by B.B. Pelletier
I dislike that phrase because it sends the message that airguns AREN’T real! I know what it means. Sometimes, though, a company will make an airgun FROM a firearm, and then there is no debate. It IS a real gun, whether using air or gunpowder. Such was the case a few years ago with the Russian Makrov BB pistol.
The Makarov BB pistol was made from a real 9x18mm firearm.
This Bulgarian Makarov looks and
feels very similar to the BB gun shown above.
Sold here at Pyramyd Air
Back in the late 1990s, Baikal started converting Makrov pistols to use CO2 powerlets and fire lead BBs. They used actual handguns as a starting point! EAA imported them. While they were available, you could buy them right here at Pyramyd Air. I believe they were made for U.S consumption only and did not go to other countries, however I have no solid evidence of that.
The guns came in the same rough pasteboard boxes as the Russian Makrov firearm. The BB gun came with the cleaning rod, a set of replacement seals, a combination tool for disassembly, the instruction manual and a small packet of steel BBs. However, the BBs were incorrect for the pistol’s rifled barrel! It was made to shoot .177 lead balls that are still available today. If you happen to run across one of these airguns, DON’T shoot BBs in it! EAA apparently requested the Russians to pack the BBs without knowing or caring that they would destroy the barrel.
Seen side-by-side with a 9×18 Makarov firearm, the resemblance is uncanny. The size and weight are identical. The BB gun has more metal removed from the slide, but its heavier steel magazine, which doubles as the firing valve, balances that. Russian Makarovs usually have adjustable rear sights, but Baikal put a non-adjustable rear sight on the BB pistol.
Velocity with the correct lead ball ammo runs in the 400 f.p.s. range, so steel BBs would come out at 500 or more. Another reason to avoid steel BBS: bounce-backs could be quite dangerous! Lead won’t bounce (although it does fragment and shatter, causing some pieces to occasionally fly back), so it’s much safer.
Same firing mechanism, but some differences
I notice there are some parts differences between the BB gun and the firearm. The nice, predictable two-stage double-action pull on my Bulgarian Makarov is lighter but otherwise the same on the BB gun. However, in single-action, the Bulgarian firearm has a crisp letoff, while the BB gun has LOTS of creep and travel!
Diasassembly stays the same
If there is an easier handgun to disassemble for cleaning, I haven’t found it yet. The Makarov copies Walther’s famous PP/PPK by dropping the triggerguard and pulling back and up on the slide to disengage from the frame. By comparison, a Colt M1911 is twice as difficult, and most shooters find it easy!
Importation stopped by ATF
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (now BATF&E) stopped importation of the Makarov BB gun because it is possible to turn it back into a firearm with the right parts. Never mind that the parts are not easily available; that still makes the BB gun frame a firearm, so they stopped them. When they were available for sale, they went for around $100. With the scarcity created by the embargo, you might have to pay more for one, if you can find one.
64 thoughts on “Just like a REAL gun!”
From your experience, what are some of the most powerful .22 and .25 air rifles around $400 and under, what are your impressions on the above guns you are familiar with, and which gun would you recommend?
The RWS Diana 48/52 (same gun, different stock) is one of the best buys for your budget. I like .22s over .25s and I always will because of the wider selection of pellets in .22. I really like an RWS 48 in .22 caliber. You get an honest 22/23 foot pounds and the rifle is easy to cock.
I also like the Diana 350 Magnum, but it requires much more technique to shoot accurately.
A Webley Tomahawk is another nice rifle, but again, it takes technique to be accurate. However, it is more refined than the Dianas.
Of course you have excluded the Webley Patriot with your price cut, and the Patriot is the best rifle of all, if power and quality are the criteria.
Baikal still makes Makarov CO2 and they are available outside of US…
Thanks for that info. Do you know where they are being sold?
Link on Baikal web site:
The airgun is available in Europe (Baikal has a distributor there). Here are some links:
(Webley sells them too):
Thank you. I went to the Baikal site and saw it.
Thanks for posting some info. on this great looking pistol!
A number of places in the UK sell them (with big variations in price!). I ordered one online yesterday from J S Ramsbottom, who have a good reputation and offer the cheapest price (£58.95 GB Pounds):
I already have the slimmer Pearce rubber grip and a ‘new’ 1970 Russian leather holster (both bought off eBay)so I’m hoping the Hi-Cap framed CO2 version is going to fit in!
Thanks for your comments. I’m glad to hear shooters in the UK can still enjoy the Makarov CO2 pistol. I have one that I won’t part with and I just bought a 9x18mm Makarov to go with it.
I think your new pistol will fit the leather Russian holster very snugly. I have an East German leather holster and my firearm, which is slimmer than the BB pistol, barely fits. Leather will conform in time, however, so just be patient.
Remember to shoot lead balls, not steel BBs, inyour pistol.
Yes, I already have some gamo lead BBs, and I ordered some more at the same time that I ordered the CO2 Mak. You can also buy the magazines separately for (I think £18 GB Pounds) here in the UK and I intend to buy one in the near future – being able to quickly reload AND with fresh CO2 at the same time will be more fun I think . . . .
Also, I have just remembered there is a company which offers ‘Custom’ CO2 Maks with a claimed 150% power increase (I guess they do some porting mods on the magazine):
But they are twice the price of a regular Mak so I decided to stick with the standard model.
Wish I could have a 9x18mm too, but as I live in the UK it is unfortunately out of the question. . . .
Thanks for the good news rwegarding the holster.
I think you will love your new airgun. Please feel free to comment on this blog at any time. I need the viewpoints of airgunners living in other countries.
I watched the opening of the UK market when the ban against CO2 was lifted several years ago. The Crosman 600 pistols doubled in price within a few months, as hundreds of them left this country.
Do you own a 600 yet?
No I don’t have a 600, though I have read about them and many people seem to believe that they are the best CO2 pistol, is that right? Finding one in the UK wouldn’t be easy though and I think they would be quite expensive. I’d certainly be interested if I could find a good one at the right price though.
I have only discovered your blog today, but I will be keeping a look in the future and let you know my views on the Mak. . . .
I see you have an article on the Crosman M1 Carbine bb gun – I have one of those (and its original box)! My brother (who moved to USA in ’77) sent me one as a birthday present some 20 or so years ago (UK Customs held it for a while untill they could work out what it was and eventuallly let me have it!) There can’t be many of those in the UK. . . .
CO2 guns were legalised at the same time that handguns were banned so they did take off. It looks like some old stock was sent over here as you can buy a new Crosman Auto 338 P38 lookalike for £19.99 and I believe they went out of production in 1995! At that price I couldn’t resist it! Quite accurate for a smoothbore bb pistol too.
I have only just got back into airgunning – and just stripped and rebuilt a late 60’s Webley Falcon .22 springer rifle (it was bought new for my brother). Fortunately, I was able to buy a new original mainspring and leather piston washer unit.
Anyway, I’ll be gettin that Mak in a couple of days time. . . .
If it’s any comfort, Crosman 600s are expensive over here, too. The Drulov DU-10 makes a nice alternative, but it is even costlier.
I hope you enjoy this blog. let me know if there is something you would like to see and I’ll try to do it.
I’ve bookmarked your blog and look forward to learning more about airguns. . . .
I’m curious about the recommendation to use lead bb’s in the Markarov CO2 pistol. I noticed in the ad they said to use steel/copper only. Please explain.
Well, the posting pretty well explains it. The barrel is rifles steel. It doesn’t have a compromise type of rifling that can accept BBs. It’s also sized .177, not .173. All of that dictates 4.5mm lead ammunition, not 4.3 mm steel BBs.
Here in New Zealand the Baikal Makarovs are widely available – except they want the equivalent of $USD200 for one!
Then again, at least we get to use silencers / moderators without restriction on airguns and firearms so all is not lost 🙂
Daniel in NZ
How accurate is the Makarov (say, compared to a Beeman P3)?
The Beeman P3 will shoot rings around the Makarov. Expect 1.5-inch groups at 10 yards from the Mak and dime-sized groups from the P3.
So less accurate, then — I would probably still get it for kicks and sentimental value if I found one for sale. Oh, and speaking of the Beeman… I have noticed that I can group on a quarter from about 6 yards but only if I shoot one handed (competition style). The two-handed combat stance produces poorer results, I wonder is it me, or is the gun’s preference? 🙂
A one-hand hold done right will always be more accurate than two hands. Olympic target shooters rarely miss the end of a pencil eraser at 33 feet.
I once beat a tactical cop with him shooting two-handed and me with one. It’s really no contest.
Now when speed of acquisition is involved, two hands always wins. But for deliberate fire, one hand is the champ.
The Makarov BB pistols are very popular in the UK, where they are legal but real ones are banned. They sell for 100 to 150 pounds.
Apparently, the U.S. is one of the only countries that can’t have this pistol any more. And we have the 9×18 Makarov firearms by the bushel!
i have a nickel mp654 mak ….i went all the way to the lebanese border to buy it for 125 usd …i just love it ….. i made a stainless steel silencer that i screw on the barrel that i threaded from the outside……..
regarding the steel or lead issue: i read on reviewcentre that people load first a steel bb and then load lead bbs in the remainning space of the magazine..this is supposed to avoid jamming , or lead bbs to be deformed in the mag….i tried it and got good and bad results….do you think that it is due to the fact that i use gamo lead bbs (only ones available in lebanon) and not another brand ???
on another hand , if steel bbs ruin rifled barrels (as you always say)how do you explain that the daisy powerline 880 has a rifled steel barrel and shoots steel bbs ??
thank you for responding
your lebanese friend and supporter, benoit
The lead has never posed a problem for me. I use Gamo lead balls (.177), too. They aren’t really BBs, because BBs are .173 calibert.
They fit the Drozd and the Makarov perfectly without jamming and there is no deformation in the magazine. I don’t do anything special, either.
I’m going to post an report on rifling, because I see that a lot of airgunners don’t understand the different kinds.
That’s my experience.
i’ll be waiting for that post …
thanks a lot
Great review…I have a collection of Walthers and a Mak 654. The Maks are readily available here in New Zealand and can be a bargain second-hand. I love the Walthers and the Mak equally, albeit for different reasons.
One question; a recent posting in the Review Centre for the Mak claims that the Gamo lead balls are “too big” -I quote: “Please do not try Gamo and Daisy BB’s, they are too big, they damage rifling in the barrel, try Crosman BB or 4.4mm lead BB’s”.
While the Gamo’s are snug, will they actually ‘damage’ the rifling? Surely lead is far more malleable than steel rifling?
Lead balls cannot damage a steel barrel. I guess what they warn against is a ball jamming in the barrel.
Also, I’m puzzled by the warning about using Daisy BBs. They are steel and WILL damage the rifling, but they are not too large for the bore. And Crosman BBs are also steel and WILL damage the bore! The Mak owner’s manual specifically warns against using steel in the gun. At least the older manual I have does.
BB; What about the “4.4mm lead BBs” suggested?
The 4.4mm lead balls will work, but they are slightly small. They will lose gas around the ball, and they won’t be as accurate.
Looking in the barrel, the ‘rifling’ is quite odd looking (to me, anyway). It’s not so much a typical firearm ‘land and groove’ arrangement as it is a ‘swirl’ in the barrel. Can you describe the different types of rifling and what kind of ammunition is best for each?
I did an extensive blog on rifling types. Go to the home page and search on the term rifling.
BB, I’ve found two sources that say the MP654K’s barrel can be unscrewed. On mine there is a staking mark on the joint where the barrel meets the ring in the frame, which would lend creedence to this. Can you confirm how the barrel is affixed to the frame? I wasn’t able to unscrew it, even after going after it with a pair of padded vice grips.
The Makarov barrel takes a bit of technique to remove.
Go here for info.
Thanks but note that the Co2’s barrel is different from the real cartridge Makarov’s barrel in that the MP-654K’s barrel is wider than the barrel retaining ring both in front (the barrel itself) and behind (the breech) of the receiver ring. Attempting to use the Makarov barrel tool to push it out from either direction wouldn’t work.
From what I’ve read the barrel is threaded into the breech piece.
I’m trying to confirm this.
It sounds like you’ve done your research. I really don’t know the answer.
Is it particularly difficult to thread a Makarov barrel to 1/2″ in order to fit say a Logun suppressor. I would like to be able to silence the Mak but the barrel is a bit of bastard to remove I hear…
I answered you on the other posting.
I posted as anonymous above on Nov 12 and 13 but now have a Blogger account.
I have confirmed that the barrel unscrews from the breech piece. Simply clamp the barrel ONLY in a padded vice and turn the receiver. It has standard threads (clockwise = tighten)
It is not at all difficult to remove.
Also I have some other interesting information for you:
The following is an email from Sergey Korolev, who is a product designer at Baikal, in response to my question about which ammo should be used in the MP654K, and whether or not steel BBs are harmful:
“MP-654K is normally tested with steel BBs. During our durability or
endurance tests we never saw any harmfulness of the steel BBs for rifling and accuracy. Also we tested the pistol with lead balls or lead spherical pellets, but I heard, on the market there are balls with too large diameter
which have problems with feeding in MP-654K.”
I have a tin of Gamo 4.5mm round lead ball. The same ball popped right in the loading hole of one of my Makarov magazines, but not another.
That same ball fit into my DROZD magazine just fine.
The lead ball likes to stick in the top of the Makarov magazine making it VERY difficult to load.
I set up 2 NRA slow pistol targets and shot 2 magazines of Daisy BBs in the Makarov, then (after a CO2 cartridge change) 2 magazines of Gamo 4.5mm lead round ball. The scores were EXACTLY the same. I was expecting better accuracy from the lead as it picked up the rifling but no.
In fact I found one pellet had gone through the target and stuck in some cardboard behind it. It was perfectly spherical with NO indication of rifling marks on it.
I’m not sure what to make of all of this. Perhaps another email ti Baikal is in order to determine if there were two models produced; one for lead ball and one for steel BBs.
Baikal make a lot of rifled .177 barrel stock for pellet guns, this is used for the MP654 and the Drozd as it saves cash, even though the guns themselves have a design thats only really suitable for BBs
The intention was always to have them fire 4.4mm steel BBs – original magazines for the MP654K reflect this in their innability to load the slightly larger gammo lead balls it was only later in production that the throat of the magazines were opened out to allow this.
Early CO2 maks from 98-99 (the ones without baikal markings) used a press fit barrel (which is probably the cause of the US concerns) The Russians themselves put a end to that ‘feature’ and all later maks use a screw in barrel that is turned down to a much narower diameter at breech end, and a frame that has the sides of its barrel trunnion severly cut back, to prevent it ever being bored out large enough to allow a firearm mak barrel to be installed.
How can i unjam the airgun when it gets jammed with those lead bullets?
+ Where in europe can i buy spare magazines?
Will the Pearce aftermarket rubber grips fit the MP-654K CO2 pistol?
I can’t say for certain, because I haven’t tested that, but the grip frame of the CO2 pistol is a genuine 9 mm handgun part. So anything that fits the firearm should fit the CO2 gun.
I just received an e-mail from http://www.makarov.com, and their high capacity grips (10/12 round) will fit the MP-654K CO2 pistol.
Doing a bit of research, I also found this maker of custom grips in Norway: http://www.imageseek.com/hakan/
He makes grips for the 9 mm. Makarov, and I’d like to have him make some wood grips for my CO2 version.. I feel that it would look fantastic in Desert Ironwood or cocobolo, and the pistol would fit my hand better.
More info on the MP-654K…
There were various special edition models over the years:
Walnut grips for the 10/12 round capacity magazine are available… I wonder if they will fit the MP-654K? : http://makarov.com/walnut/index.html
Miltex also make walnut grips with a thumbrest, but may or may not have them for the larger magazine:
Brief (very) video:
Manuals for the MP-654K:
An English site offering the pistol… Velocity is cited as 70 meters/second!
One sold recently on e-Bay:
Well, you certainly know how to research! I looked at Hakan’s website quite a lot. The Mak grips are beautiful. Now I debating whether to go that way with my 9mm, as it’s a carry gun.
Thanks for all the resources.
For a 9 mm. Makarov, you could go with “plain” american walnut grips, or the Miltex walnut grips.
If you want something truly exotic, ask Hakan to set you up with some presentation grade grips.
I remember that I once purchased a block of AAA Grade Arizona Desert Ironwood Burl (6″ X 2.5″ X 2.5) for $300 U.S. so it depends how much you want to spend…
You can also have your Makarov completely stripped, polished, and re-blued. It would be stunning to say the very least, especially if you went for exotic grips fashioned especially for you by Hakan!
Best wishes, and thanks for an excellent website!
On August 13, 2005, Richard said that there was a company which modified the magazine, which would produce 150% more power… Unfortunately the link is now dead.
Being that I just purchased a MP654K, and want to tweak it as much as possible, can any competent airgun gunsmith work with the porting to increase the gun’s power?
I think Richard was referring to the magazine’s power – not the gun’s. No porting or other gun modification will increase the gun’s power. To do that, you need to develop hotter loads (cartridges).
Gottcha; thanks for the clarification, B.B.!
The Chinese are fantic with this decent toy and they custom made a few parts of it to make it more powerful.
Refer to the link below:
This is a legthened fire pin that can manually fix on the 654k. it’s 3-4 mm longer and can help increase the opening of the valve.
This is a modified valve that can increase the air exhaustion of the pistol
They even have custom made prolonged barrel and nitrogen adaptor for the pistol(using nitrogen as the power source can help to prevent drastic power drop owing to the cooling effect when using CO2 source)
Custom made CO2 adaptor with bigger hole and softer valve spring.
Buying all these cost around 200 USD but the power the pistol deliver could be up to 800fps!
If you are interested in the statistics, do drop your email here, I can send you pictures of the modification.
Pls email me the modification photod for baikal. Thank you in advance
Interesting to hear about these modification possibilties. Unfortunately, the links don't work anymore. Any chance you could tell us where or how to find these Chinese mod kits for the Baikal Makarov?
I've learnt that most of the Hong Kong's sport or toy gun shops selling fake or copy MP-654K for around HK$1680, as I know it's hard to tell difference between real & fake MP-654K. But rumour say that on right side of slide with "F" inside a pentagon and "HW" making is fake products. Any coment and advice?
You are referring to the German "Freimark," the symbol that is displayed on all airguns (airsoft included, that do not exceed 7.5 joules of muzzle energy, which in German law makes the gun free (frei) of legislation for ownership.
I own a makarov russian made. The unit came with a 4 joule valve with 3 holes ( 2 joule valve has only 1 hole). I tried to change them without changing the valve seal and o seal just around the screw used to tighten the valve. CO2 gas just flowing through the valve as if there was a leak. I knew it came with spare o seal and valve seal. Has anyone tried to modified their unit and succeed..? I ve tried to look on the mod website. But nothing was on there.
Sounds like you need to put some Pellgunoil on your gun. Click here to read B.B.'s definitive article on this "miracle oil."
You posted your question on an older blog. Only a few people will see your question. Post comments on the current day's blog: Pyramyd Air blog. To post a comment, scroll down just a little bit until you see the first "comments" link. Comments do not have to be related to the blog posted for that day.
I own a MP-654K, but am looking for a replacement set of seals/O-rings, especially the breech-magazine seal. I live in Spain,but can pay by Paypal (preferred). Casn anyone advise me on a suitable supplier?
You can contact Pyramyd Air and ask them if they have the seals. Obviously it would be next to impossible to deal directly with the Russians, because if you aren't a major wholesaler they won't talk to you.
So email Pyramyd Air and ask:
I live in New. Zealand and recently bought a Makarov new. Still available, however legislation limiting importation of replica air guns will mean stocks will run out. Today I bought the nickel version in an online auction. We have a guy who sells longer barrels for accuracy and power and silencers. No export.
I love my Makarov. Trigger tough on DA and firmish but perfect on SA. Return spring a bitch. Really strong. Off the real metal. It's the best replica I've seen. Cos it's mostly, well a real Makarov. PC
Greetings everyone. I’m new to air gun collecting, and fell in love with this Makarov the moment I set eyes upon it. I recently purchased one from a reputable over seas company but had not idea of the controversy surrounding this piece. Now I’m a bit unnerved.
I’d like to hear from anyone who has had experience ordering these from over seas here in the U.S. Can I expect this to be seized by customs, or possibly worse? I tried like heck to research the exact legislation concerning this exact item and can’t find anything. I guess all I can do is keep my fingers crossed and hope it makes it through.
Nothing nefarious or suspicious about the shipping box. All the correct documentation and customs declaration are in order.
Welcome to the blog.
You have commented on a report that is now 11 years old, so very few people will ever see your comment except me. I am the writer of this blog and also the administrator.
Who can say what Customs will do? The BATF&E declared the Makarov pistol reported in this article to be contraband because they say it’s possible to convert it back into a firearm. Whether that’s true, I can’t say. I have never tried to do it, and wouldn’t know where to begin.
BATF&E (Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives) has the authority to control the importation of firearms, plus they regulate the sales of firearms in the U.S. They have no authority over airguns, but if they are correct and this Makarov can be converted into a firearm, then it falls under their jurisdiction.
You ask about legislation. BATF&E enforces legislation, so they are in their rights to ban a gun if it violates existing legislation. If they are right about this Makarov, then they are doing what they are supposed to do. But Customs doesn’t work for BATF&E, nor do they work closely with them.
Customs is aware of the guns that have been banned, and if they spot one they will seize it. But they cannot examine every package that enters the U.S. So this is a numbers game.
If they seize your gun, there is probably very little that can be done about it. If they let is pass through, then it will come to you. As the importer, you are responsible for following the law.
I have heard of hundreds of similar cases to yours, and each one works out in its own way. What I’m telling you is you are now playing a waiting game.
In the future if you want to comment it would be better to do so on the current blog page, which is here:
A big hardy thank you! You’ve answered every question I had in mind in regards to the relationship between ATF and customs, and what I can expect should the item be discovered as a banned. I have no doubt the box will be opened by customs, as it is clearly marked to contain a low powered air pistol. I guess what I can hope for is that who ever opens the box, doesn’t research the item too thoroughly and lets it pass. All air gun documentation and laws are taped to the outside of the box.
Absent from your response is the possibility of some over zealous ATF agent waiting at my door with hand cuffs at the ready. I guess that’s too much Hollywood and not much reality on my part 🙂 . But if the gun does get seized and nothing else comes of it, I’ll chalk it up as a learning experience and take the loss (250 US).
And the modern blog is now bookmarked, thank you,
I saw the ATF lie in wait just once. It was an airgunner who openly flaunted the law by ordering a silencer from the UK. They let him take delivery, then they arrested him.
No charges were filed. They confiscated the silencer and that was it. I think they just wanted to scare him, since he was so vocal in his beliefs that silencers are legal on airguns.
This happened in California about 15 years ago.
Just a quick posting to let you know my piece has made it safe and sound. No incidents, opened boxes, seizures. Not even extra money for duty tax. Amazing!! This I was not expecting. Very happy indeed.