What is a “Hungarian Makarov”?
The answer is, “A misnomer for a pistol that never existed.” No actual Makarov-pattern pistol was made in Hungary (or Czechoslovakia) though other makes of compact semiautos chambered for the 9x18mm Makarov certainly were. True Makarov pistols have been made in Russia, China, East Germany, Germany (after being reunited) and Bulgaria. Makarovs are usually seen in 9x18mm though some can be found in .380 ACP. The most-common 9x18mm Makarov pistols I’ve seen use a single-stack 8-round magazine though some 10-shot double-stack versions were manufactured in Russia as well.
Here is a typical East German Makarov 9x18mm pistol. If you have a pistol that is supposed to be a Makarov, it will look like this one. The stocks may be a different color or have a star in them, but the gun will appear very much like this one. Makarov stocks are a one-piece affair with a single screw attaching them to the frame with a single screw located on the rear of the stocks.
I am aware of one Makarov coming from the factory with an adjustable rear sight. It is of Russian manufacture and is designated as the “IJ70” model. I have no real information on the double-stack version Makarovs.
The Makarov is a popular design due to its (once) low price coupled with extreme reliability. That surplus 9x18mm could be had at very attractive prices helped more than a little as well. In my opinion, some advertisers selling other make pistols in this caliber really emphasized the “Makarov” in the cartridge designation such that it could easily appear that the actual handgun being sold was a Makarov when that simply was not the case.
I do not own anything in 9x18mm Makarov other than Makarov-pattern pistols. This is a Hungarian FEG .380 ACP but is very similar to an FEG model sold which is chambered for the 9x18mm Makarov. (I believe that the version chambered in 9x18mm had a light-colored aluminum frame. The frame on this gun is aluminum but is painted black from the factory.) Makarov pistols are of all-steel construction and the most have chrome-lined barrels. The FEG’s do not.
Understand that I am not necessarily “knocking” FEG pistols or others sometimes mistaken for or sold as Makarovs. The FEG Model PMK-380 shown above doesn’t have the best finish, but it has proven reliable and accurate, but it is not the Makarov design and never has been. I believe some advertising was engineered to enhance sales of “non-Maks” as the Real McCoy because of the generally good reputation and popularity of the rugged and inexpensive Makarov handgun. I am equally sure that some “honest mistakes” by buyers were made as well.
For more information on Makarovs, drop by www.makarov.com and look around. The owners have kindly left much useful information there for folks interested in Makarovs. Hopefully this article might help folks better understand if they’re buying a real Makarov…since they cost considerably more now and are getting harder to find. If a fellow is coughing up the money for a Mak, I would like to see him get just that…a Mak!