Since hundred of years in the region Suhl iron ore was extract and smelted. The well forgeable iron was suitable outstanding for processing gun barrels. Thus, already 1553 eight gunsmith were occupied in Suhl.
During the Thirty Years' War (1618-48) the production thrives. Musketry was exported to Switzerland, Burgundy, Tyrol, Venice, Austria, Denmark, Belgium and Spain.
In consequence of the devastating fire at Suhl 1753, 82 gunsmith, 60 stock manufacturer and 9 tube smith lost their livelihood. This resulted the fall of the gun industry in Suhl for more than 50 years. With the introduction of the percussion firearms after 1800 and the opening of the academy for gunsmith the sector grew again.
Famous manufacturers were located in Suhl: Merkel, Haenel, Sauer, Simson, Meffert, Heym, Krieghoff, Schilling and many more. This diversity was lost with the dispossession by the German Democratic Republic GDR (East Germany) at July 24th 1946. Most of the firms were under governmental control. In Suhl only two manufacturers lingered independent: The Thälmann plant and the Bühag ("Büchsenmacher-Handwerkersgenossenschaft mbH": Gunsmith Craft Collective Ltd.).
1957 the first prototypes of the pistol Makarov PM were fabricated by Ernst Thälmann (Thälmann plant). 1958 started the production run as licensed party of Russia. Already seven years later the manufacturing was stopped by order of Russia.
After the German Unification in 1989 the Federal Republic of Germany FRG owned the Thälmann plant. After negotiations the brand was renamed to Suhler Jagd- und Sportwaffen GmbH (Hunting and Sporting Weapons Suhl).
1994 the idea was born, producing pistols Makarov with the stocked pieces and tools. A new feature was, the slide could be pulled back with released safety. This means that a cartridge could be removed when the safety lever was horizontal.
Since 1995 this weapon was manufactured by Simson in a small production run (approximately 1,000 pistols).
(Text partially adopted from Museum of Weapons Suhl, Germany (German only))