Irons in the Fire: Makarov tryout
: a nice range report on the Makarov. I got one of these Bulgarians myself about 4 years ago, and recently used it for my CHL qualification renewal. The place giving the class is a range where Glock is king: all the employees wear Glock t-shirts, there are Glock posters everywhere, and fully 50% of their retail shelves are stocked with Glocks. I hadn't practiced in a long time, so my score was significantly down from my first qualification back in 2001 (238 out of a possible 250), but I beat the pants off the guy next to me who was using a Glock. There was one other man there who had one of the original Russians with adjustable sights, and he was complaining about having a hard time finding ammo. He showed me the box he had purchased at a gun store, $21.99 for 50 rounds, to which I replied with a consternated "holy !@#$." I advised him to visit the monthly gun show and buy boxes of Sellier & Bellot or Wolf for $6 to $7 per box.
At my original qualification I used my Ruger P95 in 9mm, which is a great gun but doesn't function 100% with anything but 147-grain ammo (previously mentioned). The Makarov has been 100% with anything I can shove in the chamber. Also, being a lefty, I sometimes have to consider ejections. The Ruger will usually bonk me in the right shoulder with its empties (a minor annoyance), but the Mak throws the shells into a beautiful arc that drops them at about a 45-degree angle 3 feet behind me to my right. As I expected, I got every shot into the 5-ring at the first two lines, but due to lack of practice my pattern opened up considerably when I went back to the 15-yard marker. The S&B ammo functioned flawlessly, as always, and the Mak performed perfectly.
I don't like the original Mak grips, though. The thumbrest is impossible for a lefty, and the plastic non-thumbrest grips are very skinny and uncomfortable. I bought some padded grips for it that are great. I also advised my fellow Makarov shooter to visit Makarov.com
and get himself a thumb-saver to help in loading the magazine.
The Makarov is utterly reliable, the only real drawback being its fairly low-powered ammo. This is why for the past few years, when I have carried, it has been a Ruger SP-101 loaded with 125-grain Remington Golden Sabres in .357 magnum.