Goodbye 9x18mm PM Makarov Pistol

Goodbye 9x18mm PM Makarov Pistol

Marco Vorobiev was a member of the elite Soviet Spetsnaz in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He's a U.S. citizen now and conducts training courses that draw on his special forces training. He'll have a new installment every Wednesday.

This is it. The end of an era. After over 50 years of service, the famous creation of Nikolay Makarov, the 9x18mm PM pistol, a.k.a. "Makarov" is being replaced by the Russian Armed Forces as a standard issue sidearm for officers and NCOs. According to the press secretary of the West Military District, Col. Adrey Bobrun, the Makarov is being replaced by the new Pistolet Yarygina PYa semi-automatic pistol chambered in standard 9x19mm cartridge.

The PYa pistol was adopted by the Russian Armed Forces in 2003. However, there were deliveries of these handguns to the military until mid-2011. Though, the replacement will be gradual and will take some time, Russian officers are being training on both handguns right now.

The new PYa pistol surpasses the Makarov in almost all categories. It fires the world standard 9mm cartridge that gives it a clear ballistic advantage. The PYa is also fed from an 18-round magazine as oppose to eight for the Makarov. Col. Bobrun said all officers who were trained on both "Makarov" and PYa had great things to say about the new gun, and would prefer it to its older predecessor.

Though until now there were no deliveries to the Russian Armed Forces in any appreciable numbers, Russian police and anti-terrorist units have been using the new pistols for a while.

In 2001 I had a chance to meet the designer of the PYa pistol, Vladimir Yarygin, at "Izmech" arsenal in Izhevsk, Russia. I also got a chance to fire a brand-new PYa that was being tested at that time by the military. It handled and behaved a lot like one of my favorite handguns, the SIG P226. The recoil was moderate and soft. Oversized sights made it easy to aim. Before long I was peppering the bullseye on a 25-meter target.

I am not sure if we ever will see the PYa pistol arrive at our shores. Not with current import restrictions. But one can always hope.

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