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GBFD divers find pistol in Stone Lake
The Great Bend Police Department shared this photo of a Makarov pistol found Thursday during a GBFD diving exercise at Stone Lake.

A foreign-made semi-automatic pistol was found at the bottom of Stone Park around 10 a.m. Thursday by the Great Bend Fire Department dive team.

The Bulgarian Makarov semi-automatic pistol was badly corroded but a serial number was recovered.

According to Great Bend Police Chief Steve Haulmark, while the GBFD was conducting water training at Stone Lake, diver Daren Stewart found the weapon at the bottom of the lake near the water’s edge.

The lake, located near Railroad and South Washington avenues, has a mean depth of about 16 feet.

Haulmark said the serial number was clearly identified after careful cleaning conducted by department training officer and weapons expert Lt. Scott Harper.

“The weapon was so badly corroded we don’t even know if there was a round in it,” Harper said. “The weapon had a blue steel finish.”

The Great Bend Police department has subsequently requested assistance and turned over the serial number for tracing to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, otherwise known as ATF. The purpose of the trace is to help determine when and where it might have been purchased, who might have previously been registered as its owner, and, of course, to also determine whether or not it is in the federal database given the possibility that it might have been used in the commission of a crime.

The weapon is being held by GBPD and further disposition will be determined after the trace is complete. 

According to Harper, the Russian-made pistol is a 9x18 caliber; in other words, it uses a larger diameter bullet than other common 9 mm pistols, but the case is 18 mm long. For comparison, the Luger’s case is 19 mm long. 

The Makarov Bulgarian has an eight-round magazine and the magazine was found with the weapon, Harper said. The authorities are hoping that the serial number might reveal the date of manufacture. 

These type of pistols could only have been made in either China or Russia, according to Harper, and were used by the militaries of the Eastern Bloc nations (Soviet Bloc) until the early 1990s.

Officials declined to say whether further searches are being planned by the dive team right now based on Thursday’s find.

This is at least the second time that a weapon has been found in this part of the lake, said Haulmark. 

Last June, there was a similar find when the Great Bend Fire/EMS Department Dive Team found a submerged weapon. In that case, the divers were assisting the Great Bend Police Department with an unrelated incident that appeared in the Great Bend Tribune on June 10, 2021.



About the weapon

The type of Bulgarian Makarov pistol found Thursday at Stone Lake was first designed in the 1950s by a Russian man named Nikolai Federovich Makarov. According to the website, this type of weapon is a favorite of some gun owners and is now most commonly used as a concealed carry handgun in the United States. The simplicity, affordable, ease of use, and stopping power of the Makarov pistol are features most coveted by many gun collectors.

The caliber and type of weapon found Thursday at the bottom of Stone Lake has an interesting history from the standpoint of the entertainment industry. This type of pistol was used in many Hollywood films, including “The Hunt for Red October,” at least one of the “Die Hard” movies, and “Lethal Weapon IV.”