The Polish P-83 pistol is a refined handgun that came into military service after it became clear that the P-64 was incapable of meeting the requirements of a service pistol. The problem with the P-64 was in it being a bit on the small side, held a mere 6 rounds and had the most god awful double action trigger known to man. The P-83 improved on all these things and was cheaper to produce — it has since been largely replaced by the Glock and WIST-94 pistols, but is still used in small quantities by the Polish military and police today.
Developed in (Yeah, you guessed it.) 1983, the “Wanad” or P-83 was simply an improvement over the incumbent Polish pistol, the P-64. In fact, it really only rose to the level of the PM9 (Russian manufactured Makarov pistol); it’s strange to me that the P-64 didn’t emulate the Makarov more closely to begin with, given they were developed around the same time frame. The P-83 was designed by Ryszard Chełmicki and Marian Gryszkiewicz who were employed by the State Research Institute of Poland when the demand for a new sidearm resulted from firearms technology advancing quickly after the P-64‘s inception.
The P-83 features a straight blow-back design, so essentially the barrel is fixed to the frame (or pressed and pinned into a mount) and the slide moves rearward along it during operation utilizing a spring around the barrel to return to battery; simply put. It is incredibly accurate but at the cost of increased recoil due to the inherent rigidity of the design. The barrel itself is chambered in 9x18mm Makarov and chrome lined. The gun uses 8-round single stack magazines that are ejected via a release button found on the underside of the pistol grip behind the magwell. It’s worth mentioning that this magazine release is a huge improvement (larger and non-recessed) over the P-83’s predecessor, the magazines also drop free.
The trigger is heavy in double action configuration but not an issue and breaks very smoothly if pulled in a hurry, the single action is short and crisp with an extremely tight reset. The slide release is big and tactile and doesn’t get in the way of the shooters grip, and that the P-64 lacked all together. Lastly the safety/decocking lever was reversed in direction. The sights are larger and can be acquired quickly despite their slim G.I. style profile; some models vary here depending on if the pistol is military or police issue.
The P-83 disassembles the same as the Russian PM9 and Polish P-64 with a minor difference in locking lug placement. Rather than pulling down on the trigger guard to begin the process, instead there is a small square portion that pulls down and clears the slide for removal. Internally the P-83 is comprised primarily of stamped sheet metal with some welds still visible — the slide is still machined though. Despite this more cost-effective method of construction/production, the P-83 is acceptably accurate and reliable for a service pistol. The pistol is an all-around quality sidearm that took the lessons of its predecessors and improved on them to produce a suitable service weapon time.
Photos courtesy of the Author