Know Your Guns: History of the East German Makarov

HISTORY OF THE EAST GERMAN MAKAROV

 

When I was hot and heavy into Curio and Relic collecting fifteen or so years back I had several different flavors of Makarov, including a true East German PM (with original DDR markings) a Polish P-64, A Hungarian FEG PA-63 and a very rare Bulgarian PPK clone.

As with all Eastern Block C&R Military pistols, the double action trigger on Mak’s were atrociously bad, somewhere between 15 and 25 pounds. This was a purposeful design however to keep peasant conscripts from shooting their own dicks off.

Other than that, they were a real pleasure to shoot with a caliber I would describe as a “.380 ACP on growth hormones”.

 

 

The Best Little P-64 in Texas

Well, since I wrote the “Cruffling: Do it While you Can” Article, this little beauty arrived at my front door from the big brown truck of joy. She is officially my first C&R Pistol since I got my license. (She is pictured above with my Benchmade CBK Push Dagger…I thought it might look cool with them together and I think I was right!!)

P64 Pistol (Technically NOT a Makarov, but it does fire 9×18 Mak Caliber)

  • 9×18 Caliber
  • made by Radom in Poland
  • Imported by IO Inc. (North Carolina)
  • Purchased through Classic Firearms (North Carolina)

(Note: Before we start, I have to re-iterate how VERY COOL it is to have the UPS man show up at your front door with a firearm….I am still giddy over that one!!!)

History

The P-64 was designed during the late fifties by a team of Polish army officers. The team developed two different prototypes called CZAK (acronym of designer’s last names): model M (milicyjny – police model) and model W (wojskowy – military model). The two models differed in magazine capacity and external dimensions (the military model had longer barrel and 7-round magazine). In 1961 CZAK model M was chosen to replace the Russian Tokarev TT-33 pistol as the standard service pistol of the Polish military, police and government security agencies. Production started in the middle sixties under the official designation “9 mm pistolet wz. 1964” (9 mm pistol model 1964). 1972 saw introduction of minor changes to the trigger mechanism and shape of the hammer (larger hammer spur). (Interesting Note: My Model, a 1971, has the original design of hammer (rounded) before they switched to the triangular hammer in 1972.)

Users of the P-64 had pointed out a series of shortcomings: unpleasant recoil due to small and uncomfortable grip, small magazine capacity, poor sights, short sight radius and heavy double-action trigger. Work to correct these problems started in early seventies and resulted in a series of prototypes (P-70, P-75, P-78A, P-78B). Eventually P-83 (production version of P-78B) was adopted as replacement for the P-64.

Description & Function

The P-64 is a blowback operated, double-action pistol. Although designed from scratch by Polish engineers, the P-64 is very similar to German Walther PPK and is sometimes described erroneously in western literature as it’s clone.
Frame and slide are made of steel and the finish is blue. The barrel is fixed to the frame with the recoil spring wound around it. The controls consist of a slide mounted safety lever and a magazine catch. The safety lever has two positions: up for “fire” and down for “safe” and decocks the hammer (if cocked) when put on safe. The safety mechanism allows the slide to be operated with safety on. Unlike the Walther, the P-64’s magazine release is located at the bottom of the frame, slowing down the reloading process. The single-column magazines hold 6 rounds. The slides locks back when the last round from the magazine is fired but there is no external slide release. Double-action trigger pull is heavy: 110-120 N (25-27 lb). The sights are fixed and set at a rather exaggerated distance of 50 meters. A loaded-chamber indicator is located in the rear part of the slide, just above the hammer. Grips are checkered black plastic, but can be replaced with custom wood if so desired.

The gun is field stripped by swinging down the hinged trigger guard. The slide is then pulled rearward, upward and removed from the frame. issue holsterThe P-64 is a rather compact sidearm; measuring 160 mm long and 117 mm high and weighting 678 g when loaded, it is just slightly larger and heavier than the PPK but it fires a more potent round. P-64 is one of the most compact 9 mm Makarov pistols made. It’s carried in a leather flap holster equipped with a side pocket for a spare magazine and a cleaning rod. A leather shoulder holster was also issued. Fully loaded with a loaded spare magazine, standard service holster and cleaning gear it weights just 930 g (32.8 oz).

Impressions

The gun arrived Overnight Air wrapped in 5 layers of bubble wrap and included a 6 round magazine and a  simple cleaning/disassembly tool, which consisted of a short cleaning rod with a jag end with the handle doubling as a flat head screwdriver. As a tinkerer and amateur gunsmith, I really admire these com-bloc tools, ever since I first laid my hands on one from a Mauser I always admired their simple and utilitarian designs; just like their weapons.

The gun itself was in great shape mechanically, it had some minor blemish from holster wear, which being as old as it was (made in 1971) and having been used probably as a Police or Government issued gun, you had to expect. I chose not to pay the extra $10 for hand select, since in the past when I have bought from Classic, I typically always got a good gun without it, and this time was no different. Fully disassembling the gun (which is a breeze) I found it very clean and free of cosmoline. I was very pleased with barrel, seeing very little pitting and clean rifling. To be honest, at first glance, it so resembled 007’s weapon of choice (Walther PPK) that I had to pick the gun up, aim it, and say “Bond, James Bond” and pull the trigger….:)))

The only con of this gun so far is The DA trigger pull is HEAVY..and I mean like 24 lbs Heavy..the reason for this is twofold the best I can read from Historical reports:

  1. To reduce accidental discharges from conscripts and poorly trained personnel.
  2. To make up for those notorious Com-Bloc Hard Primers!

On the flip side, the Single Action however is nice and crisp. I look forward to replacing the springs to help remedy the DA pull some, but as with all guns, you need to drill with them to get good with them.

Range report coming as soon as I can stop by Academy and get some 9×18 Ball ammo. I plan on ordering some bulk Brown Bear Ball and a couple boxes of Corbon Powerball for social “issues” also.

Planned Additions/Modifications to P-64:

  • Order 2 more Magazines
  • Replace Main and Recoil Spring with lighter Wolf Springs
  • Custom Set of Grips from Marschal Grips
  • Custom IWB Leather Holster from Mark Garrity

Stay Dangerous My Friends! The Adventure Continues!