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Due to my domestic situation, I have never felt comfortable spending a lot of money on guns. For me, $500 has always been “a lot of money.” My first real carry gun was an East German Makarov that I got for a couple of hundred dollars. I used to tote that and sometimes a 9mm Stallard Arms boat anchor. The Mak eventually wound up going to my oldest son, but in the meantime I had bought a Polish P-64 in 9×18 for about $250 . . .

It was originally bought, oddly enough, to give that same son a platform to use to make wooden grips that he sold over the ‘net. He made the maple-trimmed walnut grips on the gun now.

I carry the P-64 in a BLACKHAWK! pocket holster that set me back all of $10-$15 and it fits in the front pocket of pretty much every pair of pants I wear, with little to no printing. For where I am and what I do, it’s plenty of gun, solid and reliable, and I wouldn’t trade it for another (seriously, I can’t, what with those special-for-me grips it sports).

(See the rest of the posts in this series here. Send your What I Carry and Why submissions with a photo to thetruthaboutguns@gmail.com with WICAW in the subject line.)

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57 Responses to TTAG Reader: What I Carry and Why – Another Robert’s P-64

    • Actually, I doubt it. A couple of decades back, it would have been vilified as one of those awful “Saturday Night Specials” because of its diminutive size and economical price. In fact, in order to be imported, they had to replace the flat plastic grips with cheesy plastic thumb-rest “target” grips.

    • Comrade Obama would only approve if it was a single-shot, 28″ barrel .22 Short rifle that you had to have a permit to buy, and then only if .22 short ammo was $20 per cartridge ($19.50 of that being a “gun violence” tax).

  1. Who says you have to spend big buck for an attractive, reliable piece, and one that can be customized by the owner?

  2. Neat! I have heard FEG guns are no good. But it’s the Internet so I’m wondering how much those reports are exaggerated. I mean you like yours, so theres one real world data point.

    The grips looks awesome.

    • Anything I’ve seen indicates FEGs are like most combloc milsurp–no-frills, well-built and reliable. PA-63’s tend to get good reviews along those lines.

    • FEGs are Hungarian. The P-64 is Polish. The Poles were a little better at making guns, but the FEGs are still good shooters. Completely different guns, though.

      • The poles and Hungarians make decent firearms. One of many regrets I have is passing on a Polish made Mosin Nagant model 44. It was 160 bucks at a time when I was getting Russian 44s for 60 bucks.

        It was a beautiful and quality made product. Fit and finnish were excellent and the blond wood stock was gorgeous.

        My meat rifle, a brand new from the factory Ruger American, doesn’t have the pretty finish this carbine had.

        *SIGH*

    • Should be drop-safe with the safety on; I’ve read that it is drop-safe without the safety being on, and that it is on Cali’s “approved” list, which would mean that it is supposed to be drop-safe. I actually assume that it is not, unless the safety is on. I’ve also found that it can be carried “cocked and locked” with the safety lever in the “intermediate” position, but I don’t quite trust that position so I don’t think I’ll be doing that. But it does have a rebounding hammer, so I feel confident to carry it safety off, one chambered.

      • Only way to go, that’s why I like double action auto’s, although I carry a wheel gun, Only difference, 5 in the chamber

    • Oh, in case someone might be wondering, some of those are bow grips, not pistol grips. I wish I could show you guys the “scorpion” grips he made for a Ruger Vaquero, out of ebony with the scorpion made of inlaid brass segments.

  3. Four years ago, I popped into my favorite local gun store for the first time. They had a P-64 (good condition with 2 mags) that they only wanted $100 for. I didn’t buy it at the time (fear of my wife – ashamed to say). I went back the next day to get it, and it was gone. I’ve kicked myself over missing that buy. That day, I learned that you sometimes have to jump on a good buy. I recently did the same thing with a scoped Remington 760 Woodsmaster in 30-06 that was priced at $200. I’m still kicking myself over that one.

    Speaking of the P-64, it is a nice slim, small carry gun. It also seems “classy” to me, with it’s old fashioned good looks. It is very “James Bond-ish” with it’s appearance being similar to the PPK. There are a couple drawbacks to it however. The first is the double action trigger. It is extremely long and incredibly heavy (that is kind of ok for me with a pocket gun). It also apparently isn’t totally drop safe either (when safety is off and hammer down – which is how I would carry it). The safety is “backwards” for most of us, and is made for right-handed people. The 9×18 cartridge is also toward the bottom of what I consider acceptable defensive rounds. I’ve got a CZ-82 which is a larger double-stack 9X18. It is a great gun, but a little too big and heavy for pocket carry.

    All of these 9×18 pistols have been creeping up in price. They use to be quite inexpensive, but aren’t anymore.

    • The Makarov was superior in many ways IMO, but one thing decided in the CZAK’s favor when I decided I had to sell one or the other: it fits a lot better in my pockets, the Mak sometimes did not quite “hide” completely and was obviously worse about “printing”. Fortunately, the Mak stayed in the family; someday I hope to get it back.

    • I bought two CZ-82s thinking that I would carry them. Unfortunately they’re a bit too heavy and wide for that, but without a doubt they are otherwise the ultimate 9×18 pistol, and can handle some hot handloads that approach 9×19 velocity – the Czech 9×18 was something like 15% hotter than typical combloc loading.

  4. @Another Robert, that’s a sweet looking piece! And no, it’s not underpowered for up close and personal social work.

    • Thanks, my thoughts too. I load it with ball, so I’ll be sure to get adequate penetration. It goes almost everywhere I do with no muss or fuss.

  5. I take my P64 boating and for outdoors stuff. So far no boating accidents, but at $212 out the door, I can easily replace it. It’s a neat little pistol.

  6. I have never been frugal when it comes to defending ones life with a firearm. My philosophy has been, “how much is your life worth?” The Polish gun is not a bad one by any means as all steel pistols these days are becoming more and more of a rare commodity but lets look at its faults.

    The gun has a horrendously hard double action pull and in a life or death situation you would probably miss using it even at close range.

    Its ammo is odd ball and not as common as the .380 acp or 9mm P ammo which also is available in many expandable type ammo.

    The Polish pistol has a blowback recoil which has a viscous recoil making repeat shots slow and difficult.

    It has an old fashioned blued finish and while it is ascetically pleasing to the eye it is not very practical to use everyday as rust soon sets in.

    Most, if not all times going cheapy is not the best solution to a problem as the lower priced budget gun often does not work out as intended and when you sell it you take a loss, especially if it is an off brand import that has no spare parts availability or extra mags are expensive or not existent and the more expensive pistol you should have bought to begin with now has gone up in price or may have gone up to the point you cannot afford it because it has been discontinued and is now a super expensive collectors item. That’s why I passed on this Polish pistol, it was not because of the price or because of its quality at all but it just was not a practical pistol to use, rather its an odd ball piece of history for the collector to buy and put away in his collection.

    • Well, to meet some of your objections: My particular pistol has a stout, but not unmanageable, trigger, that has not presented accuracy problems at SD ranges. Other folks have changed out the springs to solve the problem; I like mine as it is. The ammo is not that uncommon; it is easily available online and for some years was also easily available at the Academy across the street from my house–where it was also the lowest priced centerfire ammo. There is lots of HP-type ammo available in 9×18, but truthfully, I don’t want to use it, and I wouldn’t want to use it in .380 or .32 either. So I have more than enough stocked up. The recoil is a problem after extended shooting, but will be unnoted in an SD situation. The finish has held up just fine, except for some holster-wear at the muzzle end and an accident with a drop of the acid I use at my business that I covered with a bluing pen (the picture, taken on my webcam, really doesn’t do it justice). I recently bought two extra mags , about $11 each, no problem. There is nothing about my pistol that makes it impractical for my SD purposes.

    • 9×18 is a bit hotter than .380, so if you’re Ok with the idea of .380 for SD you shouldn’t have a problem with 9×18. It did its job on plenty of heavily-clothed chubby Russians for over 50 years.

      Would I carry a P64 if I had better options? Maybe not. But I would feel fine carrying it and would be confident that it would function 100% of the time, like every other 9×18 combloc pistol.

        • Yes, I seem to recall both .380 and .32 pretty much disappearing not all that long ago. Serbian 9×18 has pretty much always been available, and my 9x18s never had trouble with it.

    • I hate it when people continually spout of this stupid bullcrap line.

      “how much is your life worth?”

      As though a higher price ALWAYS means a higher quality weapon

      The truth is most of us will never need to use a gun to defend our lives. Even if we do, often no shots will actually need to be fired. Even if we get into a shoot out, most of the time even crappy cheap guns will work. Finally, the P-64 is a good quality firearm anyway.

      Furthermore, if I ever have to defend my life, I’d much rather have a $200 pump action 12 gauge, or my $300 Saiga 7.62×39 AK than any $1000 pistol.

      Just because a gun is inexpensive doesn’t mean that it is unreliable, or inaccurate. The 9X18 guns (P-64, Makarov, CZ-82, etc.) all have a reputation for accuracy and reliability. I’d say that pretty much all of the old Com-Block firearms have a reputation for reliability and durability. The Mosin, SKS, are AK are all solid performers as well. 9X18 ammo is not hard to find. I’ve bought it locally and online.

      There are crappy handguns to look down on, but the commie guns aren’t the ones to despise. Despise the Ravens, Lorcins, Phoenix Arms, and maybe Hi-Point pistols.

      You probably wouldn’t have given this guy crap if he was carrying a S&W Bodyguard .380. Yet his P-64 is almost certainly more reliable, accurate, and durable than the Smith. It also fires a slightly more potent round. It is just older, less expensive, and Polish. His $200 P-64 is probably more reliable than many people’s $1000 Kimbers.

      You also mentioned that these commie guns will lose value over time, while “quality” firearms will increase in price. That is not necessarily the case. Right now you can buy police trade in Glock 22s for about the same price as Makarovs ($300-325).

      Yes, I think the Glock 22 is a better gun overall. At those prices, I’d take the Glock any day. I prefer my Glock to my CZ-82, but the CZ is still a totally acceptable defensive handgun.

      • Well said. One needs only look at TTAG’s first Cabot Black Diamond review (before it got “tuned up” by the factory) to see that a high price tag doesn’t guarantee reliability.

        As for holding value, I wish I had bought a warehouse full of all kinds of commie surplus guns fifteen years ago, because they have increased in value considerably. Just a few years ago, you could buy a CZ-82 for $200. Now, if you can find one for sale, it won’t be less than $300. Simple economics dictates that milsurp guns will almost always go up in value – they’re not making them anymore, so there is a limited and diminishing quantity in circulation. Meanwhile, there’s no reason for a used Glock to increase in value unless that model is discontinued or rare, because you can buy a new one at any gun shop in America.

  7. *Another Robert,

    I as well used a P64 with that same pocket holster before I transitioned to my S&W Shield. Fun gun, but expensive to practice with. Single action wasn’t bad, but that DA pull was definitely a work out to be accurate with.

    Regards,
    Mike

    • Interesting about “expensive to practice with”–I always found 9×18 to be the least expensive centerfire ammo on the shelf. Surely it is still competitive online. One thing about the CZAK–like the Mak, it will happily eat inexpensive imported ball ammo with no hiccups.

    • Yes, my trigger seems to be a bit exceptional; other folks do a spring change (Wolff springs, from what I have read) that seems to work well. Some also change the recoil spring to help with that. The CZAKS kind of disappeared for awhile, but apparently another batch came in recently, AIM, J&G, and others have them available for just about what I paid for mine years ago.

      • Wolff springs are well worth the small investment if you have an old combloc pistol; it’s surprising how much of a difference new springs can make, even if the originals are acceptable. But even if you don’t want to change them out, I suggest picking some up if only to have spares on-hand.

  8. If anyone is interested in these guns (they’re great, by the way), it seems as though a new batch was recently imported – they started showing up at all the usual places (AIM, J&G, Classic Firearms) around the same time a few weeks ago. This latest batch appear to be in really good shape. The thing to remember about surplus guns is they won’t be cheap forever, as anyone who remembers $99 SKS rifles can attest.

  9. Ah yes, that pistol is much closer to what I’d prefer to carry. I’ve been wanting a Polish P-64 to go with my Radom-made TT-33 for a while now. There was an FEG, P-64, CZ-82, and a Makarov on the shelf next to the Tokarev when I bought it; since then 7.62×25 has gone scarce and expensive, but the prices of 9×18 has gone down (or essentially stayed the same).

    • Proud as hell of it too. The guys in the circle I used to run in arranged a day at the local sheriff’s dept training range, and at the end of the day, we all did a drill–shoot a target on the left, one on the right, then try to put one or more shots on one in the middle before a timer made it turn edge-on. Kimbers and Glocks galore, maybe a SIG or two and me with my Mak. Only a couple or three of us managed more than one in the middle, and my Mak was one. Point-shoots like a champ for me. I’ve since seen Bulgy Maks and Chinese Maks and Romanian? Maks, but I can’t recall seeing another E German one. Just got incredibly lucky to find it.

  10. I have a very similar pistol, an FEG-SMC-918. It’s also a PPK-clone and almost identical visually. It was my carry gun for several years before I went to 9×19. I started with a Bulgarian Mak but wanted something a little more compact, and I got lucky to find one for sale. I carried it loaded with Corbon JHP’s or PowRBalls, which were widely available in 9×18 at the time. To this day it’s one of the most accurate pistols I own, and a lot of fun to shoot, for the first fifty rounds or so until the hammer bite gets to be too much. Like most of these Eastern Bloc guns, it’s rock-solid reliable, having never malfunctioned for me in any way.

    An interesting note about the FEG version, it has a drop-pin-type safety, where the spring-loaded firing pin pivots down vertically out of line with the hammer until the trigger is pulled, when a plunger comes up out of the frame and pushes the firing pin into line just before the hammer falls. It seems like a very good system.

    In all the years I’ve owned the FEG I’ve only met one other person who has one.

    • First I’ve heard of them. A little google-fu and–wow! Nice little gun. I do prefer the all-steel myself–but others like the lighter alloys, too.

    • Thanks for the info–that forum has good info, it’s where I learned about the P-64. But if you read the whole thread, it’s just like I said above: some of the folks are saying that their guns are indeed drop-safe, one apparently even “hammered the hammer” (as in the old Iver Johnson ads) with no movement. I will note that if the safety is in that “intermediate position I mentioned above, pushing on the hammer makes the lever snap back into the “fire” position, so as far as I’m concerned the safety/decocker is either going to be fully engaged or fully off. I will also note that there were some design changes after 1971 or so (mine is a 1976) that may account for the differing reports vis-à-vis drop-safe or not.

  11. First hangun, I ever bought, was the gun that “plagued” my native Bahamas, in the late 80s, the Bersa 85. The gang bangers brought them to my little island.

    I had to get one.

    This gun, looks alot like it.

    Is it a Walther clone?

  12. Another person who has had a lifelong struggle with cheapbastardism. Good to know I am not alone. $500 is still a lot of money to spend on anything.

  13. I see people saying the P-64 is drop-safe as long as the safety is engaged. I don’t know if that is true or not — I’ve heard that it is not — but there remains an essential problem even if the gun is carried in this fashion. The safety drops the hammer without firing the pistol. That means the first shot will have to be DA, which on the P-64 is unbelievably heavy, over 20lbs. Anyone sensible would rack the slide right away to get the P-64’s smooth and light SA trigger. That being the case, doesn’t it make much more sense to just carry the thing Israeli style, i.e. condition 3? It won’t go off if you should drop it, and you’re going to want to rack the slide anyway if you intend to hit any target.

  14. Double action problem solution with a chambered round, just pull the damn hammer back. I have two p64s and working on aquiring a 3rd. Along with the spanish astra constable 2 in 380. My experience with these pistols has been very positive , they eat any type of ammo and are very accurate.Easy break down for maintenance ,the p64 is a champ and would trust it for self defense.

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