Luger P.08 and Makarov pistols

Luger P.08 and Makarov pistols Part 3

Making a choice between two Makarov pistols

By Dennis Adler

The two Makarovs, Gletcher’s PM 1951 (rear) and the Umarex Makarov Ultra. Neither gun is an exact copy of the famed post-WWII Soviet handgun, but each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The two Makarovs, Gletcher’s PM 1951 (rear) and the Umarex Makarov Ultra. Neither is an exact copy of the famed post-WWII Soviet handgun, but each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The Makarov or PM 1951 was a new design for the Soviet Union, but the Pistolet Makarova was, for the most part, a Russian variation of the circa 1930’s Walther PPK, in fact, both guns are very much alike, not only in general appearances but internal design and operation. Nikolay Makarov made a very nice Walther and Gletcher and Umarex make very nice Makarov pistols.

How close it is? The Gletcher PM 1951 (top) looks a lot like a real Makarov (bottom) but is a little lankier and lacking in a few minor but noteworthy details.

How close it is? The Gletcher PM 1951 (top) looks a lot like a real Makarov (bottom) but is a little lankier and lacking in a few minor but noteworthy details.

The Gletcher Russian Legends version is very accurate in design with proper grips (although a longer grip frame, (necessary for the length of the self contained CO2 and BB magazine), lanyard loop, muzzle shape and general contours. The trigger is slightly different in shape, but there is a big plus in that minor detail. In overall appearances it close to the Makarov.

The Umarex Makarov Ultra (top) has more accurate features including a nearly identical length grip frame, correct serrated hammer shape, and correct style slide release and thumb safety. The big drawback is the CO2 seating screw extending from the base of the CO2 BB magazine.

The Umarex Makarov Ultra (top) has more accurate features including a nearly identical length grip frame, correct serrated hammer shape, and correct style slide release and thumb safety. The big drawback is the CO2 seating screw extending from the base of the CO2 BB magazine.

Conversely, the Umarex Makarov Ultra has a more accurate slide release, serrated hammer shape and more accurate trigger shape; it also has a proper length grip frame. The worst feature is the self contained CO2 and BB magazine, which has the seating screw extending from the bottom, rather than using a recessed hex head seating screw. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, the Umarex, however, would be a superior gun in overall design if it had a proper CO2 BB magazine.

The Umarex Makarov Ultra (left) is an overall more authentic looking copy of the Makarov, but the CO2 BB magazine is a real detractor since it has the telltale CO2 seating screw extending out of the bottom. The Gletcher (right) has a recessed seating screw that is tightened with a separate hex head tool.

The Umarex Makarov Ultra (left) is an overall more authentic looking copy of the Makarov, but the CO2 BB magazine is a real detractor since it has the telltale CO2 seating screw extending out of the bottom. The Gletcher (right) has a recessed seating screw that is tightened with a separate hex head tool.

The Gletcher’s grip frame is 0.5 inches longer than the Umarex (which is closer to the real pistol for size). This is accounted for by the magazine designs which are totally different.

The Gletcher’s grip frame is 0.5 inches longer than the Umarex (which is closer to the real pistol for size). This is accounted for in part by totally different magazine designs.

 Best Shots

Velocity tests returned a little lower than expected 302 fps average for the Gletcher PM 1951, which is rated at 328 fps, and a little higher than expected 358 fps average from the Umarex Makarov Ultra, which is rated at 350 fps. The real upshot is that both are about equally accurate with their black military style dovetailed notch rear, and short blade front sights. The safety on the Umarex is hard to operate, while the Gletcher’s is pretty close to working the real pistol’s safety. The Umarex slide release is a superior design and easy to work, while the Gletcher’s simply doesn’t work unless you pull the slide back at the same time. Bottom line there is that the Umarex is built better. Neither gun is a prize when it comes time to change magazines as they use an original style Makarov release mounted at the base of the grip frame. You have to push it back to release the magazine. This calls for a strong thumb, although the Umarex requires about half the effort of the Gletcher.

Both Makarov air pistols are true blowback designs with the barrels mounted on the frame and surrounded by the recoil spring. This is almost exactly what a real Makarov or Walther PPK looks like when you disassemble it. This is done by removing the magazine, pulling the triggerguard gown at the front so it disengages with the frame, and then pulling the slide to the rear, lifting it up over the hammer and sliding it forward off the frame and barrel.

Both Makarov air pistols are true blowback designs with the barrels mounted on the frame and surrounded by the recoil spring. This is almost exactly what a real Makarov or Walther PPK looks like when you disassemble it. This is done by removing the magazine, pulling the triggerguard gown at the front so it disengages with the frame, and then pulling the slide to the rear, lifting it up over the hammer and sliding it forward off the frame and barrel.

The accuracy of the two guns really comes down to the triggers, with the Gletcher having a significant edge over the Umarex. Average trigger pull for the Umarex Makarov Ultra is a hefty 11 pounds, 4 ounces, with a long 0.75 inches of low resistance travel followed by 0.25 inches of heavy stacking to a clean break. The Umarex also has sharper than usual recoil for a blowback action air pistol, which goes hand-in-hand with its almost 50 fps average higher velocity. The Gletcher, with a lighter and smoother 4 pound, 5.7 ounce trigger pull, feels more like a target pistol with a mere 0.25 inches of travel to drop the hammer. It also has very snappy recoil, so both blowback action Makarov pistols are great to shoot.

Both guns delivered decent accuracy at 21 feet with the Gletcher turning in the best 10 rounds at 1.75 inches compared to 2.0 inches for the Umarex.

Both guns delivered decent accuracy at 21 feet with the Gletcher turning in the best 10 rounds at 1.75 inches compared to 2.0 inches for the Umarex.

The test target was shot back to back with both guns at a distance of 21 feet. The Gletcher PM 1951 put 10 rounds at 1.75 inches, the Umarex Makarov Ultra, 10 shots at 2.0 inches. Both guns had 5-shot groups of 1-inch or under. Neither gun is a perfect copy of the Makarov, but Umarex has the sum total of better features. What it needs is an updated magazine screw (like the PPK/S just got) and lighter trigger. Until then, this is a match up where you are quite literally trading velocity for accuracy.

In Friday’s Airgun Experience we are going to explore just how accurate some .177 caliber blowback action semi-autos are, not only on the outside, but on the inside!

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

4 thoughts on “Luger P.08 and Makarov pistols

  1. I like the Umarex version. The trigger feels lighter than 9 lbs. I would like to see the piercing screw replaced with a recessed version, white dot front sight would be nice, as would a da /,sa trigger like the real firearm. Like the snappy recoil and decent fps. Accuracy is acceptable to me. See no reason why a Walther PP or PPk could not be done to be more like the Makarov


  2. The trigger has a lot of late stacking during the last 0.25 inches of travel, the first 0.75 inches is light but the end really puts the pressure on your trigger finger. And it was actually 11 pounds. What the Umarex trigger does have going for it is size and shape. Also the snappy recoil is nice for a .177 caliber air pistol. You can paint a white dot or white the backside of the blade. When I get frustrated I put a tiny piece of masking tape on the back of the front sight, nothing permanent but effective for a shooting session. As for a real DA/SA trigger, that’s a whole different set of problems. Hopefully the next Umarex Makarov will address all the consumer requests. It is a great gun in this caliber.


  3. Dennis, I hablove the original non blo5wback version of the Umarex Makarov. That pistol is very accurate at 15 feet and the trigger pull in single action is very light. The only reason I do not shoot it more is the sight are very hard to see with my old eyes.


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