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Old mother Russia has surely noticed the advancements in handgun design in the West over the past couple of decades.  More than enough time to evaluate what works and what doesn’t.  So it should surprise nobody that this spring, they will begin replacement of their 70-year-old Makarov pistols with a new 9×21 gun called the Udav.

First off, don’t confuse the Udav with Uday, Sadam Hussein’s now-dead psychopath son.  Udav apparently means “boa constrictor” in Russian.  Expect Russian men (and likely more than a few women) to joke about carrying a snake on their hips or in their pockets.  The opportunity for humor might prove boundless thanks to whomever named this new gun.

This new “boa constrictor” pistol will fire a new 9×21 cartridge capable of defeating soft body armor.  The Russians call their new 9×21 Russian cartridge the Gyurza (“blunt-nosed viper” in Russian).  The standard 103-grain projectile reportedly comes out at about 1345 feet per second from a 4.7″ barrel. So yes, that “boa constrictor” in one’s holster fires a “blunt-nosed viper”.  You have to love those Russkies.

In fact, the Russians boast this new snake gun will bite through 4mm of steel and over a millimeter of titanium armor at 100 meters.  Assuming, of course, its user can hit a target at 100m with the pistol.  And assuming the intended victim wears only Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty body armor.


In recent times, the Russians have made some rather fanciful boasts about their technological prowess.  However it’s safe to say this new pistol will surely do a better job as a sidearm in today’s world than the old Makarov.

Unlike the 9×18 Mak with its old-school, all-metal frame, the new gun will enjoy a 21st Century polymer frame. Like the new American military SIG P320/M17 sidearm, it will feature a rail, and optional accessories, like a threaded muzzle for a suppressor and other do-dads.


Looking at the photos, it looks a lot like a double-action only, hammer-fired design – something “revolutionary” in the American market about thirty or forty years ago. The only truly revolutionary aspect here: it has no slide lock lever on the exterior.

The slide-stop cut in the bottom of the slide suggests an internal slide lock system. At the same time, it does sport an external safety and an external hammer. Yes, old habits die hard for Ivan.


Double-action-only modifications of hammer-fired guns in America have generally come about as a result of police bureaucrats wishing to reduce negligent discharges. Maybe Mother Russia incorporated it for the same reason.

Of course, the corollary to that in America involved user accuracy sagging badly as a result of the long, heavy, DA-only trigger pull.  Time will tell if the same happens with this new Russian design.  Then again, the whole weapons system could fail, just like the last few attempts to replace the Mak.

From the Military Times:

In the past, the Russian military has considered and implemented other alternatives to the Makarov, each with limited success and a number of failings. Currently, the MP-443 Grach, or PYa, serves as the Russian military’s standard sidearm, though it hasn’t gained a ton of traction thanks to quality control and reliability issues.

So, watch and see what happens, because this new pistol reportedly will go into production this spring for deployment shortly thereafter. Time will tell.

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  1. The Russians do know how to make guns,,, they might look cheap, but they work every time you need them too, I happen to have 4 different Kalashnikov weapons, & all very dependable, my favorite just happenes to be a 12ga SAIGA…

    • Like the Armata tank, they won’t be able to deploy them large numbers because of the cost.

    • Are 9×21 ballistics pretty similar to .357 Sig, or 38 super? Whatever the case, it is a big step up from 9×18.

      I hope this means the surplus market will get flooded with inexpensive Makarovs. I’d like to get one to go with my CZ82. Makarovs are cool little pistols.

      I don’t think it will since we have stupid sanctions against Russia.

      • 103 grains at 1345 fps sounds a little lighter that some .38 super loads (125r at 1400) but comparable.

        On a related note, I’ve often wondered why .38 super never became more popular – It is nearly .357 magnum in a nice little automatic pistol compatible package. Who knows, I guess partly because 9×19 is good enough for most applications.

        • .38 super was in production in the 1920’s. I doubt there was direct competition between it and the 9×19 for market share until the end of ww2. Or later. The super would have been head to head with the 1911 in .45acp. Of which the Doughboys that were demobbed had very fond memories. And in a few years along came the .357 magnum. I’m guessing that in 1935 the revolver was still king in the US.

        • @ jwm

          I’m sure timing and market forces are the core of the explanation but it just seems interesting to me that people have tried, more than once, to produce .357 magnum ballistics in a semi-auto and the .38 super was already there.

          I don’t have a dog in the fight, I don’t even own anything in .38 super, but it seems odd. Of course seemingly good cartridges having little following and seemingly inferior cartridges becoming popular are hardly unknown occurrences.

      • Dimensionally it’s a 9mm Luger with an extra bump for the penetrator. Performance wise, a 103Gr round at 1345 is pure 9MM NATO, basically Swedish m/39 loads. The Russians built a 9MM+++p in the 7N21 and 7N31 in the 80’s that was significantly faster. 38 Super isn’t really any improvement over 9MM+p either.

        You can look up the Gyurza

        It’s also not bottlenecked like 357Sig

    • I want to know how the Ruskies think this 9×21 round will go through “soft body armor”. If “soft body armor” means Level II ballistic vests, those are supposed to stop .35 caliber / 9mm diameter bullets impacting at 1,400 fps.

      • Most likely a comparison to the throwback ballistics of the 7.62x25mm cartridge they used in the older Tokarev TT-30 series pistols. I think what they’re calling “soft body armor” is Level 2 with no plates.
        In my opinion, if you’re gonna wear armor it better be Level 4. Preferably with a plate.

  2. Interesting,even accounting for the usual Russian”Great Success!” press releases.. I wonder if they’ll maintain some residual 9×18 and 9×19 production while they transition or if they’ll burn through the old stock and make it all 9×21.
    Interestingly enough,some of the 1990:s and early 2000’s era Italian production guns in 9×21 reportedly had the capability to chamber,fire , extract and eject 9×19 ammo. I do NOT remember whether or not they did this with a conversion barrel or if the OAL,case dimensions and rim diameter were sufficiently close to run both in a 9×21.

    • Seems like it would need to be different barrels since 9×19 and, as far as I know, 9×21 both headspace off of the case mouth. I suppose it is possible that an extractor could hold a 9×19 tightly enough to the bolt face to allow it to be fired but, seems like it would be less than ideal – especially since 9×19 is relatively tapered as “straight wall” cartridges go.

  3. “Our new totally-not-penis-joke weapon is capable of penetrating – HAHAHA who am I kidding it’s totally a penis joke – filthy American Sherman tanks from 100 meters! They still use those… Right? Sherman tanks? Right?”

  4. First. Nothing but love for the Mak. It works. Every time. Hopefully they’ll flood the market with used mags for the Mak.

    • I’m really quite of my Maks. Their country of origin is Bulgaria. Hope those Ruskie Mak mags that you speak of, and if they ever materialize, are compatible. That would be sweet.

  5. So what’s the legal angle? Didn’t IMI develop 9×21 for markets where 9×19 was illegal due to bans on using “military cartridges”? Does this make 9×21 pistols illegal in a bunch of European markets?

    • I think the military cartridges thing is specific to the country. Italy banned the 9×19 round from citizens because its what the Italian .gov issues. I don’t think what other countries issue figures into it.

      I could be wrong. Thought I was wrong once. Turns out I was mistaken.

      • I thought I had read back a couple years ago that at least one country in Europe basically said “If it’s used by a military it’s a military round and “citizens” cannot have military rounds”. I could be wrong about that though since I can’t seem to find the source.

  6. Stupendously, horrendously disgusting looking gun. I don’t understand why gun designers think this plastic shit a) looks good or b) feels good to hold. If someone drew this on me in plain sight, I would die having a stroke at the sight faster than the first bullet could reach me.

    • The frame looks like it was molded by a 9 year old with fucking Play-Dough that left the factory before it had a color dye put into it.

      • Well jwm the Makarov wasn’t a particularly pretty gun but it looked decent, this is the first Russian gun I’ve seen that’s atrocious. Aside from some prototypes. Also I can’t attest to holding a Makarov in my hand but I do own the gun it was copied from, the PPK, and it points and feels like a dream.

        • I have a Mak. And it was a shameless rip off of the Walther PP. I think it’s a better gun than the Walther. But then look at the other weapons the Russians use/used. Nagant 95. Mosin Nagant. SKS. AK……. no beauty prize winners in the lot.

        • I disagree. The wood and metal gave those guns a more natural looking form. This looks like partially solidified barf.

  7. -7.62X25, steel puncher. ….Why an article on a Russian gun? It’s not like I’m going to be able to buy one out of a gun shop. Tee Hee

  8. I am sure the new pistol will be completely adequate for shooting Lubyanka political prisoners in the back of the head. Or any prisoners, for that matter.

  9. Enjoy making all the jokes, because the day the Russkies decide to kick our butts they will. It’s not with our modern tranny troops, and our useless F35, that we will stop them.

  10. As a reloader, I can get a 95 gr projectile going at 1482 fps in a 9mm +P loading using Bullseye. I suspect that with a steel core bullet it would do everything this 9×21 round will do in an ordinary standard service pistol. I think the Russians just want to be different, not better.


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