MP-443 Grach: An Overview of Russia’s Military Standard Sidearm 

Eric Sof

MP-443 Grach

The MP-443 Grach, also known as the “PYa” or “Yarygin Pistol,” is the standard military-issue sidearm in Russia. This semi-automatic pistol boasts a high capacity and utilizes a double-action, short-recoil design. The locking mechanism of the barrel and slide follows a simplified Colt-Browning design, which is also present in many other modern pistols like the SIG Sauer and Glock families.


The MP-443 Grach was developed by Vladimir Alexandrovich Yarygin, who led the project to design a new pistol to replace the aging Makarov PM. This initiative was launched in 1993, and the pistol was developed under the codename “Grach” in response to the Russian military’s trials for a new sidearm. The pistol competed against several other designs, including the Gyurza and GSh-18, before eventually being selected as the winner.

PM Makarov pistol chambered in 9x18mm Makarov
PM Makarov pistol chambered in 9x18mm Makarov (Photo: XY)

The PYa, or Pistolet Yarygina, was designed at the IZHMECH state-owned plant to meet the Russian Army’s requirements. This high-capacity, double-action, the short-recoil semi-automatic pistol was named following traditional Russian naming procedures. In 2003, it was officially adopted as the standard sidearm for all Russian military and law enforcement branches, alongside the Makarov PM, GSh-18, and SPS.

The MP-443 Grach, also known by its manufacturer’s designation as the MR-443 Grach, has proven to be a reliable and versatile weapon in the field. It is widely recognized for its smooth trigger pull and simplified barrel and slide locking mechanism, which makes it easy to disassemble and maintain. Although it has been adopted as the standard issue sidearm, it cannot fully replace previous pistols due to funding problems.


The pistol at hand is designed to accommodate the 9×19 mm ammunition. It can fire the standard 9×19 mm Parabellum rounds and the newly developed Russian 9×19 mm 7N21 high-powered armor-piercing round, equipped with a hardened steel core. It’s important to note that the armor-piercing ammunition is not compatible with standard 9×19 mm pistols due to its higher peak pressure. Additionally, there is a 7N31-PBP round that can be used with sound suppressors.

An MP-443 Grach field stripped to its main parts
An MP-443 Grach field stripped to its main parts (Photo: XY)

Previous Soviet pistols were chambered for 9×18 mm Makarov ammunition, deemed inferior to Western 9×19 mm ammunition in terms of penetration and stopping power. In contrast, this pistol boasts a conventional design and technology, with an all-steel construction. However, some reports have indicated issues with build quality that may vary from lot to lot.

The PYa is a short-recoil operated weapon, similar to the Czech CZ-75, and utilizes a modified Browning Hi-Power style locking mechanism. The pistol features a double-action trigger, and manual safety switches are ambidextrously on both sides of the frame.

Ceska Zbrojovka 75 (CZ 75) service pistol
CZ 75 is a good and reliable service pistol (Photo: Pinterest)

The pistol’s double-stack magazine can hold up to 17 rounds, with newer models produced since 2004 holding 18 rounds. The magazine release button can be easily switched from left to right, depending on the shooter’s preference. The PYa pistol’s simple fixed iron sights are set at 50 meters, with an effective firing range of approximately the same distance.


The MR-446 Viking is an export version of the MP-443 Grach pistol that shares many similarities with its Russian military counterpart. However, it is unable to fire the Russian 7N21 ammunition. The Viking has been reported to be built to higher quality standards than the military version. It is available in two versions, one with a steel frame and the other with a polymer frame. Additionally, the pistol can be fitted with a dismountable Picatinny rail mount that can accommodate various accessories, such as laser pointers and tactical flashlights. The Viking has been exported to Kazakhstan and potentially other countries.

The MR-446S Viking is a civilian version of the pistol sold under the Baikal brand. It features a magazine capacity of 10 rounds.

The MP-353 is a non-lethal pistol designed for the civilian market, capable of exclusively firing ammunition with rubber bullets. It is a safe alternative to traditional firearms for self-defense or training purposes.

Similarly, the MP-472 is a non-lethal pistol that serves a similar purpose. While limited information about this specific model is available, it can be assumed to share the same characteristics as the MP-353 regarding firing only non-lethal ammunition.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Russia
Manufacturer:Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (2003–2013)
Kalashnikov Concern (2013–present)
Entered service:2003
Caliber:9×19 mm Parabellum, 7N21
Weight (empty):950 g
Length:198 mm
Barrel length:112 mm
Muzzle velocity:450 m/s
Magazine capacity:17, 18 rounds
Sighting range:50 m
Range of effective fire:~ 50 m

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