The Makarov is a Russian design that came out after WWII. The designer obviously had seen a Walther PP a time or two as the pistol has a very strong resemblance to that firearm. It is however a very different pistol. It fires the 9X18 or 9MM Makarov which is an intermediate round which falls roughly between the .380 Acp and 9X19 or 9MM Luger. It is a straight blowback pistol with double and single action capablities. The Safety is a decocker also (which takes some getting used to if it is your first decoker, watching that hammer drop is a bit spooky). Conversion barrels are available in .380 ACP and the same magazine may be used. Capacity in either caliber is 8 + 1, the exception being some Russian models which use a double stack 10 or 12 round magazine. The pistols were made in 4 countries and are imported as surplus. The most prevelent found in recent years are the "Bulgies" or those made in Bulgaria. FEG makes a pistol that fires the 9x18 but it is not a Mak, and not the same quality from what I have heard. Prices are generally reasonable for Makarovs so why go with an imitation anyways. I paid $150 for my pistol with 4 magazines included. Takedown is easy, remove magazine and make sure pistol is empty. Pull downward on the front of the triggerguard, hold it with your finger, and pull back and upwards on the slide, removing it. This gives you access for cleaning and changing recoil springs, which I highly recommend as they are used pistols. Since they are blowback this means a weak spring can cause damage to the slide and frame in recoil that is not soaked up by the spring. Springs are easily obtained from Makarov.com. Replace the slide in the opposite direction, holding down on the triggerguard, it will need to be wriggled a bit sometimes to pop on, watch your fingers they can get pinched. Type: Double/Single action System of Operation: Blowback Safety: Hammer block, slide lock, decocking Caliber: 9x18mm (9mm Makarov) Capacity: 8+1 rounds (10 + 1 in the few Russian double stack magazine models) Sights: Fixed blade front, dovetailed u-notch rear, drift adjustable Length: 6.34" Weight (loaded): 1.71 pounds Barrel: fixed (need barrel press to replace barrel or change caliber) Magazine release: heel Manufacturing Countries: Russia, East Germany, China and Bulgaria (Hungarian FEGs are NOT Makarovs, they are similar and fire the same cartridge but they are not the same gun) Overall impressions: I first got the Makarov several years ago, around the time of Y2K when I decided to pick up my CCW permit and wanted a smaller pistol than my .45 to carry at times. For $150 including 4 magazines, and a box of ammuntion, I could hardly pass it up. It is a handsome pistol, very nicely finished and blued. Mine is the East German variant which are reputed to be the best finished. Russians, Chinese, and Bulgies are a bit rougher in finish but shoot just the same. My first impression when I picked it up was WOW, for a smaller pistol it is rather heavy, which it is. However, that weight soaks up any recoil and makes it perhaps the sweetest shooting pistol I have ever shot. I used it sight unseen(unshot) for my CCW class and scored the highest in the class, the instructor even went out the next day and bought one for himself after shooting mine. 100 rounds were put through the pistol the first night I owned it and I was very impressed. Right from the first magazine I found out that I could rapid fire this pistol as fast as I could pull the trigger and put all rounds in a nice tight group. Recoil with the relatively heavy weight, and the heavy recoil spring is practically non-existant. The only problem I have had with it in almost 6 years now was the slide stop failed to work upon the last round fired when I first got it. I finally figured this problem out to be the magazines were dirty, and the springs needed to be changed. I took the magazines apart, cleaned them well, and replaced the springs and the recoil spring with replacements from Makarov.com. I went with the extra power springs, and it is definitly noticible, pulling back the slide takes a bit of work and thumbing in that last round is a chore, the available magazine loading tool helps a lot. Pluses: It is a relatively cheap, but very reliable pistol. One of the best bangs for the buck I have encountered. The heel clip magazine release, and decocker take a bit of getting used to but work very well once you are used to them. The rubber grip fits my hand very well, I am sure others will change them though. It is a SHOOTER with a capital S, I have yet to have a failure to feed or fire in many types of ammunition. Shooting it is one of the more pleasant experiences. It is extremely hardy and accurate. The caliber is plenty stout with a decent variety of different brands and loads for this Combloc round. There are some nice hollowpoint, and frangible rounds available. It hides away nicely in either a hip holster or my behind the back holster. Replacement of things like springs, an even the firing pin are truly very easy to accomplish, making it an easy pistol to maintain. Minus': Heavy for a small caliber pistol. It is much heavier than my Kel-tec, even though they can be used in the caliber. The grips, while serviceable, look a bit cheap, especially if you get the red starred Russian grip. The sights are fixed, but drift adjustable, and some might think a bit small. But they are unusually well adapted and useable on this piece. I use white liquid paper on the front and outlining the rear for additional visiblity. Since it is surplus, and you DO NOT know how well it has been maintained, immediately replace the recoil spring and magazine springs, just to be sure you do not damage your slide, or have feeding failures. There have been reports that dry firing can break the firing pin so buying a replacement might be a good idea. If you buy a heavier than normal recoil spring as I did, it can make working the slide considerably stiffer, but does not throw the casing quite are far, lol. You have to get used to the heel clip magazine release which is a European design not found often on American firearms. Conclusions: This is one top notch defensive pistol. It is perhaps one of the best shoooters I have found. I really like this pistol and carry it often. I am planning on buying a .380 ACP barrel, "just in case". One article I read on the Mak called it a .38 snubnose with half again as many rounds, in a flatter faster/softer shooting package, and quite frankly, that is pretty much exactly what it is. It would be ideal for a woman also. These conclusions are mirrored by a VERY fanatical, dedicated group of fans that visit Makarov.com, they call themselves Makarovniks.