2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Polish P64 9X18 Makarov: Guest review by Thernlund of We The Armed

Do you like garage sales? Generally, I don’t frequent them much, but every year my HOA hosts one for our community that we participate in.  I will usually wonder off and visit other garages to see what my neighbors are getting rid of.  It amazes me the things people get rid of that other people snatch up in a heart beat.  Its true with garage sales and its true with firearms as well. 
There is an entire niche in the gunnie world dedicated to the military surplus firearm.  Collectors will go to great lengths to acquire rare and valuable military firearms of a long gone era….and sometimes not so valuable cast offs of former cold war enemies as well.  Many of us have various former Eastern Bloc weapons in our possession.  The end of the Cold War signaled the beginning of the exodus of thousands and thousands of firearms stored away in bunkers to support the next world war onto the international market.  Converted AK’s, SKS’, Mosin-Nagants, Tokarevs and others were soon ripe for the plucking by Western shooters curious about not only their foreign design but also the mystique of weapons long held as “taboo” in Western shooting environments.
Found a very interesting review on one of these type of weapons on the We The Armed Forums today by another member who goes by the handle Thernlund on the boards there.  He goes into quite and in depth and excellent review of the Polish P64 pistol.  He has given me permission to reprint it in full here.  The link to the original forum thread is here.
Last week I posted that I was going to, and did, pick up a couple Polish P64 pistols from J&G Sales. This past weekend I got the out to the range for some trying out. Here's a full report.
The P64 is very comparable to the Walther PPK. In fact, it's nearly the same pistol, just in a different caliber. The pistol is chambered in 9x18 Makarov, which is between 9mm and .380 in size and power, with it being marginally closer to .380 in the power department, akin to a .380 +P.
I picked two of these pistols up at J&G for $179 and $199, with the more expensive one being a "hand select".

The image above is of the "standard" variety. The "hand select" pistol is identical except for a near-perfect finish. This pistol I am
sending out today to Joe at Crusader for a Cerakote finish. There will be before and after images.
History and fit/finish
The official word is that the P64 was designed independently from the ground up in Poland by the Polish Army. However, given the political climate in that part of the world at that time, the unofficial word is that the P64 is really just a copy of the PPK with a few tweaks. Even my wife, who is not adept in identifying guns, almost immediately identified these pistols as the iconic PPK. Of course I corrected her, but her on-sight assumptions speak to the similarities between the P64 and the PPK. I personally believe the P64 to be a commie knock-off of the PPK.
That said, these pistols are remarkably well made, to say they least. The fit and finish is pretty damn good for a commie knock-off gun. No rattle, not hard corners, smooth and curvy. They... are... nice. Go so far as to hard chrome one of these puppies and it would be sexier than ever.

In the hand
There are some very common complaints about this pistol. The double-action trigger and the recoil being the top two.
The DA trigger is ridiculously heavy. I personally have never experienced such a heavy pull. Reports vary, but the pull is likely right around 25lbs, with the break nearly 30lbs. It's not a rough pull necessarily, and in that regard (smoothness) the trigger isn't atrocious I guess. But you pull 25lbs with your index finger and see how smoothly you do it.

The SA pull, by contrast, is just fine. If I had to guess I'd say it's right around 1.5 or 2lbs, maybe less. It's very light, nearly hair.
As for the recoil, I've heard it described as "snappy". These must be better men than me, because I would not use "snappy" to describe it. Terms that come to my mind are "stupid", "painful", "not fun", "why am I doing this" and "stop now". My wife ran a 6-round mag through it and said never again. I ran 6 mags through it and my hand was still sore later in the day. The only less-pleasant recoil experience I can think of was with a S&W Airweight and full-house .357 Magnum rounds.

I'm told that this less-than-ideal recoil experience can be adequately mitigated via the purchase of a new spring kit. I plan to get a kit here soon and will post an update. If the recoil comes down to just "snappy", I'll be happy.
Another issue is slide-bite. A lot of small pistols have this issue, and the P64 is no different. If you aren't paying attention to your grip, especially if you have large or chubby hands, this pistol will try to take a piece of you with it.

Slide forward.

Slide back. CAREFUL!

This image was taken about 20 minutes after shooting. You can see some
bruising beginning to form on top of my hand. As well, you can make out
two marks where the slide came into contact with my hand.

Changing mags in this little gem is no picnic. The mag release is a heel release and is very firm. To boot, the release is somewhat recessed into the grip, which can be the cause of many a separated thumbnail if not careful. It is doable with practice. But not ideal.

The mag release is recessed into the grip and can be difficult to manipulate.
Also not that this pistol does not have a slide release. In order to drop the slide one must remove the empty magazine.

At the range - Accuracy and reliability
I was straight up impressed with the accuracy of these little commie guns. The recoil did catch me off guard, and my first mag was less than stellar. But even so I was able to make decent 10-yard hits.

This is my very first mag through the pistol. The two low shots and one
high shot were shots 1, 2, and 3 respectively. As I began to expect the
recoil I was able to zero in on the 10-ring.

After I began to get used to the recoil (which I don't think you can actually do completely) and the tiny sights, I was able to shots in the 10-ring pretty consistently from a distance of 10 yards without issue.

My second mag. Once settling in, making hits was easy.

Speaking of the tiny sights, this is another common complaint about the pistol. However, I didn't find them to be problematic. In less than 6 rounds I was able to get the hang of them pretty easily.

As for reliability, I experienced no malfunctions. I was shooting steel-cased Silver Bear and the pistol ran flawlessly. I'm not a fan of steel-cased ammunition, but this being a commie gun (and me low on funds at the time of purchase), I figured I'd take a chance. Worked out fine for these little guns.

Overall impression
They hurt my hand, they bit me, they don't release mags easily, and the DA pull is insane... but I gotta say, even with the shortcomings I am still happy with these guns. For the price, these are an excellent value in my opinion. Of course, there's NO WAY I'd pay $500+ for one of them. But at the price J&G is offering them, I think they're a great value. There is a decent amount of after-market support for them to boot.

I talked briefly with the guys at J&G Sales who sold them to me and they said that J&G is currently sitting on over 2000 of them. As supplies decrease, prices will increase. So if you've been wanting one of these, act soon. They are C&R-eligible I'm told.

So there's that kids. I found the P64 to be a pretty good little pistol. I'm happy with 'em.
Again, an excellent review.  Thanks Therlund for reminding me of the type of quality reviewing I should be doing myself on this blog.
As a side note, the practice of heel mounted mag releases is fairly common with European weapons.  The magazine is seen as an extension and part of the weapon and not as disposable as in American views.  The placement of the magazine release in that position is partially to force the shooter to remove the spent magazine by hand and retain it rather than simply eject it to the ground for a rapid mag swap as we normally think of on this side of the pond. 


Anonymous said...

One thing that wasn't mentioned in this fine review. The P-64 was designed to shoot the 70 something grain round used in the Poilsh machine guns. The current production ammo avalible is 95 grains adding to the felt recoil, also the very hard trigger pull in double action mode was to allow for reliable ignition of the hardened primers common to these military rounds. Modern commercial ammo will not cause this problem so with the addition of a 18-19 lb hammer spring this will solve the trigger pull problem($5 from Wolff springs) and if you don't reload the 22 lb recoil spring will tame the recoil substancully from the 95 gr. rounds, also avalible from Wolff. I had one of these a few years ago and I made the mistake of letting it go, but I ordered one today from Classic Arms and the springs from Wolff. I can't wait to get anouther. The P-64 is an under rated little gun that is quite accurate , the sights are, well, what they are,a weak point, but there easy to get used to, After all it is a 7 yard point and shoot carry peice, not a target gun. With the 75 grain HP's and the springs the P-64 is a fine little gun on par with it's PPK series cousins,in quality,accuracy and relibility and at $400 less. They are well worth a second look for <$200. Don't over look these for a small carry peice. Even with the 75gr Hp's it's ballistically > equal to 380+P loads so it will still do the job and is a better choice than the plastic mini guns out there that have equal or more felt recoil and the P-64 will out shoot them all day long,and it's, well,not plastic!!

Huey said...

hey, nice comments Anon! I will ensure that the writer of that review will get the info back to him since he owns the piece.