Despite the Soviet influence in Poland during the Cold War decades, the nation managed an indigenous arms industry which developed and produced various solutions to local requirements. One such product became the PM-63 RAK ("Reczny Automat Komandosow"), a blowback-operated compact submachine gun which entered Polish Army service in 1965 and is still in use today with a plethora of operators. Design work began in the 1950s and is attributed to Piotr Wilniewczyc (who died before the product has been completed). Manufacture stemmed from the acclaimed Lucznik Arms Factory of Radom.
Externally, the PM-63 was given a machine pistol-like form which benefits battlefield elements such as special forces units, rear-guard elements, and vehicle/logistics troops. Additionally, such weapons are prized by security, police, criminal, and terrorist elements for the close-quarters requirement. The pistol grip of the PM-63 is straight as in the Israeli UZI but set farther off towards the rear of the receiver with the trigger unit located close to center. A short forend features a collapsing vertical foregrip which aids in stabilizing the weapon under full-automatic fire. The ejection port is set to the right side of the receiver in the traditional war. Iron sights are provided through a flip-up rear with front blade arrangement. The wire stock is fully collapsible to promote a very clean, compact profile.
The PM-63 went on to find global favor with various operators due to its footprint, lightweight feel, and chambering. The original PM-63 was developed around the 9x18mm Makarov pistol cartridge and weighed 3.5 lb while sporting an overall length of 23 inches with its stock extended and just 13 inches with its stock collapsed (the barrel measured 6 inches long). With a straight blowback (open bolt) action, the weapon fired at a rate of 650 rounds-per-minute through a muzzle velocity of 1,050 feet-per-second. The entire slide moves during the action as it would in a semi-automatic pistol and its front end is extended under the barrel to serve as an integrated compensator and help reduce muzzle climb. This extension can also be used to cock the weapon in short order. Effective range was out to 150 meters and feeding by way of a 15- or 25-round detachable box magazine. Recoil proved very manageable for this small weapon.
In 1971, a new variant was revealed in 9x19mm Parabellum chambering as the PM-70 but production was limited due to lack of customer interest. The PM-73 became another failed experiment when chambered for the .380 ACP (9x17mm Short) cartridge. NORINCO of China produced the PM-63 illegally based on reengineering captured examples from its border wars against Vietnam (1979-1990) as the "Type 82" and offered it in 7.62x25mm Tokarev and 9x18mm Makarov flavors.
Production of the weapon spanned from 1964 to 1974 to which 80,000 units were completed. Operators beyond Poland became Afghanistan, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Iraq, Palestine, Singapore, Syria, and Vietnam. East Germany, North Vietnam, and the Soviet Union are all former operators of the PM-63. The weapon has been seen with separatists of the Donetsk People's Republic of East Ukraine in the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian war. Palestinian terrorist forces also favor the compact PM-63. The weapon also saw combat service during the 2001 Afghanistan and 2003 Iraqi wars that followed the respective U.S.-led invasions there. By that time, the Polish submachine gun was a veteran of the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Its first use was during the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968).
The similar-looking PM-84 "Glauberyt" is an altogether different Polish submachine gun offering of Cold War origin. Entering service in 1984, it is also featured in several different chamberings and fires from a straight blowback action - though using a closed bolt design.