Tokarev TT-33, Makarov PM1951 and Grach MR-443

Tokarev TT-33, Makarov PM1951 and Grach MR-443

Handling and Shooting the Grach Part 4 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

A gun for cold Russian nights and agents who work in the shadows, the Grach is a full-sized pistol chambered in 9x19mm. The Gletcher Grach NBB is perfectly scaled and has all the same features, lacking only a blowback action to make this one of the best military-based CO2 pistols.

Why would you build a non-blowback action CO2 semi-auto with a slide that locks back and has a fully functioning slide release lever? It even locks open on an empty magazine if you pull it back, and functions to chamber the first round when loading. So we are left to figure out why one key feature from the otherwise superb CO2 model is left off. The short answer is economics. Blowback action is an “effect” which is only a small contribution to the shooting experience if you are not using the airgun for training purposes, yet the Gletcher Grach has a double action/single action trigger even when there is no slide action to re-cock the hammer. (Chambering the first round with the slide cocks the hammer). Doing away with blowback action has two principal explanations, well three if you consider lower cost of manufacturing, but then why do everything else? The two logical reasons both date back to the turn of the last century and the introduction of the Umarex Walther CP88 and Beretta 92FS 8-shot rotary pellet-firing magazine semi-autos in 1996 and 2000, which also have double action/single action triggers and functioning hammers. They were designed to provide optimum velocity and to be fired double action or single action, the latter for greater accuracy by manually cocking the hammer for each shot. This is the same idea behind the Gletcher Grach, plus the added features of a moving and locking slide and functioning slide release. The question then, is how much of an improvement will this gun see in velocity with .177 caliber steel BBs for the tradeoff? It makes sense for a target quality pellet-firing model like the Umarex Beretta 92FS and Walther CP88 but does it make sense for a BB firing model?

read more


Tokarev TT-33, Makarov PM1951 and Grach MR-443

Tokarev TT-33, Makarov PM 1951 and Grach MR-443

Three quarters of a century later, from Tokarev to Grach Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

A Russian revolution in semi-auto small arms begins in 1933, represented by the war aged Gletcher Tokarev, and continues through the Makarov, which replaced the Tokarev in 1951, and concludes with the present day Grach, adopted by the Russian Federation in 2003 to replace the Makarov. Interestingly both Tokarev and Makarov handguns are still in use in Russia and around the world. The Gletcher models are superb CO2 reproductions.

Times change, gun designs change, even nations change, but there are always a few constants, and when it comes to Russian guns, one constant is adopting existing technology to build a new model. From the John M. Browning inspired Tokarev, to the Walther inspired Makarov, to the present day Grach 9x19mm Russian military sidearm. Each successive Russian handgun since the TT-33 has used a more powerful cartridge; each has employed established internal designs and operating systems from other guns, however, the Grach, also referred to as the PY (Pistolet Yarygina) and MR-433, is a very modern looking and handling gun compared to its long-lived predecessors. The Gletcher version is again a very accurate copy of the models carried by Russian soldiers, police and the Federal Security Service (FSB). The FSB is the successor to the KGB, which was dissolved in November 1991 along with the Soviet Union a month later, the nation becoming known once again as Russia. The KGB was first replaced by the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK), which was reorganized into the FSB in 1995; a lot of acronyms but all amounting to the same things for the new Russian Federation, their version of the CIA.

read more


Tokarev TT-33, Makarov PM1951 and Grach MR-443

Tokarev TT-33, Makarov PM1951, and Grach MR-443

“The Gun That Came in From the Cold” Makarov’s PM 1951 Part 2, Part 1

By Dennis Adler

As I said in Tuesday’s article, I went a little over the top on antiquing the TT-33 so I pulled it back by redoing the finish to a standard condition of 30% as shown in the Blue Book of Gun Values Photo Percentage Grading Scale. It looks like a well used, finish worn WWII pistol. It is matched with an equally antiqued TT-33 holster from World War Supply. The Tokarev was used by Russian soldiers, police and the KGB for almost two decades giving way to the Makarov PM 1951, which wasn’t really that much of a step forward, as it was just a new gun.

Before I get into today’s review of the Makarov PM1951, I want to go over the Tokarev TT-33 one last time. After Tuesday’s article I went back and refinished the antiquing a second time on the Gletcher TT-33, this time with a specific goal in mind, something a little less beaten and more just field worn, so I eliminated the stains (re-polished the frame) and reblued and rubbed the finish out to what the Blue Book of Gun Values considers a 40% condition factor on the Photo Percentage Grading Scale (PPGS). It would actually be closer to 30% were it not for the good condition of the grips and lack of pitting in the finish. This is a nice look for a WWII-era service pistol. So this first photo is the final effort to achieve that look. Again, 0000 steel wool to polish out the factory finish, down to the alloy in most areas, and then coats of Birchwood Casey Perma Blue applied liberally with cotton patches, rubbed dark, then lightly brushed again with the steel wool, more bluing, polishing and then gun oil to stop the action and preserve the final look. It is a basic formula that anyone can adapt and alter to their personal preferences. This time I was going for a finish similar to the photo in the Blue Book PPGS. The Gletcher now has official prop gun status!

read more


Tokarev TT-33, Makarov PM1951 and Grach MR-443

Tokarev TT-33, Makarov PM1951, and Grach MR-443

A three quarter century revolution in Russian Small Arms Part 1

By Dennis Adler

The gun at left is an actual TT-33, my aged Gletcher at right. There are some minor visual differences between the TT-33 and Gletcher TT, most notably the use of Colt-style rear slide serrations rather than the more distinctive elongated vertical serrations used on the Tokarev, and a slightly different look to the trigger, although accurate in size.

Arms designs were global with differing technologies but many similar ideas; one cannot look at a Colt Model 1911 without seeing similarities to countless other European arms of the period. The same can be said for Walther or Browning designs; the confluence of ideas, though perhaps packaged differently, were much the same, and with few exceptions, most were variations of John M. Browning designs created at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th century. The Russians were more often borrowers or outright purchasers of foreign arms in the mid to late 19th century when the Czars were impressed by American guns like Colt and Smith & Wesson. Even with large orders for S&W Americans modified to the needs of the Russian military, leading to S&W producing the First, Second and Third Model Russian variations, the Russian military also sought out sources of arms closer to home, in Belgium, where brothers Leon and Emile Nagant and Fabrique d’Armes et Leon Nagant in Liege developed the 7.62mm, 7-shot gas-seal Nagant revolver. The double action/single action revolver was adopted in 1895 as the standard issue handgun for the Russian Army, and was so well regarded by the military that the Russia government purchased the patent rights and began manufacturing Nagant revolvers in the arsenals at Tula, Sestroryetsk and Izhevsk. Production continued throughout the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and abdication of the Czarist government, through two world wars, and right up until 1945! And even after WWII, the 7-shot Negant revolvers were still carried by Soviet police and the infamous KGB.

read more


New Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Silver Part 3

New Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Silver Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Fine tuning the sights for bullseye accuracy

By Dennis Adler

Sig upped the game with the new P226 X-Five Silver and its deluxe finish, adjustable rear target sight and wood grain grips. But Sig, you forgot the white dot sight. The question is, “does it matter?”

The P226 X-Five has proven to be one of the easiest to handle and most accurate both in detail and downrange of any of the current blowback action CO2 models. The new X-Five Silver has dressed up the otherwise basic black landscape of this gun to competition pistol status with its outstanding fit and finish and adjustable target sights. Almost perfect except that the new Sig left one thing behind, the white dot front sight from the standard model. Some will say, target sights do not need the white dot, and I’d agree with this gun since it has already matched the standard model for accuracy without it. But since I have shown readers how to add a clean (and removable) white dot front sight, I’m going to take the X-Five Silver up another notch for the final shooting evaluation.

read more


New Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Silver Part 2

New Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Silver Part 2 Part 1

Adding target pistol style to the legendary Navy SEAL sidearm

By Dennis Adler

The Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Silver raises the bar for the already well-liked Sig CO2 model. With its two-tone stainless-look alloy frame and slide, the X-Five Silver adds adjustable rear sights, wood grained wraparound grips, magwell and extended base pad 18-round magazine.

I would venture to say that no two military sidearms have had more heroic roles in modern U.S. history than the Colt Government Model 1911 and Sig Sauer P226; the Colt for nearly all of the 20th century, including two world wars, and the Sig with various branches of the military and government agencies, including Navy SEAL teams since the 1980s. The P226 X-Five CO2 models fall into that exemplary category of highly desirable, quality-built handguns with military history, even though the X-Five variants were not standard military issue, but rather dedicated target pistols.

read more


New Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Silver Part 1

New Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Silver Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

CO2 blowback action pistols just don’t get any better looking!

By Dennis Adler

Upgrading the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five CO2 model to the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Match design, this latest model based on the 9mm target version adds adjustable rear target sights, a two-tone stainless finish, brown wood grain wraparound grips, magwell and extended base pad magazine.

I have been a fan of the P226 X-Five since it was introduced, and outside of the Umarex S&W M&P40 this is the most authentic handling CO2 blowback action air pistol you can own. I have had mine since I reviewed the officially licensed Sig model in Airgun Experience No. 2 back in the summer of 2016.

One of the world’s most recognized handguns

The P226 has been the handgun of choice for U.S. Navy SEALs, various U.S. military Spec Ops units, as well as many U.S. law enforcement agencies for years; Sig models like the compact P228 and P229 are carried by NCIS, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and ICE, among others, but they all have their origins in the P226, which has been in service since 1983. SEALs carried the P226 MK25 (Navy version) for years and are now just beginning to convert over to the Glock 19. The difference between these two guns is day and night. In fact, there is simply no common ground for comparison except caliber and that they are both semi-autos. Sigs still remain the primary sidearm of most U.S. government agencies. The P226 X-Five, however, was a different kind of Sig manufactured as a target pistol with all stainless steel construction, stainless magwell and low profile adjustable rear sights. The deluxe Sig model was available in blue, black Nitron, and two tone stainless finishes. I write this in the past tense because the X-Five and X series was discontinued in 2014 after a very long and successful production run.

read more