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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ran across this at a local gun show. Vendor spun interesting tale that it was "German", but made for China. I think he was trying to say it was supposedly a "sterile" Makarov. I thought I knew better. I bet you do too. I worked hard to not laugh at the guy and piss him off. I know what I think it really is, but I'd like the forum's brain trust of those more experienced with Makarovs than I to chime in please. The price was south of $350. The photos include *ALL* of the markings on the pistol (save for the electropenciled matching serial number on the magazine). There are no visible Importer marks I can find anywhere on the pistol. I assume it has been rearsenaled/refinished and probably rebarrelled. What do you think, and did I get screwed or not? And would you please explain the markings at the back of the frame close to the date and hammer, and the two on each side of the barrel lug. The only serial numbered parts I've found so far are the slide and frame (partially blurred on purpose). There are no markings under the grip.

 

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The markings are military inspection acceptance and quality control marks. Done at time of production at the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant, Soviet Union. Non-import marked means your pistol has circumvented the ATF and commercial importers (bring backs in military baggage, diplomatic (political) pouch, through the Canadian border, etc.) making the pistol more uncommon in the USA. That and the pistol being desirable, as it is closer (if not exactly) as it was marked at production, increases the value. In today's market, I'd speculate the value to be over $1000 and maybe well over to the right buyer. Very nice find!
 

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at less then 350 bucks you basically stole it, those pistols are now in the nutty price range, with or without import stamps. I too have a 1976 soviet PM and it has the same long slide serration on the right side (16) and shorter one on the left (10). but on my 87 soviet PM the serrations are 13 on both side.

somewhere between 1976 and 1987, they decided to just make the serration the same on either side

it very well maybe one that got by without a import mark. but the 76 mak I have has very small import stamps on the frame, that can be easily removed.

just in front of the slide release it's stamped "c.a.i Georgia vt" on the other side of the frame just about above the trigger it's stamped "9mm Makarov" and "Bulgaria"

congrat on finding a great military mak :)
 

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Very nice, prototypical example of a Soviet mid-late production Makarov pistol. I suppose $350 is a good price given the artificial rarity of Soviet examples in the US and the fact that there are no parasite markings! Congratulations.

Here is my theory on the "A4" stamp. The way this weapon may be headspaced at the factory is through a sample of different barrels with different chamber or barrel shoulder lengths.

Each barrel dimension may have a index from A1 to lettersomething-numberX. If this was the case, it simplified production through more generous margins of error/tolerancing for slide machining, since extractor fit (uncritical, since the bolt face is deeply recessed) and firing pin protrusion (generous: between 1.1mm to 1.35mm!) are not as critical as good headspace.

The Soviet changeover from a simple number to the Ax format was observed mid-production in 1976. Yours happen to be one the first with this barrel marking format. This practice was also carried over to the Bulgarian-produced PMs.
 

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SfcRet, the changeover to the 13 serrations on both sides of the slide was observed late-production in 1984 on the "UX" block, as well as in mid-production in 1985. The pattern was definitely cemented in 1986.
 

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I agree with everyone else. You got a nice Soviet PM at a good price. 1976 is a fairly common Soviet date to show up in the U.S. This was the year investment cast parts start showing up, like the hammer on yours. Hey, Meekoos, nice theory on the chamber marks. Frankly, I tend to have seen these markings associated with the dates of the pistols. By that I mean you tend to find similar marked barrels on similar dates, so I always interpreted them as batch numbers. Earlier barrels had these marks on the left side or maybe just a letter. I really don't know the story so you may be on to something. We'd need to check the chamber dimensions on multiple barrels to be sure and that may be difficult. Y'all take care, ABTOMAT
 

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Actually ABTOMAT, you may be right! They might correspond to batch numbers. Come to think about it, it doesn't make much sense to have enough deviation to require different barrels for headspacing! It would be cool to make a survey here using Bulgarian Makarov, and observe when the batches and how often they changed. For ex, a 1978 Bulgy will display "A1", which makes sense for an early production.

I would actually dig deeper. Just like the vz.58 bayonets, the marking may signify forging or casting die numbers. If there happens to be a metallurgical or crystal defect linked to a badly machined die/broken forge, then it can be promptly recalled and fixed. This makes tons more sense than my "headspace theory"!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
See, this is why I joined this forum - helpful answers/advice/speculation from folks in a position to provide it. And since this forum board apparently doesn't include a "like" feature: Thank you Abtomat, Lincen, Martinbanner, Meerkoos, SfcRet, & Sksguide for taking the time to respond.

You all seem to confirm what I hoped was the case, that I'd stumbled upon a particularly nice find at a local gun show. I've had a Baikal commercial "beater" before that was rather worn and was pretty execrable. I dumped it for a nice 1987 Bulgarian when I had the chance a year or so ago. I always wanted a Soviet one but as you know they're becoming pricey unicorns anymore. I thought I was passingly familiar with Makarovs of various manufacture, but when I was confronted with this one at the show, I'll admit I had to resort to my smartphone to be reminded of the arsenal marking on it. The problem with it was the mis-labeling of it by the vendor as "German" and the seemingly ridiculous tale he spun about it. I thought he was perhaps trying to pass it off as a highly desirable East German Mak, but then again he wasn't asking a lot for it, which was confusing. I've not examined any Soviet PM's closely that I can recall, and the serial number and arsenal markings on this one seemed very crudely done compared to my Bulgarian, which gave me pause. I wondered if someone had altered a non-Soviet pistol in an attempt to pass it off as one or something even. I initially gave it a pass. Once I got some quality time online at home to see decent photos of proper Soviet Makarovs I suddenly became much less suspicious of the crudeness of the etchings and beat a path back up to the show as it was closing with cash in hand. Thankfully, no one else had snatched it up. Thanks for your assistance.

Abtomat: I'm here to get schooled and am curious... How can you tell from the photos I attached that the hammer on this thing is an investment casting?
 
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