The case for the Makarov PM

November 29, 2019Uncategorized

The civilian-warfighter EDC dichotomy:

Sometimes, one is forced to rethink what is espoused as concealed carry gospel by Tier One firearm instructors. The full-size/compact double stack striker-fired semi-automatic in 9mm, with at least one reload, fancy folding knife, tactical high-lumen output flashlight, and a plethora of other can’t-do-without gear works great if your daily attire consists of tactical cargo pants or shorts. And if you don’t mind firepower overcoming discretion, that is.


To be tacticool without being a tacticlown, you need to take a strong, hard look at your Mission, Environment, and Context (MEC). Don’t dress up like an operator (and train like they do) unless you are one. For an indepth look at how “normal” people can carry gear in their pockets, check out


Additionally, for those of us living in interesting, third world, less permissive countries where concealed carry isn’t a right, the price of many firearms is quite unforgiving, and detection means prison or worse (search engine lebanon ring protestor caught with handgun), an emotionless and realistic reevaluation of alternatives should be undertaken, keeping your MEC in mind. (For more info regarding what handguns we consider as tactical as well as practical, please read:


So, a Glock 17 or 19, because of its grip length and thickness, while giving its carrier more ammo and enhanced shootability, is as discreet as a pink dressed LGBT activist in a Hell’s Angels bar. (It isn’t, even in appendix carry. The Glock, not the activist). While many can disguise its profile, being conspicuous as well as adequately armed overwhelms common sheepdog fantasies and the “dress around the gun” BS. Not convinced? Try concealing a G19 when dressed conservatively in formal settings before repeating the “G19 is the best overall gun for any occasion” mantra.


Concealability is why small handguns (Easier to carry, sometimes harder to shoot) such as Jframes, subcompacts like the G26, and mouseguns, remain popular.


In this article, we will outline below why we believe that the Makarov became a very attractive well-rounded compact carry gun for Lebanon, as of November 2019.



Enter the Makarov:

The availability of Soviet and Russian military surplus Makarov 9×18 ammo and handguns in nearby Syria, as well as its trafficking into Lebanon over the last few years, helped drive the price per round down from LBP 3,000 to LBP 2,000 ($2 to $1.38). This put the cost of bullets essentially on par with 9mm, thus making the PM very attractive for concealed carry.


Let us reexamine the Makarov’s pros and cons in a new light. You will soon discover that the PM,
despite minor shortcomings, easily fits the role of a primary handgun for concealed carry.



A Cold War Relic in the 21st Century:

The major issue people have with comrade Makarov’s masterpiece is that some of its intended advantages are often touted as weaknesses. Let us examine them point by point:


DA/SA mechanism:

Most people growing up around striker or single action handguns are not fans of the double/single action design, stating the need for more training to become proficient with them. Contextually, the DA/SA for the PM was made as a dropsafe replacement for the SA-only Tokarev TT30/33, allowing it to be carried locked and loaded safely while still permitting fast first shot on human-sized targets. Moreover, DA/SAs because of their design, are well-suited for NPE appendix holsterless carry, making them quite useful for certain situations when dump-now-retrieve-later is important. Lastly, because the Mak is almost nuke-proof, you can be sure that it will still work reliably despite a rough dismissal.


The decocker/safety:

A directly-linked gripe is its safety decocker combo, as it is the mirror opposite of the Beretta and Walther PP family of guns. However, like the Mossberg safety, it is very intuitive, with the thumb pressing the lever down while getting the proper grip. There is no possibility of accidentally or negligently discharging a shot with it or disabling the gun doing reloads. Since it also locks the slide and hammer, it is quite a useful thing to have in case you need to drop the gun when LEOs show up.


Ammo availability:

Makarov ammunition is still not as common as 9mm as it’s not indigenous to Lebanon. However, because the PM is quite popular with certain communities (Namely the Druze in Lebanon), it will always be available. However, prices might go up once the Syrian pipeline of arms and ammunition dries up, so it’s best to store at least 500 rounds as backup, in addition to the recommended mag reloads and practice ammo.


Round count:

To be honest, its lower capacity (8+1) isn’t such a major issue if compared to slim line handguns (S&W Shield, Glock 43) or subcompacts (G26, Walther PPK, etc. ) as its often only 1 or 2 rounds less in capacity. This also make the Mak’ single stack magazine ultra concealable. Why carry one reload when you can carry two?


Heel release:

A much maligned feature brought forth by the issues of the Tokarev dumping mags in the dirt whenever someone looked at it. It might take some time getting used to it, but even without using the poor man’s quick release mechanism or the excellent Fab Defense PMG, you can get the job done. Regarding concealment, the red bakelite or black plastic grip are quite functional and keep the profile of the gun discreet. Despite allowing you lighting fast mag changes, the Fab PMG’s extended beavertail makes it a bit less conspicuous than the factory grip. A small price to pay though.


Ballistics and lethality:

The Makarov was extensively used during the Lebanese Civil War and advocates of DA MIGHTY FORTY FIVE™ shot with soviet steel core surplus ammo were quickly busy explaining to their creator that its a subpar caliber that shouldn’t hurt more than a flea bite and is perfectly survivable, no wait… The fact that it is a blowback pistol with a fixed barrel makes it very accurate, offering center mass hits on targets at distances exceeding 50 meters. (The author was able to repeatedly get DA as well as SA hits at 70 meters at a human sized rock). An often forgotten lore about the PM is that, because of a heavy slide and beefy barrel spring, it is able to shoot multiple rounds from inside pockets without any issues, originally a small revolver selling point.


In conclusion, the Makarov PM is, in our humble opinion, no pushover even when compared to more modern pistols. Its relatively inexpensive price on the Lebanese Black Market ($1,000 for the gun, $100 per magazine, and $70 for 48 rounds), utter reliability in any condition, ease of concealment, and shootability make it an excellent primary carry for those living in less fortunate settings.


For those interested, we offer Makarov specific courses, such a the Combat Shooting with the Makarov seminar and the Makarov armorer course. We can also do a complete custom trigger job for a smoother DA press. Contact us for more details.