Shortly after the Second World War, the Soviet Union reactivated its plans to replace the TT pistols and Nagant M1895 revolvers. The adoption of the future AK assault rifle relegated the pistol to a light, handy self-defense weapon. The TT was unsuited for such a role, as it was heavy and bulky. Also, the Tokarev pistols omitted a safety and magazines were deemed too easy to lose. As a result, in December 1945, two separate contests for a new service pistol were created, respectively for a 7.62mm and 9mm pistol. It was later judged that the new 9.2×18mm cartridge, designed by B. V. Semin, was the best round suited for the intended role. The lower pressures of the cartridge allowed practical straight blowback operation (reducing the cost and complexity of the weapon), while retaining low recoil and good stopping power.
Several engineers took part in the contest, including Korovin, Baryshev, Vojvodin, Simonov, Rakov, Klimov, Lobanov, Sevryugin, and Makarov. Special emphasis was placed on safety, user-friendliness, accuracy, weight, and dimensions. After stringent handling, reliability, and other tests, Makarov's design, influenced by the German Walther PP, stood out from the others through its sheer simplicity, excellent reliability, quick disassembly, and robustness. During April 1948, Makarov's pistol experienced 20 times fewer malfunctions than the competing Baryshev and Sevryugin counterparts, and had fewer parts. The pistol was therefore selected in 1949 for further development and optimization for mass production. Tooling was set up in the Izhevsk plant for production. After many major design changes and tweaks, the gun was formally adopted as the "9mm Pistolet Makarova", or "PM" in December 1951.