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Ammo Makarov CO2 BB Pistol: Part 1

Makarov CO2 BB Pistol: Part 1

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.


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.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear


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.


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.


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.


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.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

21 thoughts on “Makarov CO2 BB Pistol: Part 1”

  1. Good morning, everyone. Yes, the Makarov pistol is cool, as Yogi says. I’m hoping you like this report that will be bigger than a normal one.


  2. I remember that old Mak of yours. That is one bb pistol I wish I had gotten my hands on. I for one am looking forward to seeing how this new one does.

    I think I have figured out what is wrong with this P08. There is this little doohickey that pushes the valve open when the striker comes forward and holds the valve open long enough for the toggle to cycle. Usually, it will work for a few shots and then the toggle will come forward and seems to catch on that doohickey, holding it against the valve, allowing it to dump the cartridge.

    This only happens when you are actually firing the pistol. I think I just found another reason not to like these realistic CO2 pistols.


    • R.R.
      I wish I had a way to send you one of my Baikals 654. You could probably appreciate it more than many people and give it a place near your “ladies”.
      Accurate? No way. Pellet finicky? For sure. Blowback experience? None.
      But they (two…) will be the only replicas to stay with me. Maybe it’s that I find them just variations of the Mac and not really replicas.

    • RR,

      I have had my P.08 (with blowback) for maybe 7 or 8 years. I have had no problems with it. Now, I have had failure in OTHER blowback replica pistols. But not the p.08. In fact, it has worked so well, I bought another for my son a few years ago. He has not shot his very much though. So really can’t speak to the reliability of his yet.


  3. BB

    Your comment that your Makarov firearm is the only semi auto firearm pistol that has never had a jam got my attention. I have come full circle back to revolvers for this very reason. Yeah, one can read test reports (by manufacturers?) that say thousands of rounds without a failure. But I have experienced the same failures you mention including 1911, P38 and P08 and others. Even selecting best functioning new ammo or certain reloads doesn’t always assure reliability.

    I’m not looking for a reply from you, just wanted to put my two cents in about your comment. I like this report and look forward to a series including the firearm if other readers agree.


    • Deck,
      Ditto. I came back to revolvers years ago. Don’t get me wrong as I love all of them (Semi & Revolvers), but the revolver is my first choice. Skin that smoke wagon!


  4. BB,

    Amazing how people have shrunk pistols that still produce significant power. But I believe the Makarov with its higher mass will be more controllable and comfortable than the Sig.


    • Siraniko,

      Surprisingly that is not the case. The P365 also recoils lightly and is extremely controllable. It’s just as accurate as the Mak, and it has just as nice a trigger.


  5. Quite enjoyable post; then again anything having to do with historical/legacy pieces is right up FM’s alley. Gotta give it to the Russians when it comes to designing and making practical, almost foolproof, simple to maintain and repair weapons for their military. They had to, given the need to rapidly train and equip an army of peasants – no insult implied, simply put, the majority of the population up to and thru WWII was minimally educated and rural. They learned quickly, though.

    Also leave it to them to manufacture a BB pistol which can be converted into a firearm – told you they are practical!

    • Basil,

      Back when it was the Soviet Union they had to deal with dozens of different languages, so making things simple and straightforward was the way to go. Except in their tanks. The interior of their T55 main battle tank is extremely tight so the turret can be low and hard to hit. The loader had to be no taller than 5 feet five inches and had to be left-handed to load the cannon.


      • Would have qualified as a T55 loader, except bless the Lord, he spared FM geographically from that potential fate.

        Been inside a Panther and a Pzkw MK IV – even for small-framed me things were tight and couldn’t help but think about bailing out in the midst of some fierce engagement after a hit, fire breaking out and ammo “cooking” off – love the history, living (dying?) some of it, not so much.

        Once visited a friend serving with the USMC at Camp LeJeune NC and he got FM and Mrs. to climb inside an M60 battle tank – positively roomy! Mrs. loved the attention from the young Marines asking our officer friend “if the lady civilian required any assistance” climbing aboard. 😉

        Hope you do another report on the CO2 P08s and the original firearm – very ergonomic and, at least from mini-me’s standpoint, a more accurate shooter than the P38 that replaced it.

      • Tom,

        I agree with FM. I am loving this historical, replica, military-pedigree report. A look at both the airgun and firearm sounds just right, to me. Keep ’em comin,!


  6. B.B.,

    I have one of these non-blowback Makarovs and it is nice. Coincidentally, I shot it yesterday in my backyard.

    I bought a blow-back one years ago, but I could’nt get used to the four-stage trigger. Well, it was usually four stages, sometimes it was only three stages. I ended up returning it to Pyramyd AIR. The blow-back Gletcher Makarov, I have read, has a nice, smooth, light trigger.


  7. B.B.
    So pumped (or should I say gassed) about this report. This is the little pistol that slipped away from me. After this report (pending results) just might finally make room for one.

  8. B.B,

    Fun pistol Blog! Hope it proves more interesting with the new generation of bb.
    For general knowledge: Spetsnaz is not an actual one off unit but any special unit of a number of different Russian (CCCP/USSR) entities and former Warsaw Pact nations.

    ” This report covers:
    Before I get to all that. (let), though, (PUT THAT let HERE?) me tell you the motivation for this report series.


  9. Regarding the Russian Baikal Makarovs, as I understand it quite apart from some definite variations in quality and design details over the years (and a distinct variant that duplicates the original narrow-grip 8 shot Makarov) the potential they may have for conversion to fire live ammunition has been reduced over the years – weakening the barrel/frame junction (I think) for example.

    An important point under UK law is the CO2 pistols have not, individually, been converted from a live ammunition Makarov, more a case of having a production line for Makarovs and taking the basic frame and slide castings and finishing them as, well I think the full range of variants is .380″ and 9mm Mak, rubber bullet firing self-defence pistols, blank firers and the CO2 pistols.

    When the same principle as the CO2 Makarovs was applied to Tokarevs (a full width magazine with CO2 at the back, magazine at the front edge and a valve housing extending up higher into the frame, to sit behind the barrel) they were conversions, and anything short of being deactivated means they then keep the legal status of the original live firearm – illegal to own. They did not become an airgun in the eyes of the law.


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