Things you see at 4:00 am

Like many of my friends I work nights and thus I have the misfortune of being awake for a lot more hours than most people and get time to think and write accodingly. These are just reflections on the curent state of everything I have an opinion about.

Monday, March 07, 2005

PA-63 9x18 Makarov Review

The 9x18 Makarov is a good reliable gun for a shooter on a budget who's main concern is self defense. The Makarov is a relatively inexpensive fire arm, I paid about 175 USD for mine about a year ago and in the time that I owned it I never had a single problem when it came to feeding ammunition, jams or break downs of any sort. The particular model I had was the PA-63 of Hungarian make. This is a picture of that style it is very similar in looks and design to the Walther PPK featuring a drop safety and and double/ single action trigger pull and is a very small framed pistol ideal for concealment. It also features relatively easy break down and cleaning, there is only the slide, one recoil spring and the barrel is attached to the frame. The praises of the model being said, there are a few drawbacks to this model the first being size. I have relatively large hands and it was impossible for me to get a comfortable grip on the gun and avoid having the the top of my hand sliced open by the slide. The second draw back was magazine capacity and availability. This Model could only carry seven rounds in the magazine and extra magazines are particularly hard to find for the PA-63 so if you are interested in having a lot of extra rounds ready expect to pay around 60 USD per magazine. The magazines also did not have a very forceful release instead of dropping completely free of the gun they require your spare hand to remove, the extra time you have to take for this could mean life or death in a tight situation. Another draw back is availability of defensive ammunition, while it is findable on the internet I would avoid buying the Silver Bear brand JHP and don't expect the local gun store to have any defensive ammo in stock. Lastly is the fact that like all makarovs it functions on the Blowback Breach principal, this conjoined with the fact that it is a small light gun makes it very brutal on the shooters hand so practicing is likely to be a painful endevor. All in all I would recomend the PA-63 to an experianced shooter with small hands that is looking for a small easily concealable pistol and is looking for something stronger than a .25 or.380


Blogger kenjihara said...

I think the Makarov is an excellent little pistol. I prefer the original Makarov, just because it is the most common and easy to get parts etc. for. It seems that the Bulgarian versions are some of the best shooters in addition to being some of the most affordable.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi - You have a great blog. I have a webpage about street self defense I'd like you to visit. Here's the link

5:20 AM  
Anonymous AmatsuMIkaboshi. said...

I have a P 64 and I find the recoil not that bad after I got used to shooting acompact handgun; however, at first it was a painful expriance before I got used to the handgun.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PA-63 is closer to a PP, the big brother of the PPK, and will often fit in holsters made for the PP. Since I have smaller hands I don't have trouble gripping it but, I do have a problem with the 20lbs double action trigger pull.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a spring kit from Wolff springs. They make a heaver recoil spring that reduces the pounding on your hand and a lighter hammer spring that makes the DA trigger pull much lighter. I also went in and polished the ledge on the sear to make the SA trigger pull smooth as silk. The only problem I have is that it doesn't reliably feed some types of hollow point when they're the first round in the magazine. I guess the spring pressure is too much when the magazine is full. I keep a ball round in the top position and fill the rest with hollow points.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Makarov" is only the name of the ammunition: "9x18 Makarov". Your gun is a Hungarian "PA-63" designed and manufactured by Hungarian factory "FEG" (the acronym meaning Weapons and Gas Appliances Factory). Except for the ammo, this baby has nothing_to_do with the Russian Makarov models. See Wikipedia,, etc. for further details.
Best to you, from a PA-owning Hungarian.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Tiger said...

I have a PA63 myself,and haven't
had a problem after shooting
thousands of rounds through it.
I try to keep them down to 95 Gr.
rounds though. I've heard people
say hotter rounds in the PA63 can
be dangerous.


5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually defense ammo is readily available from Hornady. They manufacture a brass cased 95 Gr XTP JHP load that performs very well. Penetration will go through 4 gallons of water with good expansion and bullet weight retention. Firing through a simulated internal wall (6" wall two sides standard building code sheet rock with insulation between) it has enough power to explode a gallon milk jug filled with water on the other side. The round is very reliable and costs on the order of $14-15 per box of 25. I highly recommend this load for any weapon in 9x18 Makarov for defense.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just bought a PA63 for $150 USD with 2 clips and 125 rounds. i was just wondering if it will shoot .380 ACP. it fits in the mag and chambers no problem also the .380 is a litle shorter so a HP might chamber more efficently.

3:31 AM  
Blogger CL203 said...

I would very strongly advise against using anything other than 9x18 mm in your PA-63 .380 might be lower pressure but it is just unsafe to use any cartridge that isn't stamped on the side as to feeding hollow points it might feed them but the gun probably will not cycle properly with them.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a gunsmith reduce my trigger pull to around 8lbs and paint it black. It's highly concealable now.
As for the magazine not releasing easily - that's only a problem when the magazine is empty.
Since I only plan to use it as a concealed carry gun, I don't expect to be using more than 8 rounds anyway (who will?). It not a "combat" handgun. That's a different animal altogether. besides, any more than 8 rounds and you have a wider grip, which is a loss in ergonomics.
By the way, I think the ergonomics of the gun are underated; for most people it fits like a glove, and functions perfectly. I wear an extra large glove, so it should be a good fit for almost any man.
Any talk about the gun being under powered is irrelevent if it is used as a concealed carry gun. Any good concealed carry gun is smaller and lighter in weight than .40 or .45 caliber hand gun. You have choice with semi-auto's; power or concealability. I chose concealabaility - and the element of surprise over power.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corbon Powr Ball, Hornady, Brown Bear, Wolf, and soon Buffalo Bore.

Buffalo Bore will be making a very strong load in 9x18 with either Hornady or Speer Hollow Points, for self defense.

For $20 one can buy a Wolff Spring kit. Beef up the recoil spring to help lessen felt recoil and lighten the hammer spring to make double action trigger lighter.
It makes this a NEW Gun!

Great litle guns, easy to conceal and light to carry.

CDNN has New Surplus Mags for $24.99 as of Feb 2010.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous hunter said...

can anyone help me with this problem. i have a pa-63 but for reasons unknown 9x18 makarov ammo does not fit in the chamber but will fit in the magazine. the ammo i have is tul ammo idk if that makes a difference. please email at

1:20 PM  
Blogger Mahatmaganja said...

@ anonymous... good purchase! First guy I bought was a PA63 for $125, with a one box of ammo, but no spare mag. I did end up finding a lot of 6 mags on gunbroker. More about them below.

If you haven't fired it, be prepared for a stiff trigger feel, and serious RECOIL. These little babies feel, uh... snappy! 100 rounds at a sitting, and I had a bruise from the frame (no, not the slide; the 'ducktail' of the frame) hitting my hand! Luckily, the heavy spring from Wolff cured that, and the little gun is an absolute joy to fire.

BTW, I had the same problem w/ some mags not ejecting cleanly. The problem is little tang on the "shoe" inside the mag that is supposed to come up and hit the slide lock when the mag is empty. It drags on the inside of the frame so that the mag won't drop out freely when you go to eject. The fix is to straighten out the little tang a bit. Too straight, and you'll have the slide fail to lock open after emptying the magazine. Not straight enough, and that little bugger will drag, and you'll have to actually pull the empty magazine out of the frame.

But to respond to your question: there's NO way I'd want to run .380/9X17/9 'Kurtz' thru my PA-63.

The Mak bullet is about .365" in diameter; the .380 and 9 "parabellum" rounds are a scooch (technical term...) under .360" dia.

So, the bullet isn't going to be a good fit in the bore. Can't be good for accuracy.

The .380 ammo doesn't seem to be much more affordable than Mak, either. I bought two boxes of S&B for about $21/ea the other day.

I picked up three boxes of Brown Bear (steel case) for about $14/ea or so a couple weeks back.

I've never gone anywhere that had .380 for sale significantly cheaper than Makarov.

I've used a bunch of different brands thru my pistol; the only issue I've run into is with my recent purchase of the Bear; I had several 'fail-to-fire' out of about 120 rounds shot. Note that these are Eastern Bloc ammo, and that I have put a softer spring in the hammer assembly which may be at fault.

BTW, @ CL203, I've run a box or 2 of some brass cased JHP (Federal? I can't remember) thru and had absolutely NO feed issues. I'm not trying call ya' out; have heard that HP doesn't feed well in these guns, and wanted to mention that it doesn't always seem to be the case. I may have just lucked out?

6:55 PM  

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