The Walter PPK is an iconic pistols due to it's fantastic military history and the fact that it's James Bond's handgun of choice. It is small and extremely accurate with a first double action pull is pretty tough but it is manageable with a fair amount of practice. The only real drawback is that it is chambered in .32 ACP and .380 ACP and those are not exactly a really good first choice for a self defense caliber. But there is a Walther PPK clone with a somewhat more powerful caliber. The pistol in question is the Polish model P-64 which debuted as the Polish military and police pistol in 1964 (hence the model designation). It replaced the Soviet Block’s Tokarov TT33 pistols which had been in use since before WWII. The P 64 ceased production in the mid-1980’s. One thing that can be said for most modern military surplus firearms is that they were built to be rugged; they were built to last. Couple that with the fact that the Polish Military did not fight a ground war during the period of this pistol's manufacture and you have the opportunity to find some really nice specimens that are in great shape.
It is said that the Polish firearms designers designed this pistol from the ground up and regardless of the veracity of that statement the P64 looks, handles, and field strips exactly the same as the Walther PPK.
The P64 weighs a half an ounce less than the PPK/S, is 2 tenths of an inch longer, 3 tenths of an inch taller, and 2 tenths of an inch wider. Like the PPK the P 64 is a blow-back operated, fix barreled, Traditional Double Action pistol meaning the first round is fired with a somewhat long and stiff double action pull and the remaining rounds are all fired in the single action mode as the subsequent recoil of the slide chambers the successive rounds and cocks the hammer.
It fires the 9X18 Makarov round which used to be considered fairly more powerful than the .380 ACP but advances in the .380 ammunition have rather leveled the playing field. You can thank the surge in micro .380’s pistols (that began with the Keltec P3AT which spawned miniature .380 pistols from Ruger, Taurus, SIG, Magnum Research, Diamondback Arms, Kahr, and on and on and on) which motivated ammo manufacturers to advance the ballistic efficiency of the .380 cartridge. Let me show you what I mean. Hornady makes the XTP 90 grain .380 hollowpoint round that has a muzzle velocity of 1,000 feet per second with a muzzle energy of 200 foot pounds. Hornady also makes an XTP round for the 9X18mm Makarov weighing it at an additional 5 grains and delivering a mere 11 additional foot pounds of energy. Both rounds are clocked at 1,000 feet per second. Admittedly there is not much of a difference between the two rounds but it wasn't that long ago that a .380 moving at 1,000 feet per second was merely a pipe dream. I had people tell me, and read on several online reviews, that I should be prepared for violent recoil when I fired this pistol. So far I am not seeing any violent recoil. Snappier than a .380? Yes it is. Violent Recoil? No.
Just as on the Walther PPK there is a loaded chamber indicator pin sitting at the rear of the slide above where the hammer makes contact. When a round is chambered it pushes the pin rearward from the back of the slide. It is visible by daylight and can easily be felt if you are in a low light condition.
The sights are small as to be expected on a pocket pistol of this size but are still usable. The rear sight is adjustable laterally by means of a small screw on the left side of the sight but I have yet to play around with it. The front sight has a white dot that is helpful for target indexing during daylight but these are hardly target sights. The top of the slide had been checkered to reduce glare and the checkering very much resembles a file. So if your finger nails need a quick sprucing up you have the means to do so (just make sure you unload the pistol and remove the slide for safety's sake).
The trigger pull on these pistols is fairly stout reportedly running anywhere between 11 and 17 pounds. I say reportedly because there aren’t many trigger pull scales that will go to 17 pounds. A train car of these pistols must have come into the country recently because guns shops around me all seem to have them. By and large they are in very good condition with only a little mild holster wear at the front of the slide. One shop had 9 of them lined up in their used handgun case and the first one I tried had a trigger pull so tough I thought maybe the action was mucked up with dirt and packing grease but that was not the case. As they had nine of them I tried them all before settling on the oldest of the lot made in 1970. I figure that being produced some 15 years before they were withdrawn from service my little 1970 edition had a better chance of being broken in and having a better trigger pull. The double action trigger pulls on my P 64 averaged 10.8 pounds with the single action breaking and an average of 5.5 pounds.
The prices on these pistols ranged from $199 to $249 depending on the gun shop in which they were located. In my book anytime you can find a well made pistol for $200 to $250 bucks that's a good value.
On the negative side you have fairly stiff trigger pull but Wolf Springs are available to make the pull a little less like an isometric resistance exercise. The sights are minuscule but they are usable. The magazine release is also one of those unfamiliar European heal release latches but you can train yourself to do it fairly quickly. I find if I bring the fresh magazine up with my weak hand and release the latch with the weak hand's thumb there is less wasted effort and time.
At seven yards she produces quarter to half dollar sized groups (with fliers caused by my reintroduction to shooting after six months of recovery from shoulder surgery) which open up several inches when fired at 31to 45 feet.
(22 rounds of Sellier and Belloit 95 grain FMJ ammunition fired at 21 feet during my first outing with the P 64)
(24 rounds of Russian Silver Bear 94 grain JHP ammo fired at 21 feet, also from the original outing with the P 64)
(9 rounds of expensive Hornady XTP 95 grain JPH ammo at 21 feet from the maiden voyage with the P 64)
By the third outing with the P 64 my comfort level improved and so did the groupings:
The range officer at Bill's Gun Shop and Range tells me he can make head shots with the P-64 at 25 yards and he probably can. I however, might be at a lose to do so at 75 feet.
I find myself carrying this little pistol more and more due to its handy size. It can easily be carried either in the pocket, on the belt, or inside the waist band. In the pocket it can be a little heavy at 22 ounces empty so make sure the pants you wear are sturdy jeans or chinos if you intend to carry in that manner.
The importation of the P 64s allow the shooters, including the budgeted minded ones, to enjoy a sturdy pistol that is reliable and more than accurate enough for self defense purposes at normal ranges. The fact that they are Cold War surplus hardware in very good condition is just an added bonus.