After 1946, the 9-18mm round was designed by B.V. Semin to be the most powerful round that could function safely in a direct blowback pistol (such as the Walther PP type.) Slightly more powerful than a .380 auto and just a hair less powerful than a 9x19mm parabellum, the 9x18mm was designed as a self-defense round. By 1951, it was ready for the field. It became a Warsaw Pact iconic round. Let's look at some of the pistols encountered in the US that fire it.
To replace the 19th century designed Nagant revolver and the 1930s era TT-33 pistol, the Soviet Union adopted the small framed blowback Pistolet Makarova (PM) in 1951. Outwardly, it closely resembles the Walther PP/K series handguns. Barrel length is 3.5-inches making the pistol just under 6.25inches overall. Weight unloaded is around twenty ounces and have a seven or 8-shot magazine depending on the manufacturer.
- Stalin's own engraved Makarov.
Pistolet Makarov made in East Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, and China (as the Type 59). While surplus DDR, USSR and Bulgur military grade firearms were very popular Curio and Relic eligible imports in the early 1990s, they have largely dried up. These guns were decidedly ugly and often had extremely cheap plastic grips. These firearms could be bought for as low as $79. Today a more realistic price is $200-$250.
Post-Cold War Russian (Baikal-442) Makarovs and German (Simson Suhl) guns with slightly modified designs and better construction made for the civilian market garner prices closer to $350-$400 in new condition. These also are generally not C&R eligible.
A number of other 9x18mm chambered pistols besides the Makarov are available.
The Polish P64
In the 1950s, the Polish Institute for Artillery Research (Radom) designed their own small pistol to take the 9x18mm Makarov cartridge. The P-64 is a double-action blowback-operated pistol with a spring extractor contained in the slide. It is a unique design with a six shot magazine. Like most other Makarov style pistols, it has an extremely heavy trigger pull (more than 20-pounds!) However, they are very accurate at close ranges and can still be had for right around $200 from outfits like Classic Arms. The P-83 Wanad has replaced it in Polish service and was slightly different design. Imported for a minute after Poland joined NATO, the P-83 was available on the surplus market but now is over the $300 range due to collectors.
The FEG PA-63
Hungary's FEG factory, known for their Browning HP style pistols, produced the PA-63. The manual safety lever, which doubles as a decocker, is located at the left side of the slide. This sleek looking pimpgun looks more like the Walther PP it was taken from and the only thing it has that is interchangble with the Makarov is its ammunition. These suffer from more bark and muzzle flip than the other Com-Bloc guns due to their alloy construction.
Probably the hottest 9x18mm pistol right now is the Czech made CZ-82. It was Czech police and military CZ82 sidearm in the 1980s and 90s and was designed more than two decades after the PM. It has a double stack 12 round magazine, black polycoat finish, and plastic grips. The CZ-82 has a barrel that is pinned to the frame like most blowback pistols, which normally makes a very heavy duty and accurate pistol. Be careful when you check the barrel of these so you don't freak out as they have polygonal rifling that is not visible. They are readily available from importers like J&G and Aimsurplus for about $219 and yes, Virginia, are C&R eligible.