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Thread: Makarov performance at Tactical Pistol course

  1. #1

    Default Makarov performance at Tactical Pistol course

    I mentioned in a post last week (http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?t=21533) that I was signed up for a Tactical Pistol course in Atlanta this weekend for which I would be using my trusty Makarov. I had several requests to post details of the course and how the Makarov performed.

    THE GEAR

    My gear:

    Makarov IJ70-17A with over 5,000 rounds fired through it in its lifetime
    Pearce grips
    2 extra magazines
    Fobus Tactical paddle holster (for Makarov)
    Fobus Tactical paddle double magazine carrier (for .380)

    My friend's gear (flew in from out of state and borrowed my father's Makarov for the course):

    Makarov IJ70-17A with fewer than 500 rounds fired through it in its lifetime
    Factory grips
    Fobus Tactical roto-paddle holster (for Makarov)
    Generic magazine carrier

    We both were shooting .380ACP 95gr hardball reloards from Atlanta Arms & Ammo, a local supplier of match-grade ammunition.

    THE COURSE

    The course was taught by a local police officer and certified law enforcement pistol instructor, supported by five other instructors including a local SWAT team member and a retired Army Ranger. Of the 20 participants, about half were local law enforcement and the remainder were (like us) intermediate-level civillian shooters. Most of the participants were shooting service or competition automatic pistols from major manufacturers like Glock, Beretta and Smith & Wesson in 9mm, .40 or .45. One participant was shooting a Sig Sauer automatic pistol in .380. Of the civillian shooters, about half were kitted for concealed carry.

    The course consisted of seven modules:

    - Fundamentals refresher (safety, stance, presentation and aiming)
    - Accuracy drills and action shooting (turn and fire)
    - Combat shooting I (combat and tactical reloading, combat jam clearing, use of movement while reloading)
    - Combat shooting II (sustained movement while engaging single and multiple targets)
    - 180-degree qualification drills (firing on multiple targets in a 180-degree arc)
    - Combat shooting III (alternate firing positions, firing from cover, LAPD car-cover technique)
    - Speed drills (draw-to-fire, firing rhythm, reloading)

    The course lasted nearly ten hours without scheduled breaks and each participant firing about 350 rounds throughout the day.

    MAKAROV PERFORMANCE

    Overall, the Makarov's perfomance at the course was very favorable, with its strengths being (as compared to the other pistols used by participants in the course):

    - Reliability. My Makarov pistol had two misfeeds (likely caused by an aging mainspring) and neither of us had any misfires the entire day. Many of the other participants experienced multiple jams and misfires throughout the day.

    - Recovery. It took less than five seconds to clear the Makarov misfeeds using combat jam-clearing techniques (even while bobbing-and-weaving to avoid return fire) whereas other pistols frequently took several times as long or had to be removed from the exercise for clearing.

    - Accuracy. This is a little tough to judge as it depends as much on the shooter as on the weapon, however, comparing our (Makarov-wielding) performance to others with a similar level of experience and training we noted that our shot groupings generally were tighter and we had fewer "fliers" than others wielding other pistols.

    My friend and I agree that our hands likely also were less tired than they would have been completing the course with other pistols we personally have fired, though there is no quantitative basis for this statement. This also was offset by the typical cuts and pinches all Makarov owners know and may not love (the tally was three blood blisters and two sets of cuts).

    However, there were a few downsides to the Makarovs which were evident by the end of the day:

    - Capacity. Large magazine capacities are of value in combat shooting. The need to reload (much) more frequently during combat shooting drills highlighted that a Makarov shooter would be at higher risk in an actual combat situation.

    - Reload time. In both cases, the Makarov significantly underperformed (an average of 4 seconds to combat reload a Makarov as compared to 2 seconds or less for most of the pistols used in the course). This also highlighted that a Makarov shooter would be at higher risk in an actual combat situation. In fairness, this is due to the Makarov having a European-style magazine base release instead of a push-button release more common to American pistols. The Sig Sauer experienced similar reload times. However, unlike the Sig Sauer, the Makarov's slide release had to be used (instead of racking the slide) to chamber the first round from a fresh magazine. This added some time to the Makarov reloads.

    - Cycle time. In sustained fire, the Makarov's maximum rate of fire was slower overall than many of the other pistols used at the course. This seemed to result from the Makarov's trigger pull and the length the trigger had to be let out after a shot to reset the sear spring. However, this is something that can be adjusted with the proper tools and skills.

    While not a performance matter per se, it is interesting to note that the Makarovs were treated initially with friendly derision by other participants and even some instructors at the beginning of the course -- being called a "secret agent gun" or a "ladies' gun." By the end of the course, the same individuals had generally positive things to say after seeing the Makarov perform. However, many did retain an opinion that a more contemporary pistol with a larger magazine capacity and faster reloading would better serve a shooter in a combat situation.

    SUMMARY

    While not likely to supplant the ubiquitous Glocks and Berrettas as duty pistols or replace large-capacity 9mm and .45s (of whatever make) used in competitions and as personal weapons, the Makarov fared fairly well in an intensive, combat shooting-oriented experience. The Makarov's smaller size makes it better suited for concealed carry than most of the other pistols used by participants in the course and its simplicity and reliability might reduce the need to carry a backup pistol into potential combat situations.

    Overall, a good experience!

  2. #2
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    Default I had similar experiences

    In a tac course I ran a year ago with my Makarov. Several people who shot the Mak at some point all commented upon the tighter groups they shot with it, I think this is in part due to the fixed barrel and the smaller sights, the smaller sights creating a tighter grouping in aimed fire.

    One other thing I noticed with my Mak, is the almost impossiblity of dumping a magazine accidently. Three competitors with other pistols accidently dumped their magazine with their offhand thumb (it looked like). Twice it happened while transitioning the gun in strong to weak hand shooting drills around weak side obsticles. So the mag release is a tradeoff I think in some ways.

    Nice writeup .

  3. #3

    Default

    Great write-up, thanks a bunch for the work and time.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Awesome write up!!!
    "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."
    Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

  5. #5

    Default

    Interesting to hear. I've been tempted to do the same.

    - Reliability. My Makarov pistol had two misfeeds (likely caused by an aging mainspring) and neither of us had any misfires the entire day. Many of the other participants experienced multiple jams and misfires throughout the day.
    Matches, sort of, my experience at a course 5 years ago. My Ruger P-90 chugged along just fine. Some other folks had recently purchased high dollar 1911s, with "issues".

  6. #6

    Default

    Great point, S.L. While I didn't see anyone have a "premature ejection" during the course I have seen that happen elsewhere. That is almost impossible with the magazine base release, albeit at the expense of reload time.

    You mentioned offhand drills -- one other thing that my friend and I both noted is that the Makarov can be brutal on these. The little Makarov "slide bite" that sometimes occurs when gripping too high with your on hand turns into a major gash when firing with your off hand and following the natural tendency to grip higher and tighter!

    To the broader group -- someone mentioned the Bersa Thunder 380 Plus as a potential alternative to the Makarov -- .380ACP, 15-round magazine and a push-button magazine release in roughly the same size as a Makarov with Pearce grips but a good bit heavier. I wouldn't give up my Makarov for anything, but I'm thinking the Bersa might be a viable choice for a house gun when I'm not ccw. Anyone have any experience with it?

  7. #7
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    Default

    I had almost the same experances when I took my Makarov to Gunsite. Zero problems while a couple of high end guns did have major hangups. Great write up on your training.

  8. #8

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    Fantastic review!

    - Reliability. My Makarov pistol had two misfeeds (likely caused by an aging mainspring) and neither of us had any misfires the entire day. Many of the other participants experienced multiple jams and misfires throughout the day.

    - Recovery. It took less than five seconds to clear the Makarov misfeeds using combat jam-clearing techniques (even while bobbing-and-weaving to avoid return fire) whereas other pistols frequently took several times as long or had to be removed from the exercise for clearing.
    Interesting that while a pistol maybe slower to load, at best you won't be "taken off line" while fixing a jam. I think a "slow" pistol is better than no pistol.

    What did the course cost? If I maybe so bold to ask.

    Thanks again, I've be thinking of taking some type of training myself.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Makarov performance at Tactical Pistol course

    Quote Originally Posted by esignup View Post

    Interesting that while a pistol maybe slower to load, at best you won't be "taken off line" while fixing a jam. I think a "slow" pistol is better than no pistol.
    Well put, esignup. As one of the course instructors noted -- if you don't have a working firearm or are out of ammunition, you are no longer a shooter in a gunfight. Merely a target.

    Quote Originally Posted by esignup View Post

    What did the course cost? If I maybe so bold to ask.
    The course itself was $125 per person. There was a 500 round ammunition requirement which added a bit to total cost for me as I don't do my own reloads.

    If you are within striking distance of Atlanta PM me and I will give you contact information for the course instructor. I believe he is planning on teaching additional Tactical Pistol courses after he finishes Close Quarters Tactical Rifle and Tactical Shotgun courses already on his calendar.

  10. #10
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    Default

    Great write up. Continues to confirm what a great pistol the Mak really is.

    Any thought of someone running the course with a CZ-82? Same round, just as accurate with a push-button mag release.
    Si vis parcem, para bellum

  11. #11
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    Default Bersa

    To the broader group -- someone mentioned the Bersa Thunder 380 Plus as a potential alternative to the Makarov -- .380ACP, 15-round magazine and a push-button magazine release in roughly the same size as a Makarov with Pearce grips but a good bit heavier
    Personally, before I would consider the Bersa in .380 for a house gun I would look at the CZ82 in 9X18. Its a more powerful round than the .380, with almost as many rounds, and a push button mag release if that is the difference. Plus it is right about the same price.

    However, for a home gun, I recommend personally something with a light rail. Carrying a flashlight and handgun is not as efficient as a light on a handgun. My current bedside gun is a .45 Compact Witness with a light and it beats carrying a flashlight in my weak hand.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.L.Dickinson View Post
    However, for a home gun, I recommend personally something with a light rail. Carrying a flashlight and handgun is not as efficient as a light on a handgun. My current bedside gun is a .45 Compact Witness with a light and it beats carrying a flashlight in my weak hand.
    Problem solved! S.L., this is the "Ultimate" Tactical Makarov put together by the boys at makarov.com. This beauty will make a nice bedside gun don't you think? :cool: :D
    Attachment 38012

    Attachment 38013
    Last edited by Timbo; 08-09-2009 at 02:13 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Ummmmm

    Thats ummmm, well thats, well, thats plain inturestin is what that is...

    Scope too eh? Hmmmmm yep, plain inturestin...
    Last edited by S.L.Dickinson; 01-15-2008 at 04:35 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.L.Dickinson View Post
    Thats ummmm, well thats, well, thats plain inturestin is what that is...

    Scope too eh? Hmmmmm yep, plain inturestin...
    It will grab your attention, will it not? :eek: This gun was actually sold, I assume, this past year while George & Karl at makarov.com sold off some Maks from their personal collections. I don't recall all that is on it, specifically, but he put it together in his custom shop. Pretty awesome conversation piece. Sorry L.D.H., this was not an attempt to steal your thread, in fact, a remarkable thread.

  15. #15
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    Default

    Lol would love to see the face of the custom holster maker you order from for it. Lol, I had a hard enough time finding someone to make a 4.5 inch .44 Redhawk holster to my specs years ago.



    That thing would positively flumox them, lol.

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbo View Post
    Sorry L.D.H., this was not an attempt to steal your thread, in fact, a remarkable thread.
    Hijack away, Timbo. We did the Air Marshall fan-fire drills at the course for just that purpose. The Tac-Mak looks like something. Only problem is I would likely sever my femoral artery trying to holster it.

  17. #17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by S.L.Dickinson View Post
    Personally, before I would consider the Bersa in .380 for a house gun I would look at the CZ82 in 9X18.
    I've looked at the CZ82s before, and my thoughts echo some of the comments I saw in the replies to your comparison post. It does have the higher capacity and the push-button magazine release but... it's just somehow inelegant.

    More concretely, however, I do want to stick with the .380 round for consistency and simplicity (and the fact I have a thousand rounds of it sitting in my closet). I know there is a long-standing debate on whether the .380 is even viable as a knock-down round, but that debate becomes moot when the first four rounds in the magazine are HydroShock or Glazer Safety Slugs. Assuming my most likely defensive situation is in or around my home, or on a public street, I'd rather have something with less propensity for overpenetration anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by S.L.Dickinson View Post
    However, for a home gun, I recommend personally something with a light rail. Carrying a flashlight and handgun is not as efficient as a light on a handgun.
    Absolutely! Unfortunately, my most common home tactical situation is a security light or exterior alarm going off or my security cameras telling me something bigger than a square meter is moving in the yard. Where I live, patrolling my yard with a pistol out and sweeping a mounted light in a firing position is as likely to get me shot by a police patrol stopping to see who's wandering around a dark property with a flashlight!

    Having said all of that, I do appreciate your input. I've been reading your posts and you know what you are talking about. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

  18. #18
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    Default

    LDH, first off, thank you for the compliment, I do try not to sound like a complete idiot, lol. I can appreciate your concerns for a weapon light outside, I feel the same way and IF I have something go bump in the night outside I will investigate with my pistol light off, using a seperate handheld light. Usually I prefer my Inova X0 (Tiros model) or Inova X5 floody light for outside investigations.

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