I just recently picked up a 1974 PM and was surprised at the little differences that came to light when compared to the 1976 I have had for some years now. Both are "sneaks"; Soviet manufactured pistols that had been mixed in with Bulgarian produced imports and marked as Bulgarian by the importer. It's common knowledge that changes were made over the long production run at Izhevsk and people way more knowledgeable than me are aware of every little detail so I'm not showing anything here not already known by many collectors of these but still, I though it would be fun to document the difference in marking and manufacture just two years can make.

Up top is the 1974 and below is the 1976:

Inspection stamps are partial strikes as is common on Soviet firearms but they are in the same spots and most likely represent the same inspections.

In fact, although I didn't take pictures of it, everywhere I found stamps on one, I found the same or similar stamps on the other.

The grip screws are different but interchangeable. 1974 is shown on the bottom:

Both of these pistols were issued to Bulgarian troops so it is entirely possible that one of the two screws is, in fact, Bulgarian. However it is also just as likely (perhaps more so as how often do you replace grip screws) that it is a production change at Izhevsk.

The shorter head of the 1974 screw causes it to be set deeper into the grip:

1974 safety has the last two digits of the serial number electropenciled while the 1976 is not numbered:

The sear of the 1974 is numbered compared to the blank sear on the '76:

More of the same on the trigger bar:

Notice the barrel markings, while different, are in the same place on the above two pictures.

Hammers are different. 1974 is on the left:

Safety detents are different. 1974 has drilled round detents where 1976 has wheel cut dished ones. Notice also that the safety dot in the 74 is larger:

Both have equally poor machine marks!

Last picture shows the two magazines that came with it:

Notice that they are numbered "1" and "2". Neither are serial numbered to the pistol. There is absolutely no way of knowing whether or not they were originally issued with this pistol but I believe that, whatever pistol they were issued with, they were together because the numbers are in the same place, are the same size, same font (as much as can be seen of a font), same orientation, and appear to have been struck with about the same force. They just look like they go together. While I didn't take pictures or it, it came in a Soviet holster dated 1973 with a cleaning rod and lanyard too.

The above brings up a question that I have always wondered about and will probably never know the answer too. I wonder just how much the accessories got mixed up over the years at the in the field, at storage depots, loading for export, unloading after export and in sorting for final commercial sale. Is this the holster and magazines it came from Russia with or is it coincidence? I'll never know and, ultimately, it doesn't matter. But, things like this are what makes collecting these old clunkers fun and interesting. Anywho, that's it for now. Thanks for your time and post some pictures of the features and marking on your Soviet PM for comparison please!