Book Review: The Makarov Pistol – Soviet Union & East Germany

The Makarov Pistol - cover

Until recently, the only good reference book on the Makarov pistol has been Volume 16 of Fred Datig’s Soviet Arms series – which is hampered by the lack of public information available to the author in the late 1980s. Well, now we have another option: Henry Brown and Cameron White’s new book “The Makarov Pistol: Soviet Union and East Germany“.

This new book is a very good collectors’ guide to the Makarov, although it definitely leaves a place open for someone to write a more comprehensive reference work on the subject. It comes to a total of 122 pages, split primarily into a section on the Soviet Makarov (written by Brown) and a section on the East German Makarov (written by White). Both sections appear to have their research based on observation of known examples of the guns, with a nice large sample size allowing for accurate inferences to be made regarding production numbers, timelines, and changes in characteristics. Eventually, someone will print a book in English based on original arsenal and military documents – but this is not that book.

It does suffer aesthetically from being clearly a self-published book. Some photos retaining background shadows and cropping, and the layout is very simplistic. None of this negatively impacts the information conveyed, however, and reducing the layout and printing costs did presumably help make the project feasible in the first place. Someone looking for a Leonardo Antaris or Collector Grade work will be disappointed, as this is more akin to Robert Adair’s book on Unique Pistols.

That said, the content is good and contains plenty of useful elements. The changes from the initial prototypes to the early production pistols and thence to the mass production and late production guns includes a number of minor part variations that are not documented elsewhere in print, and the explanation of Makarov serial number and dating schemes (to the extend they are deciphered so far) is excellent for the collector. Some of the less-standard variants are also discussed, including the Soviet PMM (double-stack modernized Makarov), Baikal export guns, and the Makarovs sold in the 90s by Suhl. Import marks are examined in some detail, especially in the East German section, which will be very helpful for tracing where different examples have been. Both sections also include  looks at accessories, including ammunition, holsters, and lanyards.

Overall, the book is worth the $30 asking price for those who are interested in the topic. It has a bunch of information not found in Datig’s book, and is a great guide for the beginning collector. It is also nice to see that it is available electronically on the Kindle for $10, for those folks who prefer their media in that format.

Here is my companion video review: