By December 2, 2010

Polish RADOM P-64 Curio & Relic Handgun Review

My favorite thing about having a Curio & Relic FFL 03 license is being exposed to all sorts of weird firearms that the typical gun owner isn’t interested in. The Polish RADOM P-64 handgun is a great example.

The P-64 is sort of a redheaded stepchild kind of pistol. It looks like a Walther PPK — but isn’t really. The P-64 is chambered in the 9x18mm “Makarov” round, but it is not a Makarov pistol. It was deployed with the Polish military and police forces in 1965 as a primary service pistol … but it’s about the size of a compact concealed carry piece.

If I considered the P-64 under the lens of a modern day pistol, I’d definitely label it as “inexpensive concealed carry” and certainly not “military and police pistol.”

Nevertheless, it’s a neat bit of handgun history, and … interesting … to shoot.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/9994-2/IMG_2204.JPG

Specifications

  • Caliber:: 9x18mm
  • Capacity: 6 + 1
  • Material: all steel
  • Sights: Tiny ass rear notch sight, tiny ass front post sight
  • External safety: slide-mounted decocker and safety lever on the left side

General Design Characteristics

The P-64 has a very good form factor and “balance” to it, especially if you have medium-sized or smaller hands. I wear a size 9.5 Men’s glove, and the P-64 is really easy to manipulate. The P-64 is right at home in Sedagive’s tiny ladypaws. The handgun is well suited for point shooting, which is fortunate because sighted fire is nearly impossible for several reasons I’ll get into later.

The first major design flaw of this pistol for anything other than “neat-o” is the magazine release. It’s on the bottom, similar to the Seacamp .32ACP pistol, Walther PPK, some Sig Sauer P220s, and other handguns. I have heard this style of magazine release as “European style,” but I don’t know of that’s true.

Anyway, it sucks for actual use where you may have to reload your pistol under duress. Doing a dynamic reload is impossible without magazine juggling. Mag juggling would take more fine motor skills than probably available during a real incident.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/9996-2/IMG_2205.JPG
It is difficult to index the bottom-mounted magazine release and deploy it.

The second major design flaw of this pistol are its tiny, tiny sights. I laughed when I first held the P-64 in my hands. I wound up putting some White-Out on the tip of the front blade sight, because otherwise I couldn’t see it at all.

The short slide on the P-64 makes it difficult to quickly acquire a sight picture. One’s focus on the front sight will change drastically if you move the handgun even a small amount.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/9987-2/IMG_2207.JPG

For point shooting at 21 feet or less, this isn’t really a big deal. The P-64 feels very secure in a one-handed grip, and the small form factor works in your favor for point shooting. Essentially, if you can point your fist at a man-sized target, you can hit it.

However, for something that replaced the very capable Tokarev TT-33 design as a military and law enforcement side arm, you’d think the P-64 would have better sights. These sights are so bad they make the stock sights on my Rock Island Government model 1911 seem practically EOTECH.

Shooting Impressions

I heard a lot about the P-64’s long, tough trigger pull and sharp recoil. Apparently there is a lot of variance in the P-64’s construction and assembly. Some people have to pull their triggers back with the index finger of both hand. Many P-64 owners have replaced some of the pistol’s springs to make it easier to shoot.

My P-64 actually has a pretty nice trigger pull in comparison to these horror stories. My perspective may be a bit off, since the vast majority of my handguns are self-defense oriented. These handguns, especially the double action only ones, typically have longer, heavier trigger pulls.

The part that really sucks about the P-64 is the recoil. It is insane, and trumps the North American Arms Guardian as the least friendly handgun I’ve ever fired. The saying “kills on one end, wounds on the other” is definitely true of the P-64. I fired four mags worth of ball 9x18mm ammunition and moved on to my other handguns. There was a definite sting in the web of my hand, with redness appearing by the end of the second magazine.

Accuracy was good, considering the 3.3 inch barrel. I fired out to a maximum of seven yards and was able to keep all of my shots in the 9 ring on a standard silhouette target. Good enough for a small-sized pistol.

Conclusions

The Polish P-64 is a weird little pistol. It is an oddity for several reasons: its design, its caliber, and its form factor given its original mission and the pistol it replaced. I wouldn’t recommend it as a carry weapon.

However, for about $200 shipped to my door, it makes for an interesting piece in my collection. I find the history of the pistol to be interesting. The P-64 definitely fits in with the first part of my Federal Firearms License: curio. I guess “Oddities & Relics” was too pejorative.

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4 Comments on "Polish RADOM P-64 Curio & Relic Handgun Review"

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  1. Brice says:

    Sounds like a great little addition, maybe it’s time to get one of those TT-33s?

  2. DrFaulken says:

    Already have two, with a pair of Yugoslavian cousins! They are much better, in my opinion.

  3. Brice says:

    You should review them. I’ve never had a chance to play with one.

  4. TalonStarr says:

    Everything that I have heard, the yugo tokarev is a hell of alot better than the P64. This is a little bias as I absolutely love my Tokarev.