Makarov
The Makarov CO2 BB pistol.

This report covers:

  • The motivation
  • Air pistols
  • History
  • American Airgunner
  • Firearm
  • Firearm made into BB pistol
  • Description
  • Pocket pistol?
  • Accuracy
  • Shot count
  • Summary

Gotta lot to tell you today! This Makarov BB pistol has developed a history of its own in the 13 or so years it has been in production. Before I get to all that, though, let me tell you the motivation for this report series.

The motivation

Reader RidgeRunner has been talking about his Legends P08 Luger with the moveable toggle. His pistol is not working, so I wanted to do a review of that air pistol. I still do but all I can find is the one that doesn’t have the moveable toggle i.e. no blowback. That’s also a good air pistol, but I had plans for the other one that included shooting my P08 firearm, so I set the subject aside for now.

Then what to my wondering eye did appear but an Umarex Makarov! I have both the blowback model and the non-blowback model, but the only one Umarex is importing now is the one without blowback. That is a very special BB gun that was featured on the television show American Airgunner in 2010. More on that in a bit.

Air pistols

I have been wanting to report on air pistols for some time. I think the long guns have hogged the stage for quite awhile and handguns need a turn in the spotlight. The Makarov is particularly special because it has a large history of its own — both as a firearm and an airgun. And I have all the examples on which I will report.

History

The Makarov pistol was developed in 1948 and first fielded in 1951 to replace the 7.63mm Tokarev pistol that fired a bottleneck case. They are out of general service today but they are still used by Spetsnaz special forces and by other branches of the Russian government.

If you know your firearms you will see a lot of influence from Walther’s PP pistol in what the Russians fielded, though on the inside they look different. The Mak is a small 9mm pistol that fires both single action and double action, making it fast to get into action. It can be safely carried with a round in the chamber which means the first shot comes by pulling the double action trigger. Following that all shots are single action.

The 9mm Makarov round is not a 9mm Parabellum, which is also called a 9X19 mm or a 9mm Luger. Nor is it a .380 ACP round which is also called a 9X17 or 9mm Kurtz. The Makarov cartridge is a 9X18mm, and the diameter of the bullet is enough larger than the other two world-standard cartridges as to render them unshootable in the Makarov. It’s as if the Russians wanted to copy everybody else and then decided not to share their toys. And, by a strange twist of fate, today Russia does make the Makarov commercially in .380 ACP caliber. Duh!

American Airgunner

I found this BB pistol to be amazingly accurate when I tested it. Then I “taught” Crystal Ackley to shoot a handgun with this model BB Makarov on the first season of American Airgunner. In truth, if you saw that episode, I didn’t teach her anything. All I did was tell her what to do, she did it and it worked! Always! Crystal was a natural shooter who out-shot everyone on the show — including a national champion airgun silhouette shooter, using his own rifle! Back to the Mak.

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Firearm

Because I liked the BB pistol I also acquired a Makarov firearm that I’ve mentioned from time to time in this blog. It’s the only semiautomatic pistol I’ve ever seen that has never jammed or misfired once in over a thousand shots. The design is rugged, yet the gun is accurate, and it has a light double-action trigger-pull plus a light crisp single-action pull and mild recoil. Too bad the puny 9X18mm cartridge it’s chambered for is so entirely unsuited to military use, because the gun is a rock-solid reliable piece. A 1911 should be so reliable!

Makarov firearm
Makarov firearm.

Firearm made into BB pistol

Never ones to overlook an opportunity, the Russians at the Izhevsk Arsenal converted the Makarov firearm into a BB pistol. Unfortunately our ATF declared it was possible to turn the BB pistol back into a firearm and they stopped the importation to this country. So, if you own one of the few that made it to our shore, you have a real find. Mak firearms are common in the US. These conversion BB pistols are quite rare.

Makarov firearm conversion
A 9mm Makarov firearm was converted into a BB pistol.

my Make
Top left — Mak BB pistol with blowback. Top right — Mak firearm. Bottom left — Mak firearm converted to BB pistol. Bottom right — the Mak BB pistol we are testing.

Description

What do we have in this BB pistol? It uses a single 12-gram CO2 cartridge that’s stored inside the pistol grip in a strange way. You pull the one-piece grip straight back to reveal the CO2 cartridge. The cartridge only loads on the left side of the pistol.

Makrov CO2 cartridge
The pistol grip pulls straight back to reveal the CO2 cartridge. The grip is captive and does not come off the gun.

The 18 BBs stand up in a straight-line stick magazine that’s located in the front of the grip. Be careful because the BB mag release must be pushed forward, despite every firearm mag release and most other BB pistol mag releases being pushed to the rear. It even looks like it needs to be pushed to the rear, so take care here.

Makarov mag release
The mag release is that ribbed bump on the left. Push it forward (to the left in this image) to allow the stick magazine to drop free.

This pistol fires double action only, but the trigger pull is light. The pull is long but I find it easy to get used to. And I hope that in the accuracy test you will see that a single action pull doesn’t automatically mean less accuracy.

Pocket pistol?

Yes it is a pocket pistol but is the Makarov a good pistol for concealed carry? Yes and no. Twenty years ago the answer world have been yes from a concealability standpoint and no from an ammunition standpoint. Well, the ammo has improved with better anti-personnel bullets, but pistols like the Sig P365 and others that are like it are smaller than the Mak, they hold more rounds (11 to the Mak’s 9 without extended magazines) and they shoot the more powerful 9X19mm Luger cartridge.

Makarov and P365
The Makarov 9mm firearm on top is larger than the P365 below but uses a weaker cartridge and holds two less rounds.

Accuracy

When Crystal Ackley shot groups at 20 feet on camera she put all 18 shots into less than one inch. I consider that to be splendid accuracy for a BB pistol. You know that I will shoot from 5 meters which is about 16 feet 4 inches. I’m not young and pretty, either!

There have been several premium BBs launched since I shot this on American Airgunner. I shot it in 2009, and I used the best BBs we had at the time, but some of these new ones have raised the bar. I am excited to see how they do in a BB pistol that I know to be good.

Shot count

Umarex says the velocity is around 380 f.p.s. That should give us a shot count of 60 or more. And by the way, I removed an empty CO2 cartridge before loading a fresh one for this test. I have no idea how long that one had been in there, but it has to have been at least 7 years! The new cartridge went in with no leaks, though I did lose some gas installing it. So I’ll load a fresh cartridge for the velocity test. But my point is, the face seal remained pliable over all that time. And I did use a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the new cartridge to oil the seals inside the valve.

Summary

We are taking a look at an affordable BB pistol that according to my recollection is very accurate. I will expand this report to cover the other Mak models including the firearm if you want. This should be an interesting series.