Sunday, May 01, 2011

In Honor Of May Day, Some East Bloc 9x18 Goodness

The Eastern Block under Soviet domination manufactured a variety of pistols chambered in the Russian designed 9x18mm Makarov caliber.

I've already talked about my CZ-82, now for May Day its on to some other pistols chambered in this useful cartridge.

Both of the below pistols are blow-back action and both owe much to the Walther PP design.

The FEG PA-63

Made in Hungary by Fegyver és Gépgyár, Arms and Machine Factory more commonly known as "FEG".

With an aluminum frame strengthened with a bit of titanium in the alloy, the FEG is a nice, lightweight carry pistol. Walther PP in size and highly influenced by the Walther design, if not an almost complete copy, the FEG has a reputation for being more reliable than the Walther.

The action has a double action first shot with subsequent shots being single action, and with a seven round magazine the pistol is a very adequate pocket carry pistol. The magazine locks the action open on the last shot and just like the Walther PP, there is no external slide lock.

The FEG is an inexpensive firearm that can be found for $200 or less, making it an excellent choice for a CCWer on a budget.

The downside to the FEG is the trigger. The initial double action trigger pull is an excellent trigger finger exerciser that takes all your strength to operate. You don't need a Gripmaster when you have a PA63.

The FEG's single action is much better and hopefully the double action pull will loosen up a bit with time and further shooting.

At the range, the PA-63 fed all rounds perfectly, from the standard 9x18 ball to the Silver Bear hollow points.

Its a nice pistol at a great price.

The Bulgarian Makarov

This is a military surplus Makarov manufactured in Bulgaria and it was still encrusted with cosmoline when I purchased it.

Designed by Nikolay Fyodorovich Makarov, the Makarov pistol became the Soviet Union's standard military side arm from 1951-1991, replacting the 7.62x25 Tokarev. Satellite nations such as East Germany and Bulgaria and China also produced Makarov pistols.

This Bulgarian Makarov's trigger is very nice and smooth and far better in both double and single action than the FEG, indeed this trigger while not a match trigger by any means, is more than adequate for self-defense and plinking. Smooth in both double and single action, hits on targets were easy to achieve, even with the smallish sights.

An 8 round magazine and a price under $250 makes this yet another excellent carry choice when using hollow points. It fits tightly in a jeans front pocket or decently in a cargo pocket and multiple holsters are available for carry.

The Makarov design shines in the area of reliability and this one was no exception - ball, hollow points, it ate everything with no problems at all.

The PA63 and the Makarov are great pistols, both as carry and historical pistols and reminders of the Cold War. Both firearms are a testament to the excellent East Bloc small arms manufacturing industry while unable to provide consumer goods of quality to their subjects.

So Happy May Day and here's to the West winning the Cold War.

For proof, see the video below.


Scott said...

Didn't you used to have an FEG in 9mm Kurz?

Aaron said...

Yes, and I stupidly sold the SMC-380 (PPK sized version in .380) to my sorrow and quit stocking the .380 as a cartridge in an effort to simplify and get some other stuff.

I would love to replace it with an SMC-918 (same gun but in 9x18) but they're riddiculously hard to find anywhere these days.