With a little time on my hands (and the need to work on my typing skills--at the reader’s expense), I decided to post this thread on reloading the 9mm Makarov for my CZ-82.
What I quickly found out after I bought my CZ is that ammunition selection is limited at best. The typical gun store load is a 95-grain FMJ by various name brands and the occasional Silver Bear HPs. Rumors exist of Hornady XTP SD loads (although I read it’s under loaded), but my searches have not proven that story to be true. I guess supply isn’t keeping up with demand, and the trickledown of ammo surplus has not reached my local area.
I hate paying full price for ammo and don’t care to order bulk through the internet. I’m not one who feels 10,000 rounds of spare ammo is cutting it a bit short. Reloading is my option, which I’ve been doing for handgun, rifle, and shotgun rounds since 1975. That way I can have as much or as little ammo as I feel I need.
To begin with, all the commercial Makarov brass I’ve tried works well (Fiochi and S&B). Naturally, during the course of a range session, brass is going to be lost, mainly due to the CZ-82’s tendency to toss it across the furthest county line. So replacements must be found or new brass purchased. Starline sells 9mm Mak brass, but I’m not interested in 500-round lots. The quick easy answer: make my own brass from 9x19 cases. (That’s 9mm Luger/Parabellum for those who don’t follow the European designations.) Anyone who’s been to a shooting range knows that 9x19 cases are lying on the ground, just begging someone to take them home for reloading.
For those who may not know, the Makarov case measures 9x18mm in length. The other dimensions between the two 9mms cases are close but not necessarily exact. Fortunately, they are close enough to work for the CZ-82. The Luger bullets measure .355”, whereas the Makarov bullets measure .365”. Mak bullet diameter tends to vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but in general .364-.365” is the nominal size.
Many methods and means of trimming the extra one-millimeter off the Luger cases are available. I have a nice case trimmer but couldn’t find a pilot in .365 diameter. I opted for a Lee case trimmer. Spend a couple extra bucks and get the wooden ball cutter. It’s worth the price.
The case holder fits nicely in a drill chuck, which saves wear and tear on the hands and is much quicker. One point of order: speed is not your friend when trimming. A slower speed produces a nicer trim with less chamfering required
Before attempting to trim the Luger cases, run them through a Mak sizing die and case flaring die. Insert the flaring die deeper than you would normally because the oversized Mak pilot will bind inside the smaller Luger case if not opened up slightly. Besides, you’re going to trim most of the exaggerated flare off. If you find the trimmer binding, increase flaring until it stops.
The Lee trimmer will stop at the proper length automatically, so insert the case in the holder, turn it at slower RPM, and press lightly on the cutter. (You’ll know you have the right speed and pressure when the brass shaves off in a long ribbon.) In seconds, you’ll have a 9x18 case. The Lee trimmer actually trims the case slight less than 18mm but all the trimmed cases I’ve used have fed and chambered just fine. A light chamfering to remove any rough edges and the case is ready to go. Some might say to resize and reflare before loading, but I haven't found that to be necessary.
A note here is in order: The cases will still be “Luger” diameter, so when you first load the larger Mak-size bullets, the loaded rounds will have a slight “hourglass” shape. The newly converted cases will “fire form” when fired, and that hourglass will be gone after that. It won’t affect feeding.
Small pistol primers are needed. My preference is Winchester, but I also use CCI with no ill effects or changes in loads needed. I use Hodgdon HP-38 powder simply because it’s what I use in my .45 ACP. Many powders are available, and I’ll leave the choices to a personal issue.
The bullets I currently load are 93-grain lead round noses. I haven’t found those exact weights in any loading reference I have, but do find 90- and 95-grain loads. I split the difference on the Hodgdon loading data reference and came up with 3.5-3.9 grains as spread. What you load is entirely up to you; don’t accept my charges as gospel.
Standard reloading practices apply, and reloading the Mak round is no different than any other handgun cartridge. I use a COL of .965” for the 93-grain LRNs and they’ve fed 100% reliably so far. Most of my charges have been the lower 3.5 grains, as it keeps the already low CZ-82 recoil to a minimum and helps prevent the cases from heading out of state. No sense in having airline passengers have to wait while my cases sail through the scanners.
While the Mak round will never equal the Luger round in man-stopping effectiveness, I do feel that the right load would serve the self-defense purpose within a reasonable range. My theory is that if you need to question any handgun’s effectiveness—use a rifle! If I can ever find the mythical Hornady SD loads, I may give them a try. But until then, my hotter chunks of .365” lead will fill the niche.
Spent Mak cases appear very similar to the Luger cases, and the trimmed Luger cases even more so. I’ve tried black marker to designate the modified cases, but that only lasts until the first tumbling. Brass black didn’t fare much better. So, long story short, expect to get your Makarov (9x18) cases mixed up with both .380 (9x17) and Luger (9x19) cases. They’re easy to sort if you stand them on end on a flat surface. Toss the short and tall ones, and those left are your Makarov cases! As a courtesy, if anyone next to me is shooting .380 or 9x19 rounds, I warn them that my Mak cases look similar and may be head stamped 9mm Luger. It also gives me the opportunity to ask to collect and keep their brass. If you’ve ever shot the little CZ-82, you know you just can’t have too much Makarov ammo or spare brass around!