Hello and welcome to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all bout the rimfire firearm world and its many facts, curiosities, firearms, and of course, its rich history! 22LR is what I would consider a global cartridge. As opposed to some cartridges that have only seen widespread adoption in specific regions of the world, 22LR is almost universally used in every country regardless of its specific firearms culture. One such firearm that is often forgotten by most of the world that is chambered in 22LR is one that actually has deep roots in the target and competition shooting scene – the MCM-K “Margo” 22LR pistol designed by Mikhail Margolin in the years following WWII. What’s interesting about the Margo pistol and Mr. Margolin is that despite their relative obscurity within the broader firearms world, both the Margolin MCM and its designer helped inspire future generations of competitive pistol shooters across the world. Today we’ll be taking a look at both the Margolin MCM and Mikhail Margolin to get a closer look at their tale.
Previous Rimfire Report Articles @TFB:
- The Rimfire Report: RSM Firearms MINI-50 Ruger 10/22 Conversion Kit
- The Rimfire Report: The Bandera OpenTop 11/22 Pistol
- The Rimfire Report: The Best DIY Upgrade For Your Henry AR-7
The Rimfire Report: The Margolin MCM and Its Blind Designer
So what exactly is the Margolin MCM pistol? For starters, the MCM is of Russian origin and was originally designed by Mikhail Margolin and put into production in 1948 by the fabled Izhmekh/Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (also known as Baikal). Mikhail, a budding young firearms designer was in the midst of his formal education when the Russian Civil War broke out in 1917. During this time Mikhail served at the Black Sea during the Southern Russia intervention where he, unfortunately, lost his sight becoming blinded by a serious head wound.
Such a life-altering event might leave most people listless and defeated. However, Mikhail didn’t lose sight of his goal to become a firearms designer. Instead, Mikhail took the necessary steps to learn what he could about firearms and firearms design with the help of his friends, and for his efforts, he was eventually hired on at the Tula Arms factory where he began work on a .22LR version of the DP-27 Degtyaryov machine gun for training purposes. However, Mikhail wasn’t really interested in military applications for firearms. Instead, he wanted to design sports pistols.
Margolin got his wish and was finally able to begin work on his passion project. He began work on a target pistol chambered in .22LR and based off of the design of the Tokarev pistol. However, almost as quickly as he started on the project, WWII broke out and Mikhail was tasked with other projects that would go to aid in the war effort against the Axis powers. It wouldn’t be until after WWII that Mikhail would be able to return to what would eventually be called the MCM pistol. It’s worth noting again that during this entire time, Mikhail was blind and was communicating with his team via physical models so that his assistants could turn his ideas into written designs for production purposes.
The Margolin MCM Pistol
After the war, Mikhail was finally able to return to his project but dropped the designs he had before the war and instead came up with something entirely new – the MCM pistol. Mikhail’s new inspiration for the MCM would instead come from the competitive world of pistol shooting as he referenced Olympic Competition pistols for the new design. This included features like intentionally high mounted sights that were mounted to the frame rather than the slide, a weighted compensator for improved recoil control, and a lightened slide design to further reduce recoil (something that is found on the Beretta 92).
The Margolin MCM pistol was finally put into production in 1948 and Soviet Olympians used the new handgun to take the Gold in the 25-meter rapid-fire matches at both the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games. Worth noting is that the Olympian who won both gold medals – Károly Takács – took on legendary status at the time as he not only won the gold two consecutive times, he did this being a non-native left-handed shooter as he had lost the use of his right hand during military service and instead chose to train with Mikhail’s pistol left-handed.
With a great start to his beloved pistol’s journey, the Margolin MCM would go on to see several other types of iterations including one made for the .25 ACP cartridge, and even modern iterations developed in the 1990s – this pistol was still chambered in .22LR but was dubbed the “Margo” and featured a shorter barrel, and lowered sights.
A Lasting Legacy
Mikhail Margolin died in 1975 in the Soviet Union and had never been able to look through a single one of his firearms’ sights. In addition to the MCM pistol, Margolin is also remembered for firearms like the MP-449, and other MTsZ-1, an upside-down version of his MCM pistol specifically designed to provide shooters with a distinct advantage during the Olympic games. In reaction, the government body of the Olympics officially changed the rules after the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games to prohibit the use of the pistol. The MTsZ-1 used a lowered barrel and loaded its magazine from the top causing recoil to be sent downwards rather than upwards which resulted in faster follow-up shots. The pistol itself has always been remembered as being very accurate, and extremely reliable with few parts needing to be replaced even after over 100,000 rounds had been fired through it. Allegedly, you can still rent out such pistols at gun ranges in Moscow, Russia if you wanted to try one for yourself.
I still feel like the design spirit of Mikhail lives on to this day within the ranks of companies that specialize in competition-oriented pistols. Oftentimes, when the human factor has been maxed out, all that is left is to find a way to mechanically improve our performance so that it can give us an edge over our competitors. All this from a guy who couldn’t see through sights or point out a target if it was sitting right in front of him.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little historical foray into the life and designs of Mikhail Margolin and his MCM pistol. Let me know down in the comments if you’d like to hear about more obscure and odd historical rimfire firearms and their designers and thank you as always for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report! We’ll see you all next time!