The Margolin Target Pistols
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A Margolin from the first years of production.
At the very beginning of the 1930’s M.V. Margolin, while working as instructor at the Moscow Osoviakhim, created a self-loading small-bore rifle with the capability of selective fire. There was nothing unusual in this, except the designer was blind! In the 1920’s the eighteen-year old soldier suffered a head injury and forever lost his sight.
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М. В. Марголин
Mikhail Vladimirovich Margolin
In 1936 the Margolin began work on the design of a sport 5.6 mm rim fire pistol, which took him 5 years to complete. On June 21, 1941 permission was received for testing of the design of the new pistol designed by Margolin, who was at that time the chief of the experimental-design shop in the experimental workshops of the Osoviakhim. Permission to test meant development that could lead to a test batch of five hundred pistols. But, the following morning the war began, and all thought of a sporting weapon was immediately forgotten.
Margolin left Moscow in the evacuation to Siberia. After returning to Moscow once the war was over , Margolin was assigned to design bureau for the repair of weapons systems. In 1948 he created the pistol, which for half a century has been known as “the Margolin pistol”. Like the majority of sport pistols for the 5.6 mm rim fire cartridge (.22 LR) the Margolin has blowback bolt and open hammer with the protective safety.
There were at least 6 models of basic Margolin pistol made before 1980.
The first is the model from the first years of production. Shown below is a drawing from an early manual of a cased version of the long barreled early production Margolin.
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Cased long barrel .22 LR pistol from first years of production
The identifier for the early production pistols is the triangular front sight. This model was made in a both long and short barreled version 180mm and 140 mm. Magazine capacity was 10 cartridges.
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The early pistols all seem to have the finger rest type magazine and could accept the hand rest for the right side of the grip.
Some time after production began the front sights were improved and the pistol was split into two versions; one for competition in standard pistol in .22 LR, the other in .22 short for rapid fire competition.
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The new front sight with a threaded drum for vertical adjustment
The designation MTs for a Russian target weapon comes from the Russian letters ‘МЦ’ which is derived from the Russian word for Model and the first letter of the Russian word for central ‘Центральный’ . The Central is from the first word of the design bureau at Tula that developed special target weapons - Tula Central design and research office of sport (target) and hunting weapons (Тульский Центральный Констукторский-исследовательский бюро спортивного и охотничего оружия or ЦКИБ и СОО). So МЦ comes from Mодель ЦКИБ or Model TsKIB. Note: In the English speaking world this designation is often called ‘MU’ because of the similarity of the English letter ‘U’ and the Russian letter ‘Ц’.
The rapid fire version in .22 short is called the MTsU (МЦУ). The 'У' is from the word "shortened" in Russian (укороченный) because it was for the short cartridge (пистолет Марголина под укороченный патрон).
This gun was used to shoot at 25 meters at disappearing targets. The wooden grip plates are extended to the rear to give better fit to the hand and a compensator is mounted in front of the front sight. There is also set of weights that fit around the compensator to aid in balance. This version of the Margolin has a light weight alloy slide to reduce reciprocating mass during rapid fire.
The combination of the compensator, weights and light weight slide significantly reduces recoil and barrel rise during firing. Barrel length is 165mm w/o compensator, and magazine capacity is 6 rounds. There is no safety on the rapid fire pistol.
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An early МЦУ with compensator
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Detail of the compensator
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МЦУ with the weights in place
The trigger on the early МЦУ is different than any other model. It doesn’t have a spur and an external adjustment screw to limit trigger travel.
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Early vs. late style MTsU trigger.
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The color of the anodized light alloy slide is apparent.
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Slot for the hand support on the early MTsU. This slot is present on the early standard pistols and the late MTsU.
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Cased .22 short rapid fire pistol from 1962. Note how the case has a cutout for the extended grip and there is room under the bottom of the grip for a tool cutout.
The standard pistol version is in 5.56 or .22 LR. It does not have the facility to take the compensator and weights, but they came as standard equipment with the pistol in the cased set during the 1960’s. This model accepts the hand rest and has a safety. The safety on this model works only with the hammer cocked.
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Left and right view of the standard pistol
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Right view of the pistol with the hand rest in place
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Detail of the method of inserting the hand rest. The rest fits under the right grip plate of the pistol. To install, you loosen the grip plate screw, insert the hand support into the groove in the frame and slide the support in as far as is comfortable and tightened the grip plate screw.
The Margolin .22 caliber target pistol has served to train thousands of Soviet shooters. It is an extremely durable and accurate pistol. The design allows the rear sight to be independent of the slide. This means that any tolerance in the fit between the slide and frame is irrelevant to the location of the rear sight from shot to shot. To accomplish this, the rear sight is mounted on a pillar attached to the frame and the slide reciprocates through the arch in the pillar.
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The pillar built on the frame for the rear sight. The slide moves through the arch never having any effect on the location of the sight.
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Full tool set found in the Margolin cased set.
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Early cased set from 1965 – standard pistol in .22 LR. The space at the lower left where the spare magazines are seen would have been for boxes of cartridges.