I’m a fan of military surplus, and the Radom P-64 makes the top of my list. For me, it starts with the history, but there is no denying that the guns were meant to meet a martial need when they were made. The question I get over and over again from people is, “Why even bother with old and used guns?” Well, I find that some of the most innovative minds have already put their designs to the test for military service and came out pretty shiny. The real difference is that these older guns carry a bit of history with them.
There are plenty of great concealed carry guns right now. Heck, I’d venture to call this the "golden age" of high-capacity pistols that come in micro sizes. Tech has pushed the boundaries of size and capacity, but the drive to create small, powerful carry guns is hardly new. For this argument, I’ll happily slide in the Polish Radom P-64. This all-steel micro is a unique product of the Cold War, but adding an updated holster has made it less of a relic.
The P-64 is a scant 6.3 inches in length and weighs just 1.33 pounds with an unloaded magazine. Plus, and I cannot stress this enough, this wasn’t a personal self-defense gun. The P-64 is one of the affordable guns that started filling Americans’ concealed carry holsters years ago. But people didn’t just trust their lives to these pistols. This little gun was made for war. So it was a bold decision to go small.
I’ve already done a side-by-side comparing the old P-64 and the new Sig P365. Suffice it to say the P365 offers more firepower in a lighter package. Accuracy, on the other hand, is still a toss-up. I find the P-64 can hold its own. I have carried the gun for hikes on the glacier trail, and it held up quite nicely.
Regardless, this review is less about the gun and more about carrying it. The Polish military may have made a compact gun during the Cold War, but they packaged the thing in the same leather holster most militaries did during the time. You can’t really blame those on the eastern side of the Soviet wall for that. Traditionally, military handguns were packaged in protective, but not user-friendly, holsters. Some of the best wartime American 1911s can with similar accommodations.
Thanks to the good folks over at Vedder Holsters, I’ve been able to add some new life to my P-64. No, it is not my daily carry, but it is a joy to carry in general. I attempted some other holsters over the years. They were generally little more than leather sleeves that offered only moderate retention.
The fact that the P-64 has commanded enough attention to earn its own holster selection is one thing. The fact that it still carries and shoots well above its age bracket is another. Regardless of your preference for old or new guns, the real carry test will come down to reliability and the holster you pick. If you are into classic guns and surplus pistols, don’t shy away from modern holsters. A few modern upgrades have given me an excuse to carry an old gun again.