Century Arms Surplus Corner: Bulgarian Makarov Video Review

Teya Freeman of GBGuns with Century Arms’ Bulgarian Makarov. Photo by Graham Baates

USA – -(Ammoland.com)-  There’s no denying t

hat Cold-War cool that the Makarov pistol exudes.  Century Arms, long known for their importation of military surplus firearms from around the world, continues to bring us neat pieces of history from abroad.  AmmoLand readers known that my own first firearm was a Mosin Nagant imported by Century Arms.  20 years later I still have that rifle and it even inspired my acquisition of the American Mosin Nagant (also from Century Arms) we covered not long ago.  Our Bulgarian Makarov is another example of the interesting finds tucked away in Century Arms’ Surplus Corner.

The Makarov pistol entered service in the Soviet Union in 1951 and is still in service in many former Soviet countries today.  9mm Makarov (technically 9.2x18mm) falls somewhat between Western .380 ACP (9x17mm) and 9mm Luger (9x19mm).  As a result it offers decent defensive power while still generating pressures low enough for safe operation in a blowback pistol.  By using a fixed barrel and blowback operation the Makarov is simpler to produce, uses fewer parts, and has incredible reliability compared to other designs.  These factors are just some of the reasons why the Makarov not only won the military trials, but also why the pistol is still in use decades later.  For a closer look at our sample see the tabletop video below.

The surface treatment on our example is beautiful and is nicely complemented by the deep red of the grips.  We hit the range to test in our usual manner including a “What’s For Dinner?” test and accuracy.  Teya took over most of the shooting and despite feeling some sensitivity to the violence of blowback actions found the Makarov quite shootable.  You’ll see in the slow-motion footage what the recoil impulse looks like at 1/16th speed.  Seven different loads are also run through the gun to check for operation and recoil.

True to the product description our Makarov proved to be in excellent condition.  True to the Makarov’s reputation we didn’t experience any issues on our range day that couldn’t be attributed to old magazines or shooter error.  Fortunately, Makarov magazines are available and reasonably priced for a piece of Cold War history.  After decades of service use the ammunition is also readily available so correcting shooter error is simply a matter of range time.  Defensive loads are less common, but Hornady loads a Critical Defense round for the Makarov and so I’m others are out there.  Knowing that Makarovs both commercial and military have been imported for years I’m sure some of you know of other defensive loads and can tell us about them in the comments below.

While prices today may be a bit higher than they were in the past reasonable samples can be found around $350.  Considering this is an all-metal pistol with a proven design and some historical value it makes for a good buy in my book.  If you’re curious what else Century has hidden in their Surplus Corner take a look here but be prepared to present a FFL, either yours or the local shop you use if you’d like to order.

Oh yeah, extra Bulgarian Makarov 9x18mm 8-Round Factory Magazine are for sale here. #add.

About Graham Baates G B Guns

“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the local 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel on the side. Visit Graham on Youtube .

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Hank in Fort Worth

I wish Century Arms had these listed on their website. I couldn’t find them anywhere. I’ve been a Makarov fan for thirty years. I’d like to get that single-stack though.

Ej harbet

Pretty sure most of us regret not snagging a certain gun when we had a chance.one of mine was a new east german makarov for $275 in 1996.it came with a new flap holster and 2 spotless magazines. I stole my second wife from russia and my brother in law by marriage is a senior lieutenant in the mvd politsya and when he wasn’t on duty his makarov had to be stored in the station armory. He was trained and responsable enough to defend the state armed but not his family.he couldnt understand my complete disgust at that. Folks we… Read more »


Century Arms has always been a mixed blessing for me with some of the best surplus guns I’ve owned (M-1 Carbine, FR-8 and others) and the worst, a Polish AK-74 that had the potential to be one of the very best, but Century Arms replaced the barrel, even though it was not required, with one that would not stabilize the bullets due to the oversized bore. If they import the gun, as with these Makarovs, without screwing with them, they seem to be fine, but if they import firearms and start replacing parts, I’d avoid them like the plague.


I picked up one of these several years ago when the sold for less the $200. I tested it along side the PA-63 and the P-83. all were reliable and all gave fair combat accuracy at 25 yards. All were also unpleasant to shoot due to sharp recoil. The Makarov was especially difficult to retract the slide, it would be a challenge for a senior citizen to chamber a round and even more so to take the pistol apart for cleaning.

Gregory Peter DuPont

Oddly enough I find the Makarovs and most other 9×18 mm pistols easy to handle,run the slide and shoot. I WOULD recommend that the Wolff Gunsprings heavier recoil springs be considered- especially for the aluminum frame PA63( durability and a few other related issues) but the steel frame Makarovs are still quite useful. And even with the rising price,a decent bargain.


Century? ….makarov?….wow thats just bad and worse…


Not a fan? have you ever shot or owned a Makarov? If not, maybe you should. Built like a tank, reliable, concealable,accurate. Sights a re not the best, but this is a up close and personal weapon…You might be surprised. A Bulgarian Makarov is a great value.


I have had a Makarov for 20 years. It is a great pistol in most ways. The cartridge is NOT wimpy. It is a good self defense cartridge and the owner must train with it.


No but I’ve owned a century….once
But a mak nawww I’m good only russian stuff I want more of are saiga AKs ..but I trust your opinion sir

Gregory Peter DuPont

They don’t BUILD them. They import them. No ” RAS47 Makarov “(Raskarkov?”.
I’m not nuts about their past” exclusive import agreements” ( like the chokehold they had on the WASR10 with Cugir)but as long as someone at Century doesn’t think ” simple blowback Pistol…I wonder if we can use badly cast parts without heat treatment..and we still have the QC team from the RAS47 project” we ought to be OK


I was at a gun show at the Arizona state fairgrounds several years back talking to a dealer about a Century CETME I’d purchased and then had to rebuild from one end to the other just to get it functional. The guy told me that the name Century was derived from the amount of time it took to get their guns to function. I can’t see how they’d screw up a Makarov though.


I applaud your political correctness. Women do not know what a Makarov is, so why are you featuring a woman in the main photo?

Ej harbet

Maybe because most of us like to see strong women with guns 🙂