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.

Additionally, for those of us visiting, working, or 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. Therefore, an emotionless and realistic reevaluation of alternatives should be undertaken, keeping your MEC in mind.

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 should be considered as a well-rounded compact EDC carry gun for OCONUS use.

Enter the Makarov:

The availability of Soviet and Russian military surplus Makarov 9×18 ammo and handguns in the Greater Middle East, Africa, Central, and Eastern Europe make 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 Non Permissive Environments (NPE) appendix holsterless carry, making them quite useful for certain situations when dump-now-retrieve-later is important. While a tad heavy and gritty (depending on the country of origin of the Mak), the DA can be quickly and cheaply improved into a very smooth one almost rivaling that of fancy well-established brands. 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 agents of the State show up and start screaming at you in tongues.

Ammo availability:

Depending on the region you’re visiting, Makarov ammunition might be more common as 9mm. In most Middle Eastern countries (other than Lebanon and Israel) 9×18 is indigenous. It is also popular with certain organizations and terrorist groups, especially those formely aligned with the Soviet Union and their cronies. It’s usually best to store at least 5 magazines and 5 reloads for all magazines owned as backup, and for 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 all conflicts where the Soviet Union was involved. It convinced advocates of “DA MIGHTY FORTY FIVE™” that being shot with soviet steel core surplus ammo quickly teleports unbelievers to their creator, where they vehemently and vociferously explained that such a subpar caliber shouldn’t hurt more than a flea bite and is perfectly survivable, no wait…

Hitting the broad side of a barn:

Being a blowback pistol with a fixed barrel makes the PM 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 inexpensive price, availability in most continents, utter reliability in any condition, ease of concealment, and shootability make it an excellent primary carry for those wandering in less fortunate settings.

This article was reposted by our brothers at Integrated Skills Group with some additions, check it out here:

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.