The Makarov Page - Barrel Replacement

I recently set out to replace the barrel on my 10-round Russian Makarov with one of the stainless steel barrels offered by Federal Arms. I will post a complete set of instructions once I build up the necessary expertise in this myself.

For now, I offer some banterings while I actually to the work.


September 12, 1997:

Pictures!

I just got these back from being developed, so they're in no particular order and don't include descriptions yet. These will become part of the final write-up. Click on thumbnails to get larger picture.

barrel package barrel press package main spring retaining clip
sear in place removing sear trigger guard pin
barrel press 1 barrel press 2 barrel part way off
barrel reinstall barrel installed finished-open
finished-closed Craftsman punch set transfer bar

September 4, 1997:

Today's lesson: practice makes perfect

Having ground down the bottom of the feed ramp to match the front of the mag well with my trusty Dremel tool, I was feeling pretty good about the whole install. It's kinda like the first time you change the oil on your car, lovingly using a torque wrench to replace the oil drain plug rather than having some snot-nose kid do it at the local Jiffy Lube using an air wrench.

I had crafted some dummy rounds of FMJs to test the feeding. This, by the way, is another advantage of loading your own ammo... make your own test dummy rounds.

I loaded them in an 8-round magazine since we all know that 8-round magazines fit and function in a high-capacity Makarov. I pulled back the slide, locked it in place manually by pushing the slide release up, and released the slide... clunk! The cartridge was stuck on the feed ramp, nose at the top of the chamber. I figure it was a fluke. Dug it out and tried again... clunk!

Upon inspecting the dummy rounds, they had some serious damage on the brass where they impacted the top of the feed ramp. I looked at the barrel...I looked at the original barrel. Aha! They machined a gentle slope in the original barrel to let rounds feed better. I inspected the barrel that John Grove rechambered to 9.2x19 and it had a bit of a slope as well. OK, more 'smithing.

Problem is, once that barrel was installed, it was hard to reach in there with the Dremel. I came to the grim realization that I had to take the sucker apart again. So I did just that and this time, it was getting much easier (thus "today's lesson"). This time I took pictures...to be posted when I get them back and scanned. Even the barrel came out on the first try with no strong-arming, freezing, or pounding. This time I decided to take everything apart except the trigger guard and spring; I figured I could take the barrel out without doing this. Wrong! Well you can, but the spring is held in place by the top of the barrel.

Some time with a fine stone on the Dremel and using the original barrel as a guide, I ground everything out just so, trying the dummy rounds every now and then to see where they still snag.

The reassembly was straightforward, except for the trigger guard pin. I thought I had this down, but it cost me a bloody fingernail and some four-letter words this time.

Tested the dummy rounds... feed great! Now it's time for a range test. I took a Polaroid, but it came out pretty crappy, so you'll have to wait for the 35mm pics to come back for the whole procedure documented in living color. I'll post the picture anyway on the barrel replacment updage page.

Summary

1) Barrel replacement is not a plug and chug procedure and should probably not be attempted by the mechanically disinclined or those without the proper tools.

The proper tools include:

2) Detail stripping the gun is not as hard as it first seems. However, the instructions that come from Federal are not that good. I highly recommend Walton Cude's Ultimate Makarov Guide for this procedure. If you can, borrow a friend's assembled Makarov to see where everything goes. I'll try to put better instructions with pictures on the Makarov page when I can.

3) Estimate the amount of time you need, then multiply by 4. If you're lucky, it won't take that long and you'll have extra range time.

4) Barrel replacement is _not_ something you can easily do at the range, so forget about shooting .380 and 9x18M in the same day. I can just picture losing the barrel retention pin in the grass next to all the spend .22 shells. ROTFL.

That's it for now. I'll report back when I've range test and chronied the sucker with and without muzzle brake/flash hider.

September 2, 1997:

Today's lesson: nothing beats experience and a model

After installing the new threaded barrel in my Russian Makarov (details to be found below), I got around to reassembling the rest of the pistol last night. Now given that the Makarov has fewer parts than most comparable pistols, this should be a relatively simple task.

As it turns out, there are a few snags. I won't say that the instructions from Federal are completely worthless, but without pictures, they are a 3 on the scale of 1 to 10. I had tackled the trigger guard with spring last time, which was a bit tricky. Yesterday's tricky part turned out to be the transfer bar/cocking assembly. What the Federal instructions don't tell you is how to move the trigger and how to rotate the hinged cocker just right when reassembling.

I won't go into the details now since I'll do a write up with photos on the Makarov page when I'm all done, but a fully assembled Makarov and a love for puzzles is essential. Well, at least highly desirable.

I also discovered that the design for the main spring retention device is different on the Bulgarian Makarov (my fully assembled model) and the Russian Makarov. The Federal instructions also fail to mention that it helps to have the trigger depressed when you reinstall the main spring.

Anyway, it's all back together now, but I know I will have to take it apart again. One thing that is not obvious (and nobody that sells the stuff tells you), is that you'll have to grind down the feed ramp on the barrel to make it match your frame. So I'll tear the pistol down again and possibly take pictures as I do so.

Next time...feed ramp griding and test firing. Of course, I've misplaced the flash hider/muzzle brake among all my frabbitz in the basement, so I hope to locate that before the range test.

August 19, 1997:

I've received several messages from people who have done this with various advice; to those I say - thank you!

As we all know, things look different on paper than when you actually go to do them. The latest in the barrel-replacement saga:

After succeeding in getting the barrel pin out with my new set of Craftsman punches, I still had trouble with the barrel itself. John Grove kept telling me that freezing the frame was the trick. So after much pounding and soaking with B-laster (something like Liquid Wrench...something every VW owner has in his/her toolbox), I decided to give the freezing a try.

Tonight I pulled the frame out of the freezer, slipped the aluminum slide from the barrel press over the muzzle, briefly heated the barrel retaining tube (for lack of a better expression) with a propane torch, and began pounding on the barrel end (but on the aluminum piece, not the barrel directly). Sure enough, it finally budged and I was able to get it out.

So why, you say, was this so difficult when others have done this with relative ease. Well, for whatever reason, I had rust between the barrel and the retaining tube. The B-laster stuff helped loosen it (it really did creep in there with capillary action like they claim) and the freezing bit did the rest.

I cleaned out the frame and put some silicone lube in the contact surfaces so I can back the new barrel out more easily.

The new barrel lined up rather easily and I used the remaining parts of the Federal barrel press to push the new barrel back in. For the record, I'm using a threaded 9x18M barrel. I had intended to put in the wildcat 9.2x19 barrel from John Grove, but for some reason I had the other one lying on the bench and it wasn't until it was firmly seated that I realized my mistake. Sorry John, you'll have to wait a bit longer for me to test that one (although not too long...I'll have this procedure down in no time).

After some jiggling of the barrel seating depth, I pounded the retaining pin back in and started reassembly of the rest of the pistol. That's where I am now...the trigger guard is back on (that spring is a bear to hold in there while fumbling with the pin), the hammer is back on, but the double-action transfer bar is not in yet (gotta figure out how that fits back in...time to pull out Cude's book).

Overall observations


Once I get this sucker back together, I'll range test it with and without the muzzle brake/flash hider.

Federal barrels are now available from the Makarov page. See How to Order page for more information.


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