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The 9mm breaks the iron curtain! The new pistol of the Hungarian army is a double-action look-alike of the famous Browning High Power.

Pistols of the "wonder-nine" type just keep on coming. A wonder-nine, in case you don't know, is basically a service-type autoloading pistol chambering the 99mm Parabellum cartridge and usually combining a high-capacity (13-shot and up) magazine with a double-action feature. Without trying too hard, I can think of a dozen such basic designs on the market and about three more waiting the make their debut. Many of the armed forces of the Free World (including our own, now) have adopted pistols of this type, and they are seeing widespread police acceptance as well. Now, it would appear that the wonder-nines are invading the Eastern Bloc too, as evidenced by the piece presently under consideration.

This is the pistol being imported here by Kassnar Imports under the designation of "MBK-9HP" and made by Fegyver of Budapest. That the Hungarians are making a 9mm auto pistol is not especially surprising--their neighbors the Czecks have been exporting their CZ-75s for a decade. What is remarkable is that these pistols are actually being made for the Hungarian army, according to Kassnar. One would naturally think that this would fly in the face of Warsaw Pact standardization, but since the Bloc countries are already using three pistol cartridges--7.62mm Tokarev, 99mm Makarov and the new 5.45mm Russian--one more won't do much harm. At least if the Soviet Block ever does get into a fracas with the West (heaven forbid!), the Hungarians can make use of captured NATO ammunition!

Actually, the Hungarians have a long tradition of auto pistol manufacture, although none of their previous designs have had sufficient merit or originality to attract much interest from outsiders. In the World War I era, huge numbers of the over-engineered Frommer Stop. 32 autos were made for the Royal Hungarian Army. (Older readers may remember that they went for $12.95 on the surplus market a quarter of a century ago.) In the 1930s and early 40s, Browning-type blowback auto pistols were manufactured, the Model 37, which was also made for the Nazis, being the one most commonly encountered. After WWII, the Hungarians produced copies of the Walther PP under names like the "Walam 48" (in .380) or the "Attilla" (in .32). The army used the Tokarev TT-33 of their Soviet overlords, and the Hungarians also manufactured this pistol for their own use. In the 1950s, they developed an improved version of the Tokarev in 9mm Parabellum with a thum safety. It was intended for export to Egypt and consequently was dubbed the "Tokagypt."

Most Westerners would consider the new Hungarian 9mm the best combat pistol to have come from that land, and it certainly seems like a good, serviceable representative of the wonder-nine breed. The most noticeable thing about this pistol is that it has been styled to resemble the classic Browning High Power as closely as possible. Basically, it looks just like a double-action version of the High Power. Mechanically, though, it is scarcely closer to the popular Browning than any of several other DA auto pistols that use a Browning-style tilting barrel lock-up.

This pistol is of all-steel construction, which should appeal to those who still mistrust alloy frames, and weighs 36 ounces. Overall length is 8 inches. Most metal surfaces are nicely polished and blued. A curious aspect of our sample pistol was that the backstrap had a gray-green parkerized finish that contrasted strangely with the polished blue-black of the rest of the gun. Kassnar suggested that this early production sample may have had a part with the military finish used in order to expedite prompt delivery.

Magazine capacity is 14 rounds. Despite the close resemblance of the MBK-9HP's magazine to the Browning's, Browning magazines cannot be used in this pistol. Unlike the Browning, there is no magazine disconnector. Since these devices are seldom 100 percent foolproof and many combat authorities scorn them, this is probably no great loss.

The sighs resemble the fixed sights on the older Browning High Powers very closely. Although the Browning has features worthy of imitation, the sights were never among them. (The issue sights are long gone from my High Power's slide.) The front blade and rear notch are just too narrow to be ideal for a quick pick-up under combat conditions--and I felt handicapped by this when engaging combat targets. To their credit, I found the sights were regulated to put center of impact close to pint of aim at 25 yards--at least from my hands.

As on virtually all 9mms with high-capacity magazines, the grip is a little thick and bulky. The trigger reach is a bit of a stretch when the trigger is engaged in the double-action mode. The grip panels are closely patterned after the checkered walnut grips of the Browning.

About the best that can be said for the trigger action on our sample was that it was no worse than those on many competitive service autos, some of t]em costing a good deal more. The trigger-cocking pull was rather stiff and heavy, and I estimate the single-action pull was at least 6-1/2 pounds, with considerable backlash.

The slide-mounted safety rotates a block in front of the firing pin and drops the hammer. On our sample, the safety lever is nicking the frame right below it--unfortunately slightly marring this otherwise handsome pistol. Kassnar prints an emphatic warning in the owner's manual: "Never carry this pistol with a cartridge in the chamber without having the safety 'on." Since the firing pin is of the inertial type, I don't see how carrying this pistol hammer down on a loaded chamber is any more dangerous than carrying a Browning High Power or a pre-Series 80 Colt Government Model is a similar "Condition Two" mode. However, there are rare instances of accidental discharges resulting from the latter mode of carry, and so I certainly will never counsel readers to flout the importers' safety warnings.

Fieldstripping is fairly straightforward: With the pistol completely unloaded, the magazine removed and the safety engaged, pull back the slide and engage the slide stop in its notch in the slide. Then, holding the slide to the rear, push out the slide stop from the right of the frame and remove it. Then ease the slide off the frame. The recoil spring/guide and the barrel can then be plucked from the slide to complete stripping. On our sample we found the side assembly had a tendency to bind on the frame during stripping and reassembly, and one hand to hit it a smart blow with the heel of the hand to get it on or off the frame. Fortunately, this binding problem lessened as the MBK-9HP was used.

A modest amount of shooting was conducted with this pistol at Angeles Shooting Ranges in Little Tujunga Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains. Six

different types of 9mm Paragellum ammo were used--Federal 123-grain jacketed round nose, Rio 115-grain JRNs, Pro Load 115-grain JRNs, Hornady/Frontier 124-grain jacketed flat points and 115-grain jacketed hollow points, and Winchester 115-grain Silvertips. No malfunctions of any type were encountered; the auto displayed perfect reliability throughout the entire session.

Off the bench, accuracy ranged from accpetable to not so good. Tightest groups were printed by the Hornady/Frontier 124-grain flat points--2-1/2 inches at 25 yards. The bullets used in these loads are favorites of mine for reloading both the 9mm and the .38 Super, by the way. The Federal 123-grainers' groups were but little larger. However, honesty compels me to state the grouping of some loads was much inferior to this. In sum, I think we can say that, stoked with the right loads, the MBK-9HP, has more than enough accuracy for service/combat use.

As I mentioned earlier, in shooting this pistol combat-style at a reduced Colt silvhouette, I found the sights something of a handicap, but shooting at reasonable speed, I had no trouble keeping 10 shots centered in the 5-zone from a distance of about 10 yards.

This MBK-9HP seems like a respectable representative of its type. It most distinctive virtues are its all-steel construction, its high-lustre blue finish, its resemblance to the revered Browning High Power, and, above all, its relatively low suggested retail price, which should be about $350. This places it near the lower end of the price spectrum for wonder-nines, and it should be a formidable competitor.

The individual who is attracted to this pistol will have to examine his own conscience over the matter of its origins. On the one hand, if you buy it, you are helping the armaments industry of a Soviet Blok state that is a potential enemy of the United States. On the other hand, it may be argued that, of all the states in the Eastern Bloc, Hungary in recent years has been the most successful in liberalizing and humanizing its communist system. Concessions to free enterprise and trade ties with the West have increased greatly, and some foreign policy experts believe that, by further increasing such ties, the reliability of the Hungarians as allies to the Soviet will be seriously compromised. After all, these are the same people who fought so valiant against Soviet tyranny back in 1956. Evidently Uncle Sam inclines toward the latter view, since "most favored nation" status was granted imports from Hungary a few years ago.

For further details, including availability, ordering information and the like on this pistol and other firearms in their lineup, contact Kassnar Imports, Dept. GA, P.O. Box 6097, Harrisburg, PA 17112.
COPYRIGHT 1985 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Libourel, Jan
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Nov 1, 1985
Words:1581
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