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Makarov CO2 BB pistol made from a firearm: Part 6

Makarov BB gun right
Makarov BB gun made from a Makarov firearm.

History of airguns

Makarov non-blowback Part 1
Makarov non-blowback Part 2
Makarov non-blowback Part 3
Makarov non-blowback Part 4
Makarov with blowback Part 5

This report covers:

  • How do I have one?
  • The problem
  • The box
  • What you get
  • EAA intervenes
  • The magazine
  • Disassembly
  • Summary

Today we are looking at something that’s pretty rare in the USA — the Makarov BB pistol that’s made by converting a Makarov firearm. It’s still being made, as far as I know, but our Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has banned its importation into this country due to their contention that it is possible to create a firearm from the BB pistol with parts swapping. I personally don’t see it, but I know they gave it careful consideration at the time they banned it. 

Unlike the Makarov Ultra report in which I was able to combine the description report with the velocity test, this air pistol is so different that it needs a dedicated description of its own. This pistol is both more like a Makarov firearm and also less like the other two BB pistols we have looked at. That’s because this isn’t really a replica — it’s a conversion.

Today this pistol wouldn’t be importable because it’s made in a Russian arsenal where firearms are made — the same as the IZH 46M. And now that the Russians have defaulted on the interest on their bonds, the sanctions have been tightened even more.

How do I have one?

The European American Armory brought a number of these in years ago before there was a ban. Those guns were imported legally and are not banned, as far as I know, and this is one of them.

Makarov box flap
End flap label for BB pistol

The problem

The problem is if the BB pistol can be converted to a firearm through parts swapping as the BATF&E claims, then they have allowed an unregistered (potential) firearm to enter the US market. Gun parts are not regulated in the US. Gun frames are, and they require registration.

I personally can’t see how this BB pistol could be converted back to a firearm, but it’s not my call

The box

For those who have never owned a Makarov firearm, let me tell you that the pistol comes in the same distinctive box. It is so distinctive that the box earned space in a Tom Clancy novel, when one bad guy bought several Makarovs on the black market from a Soviet supply sergeant. He also bought several Soviet uniforms, but the Mak box was the only thing that earned a mention.

Makarov box
The Makarov box.

The distinctive Makarov box is made from one piece of a material I will call pressed board. It’s cellulose fibers made into a paste and then pressed flat into sheets. The sheet is then cut to size and folded into this box. There is no glue, tape or staple anywhere.

Makarov box open
When the box is opened you can see the construction uses no fasteners. Even the flap in the back is held together by interlocking features.

What you get

Because this is a Russian airgun you get a lot of stuff with it. Of course there is the manual which is written by someone outside of Russia. There is also a cleaning rod that comes with most Russian airguns. You get a small bag of BBs because the Russians have correctly labeled this a BB caliber airgun and not a 4.5mm airgun, which it isn’t.  Even the label inside the sealed BB bag says they are 4.45mm. Good for them! The BBs are as rough as a cob and I will never shoot them because they are collectable.

You also get a bag that contains three o-rings, a face seal for the CO2 cartridge and a disassembly tool. All you need is a hammer and, as I understand it, every Russian has a hammer!

Makarov stuff
This is the stuff that came with the Makarov BB pistol.

Find a Hawke Scope

EAA intervenes

I mentioned that the Russians were right when they stated that the caliber of this pistol is 4.45mm. But EAA wrote the manual and also had the Russians laser etch the caliber 4.5mm on the side of the slide. That isn’t the correct caliber, of course, but I will not purposely try to jam the barrel to prove my point. I will used standard 4.4mm (0.173-inches) BBs and perhaps a 4.45mm Smart Shot BB.

Makarov slide
The slide says the caliber is 4.5mm, but that’s what happens when Americans get involved.

The magazine

The drop free magazine holds both the CO2 cartridge and the BBs. The BBs are in a stick configuration but unfortunately must be loaded through the exit port at the top of the mag, one by one. And the spring under the follower, which the manual calls the “BB loading pusher” is exceptionally strong. So loading may prove to be a problem.

Makarov mag 1
The CO2 cartridge is carried in the Makarov magazine.

Makarov mag 2
The stick BB magazine must be loaded one by one from the top, which in this photo is at the right.

Disassembly

Speaking of strong springs, the slide spring is also very strong! I believe it is a firearm slide spring. The pistol is both single and double action, so after loading the mag either cock the hammer or squeeze the trigger to fire the first round.

The Makarov BB pistol disassembled.

The BB Mak disassembles exactly like the firearm, so if you own both there is nothing new to learn. Remove the magazine. Then pull the slide back and up at the rear as it goes forward. It will come up and off the frame. It assembles in the reverse order, though that heavy spring makes it a chore.

Makarov disassembled
Makarov disassembled.

Summary

All things considered, the Makarov BB pistol that’s made from the firearm is one of the most unique BB guns of all time. It isn’t really a replica; it’s a conversion. It looks like a modern Makarov firearm because that is what it was made from. This should be an interesting test. I sure hope this one holds CO2!

29 thoughts on “Makarov CO2 BB pistol made from a firearm: Part 6”

    • Yogi: I stand with you in the support of the Ukraine. In fact, following the horrendous invasion of the Ukraine by Russia’s Putin, I wrote an email to Pyramyd requesting that they not make any further purchases of Russia made products. I recieved a prompt response from Pyramyd that they have indeed boycotted further purchases from Russia and will only sell their products currently in stock. This shows the deep integrity of the ownership and management of Pyramyd Airguns, and I applaud them. Thank you, Orvil Hazelton.

        • Yes, Josh Ungier is Ukrainian by birth, but American by choice. Reading about his life and making the American Dream come true, as well as that of his Pyramyd Airguns is truly a great read. He has shared his story here on this blog. Although I have done business with other airgun suppliers when a product I need isn’t available thru Pyramyd, Pyramyd is always my go-to choice. Such fantastic customer support! Orv.

  1. BB,

    I don’t believe this is a blow back model due to the very heavy spring force.

    Siraniko

    PS Section Disassembly 3rd sentence:
    “The pistol of (is) both single and double action so after loading the mag either cock the hammer or squeeze the trigger to fire the first round.”

    • Siraniko
      This is definitely not a blowback pistol.
      Single action is by cocking the hammer.
      Still there is a new model, the 658, that is blowback but uses a different system. It has a slim, plastic magazine and the co2 bulb goes inside the grip on its own. Cheap solution,..
      Although I will not consider buying any Russian product from now on I have a deep affection for this airgun. As I have already said it’s the only co2 “replica” for me since its actually another version of the original. In fact I have one fully tricked out and a slim magazine version, 32 or K series one, with just the bakellite grips.

  2. My understanding is that these aren’t actually converted, on a gun-by-gun basis, from live Makarovs. It’s much more a case of the Makarov still being in production, and the basic frame and slide forgings/castings etc can be finished in various ways – to make the live ammo Makarov, blank firing and rubber bullet self-defence versions, and these airgun versions. Quite apart from one version that manages to keep the original-style narrow grip (for a single column magazine), I think there are reckoned to be some quite distinct variations in design and quality over the years.

    The same basic principle was also applied to surplus Tokarevs – actual conversions – which in the UK meant they kept their legal status of an automatic pistol, namely illegal to own.

    • Oh that TT co2 model! I wonder if B.B. remembers the blog he wrote years ago.
      Now that would be a find today.
      One thing about the 654. The “original” you mention maybe is more attractive, for me at least, but the frame lacks a part in order to accept the magazine. On the other hand the newer one doesn’t have this deficiency but it’s still an original since it has the frame that accepts the current 10 shot centerfire magazine.

  3. BB,

    I have been around for a bit. I remember when you first did a blog on this particular CO2 pistol. I also recall regretting not getting one of them then.

    Yogi,

    Just so you know, that AV-46M is still an Izzy. Also, despite that scumbag Putin and his cronies, I would take an AK over an AR any day. It is just a better made rifle.

  4. Though I think I understand the urge, I wish political comments were expressed elsewhere. I rather suspect that you would not want to read what I think either… πŸ™‚

    • Now that is a very polite and respectful way to say it. Let’s keep it about airguns and shooting, and avoid hot button topics. After all, we won’t solve any of the world’s problems here, and most people with strong opinions won’t be swayed by debate anyway. I am hoping that the folks that have left the blog over political comments are still lurking about and will feel the urge to contribute to the airgun conversation once again (come back, Michael).

      Of course, folks are free to express their views, and I am free to ignore them. That’s how we kept the peace in college where my next door neighbor in my freshman dorm was Turkish and a Turkish Cypriot at that, and I am Greek. We got along fine because I never engaged in discussions of the politics or history of that particular conflict.

      • I suspect the fact that war crimes were not happening at that time might have had something to do with how peaceful your college life was.

        This isn’t a small conflict, this is Russia once again seeking to conquer as much as it can. Anyone supporting them is not someone I wish to speak to or associate with.

        • Well, StevenG, I shall take a bite of your bait and tell you that “…you would not wish to speak to or associate with…” me. Have a nice day! πŸ™‚

  5. “…as I understand it, every Russian has a hammer!” Bet they have a sickle too! πŸ˜‰ And their current version of McDonald’s serves a tasty hammer sandwich – or so FM hears. Ok FM, stop before our fraternity finds the pathetic attempt at poor taste humor off-putin. On a more serious note, understand the caveat about mixing political opinions with relevant ones in the blog. However, FM is a firm believer in humor as good medicine, more so in these very troubled times. Don’t forget President Zelenskyy made his living as a comedian; perhaps that prepared him better than a lot other things could have to face and handle the seriousness of the task he is now facing so well and heroically.

    There is a company in Ukraine which makes PCPs; maybe Pyramid Air could look into importing their products, assuming they have not gone over totally into military-related production. The company is ZBROIA; they make the Kozak series of PCP air rifles.

  6. An amusing story, “My Makarov and the FBI”
    Years ago, when many Makarov firearms were being imported, I read of their simplicity and reliability and decided to get one. I went to our local gun store, and asked to see one; and, from under the counter, the owner produced…one, just one. I knew him, so I was like, “C’mon man, how many do you have? I’ll buy one right now, but I have to see them all first.” Reluctantly, he pulled out another dozen Maks (all were from Bulgaria, by the way); I tried them all, then picked the one with the best trigger pull.
    The 9x18mm Makarov cartridge fires a .365″ diameter bullet, which is not in line at all with the 9x17mm (.380) or the 9x19mm (9mm), which fire .355″ diameter bullets; however, I saw online that I could order a drop-in barrel in .380 caliber. I thought that might be useful if I ever had trouble getting 9x18mm Makarov ammo, so I ordered one.
    A few weeks later, while I was away at work, my wife said an FBI agent called, asking for me, and wanting to know about my purchase of a .380 replacement barrel for a Makarov. My wife said I’d call back when I got home.
    My wife was super-excited; like me, she loves crime dramas and murder mysteries. She told me that if the FBI wanted to talk with me, that I should invite the agent over, and promise him a great home-cooked meal (by her, not me, hahaha!). When I called back, I told the agent that I had a legally purchased Makarov in 9x18mm, and that I had indeed bought a replacement barrel for it, but that I was curious about why he wanted to know. He had to be sketchy on the details of an ongoing investigation, but he said a crime had been committed with a Makarov, involving one with a .380 replacement barrel, and the defendant’s lawyer was forcing them to jump through hoops; hence, they were just being thorough, and checking on all the replacement barrels sold through this particular website. The agent thanked me for my time and cooperation, as if he was done, but I was like, “Hey, if you come over for dinner, my wife will make you a home-cooked meal, and we can discuss this further.” He laughed, and said he really appreciated the offer, but he had all the info from me that he needed, and he was swamped with work.
    Needless to say, my wife was not happy and she blamed me for ruining her one chance to talk with a real (as opposed to a TV-type) FBI agent (my wife’s a huge fan of FBI agent Seeley Booth, played by David David Boreanaz in “Bones”). She said I should have told him he had to come over to the house before I’d speak with him.
    Ah well, in marriage, it’s always the husband’s fault, hahaha! πŸ˜‰
    Blessings to all,
    dave

      • Ian, I hear you; it’s much better to have them over as just a social call I worked a lot with law enforcement when I had my martial arts school, but mostly rank-and-file street cops (not 3-letter guys =>). Cops made for good students since the often got to use the take-downs and joint locks in real life situations; then they’d provide feedback on the effectiveness of the techniques, and we’d work together to tweak them for maximum effectiveness, which was a benefit for the rest of the students as well. πŸ™‚

    • You may have already watched it, but you and Mrs. may enjoy the series about Detective Bosch, on Hulu or Freevee, though he’s not FBI. The latest is β€œBosch Legacy.”

    • I collect Maks and have a few collector friends who purchased the threaded Federal Arms barrels in 9×18 Mak, and indeed got visits from the letter men who then had their firearms ballistically tested and returned. The crime in question was the assassination of a DA in Washington. They know that the gun used by the assassin was custom fitted with one of these barrels. That’s likely why you had no visit once they were able to confirm yours was .380.

  7. B.B. and Readership,

    Without discussing it in the Replies I will simply ask: What do you know about the Holomdomor Genocide? If interested in knowing more click on the link below.
    https://www.history.com/news/ukrainian-famine-stalin
    They (the Ukrainian Subjects) were DISARMED by their tyrannical USSR leaders from the start…just as so much of the World is recently and currently being disarmed.

    shootski

    PS: The HL shooter looks very much Leftist/Liberal in his Social Media screeds…which are quickly being disappeared by the Social Media companies and totally disregarded by the Mainstream Media.
    Why is the Fourth Estate ignoring the error of the Biden Administration HSS reporting Right Wing extremists were the biggest threat on the 4th of July? Just saying…keep your powder dry!

  8. Neat series of articles! Makarovs are my absolute favorite pistols. I have one of the nicer collections in the world, and a decent collection of Baikal MP-654K’s as well. I can tell you though all 654K’s were produced in the Izhvesk factory on the same machinery as the standard PM, not all were made from repurposed standard PM’s. Only some 5th Gens and after (2013-Present) were made from actual repurposed PM’s/PMM’s. I have three 5th Gen 654K’s. All three are very rare variations. One is converted from a late 1953 straight frame (1st full year of mass PM production), and the other two are true PMM’s (1990s-Present double stacks w/reinforced slide for use with special +P loads). To find the date of your 654K you look for the first two digits in its serial(Example: T981234 = 1998). The most obvious way to tell that it was made from a converted PM is the slide will have a cutout section for the PM’s ejector. Non-converted models like your 1st Gen will not have this. Some 654K’s will have rifled barrels and some have smooth. This, of course, affects both velocity and accuracy.

    • Interesting info on the barrels. I never heard of or seen a smooth barreled original though I have an aftermarket one with an extension that mimics a silencer. Regarding the slides it was my understanding that the ~60 grams weight difference was telling the story, not just the ejector cut out. Still I don’t understand how the cut to fit slim frame of the 5th/32 gen belongs to the original PM.

      • Yes, the smooth barrels did not come on the ones officially imported to U.S. That’s neat that you have an aftermarket one. And yes, the ejector cutout is definitely the main sign of a repurposed original PM slide as it’s obviously not needed for the BB pistols. So likewise, any pistol without the cutout is a purpose made BB pistol. By the way, many of the repurposed BB pistols have mismatched PM frames and slides from different pistols of different years. My late 1953 straight frame for instance originally had an early 1970’s era slide, but I was able to find a matching 53′ slide to make it more “correct”. To make the original PM frames work they also had to make cuts in the bottom of the sides of the frame, and also inside of the grip panels to fit the wider 654K BB magazines. They most definitely are true PM frames as they have all the necessary Military inspection and proof markings on the back of the frame. Earlier PM’s were especially loaded with these markings as quality control etc was of a much higher standard early on.

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