Saturday, May 12, 2012


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.


Too Easy 28 said...

Very informative Sherry. Interesting reading. Thanks

Average Joe's Handgun Reviews said...

Who's Sherry?


I agree that anytime you can find a quality firearm for this price, you should snag it.

My bargain of the year for last year was a fairly well done "snubnosization" of a S&W M1917 to 3" with a damn decent front sight. Less than $350 out the door, and the gun had not seen that much action prior to me getting it.

I don't care who you are, that's some good shooting. Especially when considering the recovering from shoulder surgery added in there.

Average Joe's Handgun Reviews said...

A three inch 1917? Now that's a find! Excellent protection and another piece of history.

Anonymous said...

This looks to be a pretty good option for those who want a PPK style firearm at a bargain price. I got a PPK, the small one, a few yrs ago and its a great pocket gun although in .380. I wish there was a better grip selection for it, however. The PPK/S has lots of grip options but the smaller PPK only seems to have wood grips in the aftermarket. I wanted to put some fake staghorn on it but nuttin' out there. The grips are wraparound so I'm a guessin' its a production problem.

I got one that S&W boogered up and it had to go back on a recall. S&W took their sweet time in fixing it, about 3 mos. I think they were doing cost cutting in their redesign and screwed something up. So I am not a big fan of S&W.

As I recall the PPK was not James Bonds first choice. It seems like he carried a Bereta Tomcat in .25 caliber and M made him switch it out to the PPK in .32 caliber in Dr. No or one of the earlier Sean Connery movies from the 60's.

Matt L. DeTectre

Anonymous said...

I just picked up the Polish model 64 this past weekend, nice weapon but I wish the magazine release was a button on the side of the grip rather than at the base, and I wish the magazine capasity held more than 6 rounds ! Good little self-defence weapon , recoil is a little sharp

Anonymous said...

You left out of the otherwise good article a very important point- the gun is unsafe to carry with safety OFF, as it is not drop-safe- there's no true automatic firing pin safety and the manual safety must therefore be engaged to lock the firing pin in place. This makes it impracticable for a left-handed shooter to carry the weapon. I enjoyed the firearm's looks, features and historical attributes but sold it for this reason. And don't let anyone fool anyone here- recoil is stout, especially with Brown Bear.

Unknown said...

Love your reviews Joe. Did you find you had hammer bite on this one. Mine has the military hammer and every round was more painful than the last. were you wearing a glove or do you think it is a matter of my larger hands? Thanks for the reviews and Gun "Country"

Anonymous said...

Disagree, as a left handed shooter you can learn to operate the thumb safety with your (left) thumb and while it isn't drop safe, the double action pull makes it safe enough to carry safety off in a proper holster, unless you have a habit of dropping your firearms.

Johnny Cure-dents said...

I have a P-64 and I like it very much. It is far more easily concealed than my 9mm para SIG P-250sc. I agree that the P-64 is a surprisingly accurate pistol (perfect for head shots on jihadis wearing body armor), at least after the initial DA shot; that first one isn't impossible, but it is very heavy and tends to ruin your aim (for some reason it is always easier using the left hand than the right although I am right-handed!). Since there is no firing pin block, as someone notes here, I carry it strictly with 6 in the magazine and rack the slide upon presentation. Even with the safety engaged, they tell me, there can be and AD if the pistol is dropped on its nose. Besides, engaging the safety means you have dropped the hammer and after disengaging it, you are still faced with that first DA trigger pull. Carrying it (and practicing) Israeli style means all 6 shots are with the extremely smooth and light SA trigger, and that's where the accuracy is at, as they say.

I always wear gloves with this pistol at the range since the recoil is sharp and will hurt after two or three magazines. The slide release, though not as easy as with a side release on the grip, is far more manageable than that of the E.Germ Makarov I had years ago. I have two mags, one with the gun's serial number electro-penciled on it, the other with a different number. I've noticed no problems with the first, but with the spare (i.e. different serial numbered) mag, the 6th round frequently hangs up, with the slide not returning fully to battery; this has happened at least 5 times and may have something to do with this mag's slightly different follower configuration.

As the article notes, the gun is close to the size of the PPK and any holster for the Walther will work with it. I have one for IWB carry stamped "PPK" and it works perfectly. Personally, I wouldn't bother with the expensive ammo available in 9MM Makarov; with its lessened penetration, this caliber makes more sense defensively in FMJ, e.g. the much cheaper Russian steel-cased stuff it was designed for anyway.

Finally, a question. My slide has considerable holster wear. I would like to buy something to spiff it up a bit without cold or hot blueing. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

As for the gentleman asking what to do about addressing some finish wear on the slide of his P-64........these guns will eventually become hard to obtain and start gaining in value so the less you do to the gun the better its resale value will remain. Just keep the finish worn portion of your slide lubricated with some rust resistant and even one that doesnt tend to draw dust/dirt and rust shouldn't occur. Keep it as "stock" as at all possible or if you change out grips or what have you be sure to keep the original parts on hand and in good shape should you decide to sell at some point in the future should the price rise make such a good move for you. These are good guns and in my humble opinion the recoil is modest. The grips are somewhat small but with time and practice you should be able to get used to this. Hell, look at the ridiculous Glock 42/43........people are lining up to buy those single stack overpriced Glock pistols and they too have three finger grips. Why Glock didnt make the G42 and G43 into double stack higher capacity handguns is beyond me.....and of course their foray into single stack designs led to a LOT of initial quality control problems. These P64 pistols are rugged as hell, more than accurate enough for their size and make for great pocket pistols or even pistols ready to go for an ankle rig.