Today, I’m continuing to show my fascination with military surplus weapons from the old Commie Bloc. Have a look at this first:
It seems familiar, doesn’t it? Various sources disagree as to how much it’s a clone of the Walther PPK, but there are many obvious similarities. Its dimensions are within fractions of an inch identical; it has the same general shape (except for the grip tang, but more on that later), and to the shooter, it has the same manual of arms–decocker, takedown procedure, double/single action trigger, and blowback operation. My impression is that the Polish gunsmiths who designed it told their bosses that “Oh my Marx, we never looked at that inferior product of capitalist imperialism.”
Here’s the PPK for comparison (go down the page a bit–the PP is also shown):
Perhaps the smiths ought to have looked a little closer.
1. The first time I shot mine, the grip panels popped off. This was because the retaining bolt wasn’t long enough or the end threads had stripped. This was simple to repair. I just took the panels and original bolt to a hardware store and found a new bolt and nut that fit.
2. The grip tang on the P-64 is shorter and rounder. Why does that matter? When the slide reciprocates, it has more of a chance of leaving two grooves in the web of the shooter’s hand at the base of the thumb if the shooter doesn’t hold the weapon just right. This is known as slide bite. This isn’t really a cause for complaint, though. Real shooters don’t whine about minor pain, and the P-64 is good for teaching a proper grip.
3. Speaking of teaching lessons, the P-64 is a good learning tool for correct trigger squeezing. If you want to know if your trigger finger is the only thing moving during the firing stroke, try this weapon. That’s because the pull weight from the factory is around 27 lbs. I ended up having to aim somewhat to the right of where I wanted the bullets to impact to take that atrocious pull into account. Eventually, I changed out the main spring for an 17 lbs. one. That’s still heavy, but much more manageable.
4. But the new main spring made another problem worse. When firing, the magazine tended to pop out after a round or two. That’s bothersome at the range; in action, that could be fatal. It did this with the original spring, but the new one made it fail every time. The main spring not only gives tension to the hammer; on this weapon, it also holds the magazine release catch tight. I put a small spring inside the grips at the base of the catch to keep it secure.
Note that these repairs and corrections all sound simple, but they were actually tricky. The P-64 has a lot of sharp internal edges, so changing or adding springs involves much cursing and bloody fingers. Again, no real shooter pays any attention to that.
Given the difficulties, why do I love this gun?
1. It’s cheap. Mine, taxes included (spit), came in under $200. Try that with anything from Walther. There’s also plenty of surplus ammunition for it at gunshops.
2. It shoots a decent cartridge. The P-64 shoots the 9 x 18 Makarov round, which is about as strong as a simple blowback weapon can handle. It’s no .45 acp; it’s not even 9mm Parabellum, but it compares favorably to .380 (9 x 17).
3. It’s reliable. Yes, I mean that. It did need some modifications, but that’s part of the fun of military surplus weapons. The one guarantee is that my P-64 will shoot anything that I feed it, so long as the round is any bit functional. It has never jammed. Now that I’ve tinkered with it, it works.
4. It’s easy to conceal. Remember that it miraculously came out like the Walther PPK, the gun that Bond packs. It’s about the size of my open hand. That means that it fits nicely into my pocket. There’s no cylinder to bulge, and with a pocket holster, it looks like a wallet. The trigger pull here is an advantage, since it’s too heavy for an unintended discharge.
5. It works for me. My standard of accuracy is whether or not I can hit a 20 oz. soda bottle anywhere within a reasonable range for the weapon in question, and with the P-64, inside of ten yards, Diet Coke had better take cover.
That’s the P-64. It’s cranky, but when its limits are taken into account, it does what it claims to do and does it well. In that way, it sounds like me.