Poland was under communist rule from 1945 until 1989 and, despite the heavy influence by the Soviets, the Poles maintained a largely separate small arms defense industry which produced several notable guns of the Cold War period including the FB PM-63 machine pistol (detailed elsewhere on this site) and the FB PM-64 semi-automatic service pistol - the latter being the focus of this article. Development of the pistol began in the latter part of the 1950s by the Institute for Artillery Research and ended with service introduction of the P-64 in 1965. Manufacture was undertaken by the storied concern of FB Radom (Lucznik Arms Factory, Radom) and the series continues to be found globally today (2018).
The gun was designed to use the Soviet 9x18mm Makarov pistol cartridge - the East's counter to the West's 9x19mm Parabellum German pistol round. Six rounds were carried in a spring-loaded magazine inserted into the grip's base. The slide covered all of the upper portion of the frame in the usual way and the trigger was curved while protected in a semi-thick ring. Internally, the action revolved around the blowback principle (double-action trigger mechanism). a rear notch and front blade was used for sighting and effective ranges were out to 50 meters. Muzzle velocity of the outgoing bullet reached 1,000 feet-per-second.
Origins of the P-64 begin in 1958 when the Polish military sought an all-modern replacement for its various services to succeed the Soviet TT semi-automatics in 7.62mm chambering. An official competition was drawn up and formally launched within years and two pistol forms, the "Model M" in .38 ACP and the long-barreled "Model W" in 9x18mm Makarov, were both evaluated. Both held six ready-to-fire cartridges in their magazines and were more or less conventional semi-automatic sidearms. The competition began in 1961 and findings resulted in the .38 ACP frame being selected - though this was ultimately rechambered to fire the ubiquitous 9x18mm Makarov cartridge instead and several other requested modifications were implemented to make for a better service-oriented pistol.
The P-64 managed a healthy service life for its time and saw some use overseas - the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong both operated the type during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). With the fall of communism and the opening of ties with the West, the pistol made it into the hands of private collectors in the United States. In 2008, some 1,000 units were gifted to the Lebanese Army as Polish forces moved to adopt the WIST-94 semi-automatic NATO-standard pistol following induction into NATO.
There were some attempts during its service life to advance the line: the P-70 was a prototype of 1972 (with 14-round magazine) and the P-75 was a proposed model of 1976. In 1978, the P-78 offered a 12-round capacity with modular trigger unit to Polish police and security forces but this proposed form lost out to a competitor.
During its heyday, the P-64 was consistently mistaken for the West German Walther PKK pistol (detailed elsewhere on this site). It was also called the "Polish Makarov" due to some system similarities between the two. It remains in widespread circulation today (2018) despite it no longer being actively manufactured.