Prior to the influx of inexpensive P-64 pistols onto the market, seeing one in the wild would usually end up with it being mistaken for a Makarov. Even today, local auction listings misidentify the diminutive Polish handgun with its more famous contemporaries to the ire of P-64 fans everywhere. Originally designed to replace the Tokarev as a service handgun and tested in two variants – the Military and Police versions, which differed in size and capacity – the P-64 would usurp the TT-33 in Poland and serve for decades as a standard sidearm. In recent years, the little P-64 has gained more of a reputation thanks to its dirt cheap price point, ungodly double action trigger pull and harsh recoil for a 9×18 Makarov chambered pistol. Despite its shortcomings the P-64 enjoys a bit of a cult following, clearly by people who have never had to disassemble one.
Thankfully swapping out a hammer spring to lighten the trigger isn’t a huge job, but if you want to dig deeper or do a full strip for refinishing you better settle in for a long, frustrating evening.
Part 1: The Slide
Normally this is where I say “let’s start with the easy part” but nothing on this pistol is easy. We have a lot of springs to contend with, and all of them need to be contained by the safety.
- Field strip. Clear the pistol, remove the magazine, cock the hammer. Pull down on the trigger guard to unlock the slide, then pull the slide to the rear and lift up the back end to pull it off of the frame. This is a fairly common Walther or Makarov style takedown.
- Remove the extractor. You can do this at any point, so let’s get it over with. Use a small screwdriver to pull back the plunger and tip the extractor out, then catch the spring and plunger so they don’t escape on you.
- Remove the safety detent. The safety will pull out when rotated to a half position. Free up the safety by pushing the firing pin into the slide and holding it in place. The safety detent and spring will try to escape on you!
- Remove the safety. Keep the firing pin retained and pull the safety the rest of the way out.
- Release the firing pin. Finally the firing pin can come out, revealing the retainer for the loaded chamber indicator.
- Remove the LCI. Push the LCI rod in from the back and snag it to compress its spring, then dump out or lift out the retainer with a pick. Without the retainer, the rod and spring can come out.
- You’ll need to slightly pull back the LCI spring to get the retainer in. It doesn’t quite sit flush, but you need it far enough in to clear the safety drum.
- Put the firing pin in first, then the safety about 3/4 of the way so it retains the firing pin. From there, wiggle and jiggle the safety detent spring and plunger in place then compress the whole mess and shove the safety over it. Use the safety itself as leverage to finish the last of the way in until it clicks.
- TEST THE SAFETY AFTERWARDS. Sometimes the way the plungers wear will cause binding and roughness when they’re taken apart and reassembled. Tap a sticky safety with a plastic hammer or something non-marring to get it half off to take it back apart and fix it.
- When reassembling the slide onto the frame, remember that the spring goes on small end toward the back so the slightly larger, belled end of the spring rests against the interior of the slide. Trying the opposite will bind the barrel and spring at the muzzle.
Part 2: The Frame
The major problems with frame disassembly are the narrow frame itself and difficulty seeing what you’re doing. Getting the sear assembly lined up properly can be a chore, but at least you don’t have to fight springs for that one.
- Remove the grips. Keep an eye on that little washer, since it’d be easy to lose.
- Remove the hammer assembly. Cock the hammer and retain it with a high tech hammer tension device, aka a paperclip. The pin won’t be tight, so knock it out and set the hammer group aside.
- Remove the hammer. At this point there’s no tension on the hammer, so you can push the hammer pin out and yank it out.
- Remove the sear spring group and disconnector. Unscrew the lock screw and push the pin out right to left, which will dump out the sear spring guide, spring, and disconnector plate.
- Remove the sear. The single action sear is held in with a small frame pin next to the little lock screw. Now that the disconnector is out, the sear can also come out the top of the frame.
- Remove the slide stop. Grab the spring with a pick and pull it backwards, then with some wiggling it will work free of the slot in the frame. More wiggling and possibly some profanity later, lift the lever free and expose the trigger and trigger bar connecting peg.
- Remove the trigger bar. Disconnect the leg of the trigger spring from its slot in the trigger bar’s connecting pin and it will fall or lift right out.
- Remove the trigger and spring. Note the pin has a U shaped head on one side that sits in the associated cut in the frame. The long leg of the spring goes up, to retain the trigger bar.
- Remove the trigger guard. ONLY IF NECESSARY. Put a little pressure on the trigger guard against the spring and knock the pin out. Notice the pin is turned down in the center, just wide enough to fit the trigger guard to retain it when seated.
Some of the pieces of the frame simply don’t have any tricks or easy ways about them. I’ll describe my methods and hopefully that will give you some ideas or work for you as well.
Trigger guard: I warned you. That spring is gnarly, and you really need three hands to assemble this thing. The frame is full of sharp edges to chew up your hands, too. What I did was fight the spring to get the pin in part way, then lay the side of the pin that was sticking out on a wood block and muscle the trigger guard while pressing firmly down against the wood backing until it popped into place.
Trigger and spring: You’ll need a slave pin here. I used extremely high tech materials, aka a tooth pick. You might need to also use a pick to nudge the long leg of the spring around so you can squeeze everything together.
Sear spring group: This is just an annoying bunch of things to assemble, but not too difficult. Make sure the spring guide is offset the correct direction (offset to the left side) so it will line up with the sear hole. Put the retainer pin in part way to hold the spring guide then drop the disconnector plate in, which will only go in one direction luckily. Line up the spring guide and the sear hole and wiggle the retainer pin into place until it’s ALL the way through and flush on the left side, then screw in the little lock screw. If the disconnector binds up, your alignment was off and you’ll have to redo it. That’s the frustrating part.
One nice thing about the frame design is that it does give you a good view of the trigger bar’s action and the sear engagement. For an even better view of the single action sear, here’s a photo of the parts outside of the gun in position. Remember the trigger bar grabs the tail of the sear at the bottom and pulls it forward, allowing the hammer to fall. Also note the safe notch further up the hammer, which acts as a safety combined with the rebound action of the hammer strut.
The slide mounted safety acts as both a firing pin block to shield it from the hammer and a decocker by pressing downward on the disconnector plate. An angled cut on the disconnector cams the triangular lug of the sear out of the way to drop the hammer, which stops against the safety. The trigger then remains disconnected while the disconnector plate holds the trigger bar down out of the way, where it’s unable to grab anything. Here you can see the “foot” of the disconnector pushing the trigger bar down, while the angled surface cams the sear forward to drop the hammer.
The little P-64 has just as much bite as it has bark, and by that I mean that your hands are going to get bitten a lot working on one. Fighting springs, sharp edges, parts that want to bind and stick if they’re not perfectly aligned… they’re really not the most pleasant guns I’ve worked on. That said, despite the glaring flaws in the double action design the pistols are rugged little compacts that remain in Polish service today. It’s almost as simple and sparse on parts as a Makarov, and with a few tweaks they can be surprisingly nice pocket carry guns according to fans. If you happen to pick one up, definitely consider an increased strength recoil spring and reduced hammer spring from Wolff to get the most out of your Polish powerhouse!
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