 oz)
Length 161.5 mm (6.36 in)
Barrel length 93.5 mm (3.68 in)
Width 29.4 mm (1.16 in)

Cartridge 9×18mm Makarov
Action Blowback
Muzzle velocity 315 m/s (1,030 ft/s)
Effective firing range 50 m (55 yd)
Feed system 8-round detachable box magazine (10- and 12-round available on the latest Russian models)
Sights Blade front, notch rear (drift adjustable)

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