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We all enjoy checking out the latest pint-sized, polymer pocket pistols. However, those hot, new firearms often come with a price tag. That price tag doesn’t leave much room for mortgage payments, grocery shopping or the kids’ college fund. However, there is a way of getting highly concealable, self-defense firepower without wiping out your budget or compromising on effectiveness and quality. Just look beyond the new-arrivals rack at the gun store and open your eyes to the outstanding military and police surplus firearms that are available in the marketplace. Example: Cold War pistols.

The breakup of the Soviet Union is, in large measure, responsible for the widespread availability of military surplus pocket pistols today. When the Soviets dominated Eastern Europe through the Warsaw Pact military alliance, they required their allies to use weapons chambered for Soviet cartridges. In 1951 the Soviets adopted the 9x18mm Makarov round as their standard handgun ammunition; their Eastern European allies followed suit.

In the decade following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria phased out their Soviet-compatible handguns in favor of more powerful, 9mm Parabellum designs.

Eventually those warehouses full of old Soviet-type pistols were sold on the surplus arms market. The result? U.S. shooters have some excellent, cost-effective buys.

Let’s take a look at what’s available. Any of these Cold War pistols will make an effective self-defense sidearm. The real problem is choosing just one. On the other hand, with their attractive prices, why stop at just one?

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