Makarov ammo

A friend is thinking of buying a Makarov. He asked if it was a regular 9mm, I said no. He asked why and I could not answer. Plus, shame on me, I own none. So, why did USSR decide to replace Tokarev with a strange 9x18 instead of 9x19?

According to Bolotin, after WW2 ended, the Soviets started a complete re-armament program, and they wanted a replacement for the 7.62 Tokarev TT33 (which WOULD have been replaced by the Voevodin before the war, but they couldn’t put it into production before the war started). They specified a pistol chambered for either 7.65 Browning or 9mm, but wound up favouring the 9mm, apparently because the test pistols chambered for it fit the hand better, and it had better target effect (like most armies of the time, they figured the pistol was going to primarily be sort of a “badge of rank”, to be shown often, but fired in anger relatively few times). That, plus the “not invented here” syndrome, are probably the two biggest reasons.

Edit to add: One of my other books (Blagovestov’s “Firearms in the CIS”)claims that this was a deliberate choice to make all of the 7.62 Tokarev firearms that were left in non-government hands after the war essentially obsolete, by denying them a source of ammo, yet still allowing the production machinery to be used to produce the 9mm Makarov round, since the head dimensions are the same, only the case is cut off to a shorter length.

Thanks, I’ve never heard of this Voevodin gun

The 9 x 18m/m Makarov was chosen because it fit the requirements set forth by Russian authorities ballistically, and the ballistics were established because they represented about the top end of power that could be proactically expected from a pistol of the size mandated for adoption. It is a much longer story than that - too long to recount here, but it was not an accident.

I am inclined, after researching this caliber for 15 years, to discount the story about wanting to change calibers to render useless all the pistols that had drifted into private hands (partisans and others) because of the Great Patriotic War. The fact that the Soviets produced the Tokarev cartridge until the mid 1880s, at least, and kept in service 7.62 x 25m/m weapons probably until about that time, as substitute-standard and emergency supply, tends to reduce the merit of that story. If I ever get my book on Makarovs finished and published (it is about 60% done now - about 85-90% of the text done) - the story of the cartridges and the pistols will be explained there.

And no, in my opinion and that of many others that have studied the requirements and the history of the cartridge, the 9 x 18 pre-war German Ultra had nothing to do with the Makarov cartridge. That will be explained also.